Bush Signs Law to Encourage Adoption

President Bush signed legislation Tuesday expanding government incentives that promote adoption.

Bush renewed the Adoption Promotion Act (search), a law passed in 1997 that sends $4,000 in federal money per child to state governments that exceed their placement performances from the previous year. His signature also provides new financial incentives for states to place children 9 and older with adoptive families.

Under the reauthorized law, states will get an additional $4,000 for every adoption of a child 9 or older, over a baseline set by the Department of Health and Human Services (search). The department is also required to monitor efforts on adoption by the states, which oversee the foster-care system.

Bush said the 1997 law, an expansion of an adoption tax credit (search) he enacted in 2001 and a new government Web site had fueled a surge in adoptions.

"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," he said, speaking in the Roosevelt Room surrounded by four adoptive families. And 33 states and the District of Columbia have at least doubled foster-care adoptions, he said. "We're making some progress here in America."

But, Bush said, of the more than 126,000 foster children who need an adoptive family, nearly half are over age 9.

The president's eyes grew moist when he said: "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," Bush said. "Yet so many parents who have made that decision count it among life's greatest and happiest turning points."

Bush was flanked at the event by the Martin family of Brunswick, Md. -- a mother, father and seven children, four adopted. "It's what we call a good-sized American family," Bush said.