Republican, Democratic lawmakers find common ground on adoption and foster care

November 24, 2013 

The earth did not rattle. The seas did not come ashore. Gov. Pat McCrory did not take more cookies from the gubernatorial kitchen to demonstrators. But it happened. It really happened. Some Democrats and Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly found common ground.

Several legislators with an interest in foster care and adoption, two issues that are always with us but rarely get discussed, passed a “bill of rights” for foster care children and put aside money for adoption promotion programs. In addition, they’re looking at creating a couple of committees that will try to improve adoption and foster care for all involved.

One representative of private child welfare agencies welcomed the attention and noted it had been a while since legislators studied adoption and foster care.

State Sen. Tamara Barringer of Cary, a Republican, was admirably candid about her interest. She and her husband were foster parents for 11 years. “I saw things I wish I could unsee,” the lawyer said. “Having seen them, I can’t ignore them.”

Republican Rep. Marilyn Avila of Raleigh has worried about what happens to children after they age out of foster care. She’s a believer in programs that can help those kids, the “ones that do the most good.”

Barringer and some Democratic allies also pushed successfully for a sex-trafficking law and for money for children’s mental health.

Investment in programs that improve foster care and increase adoptions also will have a practical effect. Children in successful programs will be less likely to have problems or to engage in criminal activity. The overall objective is to give children who might have had a lot of turmoil in their lives the ultimate benefit: the gift of stability.

That, in turns, gives them something to build on.

In these times, with fewer families falling under the “Mommy, Daddy, two kids and a dog” description, participation in foster care needs to have a more positive image. And adoption needs to be seen as a glorious opportunity. Programs that encourage study of these issues, toward a goal of helping children who are part of them, are welcome from either political party. It’s good that both are participating.

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