Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
OCTOBER 2004 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
U.S. HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO EXPEDITE INTERSTATE ADOPTIONS|
On Oct. 5, the U.S. House of Representatives approved by voice vote the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2004 (HR4504), designed to facilitate the placement of children across state lines for foster care and adoption. The bill stipulates time requirements for the completion of home studies for children placed across state lines and revises some of the time frames from the original bill introduced in June by House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX). The companion measure in the Senate (S2779) was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, where it is currently delayed as a result of a provision that allows states to opt out of the federally mandated background check requirements for prospective foster and adoptive parents. To read the text of the House bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR4504 in the bill number field.
INFANT ADOPTION AWARENESS TRAINING PROGRAM GRANTS AWARDED
This month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the new national and regional Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program (IAATP) grantees. A total of $9.8 million was awarded to six organizations. For the 2004 fiscal year, HHS awarded Spaulding for Children, which received a regional grant in 2001, $5.5 million to implement a national training program; in the past, the national grant – of $6.1 million in 2001 – had gone to the National Council for Adoption. The other top two grantees were Harmony Adoptions of Tennessee ($1 million) and Independent Adoption Center ($950,000). To read the full list of grantees, go to: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/funding/fy2004ga.htm.
HHS ALLOTS $17.8M IN BONUSES TO STATES THAT INCREASED ADOPTIONS
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this month that it has issued $17.8 million in adoption bonuses to 31 states and Puerto Rico, the first time bonuses were distributed since the Adoption Promotion Act of 2003 – which extended the Adoption Incentive Program (created under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997) – was revised by the Bush administration. The Adoption Promotion Act authorized $43 million per year for five or more years and enhanced incentives for older children (over 9 years of age) by providing an additional $4,000 above the base incentive. The bonuses are given to states that have successfully increased the numbers of adoptions from the public child welfare system. For fiscal year 2003, the three states to receive the largest bonuses were New York ($3.5 million), Florida ($2.5 million), and Washington ($1.6 million). To read the full list of bonuses distributed per state, go to: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/adop_inc_2003.htm
BILL PUTS TRIBAL PROCESS ON EQUAL FOOTING IN FOSTER CARE, ADOPTION
The Senate passed the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2004 (S1601), which requires the recognition of tribal licensing or approval of guardianships, foster or adoptive homes, or institutions by an Indian tribe as equivalent to state licensing and approval. The legislation, passed last month, was sponsored by Sen. Bill Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and cosponsored by Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) and was passed by unanimous consent. In the House, the legislation is being considered by the Judiciary Committee. To read the text, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S1601 in the bill number field.
U.S. SUPREME COURT ASKED TO HEAR APPEAL ON FLORIDA GAY ADOPTION BAN
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a case challenging the Florida law barring gays and lesbians from adopting, the only such explicit prohibition in the country. The ACLU’s request on Oct. 1 came after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 6-6 ruling, declined to reconsider the January decision in the Lofton case this summer. Although gays and lesbians are excluded from adopting, the state permits them to be foster parents. The Supreme Court is expected to decide by early January whether to hear the case, which involves four gay men who are raising six foster children. To read the ACLU’s press release, go to: http://www.aclu.org/court/court.cfm?ID=16627&c=286
SAME-SEX COUPLES APPEAL TO CHANGE BIRTH RECORDS IN VIRGINIA
Lambda Legal filed a brief with the Virginia Supreme Court on Oct. 25 seeking birth certificates for children who were born in Virginia and adopted by same-sex couples in other states. According to the Associated Press article “Papers Filed in Gay Adoption Appeal,” published Oct. 26, the case involves two families from Washington, D.C., and one from New York. In February, a lower court ruled that the state was not required to issue new birth certificates with the names of both the children’s adoptive parents, stating it conflicted with Virginia’s policy prohibiting joint adoption by unmarried couples. The brief contends birth certificates should be reissued since such adoptions are allowed in other states and thus should be honored. To read the full article, go to:http://www.timesdispatch.com/ To read Lambda Legal press release of the case, go to: http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/documents/record?record=1541
COLORADO HIGH COURT REJECTS APPEAL, LETS LESBIAN PARENT RULING STAND The Colorado Supreme Court refused on Oct. 25 to consider an appeal in the case involving the parental custody dispute between a former lesbian couple and their adopted daughter. The appellate court of Colorado this summer unanimously upheld a ruling by Denver District Judge John Coughlin that recognized the former lesbian partner, Elsey McLeod, had become a “psychological parent” to the child, and that it was in the best interest of the child not to break that bond. To read the appellate opinion, go to: http://www.courts.state.co.us/supct/supctopinion.htm and type in court of appeal number 03CA1121 in the search terms field.
