Library of Congress Summary
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
Opportunities for Adoption Act - Provides for adoption assistance programs under the provisions of the Public Health Service Act. Makes it the purpose of this Act, in order to promote the public health and welfare, to facilitate the elimination of obstacles to adoption, and to locate children in need of adoption and facilitate the placement in permanent adoptive homes of such children, particularly children with special needs, by:
(1) promoting the establishment of uniform adoption regulations in the States and territories of the United States in order to eliminate jurisdictional and legal obstacles to adoption;
(2) providing Federal financial assistance to States for the purpose of assisting certain public and private nonprofit agencies and adoptive and prospective adoptive parents in meeting certain costs of adoption in order to remove or alleviate the financial obstacles which present serious barriers to adoption by qualified persons; and
(3) providing for the establishment of a National Office of Adoption Information and Services in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to (A) ensure quality standards for adoption services (including pre-placement and post-placement and post-adoption counseling and standards to protect the rights of children in need of adoption) and (B) provide for a national adoption information exchange system.
Directs the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to appoint a Committee on Uniform Adoption Regulations to be composed of representatives of National, State, and local child welfare organizations and representatives of National, State, and local child welfare organizations and representatives of other groups interested in facilitating the objectives of adoption agencies, and the Chief of the Children's Bureau in the Office of Child Development, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, or his designee.
Directs such Committee to:
(1) review current conditions, practices, and laws relating to adoption, with special reference to their effect on facilitating or impeding the finding of suitable adoptive homes for children and the completion of suitable adoptions;
(2) propose to the Secretary uniform adoption regulations which would facilitate adoption; and
(3) report its proposals to the Congress and the President not later than eighteen months after the date of enactment of this Act. Provides that following receipt of the Committee's proposals, but not later than twenty-four months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall publish the proposed uniform adoption regulations in the Federal Register for comment and, after soliciting and giving due consideration to the comments of interested individuals, groups and organizations and consulting further with the Committee, he shall issue and publish final uniform adoption regulations which shall apply in the administration of the grant program.
Directs the Secretary, in accordance with regulations which he shall prescribe, to make matching grants to States for allocation, by State agencies principally responsible for services to families and children, to public and private nonprofit adoption agencies which meet standards of quality prescribed pursuant to this Act for the purpose of assisting:
(1) such agencies in meeting the cost involved in the adoptive placement of children with special needs (including identifying children in need of adoption, locating and counseling their parents, freeing appropriate children for adoption, locating suitable homes and providing pre-placement and post-placement and post-adoptive counseling to children in need of adoption and to prespective and actual adoptive parents);
(2) such agencies in meeting the cost of providing prenatal and postpartum services to mothers, voluntarily planning to place their children for adoption, who are unable to assume such costs, in order to protect the health and welfare of both the mother and child; but only to the extent that assistance under other Federal or State programs in the community in question is not readily available to provide adequately for such services;
(3) such agencies in meeting the cost of providing for professional counseling and other social services to children in need of adoption, and to prospective and actual adoptive parents and foster parents to assist them in providing a supportive and healthful family environment;
(4) adoptive parents in locating and, where appropriate, defraying the cost of post-placement and post-adoption special services to children requiring such services as a result of conditions which existed prior to their placement, up to an amount not exceeding the amount which similar services would cost the State in question were it to provide or secure such services as the guardian of such children; and
(5) prospective adoptive parents, who would consider adoption but for their financial inability to meet a child's needs, in defraying the post-placement and post-adoption cost of supporting children with special needs, in amounts of assistance determined by the Secretary to be adequate to enable such adoptive parents to assume responsibility for raising such children (including payment of legal fees and court costs).
Provides for the establishment of a system in the States under which, with respect to a child who has been in foster care in a State for at least six months after such child is considered legally available for adoptive placement, the foster parents providing care to such child will be notified of the possibility of the financial assistance for adoptive placement authorized by this Act if it appears to be in the child's best interest.
Directs the Secretary to take such steps as he deems necessary to encourage and facilitate the consideration of comprehensive adoption assistance legislation by those States which have not enacted such legislation.
Establishes within the Children's Bureau of the Office of Child Development of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare a National Office of Adoption Information and Services which shall be headed by a Director appointed by the Secretary upon the joint recommendation of the Director of the Office of Child Development and the Chief of the Children's Bureau. Provides that the Office shall be the principal agency for carrying out the provisions of this Act. Directs the Director, in accordance with regulations which he shall presecribe, to:
(1) conduct a continuous educational program on adoption and to prepare, publish, and disseminate to all interested parties, private and public agencies and organizations, and governmental bodies educational materials regarding adoption and adoption assistance programs;
(2) measure and evaluate the impact of the programs authorized by this Act and, not later than ninety days after June 30 of each year, prepare and submit to the Secretary for transmittal to the President and the Congress a report on such evaluation, which shall include, but not be limited to (A) the number of children placed in adoptive homes under adoption assistance agreements during the year preceding the annual report and the major characteristics of such children; and (B) the number of children currently in foster care for six months or more, and the legal status of such children;
(3) insure that adoption agencies receiving assistance authorized under this Act subscribe to standards of quality, which he shall prescribe, for adoption services (including pre-placement and post-placement and post-adoption counseling and standards to protect the rights of children in need of adoption) and comply with the requirements of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
(4) notwithstanding any other provision of law, provide for the operation of a national adoption information system, utilizing computers and modern data processing methods, to assist in the location of children in need of adoption and in the placement in adoptive homes of children awaiting adoption, and for the promotion of cooperative efforts with any similar programs; and
(5) coordinate and consult with other appropriate Federal agencies, and coordinate all other programs within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Authorizes the appropriation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1974, and the succeeding three fiscal years, of such sums as may be necessary to carry out the purposes and provisions of this Act.