Message from Joint Council’s Chair of the Board

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, it is with great sadness that we inform you that our organization must cease its operations effective June 30, 2015.

Joint Council’s 40-year history has been storied. A small group of organizations came together in 1975 to share information, elevate practices and collaborate on projects serving children in the U.S. and abroad. From those beginnings, we grew into an international organization with an outstanding reputation helping thousands upon thousands of orphans and vulnerable children. We are extremely proud of Joint Council’s accomplishments and take great pride in the difference our organization made in the lives of so many children and their families.

These accomplishments were only possible because of the company that we kept. The Joint Council community is a family unto itself. We would like to thank all current and previous staff, board members, partners, donors and supporters for their dedication to our common cause.  We especially want to thank our current staff – Jennifer, Marie and Brandy – who have worked tirelessly under extremely stressful circumstances, and to the end, with extreme passion and dedication.

This was a difficult and painful decision to make, and we would like you to know that the Board acted reluctantly. As an organization, we have been subject to the same trends that have impacted many of our partners over the last decade. While we have been on the brink before, each time we were able to recover, but with diminished capacity. At this point in time, we are simply out of money and realize that we no longer have the prospect of continuing as a viable organization.

I hope that all of you will continue your tireless efforts to address the unmet needs of vulnerable children and continue the legacy of Joint Council by working to end the suffering of children who live every day without the safety and love of a strong permanent family.

On a personal note, as an adoptive parent who benefited from the work of Joint Council, I will forever be grateful for the group’s leadership that helped make our adoption possible.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Thank you for all of the support you have shown to Joint Council,

Brian Franklin
Board Chair


Sign Up Reminder: Identity in Adoption Webinar

An Adoption Learning Partners webinar co-sponsored by  Joint Council on International Children’s Services

Webinar Reminder: Identity in Adoption

Mirrors and Windows

Thursday, May 7, 2015
7:00 PM Central 
Q&A: 8:00 PM

Have you ever wondered just how much nature vs. nurture will play a role in your adopted child’s identity formation?

How will they balance these influences as they pull together their own understanding of who they are?

What can you do to help them?

Join moderator Leah Bloom, LMFT, an adopted person who was adopted from Korea, as she leads our panel of adopted persons through a discussion about the intricacies of identity formation in adoption. Our panel – adopted domestically, internationally and from foster care – will reflect back on their own experiences and answer YOUR questions about such things as:

  • What their adoptive parents did that helped them through the journey
  • What they wish their parents had done
  • Additional supportive elements and resources that have helped them mold their identity formation
  • Privacy concerns in sharing their adoption story
  • Feelings of loss related to their adoption what tends to trigger this
  • Curiosity and feelings about biological parents and how much they identify with them


Where You Once Called Home

New Webinar!  Tuesday April 1st, 2014 7:00PM CT

April 1st,2014 | 7:00 PM Central | Q&A 8:00 PM

Where You Once Called Home

Insights into Homeland Tours

If you’re considering, or planning, a trip to your child’s (or your own) birth country, many factors other than just travel influence how the trip goes.

Hear directly from adopted persons and parents who have taken homeland tours. They will share their personal experiences and feelings from preparation to the lasting impact of the their homeland travels.

To help parents or adopted persons plan their journey, our panel will discuss:

  • What is the right age to travel?
  • Preparing the adopted person for the experiences and situations they may encounter
  • Preparing yourself (as parent, spouse, or friend) to support the adopted person through their feelings while on the trip
  • Travel tips
  • Finding the right persons to help the adopted person, and other family members, organize and take full advantage of the experiences and memories they bring back home.

Register Here!

Joint Council | (703) 535-8045 | |
117 South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Expert Advice on Your Top 5 Attachment Concerns on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00p Central Time


February 25, 2014  7:00 PM Central  Q&A: 8:00 PM

Expert Advice on Your Top 5 Attachment Concerns

Attachment is a process that can take time. Adoption often poses challenges to that process, leaving parents with concerns and questions.

If you’re concerned about your child’s attachment process with parents, siblings, or peers there are practical steps and ideas you can try at home right away. Or maybe you just want to know what’s typical and what’s adoption related.