FAMILY LEISURE TIME IDENTIFIED AS KEY IN HEALTHY ADOPTIVE FAMILIES|
A study by Ramon Zabariskie and Patti Freeman – published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (volume 7, issue 3) and titled “Contributions of Family Leisure to Family Functioning Among Transracial Adoptive Families” – found that measures of family cohesion, adaptability, and functioning were higher among the adoptive family sample than in families with only biological children. The sample consisted of 197 intact families with transracially adopted children and included responses from the parental, youth and family perspectives. In addition, the transracial adoptive families in the study were involved in more family leisure than were families without adoption, indicating leisure time together may be one of many possible factors that contribute to healthy adoptive families. To obtain the full study for a small fee, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/web/AQ/.
FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED GUARDIANSHIPS FOUND TO PROMOTE PERMENANCY
Fostering Results released a new study in October, “Family Ties: Supporting Permanence for Children in Safe and Stable Foster Care with Relative and Other Caregivers,” that illustrates the benefits of having the option of federally subsidized guardianship in helping to move children from foster care “limbo” into permanent placements. The study used recently released 2002 federal data to estimate that 19,250 children in long-term relative foster care are in “permanency limbo” because courts determined “they cannot be safely returned to their parents nor is adoption an option.” The report found that when states were allowed to use “waivers” of federal foster care financing rules, and other flexible funding dollars, 9,636 foster children left foster care within a year for permanent homes with legal guardians, underscoring the benefits of federally subsidized guardianships as an option for children, families and the entire foster care system. To read the full report, go to: http://www.fosteringresults.org./results/reports/pewreports_10-13-04_alreadyhome.pdf
RESEARCH COMPARES CHILDREN IN ADOPTIVE AND BIRTH FAMILIES
In order to better understand the adjustment of children who were adopted, a recent study compared three types of adoptive families – child welfare adoptions (1340), domestic infant adoptions (481), and intercountry adoptions (89) – with families formed through birth (175). The report, “A Comparative Study of Child Welfare Adoptions with Other Types of Adopted Children and Birth Children,” by Jeanne A. Howard, Susan Livingston Smith, and Scott D. Ryan, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (volume 7, issue 3); it found that on most measures, particularly in relation to school functioning, “adopted children were rated by their parents as having more problems than children from birth families.” Within comparative adopted categories, the survey found children from the child welfare system had significantly “higher rates of problems” than other adopted boys and girls. Despite the elevated adjustment problems reported among all types of adopted children in the study, more than 90 percent of their parents in all three groups reported satisfaction with their adoption experience and about 95 percent reported they would adopt their children again. To obtain the full study for a small fee, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/web/AQ/ .
STUDY: CHILDREN FROM ORPHANAGES IMPROVE RAPIDLY AFTER ADOPTION
A recent study, examining the impact of early institutionalization on children adopted from the former Soviet Union, found rapid gains in development by children within six months of placement within adoptive families. The report by Sharon Judge, “The Impact of Early Institutionalization on Child and Family Outcomes,” published in the Adoption Quarterly (volume 7, issue 3), included families of 80 boys and 79 girls, and found that 61 percent of the children “were delayed in three or four areas when parents first met them in the orphanage,” but only 8 percent remained delayed in three or four areas 6 months later. The area of greatest delay was in speech and language. To obtain the full report for a small fee, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/web/AQ/.
