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Memorandum on Adoption

July 24, 1989

Memorandum for Heads of Departments and Agencies

Subject: Administration Support for the Adoption Option

The foundation of our nation is the American family, protector of our most valuable yet vulnerable resource -- our children. Sadly, thousands of American children do not have a family to call their own. They are children who may have been abandoned, neglected or abused, who have seen their childhood unfairly snatched away. We can give them back their childhood, simply by finding them a permanent adoptive family. This, I believe, is an effort worthy of our greatest commitment.

Everyone wins in adoption. It is time for the leaders of the Federal workforce to ensure that our government is pro-adoption. Adoption works -- for children who need homes, for people hoping to become parents, and for women facing a crisis pregnancy.

As the leaders of the Federal civilian and military labor force, we have the opportunity to positively affect the lives of Federal employees and to provide leadership for our entire nation. I am directing you and your staff to consider ways to provide such leadership to advance the adoption alternative.

Adoption can help to address some of our more pressing issues: teenage pregnancy, foster care, infertility, and welfare dependency. Most importantly, adoption provides a home and love to children who may have neither.

Consider just a few facts:

An estimated 15 percent of American couples of reproductive age are infertile.

About 60,000 children are adopted every year in this country. Of these, 10,000 come from foreign countries.

Right now, nearly 30,000 American children are legally available for adoption. Some of them are school-age, some are physically or emotionally handicapped, some are members of sibling groups that need to be placed in the same home, and some are minority children.

Each year nearly 25,000 American babies are given life and the chance to be loved when their mothers choose adoption over abortion or unwanted parenthood, yet the opportunity to consider adoption is often denied to pregnant women. I am told that as much as 40 percent of pregnancy counseling does not even mention adoption.

I have instructed my Domestic Policy Council to develop a Presidential adoption initiative, and that process is well under way. To complement this effort, I am asking you to develop methods for supporting the adoption plans and needs of your employees and for promoting adoption among your workforce. Here are just a few ideas:

Use agency resources for employees who are considering adopting, who have adopted children, or who have a family member facing a crisis pregnancy. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) may be the most appropriate resource.

Begin planning now for agency-wide celebration and observance of National Adoption Week (Thanksgiving Week). Your agency's focus could be upon local children in need of adoptive homes.

Ensure that all employee supervisors are as flexible as possible regarding the adoption-related leave needs of employees. This might include incremental (hourly) leave needed to meet with adoption agency personnel or longer periods of leave to care for a newly adopted child.

Feature adoption articles in agency newsletters. These might include stories about employees who have adopted special needs children, infants, or children from other countries, as well as a regular column picturing a local waiting child.

I have instructed both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Personnel Management to work with you in implementing these and other ideas.

A commitment to adoption is one we can all share. With just a small effort, we can help our own employees and, just as importantly, we can provide national leadership in support of adoption. Finding loving homes for waiting children is reward enough.

George Bush

George Bush, Memorandum on Adoption Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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