Join Regina Kupecky as she discusses the Top 5 attachment concerns and what to do about them!

Practical ideas for the top 5 concerns she hears from parents including bonding to siblings, parents and peers as well as what’s typical and what’s not

Expert insights into attachment and attunement

Advice on connecting with your child throughout their development

Register Here!

Joint Council | (703) 535-8045 | |
117 South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

The Scoop on Nutrition and the Adopted Child

New Webinar!

November 5th, 2013
7:00 PM Central
Q&A: 8:00 PM

Internationally adopted children often suffer physical, cognitive, and behavioral challenges due to poor nutrition in their early years. Once a child comes home, adoptive parents often struggle to make up for nutritional deficiencies.

Join Dr. Dana Johnson, renowned international adoption physician, as he helps parents understand the impact of poor nutrition and how to help children catch up.

  • Understand what deficiencies your child may have and why.
  • Recognize the impact malnutrition has on a child and what warning signs to look for.
  • Learn strategies and tips to help your child catch up and thrive.

Submit your questions for us here or by tweeting them to @adoptiontweet using ##ALPNutrition

Children In Families FIRST!!



It’s Day 5 of CHIFF Week!

Each day this week I’ve been sending you a note with one thing you can do that day to support CHIFF.  Here’s what you can do today – Day 5 of CHIFF Week.


60ef9049574fda3c72969ae680d676c8 Call Your Members of Congress

Surveys show that only 20 calls from constituents are needed for a bill to get the attention of our elected officials.  So if you only do one thing, please call.  Here is a sample script you can personalize for making that call! 


902c73ca3f1115c519912a76e3339585 Double Up – Email A Letter to Congress

Tell your Members of Congress you want them to support the Children in Families

First Act of 2013!  Here’s a template letter but be sure to personalize it.

Thanks for being a Joint Council Partner and for helping us make a historic change in the way the US government serves children and families.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

P.S.  If you didn’t see Day 1 through 4 click here to find out what you missed – it’s not too late to catch up!

|    website   |    adoption nutrition |     facebook     |       blog       |     twitter   |    donate   | 

   |   TOM DIFILIPO |   President & CEO  |   Joint Council   |  +1.703.535.8045  |       


Day 1 – Register for the CHIFF Webinar.  If you missed it, click here for a recorded version.

Day 2 -  Become a CHIFF Sponsoring Organization.  Send an email to stating “NAME OF ORGANIZATION is a CHIFF Sponsoring


Day 3 – Like CHIFF’s Facebook page and post about CHIFF on yours.

Day 4 – Send out a Call To Action and rally your troops.

Day 5 -  Call your Members of Congress!

Joint Council Statement on ‘Re-Homing’


Dear Colleagues,

Joint Council has co-signed the following statement regarding the issue of ‘re-homing’.  We stand with you and our colleagues who have also signed this statement urging for reforms needed to prevent unregulated placement of children and increase protections for children.


Tom DiFilipo

TOM DIFILIPO | President & CEO | +1.703.535.8045 | Uplifting Families. Serving Children. Worldwide. | | |   facebook |   blog |   twitter DONATE

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                             September 11, 2013

National Adoption and Child Welfare Organizations, Responding to ‘Re-homing’ Reports, Call on Congress and Public Officials to Protect Children, Support Adoptive Families

The recent Reuters reports about the “re-homing” of adopted children and youth are heartbreaking and appalling. No child should go through agony like this. We know the vast majority of adoptive families are committed to their sons and daughters, and do all they can to keep their children safe and sound and to help them overcome early losses or traumas. But the practice of parents – of any sort – giving their children away to unapproved, unlicensed strangers is anathema to us and must be prevented and prosecuted.

As a society, we must make children’s needs paramount; they are not commodities that can be traded or discarded. We call on federal and state policymakers to take immediate actions to prevent the terrible and unregulated activity that is being called “re-homing,” in which parents privately transfer custody of their adopted children.