SPAIN’S GOVERNMENT FAVORS LEGALIZING GAY MARRIAGE AND ADOPTION|
The Spanish government approved a bill that would give gay and lesbian couples the same “rights to marry, divorce and adopt as heterosexual couples,” according to the Oct. 1 Reuters article by Emma Graham-Harrison, “Catholic Spain Unveils Gay Marriage Law.” Spain would be the third country in Europe to accept same-sex marriages, after Belgium and the Netherlands, although only the latter allows gay couples to adopt. Similar unions are legal in six Canadian provinces and one state, Massachusetts, in the United States. The bill in Spain is pending parliamentary approval, and would come into force next year if approved. To read the full article, go to: http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=595081&src=rss/uk/worldNews§ion=news
BELARUS PLACES MORATORIUM ON NEW INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS
President Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus announced in October that his cabinet would look into international adoptions and impose strict restrictions, according to an International Herald Tribune article, “Limits on Adoption Set,” published on Oct. 12. According to the U.S. State Department, the Belarusian National Adoption Center confirmed that international adoptions are still possible for already identified children, but that new adoptions would be on hold through Nov. 1, 2004. To read the full article, go to: http://www.iht.com/articles/543052.htm. For more information, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption_belarus_notice.html
SIERRA LEONE TIGHTENS LEGAL PROCEDURES FOR ADOPTING ITS CHILDREN
After several years of lax enforcement, the U.S. State Department announced in October that Sierra Leone is putting in force legal requirements for international adoption in an effort to improve the “rule of law.” As part of the adoption procedure, prospective parents are now required to travel to Sierra Leone to attend court hearings for the adoption; also being considered is a requirement for the parents to reside with their child for six months in Sierra Leone before the adoption is finalized. For more information, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption_sierra_leone_notice.html
INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE TO REVIEW PENDING ROMANIAN ADOPTIONS
France and Romania will set up an international committee to review all Romanian adoption cases that had started prior to the country’s moratorium on foreign adoptions, according to the Exeter News-Letter article by Kathleen D. Bailey “Romanian Child May Soon Be in U.S,” published Oct. 22. In June, Romania approved a law that effectively halted all international adoption of its children, except by their grandparents, leaving roughly 2,500 families worldwide, including 200 in the U.S., in limbo. The international committee will be set up within the next few weeks in conjunction with the European Union. To read the full article, go to: http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/exeter/10222004/news/44333.htm
GERMANY EXTENDS SAME-SEX RIGHTS TO INCLUDE SECOND PARENT ADOPTIONS
According to an article published in the Kansas City Star on Oct. 29, “Germany Expands Same-Sex Rights” by Tony Czuczka, Germany’s lower house of parliament passed a bill expanding the rights of same-sex couples and allowing legal adoption of a partner’s child. Although the law does not permit total rights to adopt children, those who oppose the bill fear it will open the door to “giving gay couples full adoption rights.” Although Germany does not permit gay marriages, same-sex couples are recognized under Germany’s domestic partnership law. To read the full article, go to: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/world/10049646.htm
MORE INFANTS FROM U.S. REPORTEDLY ARE BEING ADOPTED ABROAD
The United States is now the fourth-largest sending country of babies for adoption to Canada, many of whom are African American, according to an article in the Oct. 27 Christian Science Monitor, “Born in America, Adopted Abroad,” by Dawn Davenport. Although exact numbers are unavailable, interviews with adoption agencies and families indicated that some babies born in the U.S. are adopted in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and England. The article cites the availability of newborns – many of them African-American – as the primary reason foreign families decide to adopt from this country; other factors include health and a relatively short waiting time. Within the U.S., adoption professionals say black infants are available for adoption abroad for reasons including a preference by American adoptive parents for Caucasian babies, low availability of white infants, and insufficient numbers of African-American couples seeking to adopt through an agency. To read the full article, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1027/p11s01-lifp.html
