Foster Friess: For orphans, family is a human right
Foster Friess 6 a.m. EDT October 17, 2013
Here's a chance for left and right to agree: Lets give children a home.
- Every child should at least grow up in family, rather than without one.
- The United Nations reports that more than 18 million children worldwide have lost both parents
- Allocate foreign aid based on pro-adoption efforts in other nations.
It can be tough to find areas where left and right can agree. Consider the well-being of children: Americans often disagree about how to raise kids, how to educate them, even what to feed them.
So how about we start seeking common ground at a more basic level? Every child should at least grow up in family, rather than without one.
This is so obvious that we don't think about it much. But for many children a family is something they do not know. The United Nations Children's Fund reports that more than 18 million children worldwide have lost both parents to the ravages of AIDS, starvation, war or natural disasters.
Yet adoptions by U.S. families of children from other countries fell by over 62% in the last eight years. This is not due to lack of American demand. Would-be adoptive parents have to struggle for years through a bureaucratic obstacle course at an average cost of $30,000.
Many foreign governments allow children to languish for years in severely compromised lifestyles. The U.S. State Department is not only of little help but often contributes to the long delays.
Seeing this problem, my friend Craig Juntunen started the adoption activist group Both Ends Burning. This year, they released STUCK, a documentary revealing how we are neglecting the human rights of millions of orphans.
After a 60-city, 72-day bus tour brought the gripping film around the country, liberals and conservatives alike joined the cause.
Now, that nationwide spirit of cooperation migrates to the halls of Congress. Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu introduced legislation called Children in Families First, or CHIFF. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, has signed on to the bill along with many others in both houses, from both parties.
The goal: to get children into families, whether it's the birth family, relatives, a household in the child's birth country or an American couple.
Without increasing spending, the law creates a prominent State Department office advocating for vulnerable foreign children, making their welfare a key part of U.S. foreign policy. It would allow State to allocate foreign aid based on pro-adoption efforts in other nations. Countries that drag their feet, quite common currently, could lose a lot of money.
As Sen. Landrieu has said , she wants to ensure that the United States advocates for family preservation, family reunification and, when necessary, family creation through adoption.
And when the only good option for children is to join American families, her proposal ensures that U.S. immigration law makes the process as easy as possible.
Whatever your other convictions, we can all agree that children belong in families. Not only will CHIFF help children in need, but it provides our children with an example of cooperation and civility between left and right — two things we urgently need to do.
Foster Friess, a fund manager turned philanthropist, started LeftRightLeftRightForwardMarch.com
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