For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 2, 2003
President Bush Signs the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003
Remarks by the President at the Signing of H.R. 3182, the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003
The Roosevelt Room
9:25 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you all. Thank you. Thanks. Please be seated. Hi, Mary. Thank you, Jim. Thanks for coming. Thank you all for coming. Gosh, we got a lot of great -- great families with us today. We're really proud you all are here. I want to thank you for coming to the Roosevelt Room. I'm delighted you're here.
The adoption of a boy or a girl is a moment of joy for a family, and it's an act of great generosity. When parents share their homes and all they have with a child, the child they adopt and love as their own, all their lives are transformed forever. Isn't that right?
MRS. MARTIN: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: Yes. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: In every young life there is a great need to belong. For the sake of our children, this nation has a responsibility to encourage adoption of children at all ages -- from infants to adolescents. The legislation I'm about to sign today sends a clear message: Our society is building a culture that values every life, and our government strongly supports adoption.
I appreciate Deputy Secretary Claude Allen, from the Department of Health and Human Services, for joining us. I want to thank three members of the Congress who have been instrumental in this legislation, and I appreciate their good, hard work. Senator Mary Landrieu, of the great state of Louisiana, is with us -- Jim Oberstar, of Minnesota, and Dave Camp, of Michigan. Thank you all for coming. I appreciate you taking time to come to herald this important piece of legislation. I'm honored you all are here.
Bruce Willis is not with us, but I do want to thank him for being the national spokesperson on foster care and adoption. His message is helpful. It's important to help spread the word about the joys of adoption, and Bruce has been mighty helpful in doing just that.
I want to thank the parents of adoptive children who are with us today -- the Martin Family; the Hendrix Family are with us, and the Morris Family; and the Schwarzwalder Family. I'm honored you all are here. I want to thank you for giving me a chance, and the members of Congress a chance, after the bill signing, to personally thank you for showing America the generosity of spirit that makes our country such a wonderful place. We're really glad you're here.
Thanks to the Congress, and thanks to the groups that work on behalf of foster children, and to moms and dads across America, these last few years have brought real progress in the cause of adoption. We're making progress here in America.
Six years ago, Congress provided new incentives to the states to promote foster care adoptions, and those incentives have worked. I suspect these members of Congress worked on that important legislation. In just five years, from 1998 to 2002, the states placed more than 230,000 children in adoptive homes -- about the same number that had been adopted in the previous 10 years. We're making some progress here in America. (Applause.)
In the same period, thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have at least doubled foster care adoptions. To further promote adoption, we increased the adoption tax credit in 2001 from $5,000 to $10,000. I want to thank the members for working on that important piece of legislation. I hope it helps families.
In 2002, my administration created a new website called adoptuskids.org, which has already helped to join nearly 2,000 children with adoptive parents. In other words, if you want to be a part of this movement of love in America, go to the website. And the website will help you understand how best to become an adoptive parent. Many more still await their chance and their home, and we are determined to help all children in America.
Today in America, more 126,000 foster children still need an adoptive family. And nearly half of these children are past the age of nine. Foster parents bring help and kindness at a crucial point in a child's life, yet foster care is by nature temporary. And the aim of the system, and the desire of every child is a permanent home. The bill I sign this morning will help bring that opportunity to many more children of all ages.
The Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 will continue all the current incentives that have created new momentum for the adoption process in our states. In addition, we will begin monitoring the adoptions of foster children age nine and older, and provide extra incentives for states to increase adoption of older children. This is a proven way to increase the placement of children from foster care to permanent homes, and each one of those homes will be richer for the addition of new family members.
Here's one example standing with me. It's what we call a good-sized American family. (Laughter.)
MRS. MARTIN: Amen.
MR. MARTIN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Diana and Chris Martin, good, solid Americans, a good loving mom and dad, are with us with seven children -- four of them adopted at ages 6, 8, 10, and 11 years old. (Applause.) You were six.
MRS. MARTIN: That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: How old are you?
TERRANCE MARTIN: Seven.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, seven. (Laughter.) I'll take it up with the fact-checker. (Laughter.) Children who, at one time, were 6, 8, 10 and 11. (Laughter.)
Chris says, "Besides having to add a whole new wing on the house," -- maybe the tax credit helps (laughter) -- "it can be emotionally trying. They have a sense of abandonment, and they came with the fear of bonding to you because they've been let down, and they're afraid." He also said, "It's been rewarding because you can see the love in their eyes when they finally realize they have a place, they have a home, and that I am their dad."
Adoptive parents are giving much, and they are gaining much. The future of many thousands of children depend on the willingness of caring parents to make that personal commitment. It would take less than 1 percent of the American population to provide a home to every child awaiting adoption. Welcoming a child into your home and calling that child your son or daughter is a major decision. It is never to be made lightly. Yet so many parents who have made that decision, count it among life's greatest and happiest turning points. And so I hope more Americans, after careful thought and prayer, will make the decision to adopt a boy or girl of their own.
The act of Congress strongly affirms our national commitment to adoption, and will encourage adoption in every part of our land. I want thank you all for coming. We're honored to be with such loving parents and great Americans. And now I'd like to ask the members of Congress to join me as I sign this important piece of legislation, and maybe this great family would like to join us, as well. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) Here, Mary, get in here. All right, is everybody ready?
CHILD: Can I come in there, too?
THE PRESIDENT: You want to come in here? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Sure, come on. All right. They won't ask her any questions. (Laughter.) You ready?
(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)
END 9:34 A.M. EST