The Adoption and Safe Families Act Takes Kids Away From Loving Parents
Some laws are built on false premises, and revamping them can take a long time. The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 19, 1997, is one such law.
On its 25th anniversary later this month, family advocates are pressing for a thorough overhaul of the harmful system built on ASFA’s faulty premise: that cutting kids off from their families and “freeing” foster children for adoption is better than reunifying them with parents who love them.
Though much less widely discussed than the crime bill or welfare reform legislation also passed in the late 1990s, ASFA demonized the same targets: poor people, especially poor people of color. Remember three strikes and you’re out? Under ASFA, families often get no strikes. For them, the termination-of-rights clock starts ticking the minute a state takes a child into foster care. A family’s time is up if the child is still in foster care after 15 months, regardless of the reason for the removal in the first place.
For more than 80 percent of parents, the reason for removal involves neglect, not abuse. Often the so-called neglect has to do with poverty, disability, homelessness, incarceration, or the parents’ own status as victims of violence. Being incarcerated, by itself, is grounds for rights termination in many states. Instead of presuming (as constitutional jurisprudence does) that children’s best interests are aligned with their families’ interests and that parents should be treated as fit to raise their children unless the state shows clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, ASFA forces parents to prove their fitness within 15 months of the da
Article from Reason.com