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The National Council for Adoption: Mothers, Money, Marketing, and Madness, Part 1

The National Council for Adoption:

MOTHERS, MONEY, MARKETING, & MADNESS

The National Council for Adoption usually has something to say about any adoption issue. One would think they should just based on their name. After all “National Council” makes it sound as if an official governmental appointment was made. That they are the official US stance, made after long thought out meetings by a Council, on all things related to adoption. Alas, that is just a well thought out play on the name made to make one think that is what they are.

By their own Mission Statement, they are something else:

Founded in 1980, the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) is a research, education, and advocacy organization whose mission is to promote the well-being of children, birthparents, and adoptive families by advocating for the positive option of adoption. NCFA is an adoption advocate and expert in the halls of power and the courts of public opinion, on behalf of all parties to adoption and its member adoption agencies around the country.”

It’s very clear, as noted in the bolded emphasis, that their self-appointed job is to promote adoption and that promotion is benefitting the adoption agencies. They are a lobby group, pure and simple, bought and paid for to use their power and resources to sway the public in such a way that adoption is seen as positive.

How they do such things is no mystery.

Their 2005 IRS form #990 states clearly that they have the resources. Their total gross receipts for that year were $2,920,818. That’s almost 3 million dollars. Just for reference, if we compare similar adoption groups there is quite a difference in funding. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is the next biggest competitor as an Adoption information and research group coming in at $671,296. The American Adoption Congress filed their 990 for $39,338 as income. Bastard Nation declared $2,872 and Concerned United Birthparents has ten chapters listed with none of them having an income greater enough to be eligible for filing status. With the exception of the EBD, none of the other adoption groups have compensated employees relying instead on all volunteer activities. Simple math computes that the NCFA operates at a greater budget than all their opposition combined.

It makes sense to wonder were their money comes from.

Just over 1 million of the NCFA funding comes from “public support.” This does not including another fifty-plus thousand that comes from membership dues. Once again, the National Council for Adoption members consists of non-profit adoption agencies. The Gladney Centers for Adoption and Bethany Christian Services are all members. While both are, indeed, non–profit, one only has to look at their IRS 990’s to see where the money is rolling in. The Gladney Centers in Texas have one main “hospital” group and two other big “funds.” Combined there is over 39 million dollars declared as assets and another $12,154,675 claimed as income after expenses. That’s over 50 million dollars.

Bethany Christian Services breaks out to three main states; North Carolina, Iowa, and Michigan with a combined income of $ 3,098,830 and assets of $ 1,236,37. While Bethany is not quite as hard to stomach as Gladney in terms of excessive figures, seeing these huge “non-profit” numbers makes it easier to comprehend how American adoption services is over a 3 billion dollar a year industry. It behooves the agencies to fund a lobby group that promotes their needs, causes public opinion to be swayed in their favor and facilitates an environment beneficial for their bottom line by promoting adoption.

The NCFA is also privately funded by various moral majority groups such as the Family Research Council who “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society…. values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family.” Pro-life organizations and the LDS church also support the NCFA viewpoints as they all mesh together in some absurd God fearing way.

However, the greatest portion of the NCFA’s funding is received from “government contributions/grants.” In 2005 that figure topped out at $1,615,588, but historically, 2005 was not one of their very best years:

2004: $5,331.093; 2003: $8,323,973; 2002: $4,497,484; 2001: $1,091,555

And that total is over 20 million dollars from government grants. Tax levees collected from US citizens from the federal government and awarded to an adoption agency lobby group so that they can tell us what to think and feel about adoption. Over half their operating budget received from our tax money, but they still promote what favors the other half of their funding, the agencies.

So what do they actually do with all that money??


They have to pay their hard working staff. President and head honcho, Thomas Atwood, is a very busy man. He must keep up with EBD’s Adam Pertman, battling him head for head on NPR and in print. Dumpster diving to save babies pays well for Atwood makes a pretty penny defending the poor, scared, surrendering mothers from their annoying adoptee spawn. He worked sixty hours a week for the $150,104 he brought home in 2005. His benefit package seems pretty substantial at $26,046. He receives health, dental and life insurance, plus a pension plan. Interestingly enough, his pay is broken down into compensation, management, and fundraising. I do wonder if he doesn’t get a percentage of what he brings in out of fundraising. None of the other board members get paid though there are other paid employees at the NCFA. Not counting Mr. Atwood, the NCFA claims $754,122 in other salaries and wages.

We do have the income of some key players to account for: Daniel Resse, the Development Director gets $115K plus another15K in benefits. Lee Allen who serves as the Communication Director makes $91K plus another sixteen in benefits and perks. And at last, the hard working Training Director, Charles Johnson, rakes in 88K plus thirteen putting together all the national training opportunities to convince folks that adoption is swell. They do not get reimbursed for travel and other expenses but the agency pays out directly those $237,485 in expenses.

Their other expenses are not so huge really consider that they have employees, buildings, an apartment, etc. Boring expected things like supplies, the phone, over 60K in postage, conferences, etc. are included as operating expenses. Oddly enough, nothing at all under legal fees and only $332 spent in advertising. Likewise, only $1,088 in income tax, but I guess the whole “non-profit” status fits in there.

Being a lobby group it makes sense to see what the NCFA invests in their legislative efforts. In their own words they “provides strategic policy briefs, expert testimony at legislative hearings, personalized briefings on adoption issues, conferences, grassroots leadership, and monitoring and reporting on adoption-related legislative activities. Policy makers in all levels and branches of government, look to NCFA for leadership and analysis of adoption policy issues.”

Here we can see the numbers over several years:

2005: $297,611; 2004: $405,814; 2003: $613,703; 2002: $400,234.

Adding up the four year total results in $1,717,362 spent on convincing our elected officials, with our tax monies that: Americans need to recognize adoption as a loving option, more people need to be able to afford to adopt, privacy is desired and mothers need to be protected from bad fathers who might force them to parent unwanted children.

They spent their lobby money wisely as the NCFA did convince the government to sponsor the Infant Adoption Awareness Initiative. All together the first federal grant was 8.6 million given to four agencies with the lion’s share of 6.1 million going to the NCFA over a four year period.

Growing out of legislation by the U.S. Congress in 2000, the primary purpose of the program was to train pregnancy and health counselors in federally funded clinics to present adoption as an option to women with unplanned pregnancies. It has since expanded to target and include anyone who might ever come in contact with anyone experiencing an unplanned pregnancy in order to present adoption as a positive option. Parenting is not on their agenda.

In more than 1,700 training days since 2002, NCFA’s IAATP has trained more than 17,000 individuals from all fifty states. They offer two and one day trainings with lodging and a meal stipend provided to all participants. The trainings continue in 2007 as the NCFA is pleased to be designated as the Infant Adoption Training Initiative Grantee for Health Region 3. In 2005, the Infant Adoption Awareness Training claims expenses of $1,657,620. The IAATP education is separate from other services and their expenses and looks to operate as a fiscally positive venture for the NCFA as well as its members.

Aside from the IAATP, the NCFA brings in an additional $162,175 from their “educational publications” that people and professionals must buy. They operate at a loss there as they claim $240,022 for printing these gems. Separate from that is the very similar sounding “member services” for the public at $147,687 in expenses and the education for agencies, charities, and more public at $204,039. Bottom line is that the NCFA spends lots of money telling Americans how adoption is a positive option.

Part 1  |  (Part 2)

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