An MLJ Advocacy Update!


Advocacy has been part of international adoption since its inception! It is vital to nearly every important issue related to children and child welfare. In large part, the reason for it’s importance in these areas is because children, and especially children without families, require advocates to speak when they cannot. Adult decision makers, like our Members of Congress, rely on us, their constituents, to advise them on child-related issues. As constituents, we have the ability to inform and create change.

Sometimes if feels that our voice is only one voice, and one voice will not change the world. I am a person that loves quotes, and always remind myself of this one from Margaret Mead when feeling discouraging that change is not happening, or it is not happening fast enough. She said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Isn’t that the truth! At MLJ, we count ourselves blessed to do the work of international child welfare. We are honored to continue to lift up our voices for the world’s children in need of families. The current climate of international adoption requires more of us than ever, and I believe that our team, our Advisory Board and our families have risen to the advocacy challenge, and we could not be prouder! Since, September 2016, MLJ has committed to leading and engaging in advocacy efforts.

We feel that it is important to know that the agencies you select is walking this journey with you and advocating for the best interests of both the adopted child and the adoptive family. Below you will find the ways that we are serving our families through adoption.

  • In September 2016, the U.S. Department of State proposed rules that would have required families adopting internationally to complete inapplicable foster parent training and would have substantially increased the cost of adoption. We mobilized our families to advocate and initiated contact with the Small Business Administration – Office of Advocacy, the federal agency that ultimately found “certification of the rule was improper…” and the proposed rule was ultimately withdrawn.
  • In 2017, when the State Department was requiring that agencies have agreements to supervise orphanages in foreign countries against the laws in the foreign countries, our team secured a powerful letter from a foreign government clearly stating that this was an unlawful practice. This year, our Executive Director also traveled to meet with State Department leadership to express concerns and advocate for children and families.
  • In 2018, when the State Department increased the cost of adoption, we did not waste time in our advocacy efforts. We made calls to Members of Congress, had personal visits, drafted and submitted a letter to the White House, among other initiatives. We continue to engage heavily in advocacy efforts so that international adoption continues to be a viable option for American families.

We believe in sharing what is going on in adoption with our families. We of course love to celebrate successes (and there are many!), but we also know of the importance of sharing challenges. Our goal is to have fully informed adoptive families, so that, even after their adoption journey, they have the tools and are empowered to continue to advocate for all children in need.

Thank you to our truly incredible families who take the time to advocate during and after their adoption. It matters!

Nicole Skellenger works as MLJ Adoptions’ Chief Executive Officer and Adoption Attorney. Nicole has spent time in orphanages with children who have nothing and are desperate for affection and has committed herself to using her skills to create better futures for these deserving children.