THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
IN THIS ISSUE1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
6. About the Evan D. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
HOUSE BILL CALLS FOR PRISON TERMS FOR `EXCESS’ ADOPTION FEES
Rep. Kennedy (R-MN) introduced the Baby Selling Prohibition Act of 2004 (HR5064) in the House this month, and it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would make the knowing acceptance of payment for the placement of a child or obtaining consent to adoption “in excess of the allowable costs for adoption” punishable by imprisonment “for not more than 10 years.” The allowable costs would be defined by the state in which the adoption is finalized. For states in which allowable costs are not defined, the legislation identifies them as fees for pre- and post-adoption counseling, maternity-related medical costs and travel for necessary court appearances, attorney and legal fees, foster care, medical care and living expenses, and travel of the child to be adopted. The bill amends Chapter 77 (Peonage and Slavery) of Title 18 (Crimes and Criminal Procedures) of the U.S. Code by adding a section addressing the adoption of minors. The bill is identical to one introduced in the Senate (S2748) by Senator Clinton (D-NY) in July that is still in the Judiciary Committee. To find out more about HR5064, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR5064 in the bill number field.
BIPARTISAN BILL SEEKS TO EXPEDITE INTERSTATE ADOPTIONS
Senators Domenici (R-NM) and Lincoln (D-AR) introduced the Orderly and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2004 (S2779) in the Senate on Sept. 8, and it was referred to the Finance Committee. The legislation would revise the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), requiring states to conduct and complete a home study within 60 days of receiving a request from another state and would establish an incentive plan for states that complete home studies in a timely manner (a bonus of $1,000 for each completed within 30 days of receipt of a request). A companion bill (HR4504) was introduced by House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) this summer. To find out more about S2779, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S779 in the bill number field.
HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO MAKE ADOPTION TAX CREDIT PERMANENT
The US House unanimously passed the Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act (HR1057), sponsored by Rep. DeMint (R-SC), on Sept. 22. The bill would make permanent the 2001 increase in the adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000, as well as adoption assistance programs as enacted by the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRA), section 202, which was set to expire in 2010. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR1057 in the bill number field.
OKLA. SUIT AIMS TO PROTECT OUT-OF-STATE ADOPTIONS BY GAY COUPLES
Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in federal court on Sept. 15 seeking to overturn a law that apparently prohibits Oklahoma from recognizing adoptions by same-sex couples from other states and foreign countries. The lawsuit challenges an amendment to the Oklahoma Adoption Code (Title 10, § 7502-1.4 A), signed by Gov. Henry in May, that “appears to sever the legal ties between parents and their children whenever families led by same-gender couples enter the state of Oklahoma.” The plaintiffs – same-sex couples who adopted while living in other states and later moved to Oklahoma with their families or want to visit the state where their children were born – are seeking to ensure that “legal, final orders of adoption from other states” will be respected in Oklahoma. To read the full brief, go to: http://www.lambdalegal.org/binary-data/LAMBDA_PDF/pdf/310.pdf To read the Oklahoma Adoption Code, go to: http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocument.asp?citeid=440057
MICHIGAN: MARRIED SAME-SEX PARTNERS CANNOT ADOPT AS COUPLES
Michigan Attorney General Cox issued a legal opinion on Sept. 14 saying that gays and lesbians who wed in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages cannot adopt children in Michigan as a couple, although one of the partners may adopt individually. The opinion specifically addressed whether the state can recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts and whether those couples can adopt children in Michigan. Critics argue that preventing second-parent adoptions by unmarried couples, as well as same-sex couples, denies children of the same financial security and legal rights guaranteed to children of married couples and is not in the children’s best interest. To read the opinion, go to: http://www.ag.state.mi.us/opinion/datafiles/2000s/op10236.htm; to read background and comments on the opinion, go to: http://www.pridesource.com/article.shtml?article=9643
Editor’s Note: In last month’s e-newsletter, a Law, Policy and Practice summary of an article by the Alan Guttmacher Institute about the Infant Adoption Awareness ACT (IAAA) inaccurately stated that the majority of family and pregnancy planning counselors had negative training experiences, when in fact the article stated only that the majority of participants interviewed held this opinion. A correction has been made in the archived e-newsletter posted on the Evan B. Donaldson website. To see the corrected item, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/newsletter/2004_08.html#majority
