WASHINGTON — Earlier this month, Gov. Mary Fallin invited a Bethany couple and their six children to help her light the state Christmas tree.
Amy and Brandon Paulson had just completed the adoptions of the children — ranging in age from 7 to 15 — who had been in foster care.
“Amy and Brandon Paulson are an inspiration,” Fallin said. “Their compassion and kindness has completely changed the lives of their six children and now they have the family they have always dreamed of.”
In August, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin and his wife, Christie, finalized the adoptions of twin girls who had been separated at birth and were living with relatives.
“I can't stress the importance enough of opening your home instead of your wallet,” Mullin, R-Westville, said recently. “If just one family in every church across Oklahoma adopted one child, our foster care program wouldn't exist.”
Mullin was an enthusiastic advocate of a bill that passed the U.S. House in October to extend a federal program that provides financial incentives for states to move children out of foster care and into adoptive homes.
“This is one area where I like the relationship the federal government has with the states, because they're not telling the states how to run it,” Mullin said. “They're just saying, ‘Hey if you do a good job we're going to reward you for it.'”
Congress started the current adoption incentive program in 1997 and, since then, the number of children leaving foster care for adoption has risen from about 30,000 a year to 50,000 nationally, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The average time to complete an adoption has dropped, and the number of children in foster care also has decreased.
The incentives, which totaled more than $375 million from the inception of the program through 2011, are structured to reward states for increases in adoptions. Currently, the increases are based on how many adoptions states achieved above the 2007 level.
Did you know?
There are currently about 300 children in Department of Human Services custody who are legally eligible for adoption. More information can be found at the DHS website, www.