Langevin Introduces Bill to Protect Adopted Children

Apr 28, 2015 Issues: Foster Youth

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, today introduced the “Protecting Adopted Children Act” with the bipartisan support of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA).  Langevin put forth similar legislation in 2013 to address an alarming and growing practice of adopted children being privately “re-homed” into the custody of strangers without oversight.

“All children deserve a stable, loving home, including adopted children. Too often, these at-risk youth can fall through the cracks and bounce from placement to placement, a traumatic experience for an innocent child who just wants a family and a home to call their own,” said Congressman Langevin, who hosted a roundtable discussion last year to shed light on this problem. “Since learning about this practice, I have heard a disturbing number of re-homing stories and I have personally met some of the young people affected by this epidemic. These kids need our help, and my legislation would address this issue at its root causes, establishing better pre- and post-adoptive support services that ease the transition for children and families.”

The Protecting Adopted Children Act provides for pre- and post-adoptive counseling and 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 adoptive parents, and could access a 24-hour emergency hotline.

“We must be more cognizant of the adopted children in this country who yearn to be part of a family,” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. “The Protecting Adopted Children Act will provide more stable homes through pre- and post-adoption services and strives to protect adopted children from being thrown into dangerous and unregulated situations. The bill also expands the scope of the pre-existing Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force under the Department of Justice to include combating the illegal transfer of a child. I firmly believe that this measure gives law enforcement the tools it needs to combat illegal transfers which we have learned through investigative reporting typically take place online. We must be committed to helping these children succeed in a family that they may call their own.”

“Too many children today are falling victim to a system that lacks necessary oversight,” said Congressman Wittman. “As a child of adoption myself, I am personally invested in this issue. I’m proud to support this legislation today to reduce that risk in order to better help these children find stable, loving homes and to improve support services for adoptive parents.”

This year’s version of the bill additionally expands the scope of the existing Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which operates under the Department of Justice, to include combating the illegal transfer of a child. The ICAC Task Force was created to help law enforcement investigate child exploitation on the federal, state and local level. Including re-homing in the scope of the ICAC Task Force will give law enforcement additional tools to combat this illegal practice.

“In many states, re-homing a child without official oversight is already illegal, but that has not prevented this unsafe transfer of children,” Langevin continued. “This complex problem requires more than a legal solution – it requires a support system for potential adoptive parents and a safety net that ensures we do not lose track of these kids. We must educate parents before adoption about the challenges they may face, and provide them with the necessary resources after adoption in order to create a safe environment for every child.”