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Remarks Announcing Proposed Legislation on Special-Needs Adoption

September 13, 1989

First, welcome to the White House. And I'm especially pleased to have these distinguished and very interested Members of both bodies, Senate and the House, with us today -- so many noble leaders in our effort to encourage adoption. And they're leaders not because they tell others what needs to be done but because they themselves provide homes for orphans. And as I look about the room, I see and pay tribute to Reverend Clemens, Susan Freivalds, Jane Edwards, and others who are good samaritans in the adoption movement.

And those who adopt are given far more than they receive. And Barbara and I know that because we are blessed by one adopted grandchild. Few realize that Congress of the United States is a great source of encouragement to the adoption movement. More than 50 Members of the Congress are members of this adoption coalition, an informal group dedicated to encourage adoption. And their leaders -- several of them couldn't be with us -- but most here with us today, many of whom are adoptive parents. I know Senator Bentsen, who couldn't be with us, is one of those. Senator Humphrey is also the proud father of two adopted children.

And we don't merely want to pay tribute to those already part of the adoption movement. We are here to take action to encourage more Americans to adopt -- and to adopt children with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Right now, more than 30,000 American children are legally available for adoption, and many of these are children with special needs. And 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.

And today we're sending to the Congress two legislative proposals to encourage adoption. The Members of Congress who are with us today have agreed to sponsor the legislation and to seek their swift approval in the Congress of the United States. The legislation is simple. The first bill will provide a $3,000 tax deduction to families for certain nonrecurring costs associated with the adoption of a special-needs child. And the second bill will create a 4-year demonstration program for Federal employees. Federal civilian employees who adopt a special-needs child will be reimbursed up to $2,000 for nonrecurring expenses.

And I hope that this program, demonstration program, will serve as a model for the private sector to offer -- for their employers to offer similar benefits to their employees. I'm happy to be able to say that many companies are involved, many have done this already. These two bills are important steps in the effort to encourage adoption in America. And believe me, this is not the last you will hear from our administration about adoption.

I've directed the Cabinet to make adoption a high priority and instructed my Domestic Policy Council to develop the adoption initiatives that we're announcing here today. And I've also directed all Federal agencies to develop plans for supporting and promoting adoption, including providing the maximum flexibility to allow leave for employees who want to adopt. And we will continue to promote adoption in the future.

These two proposals -- legislative proposals -- will make a contribution toward solving one of America's most difficult and saddest problems: the children with special needs who have no loving family of their own.

I want to thank you all very much for coming down here. Let's get these bills enacted into law. And thank you all for your leadership very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:11 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Rev. George Clemens of One Church, One Child; Susan Freivalds of Adoptive Families of America; and Jane Edwards of Spence Chapin Service.

George Bush, Remarks Announcing Proposed Legislation on Special-Needs Adoption Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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