This is a brief (no it isn’t, it will get long… nothing I write is ever brief) tutorial on how to contact your Member of Congress about the need for oversight on the Dept. of State’s current move to make inter-country adoption more difficult and more expensive.
I will do this in two parts because there are two kinds of people out there.
The Extrovert’s Guide to Contacting Members of Congress…
Read this so you have the facts: http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/files/large/866b3338c7a856c
- Find out who your two U.S. Senators and one U.S. Representative are. You can do that here: https://contactingcongress.org/
- Pick up the phone and dial the number listed for that elected official.
- Ask to speak to the staff person in charge of adoption or international adoption. (Mine didn’t have one, by the way, so I was routed to the staffer whose job description most closely matched that. He was delightful and responsive.)
- Explain that you are concerned about the recent move by the U.S. Department of State to increase the accreditation fees for international adoption agencies and that you are gravely concerned that this increase in fees will cause a cascade of negative effects on inter-country adoptions. Do this in your own words. Refer the staffer to the National Council for Adoption to find further information.
- Be polite and respectful throughout the conversation.
- If you don’t know the answer to something you are asked, don’t guess. Say “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will get it and get back to you.” Then follow through.
- Offer to send a follow-up email with resources your congressional staffer can use to brief his/her boss/your Member of Congress on the topic. Be sure to include a photo of your internationally adopted children if you have them. This issue needs a face. It needs a lot of faces. Because lives are surely at stake.
The Introvert’s Guide to Contacting Your Member of Congress:
- Avoid doing it? Because surely everyone else is already doing it, right? WRONG. I, an introvert, was the first person to contact my congressman’s office on this. I waited until the second day of the targeted campaign. They had literally not heard of it until I called. This is a HUGE PROBLEM!
- Realize you have to do it. Spend a few minutes pondering how much you hate cold calling on anything. Worry that you will stutter. (I did once or twice, we all survived.)
- Feel a little sick, but know this is important and you really need to do it even if you’d rather chew ground glass than talk to a stranger on the phone.
- Put on an essential oil blend for courage. Make a pot of coffee. Do a few deep breathing exercises. Picture where your internationally adopted children would be right now if they weren’t safely home with you.
- Follow steps 1-7 on the Extrovert list.
I would love to tell you that the Introvert List is made up. Except that I literally did all those things. And you know what? It was easy-peasy once I determined that it was important enough for me to step out of my comfort zone. And after reading about and discussing the issue at length, I was actually able to share a lot of good information with a congressional staffer who was both kind and responsive. (We have already emailed back and forth several times today with follow-ups. I feel like he’s my new best friend.)
This is a problem that won’t go away unless we make our voices heard. Period. I know that if you are an adoptive parent, you have your own inspiration. But here was mine…