[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 24, 1998]
[Pages 2090-2091]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Memorandum on Using the Internet To Increase Adoptions
November 24, 1998

Memorandum for the Secretary of Health and Human Services

Subject: Using the Internet to Increase Adoptions

    Technology will be an ever more important part of achieving our 
national goals as we approach the new millennium. New technological 
tools mean new opportunities for progress--helping us to strengthen the 
global economy, bolster public education, and improve the health of 
American families. Technology can also assist our continuing efforts to 
meet our national goal of doubling, by the year 2002, adoptions and 
other permanent placements from our Nation's foster care system.

    As we celebrate National Adoption Month, it is fitting that we 
reflect on the important steps we have taken to strengthen our child 
welfare system and, specifically, to improve the process of adoption. 
Through the Family and Medical Leave Act and tax credits, we have made 
it easier for families to adopt children. We have worked to eliminate 
discrimination and delay based on race and ethnicity. And, last year, I 
was proud to sign into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act, 
tightening the time frame for decision-making and affirming that the 
health and safety of children in foster care must always come first.

    We are making progress but there is more work to be done. Because 
geographic and other barriers to adoption still exist, we must do a 
better job of informing America's families about the many children that 
wait in foster care for permanent, adoptive homes. To give those 
children the future they deserve, to give our families the opportunity 
to provide them with happy, healthy homes, we must infuse the public 
child welfare system with the power of technology.

    Therefore, I am directing you to work with the States, courts, 
private agencies, and others to develop a plan for expanding appropriate 
use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be 
adopted from the public child welfare system. There are approximately 
100,000 children in our country waiting in foster care for permanent 
adoptive homes. Sharing information through a national Internet registry 
about children legally available for adoption could shorten the time 
needed to find adoptive families for such children. To take full 
advantage of the Internet's potential to promote adoptions while also 
ensuring appropriate confidentiality safeguards, close consultation with 
the States will be necessary.

    You should report to me within 60 days with a plan to carry out this 
consultation; identify important issues and strategies to address them;

[[Page 2091]]

and build on promising existing efforts to create an effective, national 

                                                      William J. Clinton

Note: The National Adoption Month proclamation of October 29 is listed 
in Appendix D at the end of this volume.