Parents who adopt must understand they are making a lifelong commitment to a child. But forcing families to struggle without support, trying to raise children they feel unable to parent, is also unacceptable and harmful to children. The recent news coverage of “re-homing” calls attention to critically important questions about the circumstances that lead to adoptive parents transferring custody, the intentions of those who are seeking children to parent through these practices, and the effects on children. Some parents who seek new homes for their children may be callous and uncaring. Others may not have been properly trained about the core issues of adoption – about the specific issues their child is facing – or may have chosen to adopt through an agency more interested in fees than in vetting and preparation. We must improve processes and require training in the unique challenges of parenting children who have experienced early adversity or have special needs. Agencies that place children for adoption must properly assess families’ abilities, prepare families for a lifetime commitment, and commit to providing ongoing support.

Other parents, however, are good people who are feeling desperately unable to care for their children—some children who have been traumatized by adverse experiences in their early lives, who have brain damage from alcohol or drug exposure in utero, or who have serious mental health and behavioral challenges. We strongly believe children benefit when all adoptive families have access to ongoing services, whether their adoptions were of children from foster care, from other countries, or as infants in the U.S. While many states offer some such services, they are rarely comprehensive. Many known supports do not serve families who adopt internationally, while others may be available in cities, but not in smaller towns. Some offer basic information and referral, but not adoption-competent, trauma-informed family care. Adoptive families need a continuum of support – from information about core adoption issues, to training on special needs, to clinical services that address mental health and behavior challenges. They also need connections with experienced adoptive parents, who can encourage them to hang in there, show them how children can heal, and remind them that adoption is a lifelong commitment.

A coalition of adoption and child welfare partners have been raising visibility about the critical needs of some adoptive families; in recent years, the coalition has called on Congress to implement changes to ensure adopted children and their parents get the services they need to keep their families safe and stable. In a briefing on Capitol Hill, coalition members shared joint policy recommendations to encourage federal policy makers to help shift the paradigm away from simply placing children for adoption to providing the ongoing supports families need to raise children to healthy adulthood. We should wait no longer to implement these recommendations, which include:

  • Establish a reliable, comprehensive, and flexible federal funding source for post-adoption services
  • Ensure services offered to adopted children and their families embrace best practices, are trauma-informed, and are provided by professionals who are trained in supporting children and their adoptive families
  • Invest in research and evaluation to identify and promote the most effective post-adoption services
  • Address the significant gaps in the service delivery system and state policies which too often present parents with the impossible choice of giving up custody to receive state-funded services for their children
  • Provide access to post-adoption services regardless of the type of adoption

We can’t think of a more critical time to pass legislation that extends greater federal support for post-adoption services for children and their families. We applaud the House Ways and Means Committee draft proposal that establishes some designation to support such services, but it is not enough. As Congress sets its sights on adoption legislation [reauthorizing the federal Adoption Incentives Program] this fall, we call for broader action to pursue policies that will put an end to trading children and will create a network of support services that help children and their adoptive families, beginning before a child is adopted and throughout their subsequent journey.
In addition to the above recommendations, we strongly urge legislators and policymakers to protect children from unregulated custody transfers, whether or not they cross state lines. Congress should act immediately, beginning by holding oversight hearings, initiating a comprehensive GAO investigation of the practice of “re-homing” and adoption dissolution, and passing legislation to strengthen the policies and practices that will prevent harm to adopted children. We believe any such investigation should review legal practices and the need for prosecution of wrong-doers in the re-homing of children.

In the meantime, we call on Congress to immediately convene a meeting of senior leadership from the State Department, SAMSHA, ACYF, CMS, and states to examine state-by-state policy implications for this population, with the intended goal of developing better coordination of funding and services and providing technical assistance, training, and strategies to address the needs of adopted children and their families.

For more information or questions contact:

Nicole Dobbins, Voice for Adoption (VFA) or 202-210-8118

Joe Kroll, North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) or 651-644-3036

Linda Spears, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) or 202-688-4189

Adam Pertman, Donaldson Adoption Institute or 212-925-4089

Tom DiFilipo, Joint Council on International Children’s Services or 703-535-8045

Joint Council Update – Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act

Last Thursday Senators Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013.  These bills follow the successful effort to reinstate the adoption tax credit which Congress made permanent in late 2012.  The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013 will expand the number of children benefiting from adoption by supporting adoptive families through full refundability.

