Open letter to Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute

Dear Mrs Strottman,

We write to you to offer a sincere apology. Two weeks ago, we wrote a critique of the Children In Families First Act of 2013, for our website Pound Pup Legacy. In that critique, we erroneously claimed that the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) supports the CHIFF act.

This can of course not be the case, as you state in the FAQ section of your website, as well as in the press kit for the year 2013:

CCAI does not lobby on behalf of any individual piece of legislation or government program. CCAI does not take official positions on issues related to adoption and foster care, but rather seeks to provide policymakers with the resources they need to make informed decisions.

In our defense, our critique never made the claim your organization lobbies for an individual piece of legislation. CCAI is registered as a 501(c)3, and as such no substantial part of your activities would be directed towards an attempt to influence legislation. Moreover, we learned, based on the 990s filed with the IRS, you don't spend any money on lobbying activities at all.

Truth be told, after some investigation, we realized it wouldn't even make logical sense to say CCAI engages in lobbying!   In fact, your organization doesn't have to. With 143 Members of Congress endorsing CCAI, and an advisory board containing four senators and four representatives of the United States Congress, you don't need to engage in lobbying. Your (board) members will do so on personal title, for you.

Similarly, adoption legislation introduced by members of congress, residing on CCAI's advisory board, is always brought to the floor in legislative function, and should never be seen as an official position of CCAI. This we perfectly understand.

Although we never suggested CCAI engaged in lobbying, we did hold the erroneous assumption that your organization supported the CHIFF Act.  Our confusion in this matter arose from the fact that your organization is listed as part of The CHIFF Working Group Executive Committee.

As member of this committee, CCAI has been involved in authoring and promoting the CHIFF bill, but we now understand that shouldn't be conflated with an official position. Authoring and promoting a bill doesn't necessarily equate supporting it.

Over the years, we have not been the only ones who were misguided in our beliefs that CCAI takes positions. In 2008, your fellow CHIFF Working Group Executive Committee member, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) stated on their Guatemala 5000 web page:

Ask them [members of congress] to sign the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) sponsored letter to Guatemalan president Oscar Berger.

Apparently, JCICS mistook your involvement in that letter (which was signed by 206 members of congress, unless we count twice the double signatures of representatives Steven Rothman, Dan Burton, Bart Gordon, Carolyn Maloney, David Wu, Tom Davis, Steven LaTourette, James T. Walsh, Christopher H. Smith, and Jerry Costello), as being in support of it, while such an activity is, as we now understand, nothing more than  providing resources to policymakers to make informed decisions.

We sincerely hope JCICS, at the time, rectified their mistake, otherwise people would get the impression that CCAI does take official positions, and we can't have that, can we Mrs Strottman?

We hope you will accept our deepest apologies for misinterpreting your position with respect to the CHIFF Act. There is a fine line between lobbying and being an informational resource. There is also a fine line between authoring a position and taking that position, but we trust you know all technicalities to prevent you from crossing that line.

This leaves us with one question. We very much want to rectify our earlier statements about the position of CCAI with respect to the CHIFF Act, but we have a hard time finding the appropriate words. This is why we turn to you. What would, in your opinion, be an appropriate definition of the non-position you have with respect to the CHIFF Act? Would it be fair to say you are uncommitted to your own work, or is there a better way to frame CCAI's involvement in the CHIFF Act?


Pound Pup Legacy