November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Now, with the election behind us, it is time for us to stop focusing on the political rhetoric of family values and work towards laws and policies that truly value families -- especially those created through adoption.
In the U.S. there are more than 400,000 children in foster care, of which 104,000 are eligible for adoption and waiting to be placed with a "forever family." Each year almost 30,000 youth -- who have been moved through multiple foster care homes -- age out of the foster care system without finding a loving and permanent home.
Keeping these children in foster care costs the federal government over $8 billion a year.
Awareness is not enough. Action is needed to help these children.
We know that only 69 percent of children live with their married opposite-sex parents. Today's modern families include single parents, divorced parents, grandparents, older siblings and same-sex couples.
Yet the laws and policies of many states either make it difficult or impossible for single people, unmarried couples or gay and lesbian couples, who are qualified and committed to being parents, to foster or adopt children without a home.
At present, five states explicitly restrict same-sex couples from adopting together. Six states ban same-sex parents from adopting their partner's children. More than two dozen states remain silent on the issue.
Thirty years of scientific research has concluded that kids develop best when they have stable attachments to committed and nurturing parents and that a child's success does not depend on the marital status or sexual orientation of the parents.
With such a shortage of qualified families, we can't afford to turn away any qualified, ready, willing and able families.
Earlier this year, the President endorsed the principles of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) -- federal legislation that would prohibit discrimination in foster care and adoption based on sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status. ECDF has been introduced in the House and Senate and is gaining bipartisan support.
We look forward to the day when it becomes law and every child finds a forever home.