Langevin Introduces Bill to Protect Adopted Children

Oct 30, 2013 Issues: Children and Families, Foster Youth

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced legislation today that would help provide a more stable home environment for adopted children. A recent investigative series from Reuters, “The Child Exchange,” brought to light an alarming trend of adopted children being “re-homed” into the custody of strangers without oversight. Langevin’s bill, the “Protecting Adopted Children Act,” aims to curb that practice through the provision of pre- and post-adoptive support services.

“All children deserve a loving home, but unfortunately, not every adoption has a happy ending. When a family is ill-equipped to care for a child, for whatever reason, there must be safe mechanisms in place through which an adopted child can be transitioned into a more stable environment,” said Langevin, who led a letter to the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, asking them to investigate the practice known as “re-homing” and convene state and federal officials and other stakeholders to determine what authorities exist to address the problem.

The Protecting Adopted Children Act, the House companion bill to S. 1527, provides for pre- and post-adoptive counseling to ease the transition for children and families. The bill helps to fund treatments specialized for adopted children, including psychiatric residential services, outpatient mental health services, social skills training, intensive in-home supervision services, recreational therapy, suicide prevention and substance abuse treatment. Adoptive parents would have access to peer-to-peer mentoring and support groups in order to learn from experienced adoptive parents, and could access a 24-hour emergency hotline. The bill also calls for a GAO study of re-homing practices, including how children are advertised for adoption on the internet.

“This is a complex issue, and simply outlawing the online advertisement of children available for adoption will unfortunately not fix the problem. In many states, re-homing a child without notifying the state is already illegal, yet those prohibitions have not prevented the unsafe and illegal transfer of children,” Langevin continued. “Instead, my legislation requires an in-depth study of rehoming by the General Accountability Office to better understand the underlying issues, while aiming to prevent re-homings by providing the resources necessary to create a loving, stable environment for every child. It is my hope that pre-adoptive counseling in particular would educate prospective adoptive parents about some of the challenges these children face, and discourage them from bringing a child into their home before they are ready.  I will continue to look for ways to address these heartbreaking stories both legislatively and through increased coordination with state and local governments, advocates and families.”