Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 113 Part 3.djvu/652

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113 STAT. 2170 PROCLAMATION 7245—OCT. 28, 1999 tions and to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities furthering the goal of international cooperation. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sec - ond day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fomth. WILLIAM J. CLINTON Proclamation 7245 of October 28, 1999 National Adoption Month, 1999 By the President of the United States of America A Proclamation This month, as families across America look forward to the holiday season that is fast approaching, we remember with special concern the thousands of children in our Nation who are growing up without the unconditional love and secxmty of a permanent home. Our Nation's foster care system plays an invaluable role in providing temporary safe and caring homes to children who need them, but permanent homes and families are vital to giving these children the stability and sustained love they need to reach their full potential. My Administration has worked hard to promote adoption by assisting adoptive families and breaking down barriers to adoption. We have helped remove many economic barriers to adoption by providing tax credits to families adopting children, and the Family and Medical Leave Act that I signed into law in 1993 gives workers job-protected leave to care for their newly adopted children. The Adoption and Safe Families Act I signed in 1997 reformed our Nation's child welfare system, made clear that the health and safety of children must be the paramount concern of State child welfare services, and expedited permanent placement for children. It also ensured health coverage for children with special needs and created new financial incentives for States to increase adoption. We also took important steps to help ensure that the adoption process remains free from discrimination and delays on the basis of race, culture, and ethnicity. We are now working to break down geographic barriers to adoption by using the Internet to link children in foster care to possible adoptive families. We have new evidence that our efforts are bearing fruit: the first significant increase in adoptions since the National Foster Care Program was created almost 20 years ago. A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that from 1996 to 1998, the number of adoptions nationwide rose 29 percent—from 28,000 to 36,000— and should meet our national goal of 56,000 adoptions by the year 2002. In addition, the First Lady and I were pleased to announce this past September the first-ever bonus awards to States that have increased the number of adoptions from the public foster care system. We also annoimced additional grants to public and private organizations that remove barriers to adoption. To follow through on this record of achievement, I have urged the Congress to safeguard the interests and well-being of yoimg people who