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chuck johnson of ncfa with angels in adoption

Advocating for Adoption Reform: Angels in Adoption® Day 3

Day 1 centered on the Capitol and Day 2 featured a White House meeting. Day 3 includes talking about adoption reform with lawmakers. Plus dropping in on a House Committee meeting and getting gussied up for a gala.

How to Advocate

CCAI (Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute), started our morning with a legislative seminar. We got tips on how to talk with legislators about what we think should happen with the state of Adoption. We then broke into small groups, each one led by a CCAI representative.

chuck johnson of ncfa with angels in adoption
With Chuck Johnson of NCFA (top), and Leesa and Mike Worley of Colorado Springs.

Mine was Chuck Johnson, President and CEO of the National Council for Adoption. We headed first to the office of the Senator who nominated me for the Angels in Adoption® award.

Senator Michael Bennet’s Office (D-CO)

Although Senator Bennet wasn’t available, we were able to meet with his legislative aide, Rita.

advocating for family to family support network in senator office

Because Rita’s background and focus is on health, she was particularly interested in how the Family to Family Support Network is addressing the opioid crisis. Hospitals are trained in this unique situation (as well as others, like refugees, victims of domestic violence, incarcerated women, LBGT and surrogacy situations). Labor and delivery staff are trained to be aware of their own thoughts and judgments so that when a woman with Substance Use Disorder comes in to give birth, professionals are better able to provide neutral compassionate care.

We are hoping to continue working with Senator Bennet’s office.

Our group then walked to the other side of the Capitol grounds to Rayburn House Office Building. We had an hour to kill before our next appointment so I wandered.

House Committee Meeting

I ambled through the halls, baffled that I was allowed to do so freely, until I remembered that as a citizen I kinda own the joint (along with 325 million others).

I came across a room labeled Committee on Foreign Affairs. Congresspeople and their staffers were on one side, facing reporters and other interested people on the other. There was an open chair so I took it.

house foreign affairs committee meeting
Chairman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Bill Keating (D-MA) holding a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee meeting on Countering Iranian Proxies in Iraq.

I observed for about 45 minutes while the committee heard testimony (click for webcast) about Iran and Hizballah and the need for sanctions.

It was then time to meet with a Colorado Representative.

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO)

My cohorts for the day were Mike and Leesa Worley, nominated by Congressman Doug Lamborn. Their work with CarePortal provides a bridge between the foster care system and faith communities. They  reported to Rep Lamborn that in its first 23 months, nearly 2700 children had been served. Through CarePortal, nearby faith communities had contributed more than $250,000 in material needs (bus passes, diapers, baby wipes, for example) that their county’s Department of Human Services would not otherwise have been able to provide families.

When it was my turn, I spoke with the congressman about the importance of accessing post-adoption support for adoptive and birth families. I mentioned that Colorado leads the way toward openness in adoption. Ours is one of the too-few states in the country to have equal access to birth records for adopted people, due to the efforts of Rich Uhrlaub and the state legislature a few years ago.  (P.S. The sky hasn’t fallen!)

angels in adoption advocating with congressman lamborn

The Gala

Back to the hotel for some girl time (I roomed with previous Angels Dixie Weber and Rebecca Vahle and Family to Family Executive Director Janelle Ison). We did our hair and put on our faces and ballgowns to head to the last Angel event, the Gala.

dixie weber, angela tucker, lori holden, rebecca vahle, janelle ison at angels in adoption gala

angels in adoption gala 2018

I did question the choice of serving “Airline Chicken” (that’s a good thing?). But nevertheless, the gala was a wonderful end to our Angel time in Washington, DC.

That’s a Wrap

For a social studies teacher and adoption activist, such a trip to Washington, DC was a dream come true. I got to see places and people and processes I teach about. I got to talk about a topic I’m passionate about with others who share this passion. And I got to hang out with Rebecca, Melissa, Angela, Dixie, Janelle, as well as make new friends. I am grateful.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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9 Responses

  1. Lori, once again that sounds fabulous. It must have been very special to have been part of, and you deserved every minute of it. I have two adoption heroes in my life, people who have taught me a lot about adoption. You’re one of them. (The other is a friend in the UK, who is an adoption social worker and adoptive mum.)

    Yay you.

  2. I have so many questions for you as I wasn’t aware of CarePortal. Given the decline in faith communities in the past, I’m wondering if there’s now an uptick in community formation? If yes, this is encouraging and I can see how CarePortal would be invaluable for connecting families in need.

    I’m also really curious what you thought about sitting in on the Committee of Foreign Affairs session.

    Finally, this trip was jam-packed, but I’m so glad you were there to advocate. Maybe a career in politics is in your future?

    1. There are areas with very strong faith communities. I was impressed with how the Worley’s organization has been able to connect it with families in need.

      It was fascinating to sit in on that meeting. Much of it was over my head, but to observe the process was amazing. I have a new appreciation for how a senator/congressperson (and their aides) has to know about a lot of things, and to keep up with emerging information. So much, and so weighty.

  3. Adoption advocates are sorely needed right now. I won’t get into the politics of the legislation that is proposed (there have been two major stories that have concerned me of late), but I will say that I’m glad that someone like you, who is always concerned with what’s best for all parties, continues to advocate.

  4. What an incredible experience — for you, but also for all the people you gave voice to as you educated elected officials on the needs of a community.

  5. I love the image of you wandering the halls of Congress & just dropping in on a committee meeting! As it should be! 🙂 Glad you had such a great visit. I am sure the people there learned a lot from you & the others.

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