ALBERTA WEBSITE OF WAITING CHILDREN DRAWS NEW PROSPECTIVE PARENTS
The number of families coming forward to adopt has increased by 65 percent in Alberta as a result of the Canadian province’s website, according to the Oct. 27 CanadaEast.com article by Jim MacDonald, “Albertans Turning to the Internet for Adoptions: Provincial Website a Big Hit.” The Adoption Council of Canada (ACC) is quoted as saying it is impressed with Alberta’s website, which provides pictures and candid case histories of each child in public care, and the ACC is “now encouraging other provinces to follow Alberta’s lead.” To read the article, go to: http://canadaeast.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041024/CPN/49459027 To view Alberta Children’s Services website, go to: http://www.child.gov.ab.ca/whatwedo/adoption/profilelookup.cfm
MICHIGAN REQUIRES THAT SEX-ED CLASSES ALSO INCLUDE ADOPTION
The Detroit News reports a new law passed in June requires that schools, in addition to teaching abstinence in sex education classes, also teach adoption as an option for unintended pregnancies. According to the article by Margarita Bauz, “Parents Shape Sex Education in Michigan,” the law mandates more parental involvement in decisions about sex education and requires schools to teach the legal consequences of underage sex, but does not require schools to cover contraception. To read the article, go to: http://www.detnews.com/2004/schools/0410/17/a01-306124.htm. To read the law, go to: http://www.michiganlegislature.org/mileg.asp?page=Home and search for bill 943 in the legislative bill number field.
PUBLICATION PROVIDES RESOURCES ON SEARCHING FOR BIRTH RELATIVES|
The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse has published a packet for birthparents, adopted people, and others interested in learning about searching for biological family members. The publication, “Adoption General Information Packet 3: Searching for Birth Relatives,” includes information relating to resources for support groups, coping skills, and state laws on access to adoption records. To obtain a copy, go to: http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/adoption_gip_three.cfm
FEDERAL REPORT LOOKS AT CHILD-WELFARE STANDARDS NATIONWIDE
The Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its findings from the initial Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) for 2001 to 2004, which includes data on states’ conformity with federal standards for child welfare. This is the first report to include data from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To access the report, go to: http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/articles.cfm?issue_id=2004-10&article_id=877
5. Institute Update|
‘SAFE HAVENS’ EFFECTIVENESS QUESTIONED IN MASSACHUSETTS|
An article in the Sunday Boston Globe, “'Safe haven' law has doubters” by Patricia Wen, published on Oct. 31, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman raised doubts about the effectiveness of safe haven legislation, which was recently enacted in Massachusetts, to “reach the people they’re aimed at.” Pertman’s comments, based on the Institute’s study “Unintended Consequences,” reflect research that indicates women who would abandon their babies, would not necessarily utilize the provisions provided in the safe haven laws. To read the full article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2004/10/31/safe_haven_law_has_doubters/
OPEN ADOPTIONS REFLECT CHANGING PERCEPTION OF BIRTH MOTHERS
In an article published on Oct. 24 in the (Portland) Oregonian, “Open Hearts” by Gabrielle Glaser, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on the changes in adoption practice and the positive shift in how birth mothers are treated in light of the growing trend toward open adoptions. To read the full article, go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1098532860109380.xml
MORE SINGLE PARENTS REPORTED TO ADOPT CHILDREN FROM FOSTER CARE
An article in the Houston Chronicle, “More Singles Taking on Role of Adoptive Parent” by Melanie Markley, published on Oct. 25, examines the growing reliance of the foster care system on single parents. Pertman’s comments reflect the research and experience showing that children are better off in loving homes than in institutions, whether those families have two parents or one. To read the full article, go to: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2864608
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.
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