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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                       (Cape Canaveral, Florida)
For Immediate Release                                   October 29, 1998




Every child deserves a safe and loving family. But each year, thousands of American children grow up without such families, lacking the stability and sense of permanency they need to thrive. More than 100,000 such children -- orphaned, abandoned, abused, or unable to remain at home for other serious reasons -- will need homes in the next few years. Although foster care provides a good supportive temporary environment for these children, adoption can provide them with the sustained love and care of permanent families and can give adults the chance to open their hearts and homes to a child they will cherish.

My Administration has worked hard both to improve the experience of children awaiting adoption and to increase their chances of adoption. Last November, I signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which made sweeping changes in our Nation's child welfare system. This legislation underscores the importance of safety and permanency for children awaiting adoption and focuses on the urgency of finding adoptive families. In addition to achieving passage of this landmark legislation, we have made adoption easier by barring discrimination by race or ethnicity, by providing a tax credit for newly adoptive parents, and by ensuring that adoptive parents are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

We must strengthen such efforts if we are to meet our national goal of doubling the number of adoptions by the year 2002. In addition, while adoption in America has increased in recent years, more than 25,000 young Americans each year reach the age of 18 and leave the child welfare system without permanent homes or families. This statistic tells us that we still have much to do. We must not only secure the placement of young children in families, but also move aggressively to place in permanent families our older children, as well I have directed the Federal Government to work with State and local governments to continue identifying and removing the barriers that prevent young people from moving from our child welfare system into adoptive families.

Working together -- policymakers, government officials, family welfare agencies, religious and community organizations, and families -- we can make a difference in the lives of thousands of children. My Administration will continue to support efforts to recruit and strengthen adoptive families and to shorten the time it takes to move children from foster care to permanent homes; to reduce the backlogs in our Nation's juvenile and family court systems; and to promote strong, supportive adoption programs that meet the needs of every child.

During National Adoption Month, let us recommit ourselves to the goal of finding a safe, permanent, and loving home for every child in need. Let us also honor the many caring families across our Nation who have opened their arms and their hearts to a child through adoption. By making such a profound and loving commitment to our Nation's most vulnerable children, they are also making a lasting investment in America's future.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 1998 as National Adoption Month. I urge all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor adoptive families and to participate in efforts to find permanent, loving homes for waiting children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.