The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group (ATCWG), of which we are a founding member, has worked to educate Members of Congress on the need to make the tax credit fully refundable.  Visit the ATCWG’s website and Facebook page to learn more about refundability and the ATCWG’s efforts.  The ATCWG  will be developing talking points and advocacy strategies and will post more information soon to ask members of the adoption community to become fully engaged. 

We extend our thanks to Senators Casey and Landrieu and Representative Braley for their leadership and work to ensure that the adoption tax credit is made refundable.   We also thank the many Joint Council Partners who are members of the ATCWG and for their continued support.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

P.S.  Senator Landrieu’s statement on the legislation can be found below.


Dear Adoption Leader,

My husband and I are blessed with two precious, adopted children, and I know the Adoption Tax Credit encourages many others to consider expanding their own families through adoption. Although the tax credit was made permanent in January, the law did not extend the refundability provisions that applied in 2010 and 2011, allowing the full use of the tax credit. 

Last week, I joined my colleagues to introduce the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act to make the Adoption Tax Credit fully refundable.

Without the tax credit being refundable, many adopting families can’t fully utilize the benefits of this credit to make adoption a reality. This change will especially help families that want to adopt foster youth, finally providing them with a permanent and loving family and ensuring foster care is only temporary.

I am committed to making the Adoption Tax Credit refundable and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to support families who make the wonderful decision to adopt.

Read the Towanda, Pa., Daily Review’s editorial in support of the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act here or below.



The Daily Review: EDITORIAL: ‘Adopt’ the Tax Credit

May 28, 2013

The reality of adoption in America and its perception in the pop culture are widely divergent. Due to the publicity attending Russia’s use of international adoptions for political purposes, and the attention that often attends adoptions by celebrities, the day-to-day issues often are obscured.

Coverage of celebrity adoptions leads many Americans to view adoption as the province of the wealthy, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a third of all adopted children live in households with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Among households that adopt children from foster care, 46 percent are in that income range.

For many families, then, adoption poses a huge financial challenge. To help them, Sens. Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa, have introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013.

A tax credit to encourage adoption was included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed in January. Because a high percentage of adoptive families have low incomes, however, their tax burden is too low to make them eligible for the adoption tax credit.

The new bill would make the credit refundable to the adoptive parents despite their low tax burden, as it was in 2010 and 2011.

According to the IRS, of filers claiming the adoption tax credit in 2011, 62 percent benefitted from the refundability provision and 25 percent of all filers claiming the credit had adjusted gross incomes lower than $50,000. Clearly, refundability is an important incentive for families to adopt children.

Making the tax credit refundable will create some cost for the federal government, but it long has been demonstrated that the cost of such credits is substantially less than the aggregate costs to the government of foster care.

Congress, especially those members who claim a pro-life position, should vote for the credit to help make adoption as affordable as possible to as many prospective adoptive families as possible.

Please contact Sen. Landrieu at the office nearest you.

Joint Council Update – Senate Hearings on Children in Adversity

Last week Senator Mary Landrieu chaired the Senate Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs’ unprecedented hearing on U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity.   While our participation was limited as the hearing was held the same day as our Symposium, many of our colleagues with whom we have been working on the U.S. Action Plan for Children in Adversity testified and were present for the hearing.

The hearings were live streamed and are now available as a webcast.  Due to the length of the hearings we have broken down the various testimonies and questioning so that you can view all of the hearing or specific witnesses.  The entire hearing is well worth watching but recognizing everyone’s time constraints we have highlighted just a few sections that we feel you would find particularly interesting and relevant.

We extend our thanks to Senators Leahy and Landrieu for convening this unprecedented hearing and for bringing the needs of children living without family care to the attention of Congress.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo
Senate Hearing on U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity

Joint Council Update – STUCK Trailer

6d63f875f13e6cb7b7fb111f85a5084c TRAILER FOR STUCK NOW ONLINE

If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at the trailer for STUCK.  

And if you would like to volunteer in any of the 60 cities that are part of the STUCK tour, just email Maggie Steiner at

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

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