STUDY FINDS ORPHANAGES RETURNING, CITES `SERIOUS CONCERNS’
A study published by Children’s Rights, “A Return to Orphanages?” found a cyclical trend in interest about institutional care for children in the U.S. public-welfare system, and attributed current interest to the convergence of a “growing dissatisfaction with the quality of foster care” and the “leadership of charismatic individuals” who see institutions as the solution to the problem of permanency for these children. The study, written by Madelyn Freundlich, Leslee Morris and Emily Blair, found that since 2000, new orphanages (called by other names) have been established successfully in Florida, Mississippi and California; attempts to establish similar institutions elsewhere have been less successful; other pending efforts face financial challenges, and in some cases local opposition. The authors wrote in their August report that research shows institutional care has a “highly negative impact” on children and efforts to create these new institutions therefore “raise serious concerns.” To obtain a copy of the study, go to: http://www.childrensrights.org/Policy/resources_CRresources_return_orphanages.htm
PAYMENTS TO AGENCIES LEAD JAPAN TO PROBE OVERSEAS ADOPTIONS
Japan plans to scrutinize its adoption agencies and related legal procedures relating to overseas adoptions after recent reports that some adoptive families have been asked to make huge donations to agencies, according to a Sept. 20 article in the Washington Times, “Japan to Probe Overseas Adoption.” Japan’s Social Welfare Law requires adoption agencies to register with the municipal government, but there are no penalties for not registering; although agencies are prohibited from “profit-making” there are no restrictions on financial gains received from “donations.” Between 2000 and 2003, a total of 106 children born in Japan were adopted by people overseas. To read the full article, go to: http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040919-111609-9435r.htm
FRENCH COURT, IN PRECEDENT, RECOGNIZES LESBIAN COUPLE AS PARENTS
The family court of the Tribunal de Grande Instance formally recognized a lesbian couple as parents for the first time, setting a precedent that could apply to future rulings involving the estimated 200,000 children living in gay-parent families in France. The court decision also could challenge legal barriers against homosexual marriage, adoption and artificial insemination, according to the Sept. 24 article, “French Court Recognizes Gay Couple as Parents,” written by John Lichfield for the Independent. The children’s biological mother had given up her parental rights when her partner legally adopted the children three years ago. French laws do not recognize gay families, but after hearing that all the children were well-adjusted and recognized both women as their mother, the court decided to restore the parental authority of the children’s birthmother, “in the best interests of the children.” To read the full article, go to: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=565108
CENSUS BUREAU RELEASES FACT SHEET FOR NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH
The US Census Bureau published a “Facts for Features” special edition on Sept. 20, providing adoption statistics and facts for National Adoption Month in November, and National Adoption Day, to be held on Nov. 20. Among the information on the fact sheet is that the median income for households with adopted children under 18 is higher ($56,000) than those with biological children ($48,000) and stepchildren ($51,000). It also reports that there are 1.6 million adopted children under the age of 18 of householders, and 13 percent of adopted children are foreign-born. To obtain a copy of the fact sheet, go to: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/002683.html
5. Institute Update
OPEN ADOPTION REPORTEDLY SPURS `UPTICK’ IN AVAILABILITY OF INFANTS
A story in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 28 reported that the “pool of healthy infants available for adoption appears to be experiencing an uptick in some parts of the country,” apparently as a result of open adoptions. In the article by Suein Hwang, “Adoptions Get Easier Thanks to `Open’ Agreements,” Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman indicates one reason for such a rise is that the vast majority of pregnant women who decide to place their babies for adoption want to know about their children afterward. To read the full story for a small fee, go to: http://online.wsj.com/public/us and search in the article archives. To read a reprint of the story without a fee, go to: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/dailystar/41077.php
6. About the Evan D. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Since its establishment in 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has been a pre-eminent, independent voice for improving adoption for everyone it touches - particularly children - through innovative programs, educational initiatives, research and analysis, and advocacy for better practices, policies and laws. Our award-winning web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org, is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information. Read past e-Newsletters at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/newsletter/archive.html.
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