Adoption and Financial Assistance: Tools for Navigating the Bureaucracy

By Rita Laws; Tim O'Hanlon | Go to book overview

10
Hearings, Part 2: Applying for
Adoption Assistance and
Retroactive Payments after a
Final Decree of Adoption

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and . . .
when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured
dams that block the flow of social progress.
--Martin Luther King, Jr. ( 1929-1968)


MAKING A GOOD LAW WORK BETTER

Although Title IV-E adoption assistance has provided an essential source of support for children with special needs, time inevitably reveals serious defects in the best of social programs. Throughout the 1980s, the most serious obstacles preventing the program from meeting its intended purpose were federal and state regulations that required agreements for adoption subsidy to be completed prior to the final decree of adoption.

Within a few years after the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 went into effect, it became painfully clear that significant numbers of single adults and couples had adopted children without provision for subsidy only to face unexpected, escalating medical and emotional problems that exhausted the family budget and health insurance. When these hard-pressed adoptive parents contacted state agencies for help, they were informed that assistance was not available if the adoption had been finalized.

The long struggle by adoptive families and advocates to remove this regulatory impediment to adoption assistance finally came to fruition when the federal Children's Bureau issued its landmark policy interpretation, PIQ 92-02, on June 25, 1992. While the policy interpretation did not formally change the federal rule requiring adoption assistance to be arranged prior

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