My plan was to finish out Retro Week with an older piece written by monthly contributor Shelise Gieseke, but then I received a response from Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office in regards to a letter I sent to her on June 27th, 2011. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to hear from her and, as a (now wavering) fan of the Senator, I kind of wish her office hadn’t sent the note. As you’ll see, the (obvious) form letter doesn’t even come close to addressing the concerns I expressed on June 27th. In fact, it does something else.
Senator Klobuchar’s response is problematic and not because I was glanced over. (My ego is large, but it’s a realistic large.) The response is problematic because it gives support to the argument that I had made in my initial letter. Like other politicians, Senator Klobuchar, who has expressed strong interest in MN adoption issues, isn’t seeking out the voices of adult adoptees in drafting adoption legislation. Rather, she panders to middle/upper class adoptive parents and adoption agencies.
Seriously. I once thought that the Senator challenged established power. Apparently not. Yeah… Her office is getting a phone call from this former orphaned Korean. Many of us Koreans may be little, but we’re loud.
My June 27th, 2011 Letter
Dear Senator Klobuchar:
I am writing to you in response to your Supporting Adoptive Families Act. As a member of the thousands of Minnesotans who are adoptees, I ask you to please reach out to the adult adoptee community as you look for partners in our state who can help you to champion your legislation.
Contrary to popular belief, much of the post-adoption services that exists here in Minnesota are led by adult adoptees. For years, with minimal budgets, organizations like AdopSource (www.adopsource.org) and AK Connection (www.akconnection.com) have filled the post-adoption service void left by adoption agencies. For years, individual adult adoptees in the state have been responsible for the following: support networks for struggling adult adoptees; mentoring programs that connect adult adoptees with younger adoptees; resources to offer advice, council, and support to adoptive parents, adoptive parent groups, and their children; and groundbreaking research, film, books, and art.
As a former member of the adoption agency profession, I’m fully aware of the lobbying you receive from Minnesota adoption agencies, which have a vested financial interest in bills like your International Adoption Simplification Act, Adoption Fairness Act, and Supporting Adoptive Families Act. However, if you are truly interested in making “sure adoptive families have the support they need,” I strongly encourage you to reach out to the adult adoptee community. History has shown that, even through the good financial times, adoption agencies have offered little post-adoption services. Minnesota adoption agencies have shown more interest in the financial benefits of moving adoptive parents quickly through the adoption process.
Senator Klobuchar, I want to see my tax payers dollars work. I do not want to see my tax payers dollars supporting adoption agencies who have repeatedly squandered opportunities to establish good post-adoption services. Rather, I, along with thousands of adoptees here in the state of Minnesota, would much prefer to see you vest your time in listening and working with adult adoptees. They have walked the walk as adoptees and talked the talk as leaders and innovators. For your convenience, here are names of international adoptee who are respected by adoptees and adoptive parents: Ami Nafzger, AdopSource, email@example.com; Amy Fjellman, Adoptees Have Answers, firstname.lastname@example.org; JaeRan Kim, email@example.com, and Lisa Medici, AK Connection, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Response
August 24, 2011
Dear Mr. Ost-Vollmers:
Thank you for contacting me about international and domestic adoptions. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
Minnesota has a strong tradition of welcoming orphans from around the world and holds the highest per capita rate of international adoption. Many Minnesota families also adopt from orphanages or foster homes here in the United States. Since coming to the Senate, my staff and I have helped many families in our state navigate the difficulties of the adoption process. After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, I worked hard to help more than 25 Minnesota families with pending adoptions bring home almost 40 Haitian children. I have also helped families struggling to adopt from Guatemala, Vietnam, Russia, and other countries around the world.
In Congress, I have voted repeatedly to increase the tax credit for both domestic and international adoptive families. In addition, I have introduced several bills to simplify the adoption process and support adoptive families. The International Adoption Simplification Act, which was signed into law on November 29, 2010, allows American parents to adopt entire sibling groups even if one of the children is between 16 and 18 years of age. The bill also allows orphans to receive their immunizations in safe conditions here in the United States after they are adopted rather than in their home country beforehand. I also authored the Supporting Adoptive Families Act, which would increase pre- and post-adoption support services for families adopting both domestically and internationally. This legislation would also improve reporting on failed and disrupted adoptions in an effort to improve understanding of the needs of adoptive families and children.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about adoption issues. I will keep your concerns in mind as related legislation comes before the Senate. One of the most important parts of my job is listening to what the people of Minnesota have to say to me. I am here in our nation’s capital to do the public’s business and to serve the people of our state. If you or someone you know seeks assistance in adopting a child, please contact my Minneapolis office at 612-727-5220, and we will be happy to assist you.
United States Senator