Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
NOVEMBER 2004 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
REPORT FINDS HIGH STABILITY RATE FOR ADOPTIONS FROM FOSTER CARE|
In November, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released a major new report, "What’s Working for Children: A Policy Study of Adoption Stability and Termination,” offering generally good news for the growing number of children being adopted from foster care nationwide. The Institute's study found that the vast majority of adoptions from foster care are remaining intact over time, notwithstanding concerns by many professionals that their failure rate would rise as a result of huge increases in their numbers during the last decade. At the same time, the Adoption Institute report raised questions about the effectiveness of state data-collection systems on adoption terminations and offered recommendations to improve policies and practices. To obtain a full copy of the report, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/2004_disruption_report.html
FLORIDA COURT LIMITS AUTHORITY OF STATE CHILDREN’S AGENCY
In a unanimous 14-page opinion released on Nov. 11, the Florida Supreme Court said judges could overrule the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) “in cases of children who were placed in the agency’s care due to abuse or neglect by their birth parents.” The decision upheld a lower court judge’s ruling to let a woman, identified in the case as B.Y., adopt her daughter’s three children, over DCF objections that B.Y. was not financially capable to adopt. The decision is a setback for child welfare administrators who have sought sole authority in determining the living arrangements of children in their care. The ruling said state law does not make it mandatory for the agency to have final approval in adoption cases involving foster children. To read the opinion, go to: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2004/ops/sc04-258.pdf
INDIANA COURT, SETTING PRECEDENT, RULES IN FAVOR OF SAME-SEX PARTNERS
The Indiana Court of Appeals issued a groundbreaking decision on Nov. 24, ruling that "both women are the legal parents" when they are involved in a domestic relationship and "agree to bear and raise a child together by artificial insemination of one of the partners with donor semen." The appeals court overturned the ruling of Monroe Circuit Judge Kenneth G. Todd, who had found that Dawn King, the non-biological parent, had no legal standing with the child born to her former partner, Stephanie Benham. The ruling in the case will have an impact on future custody and child-support cases of non-biological parents. To download the decision, go to: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/wpd/11240403.ehf.doc
ALBERTA BECOMES THIRD CANADIAN PROVINCE TO OPEN ADOPTION RECORDS
The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act came into effect on Nov. 1, and the Alberta government opened its adoption records, enabling adopted people over the age of 18 and birth parents to seek identifying information that had previously been sealed in government records. No information about adoptive parents is available, and either the adopted person or birth parent can file a declaration if they do not want to be contacted. The provinces of British Columbia and Newfoundland already have opened their records. Alberta has been revamping its child welfare legislation since 2001, and the current changes in adoption records were a response to public opinion. For more information about the changes in practice, go to: http://www.child.gov.ab.ca/whatwedo/adoptionrecords/page.cfm?pg=index
ANALYSIS IDENTIFIES BARRIERS, PROMISING APPROACHES IN FOSTER CARE|
The Urban Institute conducted a nationwide examination of foster care and published a report, “Foster Care Adoption in the United States: A State-by-State Analysis of Barriers & Promising Approaches,” in mid-November. The study was commissioned by the National Adoption Day Coalition, which comprises seven organizational partners, and was based on an analysis of adoption information contained in the Child and Family Services Reviews conducted nationally. Difficulties in terminating parental rights (TPR), in recruiting adoptive homes, and in case management led the list of the barriers identified in 42 or more states. Although all states were engaged in promising approaches related to recruiting adoptive parents, few had come up with ones that address the barriers in the TPR appeals process or provision of sufficient legal services during TPR proceedings. To obtain a full copy of the report, go to: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?NavMenuID=24&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=9061
STUDY INDICATES BIRTH FATHERS STRUGGLE WITH ADOPTION PROCESS
A study by Celia Witney of 60 birth fathers involved in infant adoptions in Britain (primarily registrants of the Adoption Contact Register), raised concerns about prevalent attitudes toward them and the nature of their involvement in the process. The study, “Original Fathers: An Exploration into the Experiences of Birth Fathers Involved in Adoption in the Mid-20th Century,” published in the most recent issue of Adoption and Fostering (Volume 28, Number 3), found over half had been in steady relationships, most of which ended as a result of the pregnancy and often at the insistence of the birth mother’s family. Through questionnaires and interviews, the birth fathers reported minimal involvement with social services, dismissive attitudes of social workers whom they felt merely wanted their signatures on a form, isolation from advice or help, and often ongoing symptoms of complicated grief. To obtain the full abstract or full text for a fee, go to: http://www.baaf.org.uk/res/pubs/aandf/full/index.shtml
ADOLESCENTS RAISED BY SAME-SEX PARENTS FOUND ON PAR WITH PEERS
A study by Jennifer L. Wainright, Stephen T. Russell, and Charlotte J. Patterson found adolescents being raised by same-sex female parents developed as well – and had similar dating and romantic behaviors – as the children of heterosexual couples. The authors of the study, “Psychosocial Adjustment, School Outcomes, and Romantic Relationships of Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents,” published in the November/December issue of Child Development (Volume 75, Number 6), based their research on a sample of 12- to 18-year-olds from 88 families selected from a large national survey of American adolescents, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Forty-four were parented by same-sex female couples and 44 by opposite-sex couples matched by demographic characteristics. The study found “it was the qualities of adolescent-parent relationships rather than the structural features of families (e.g., same- vs. opposite-sex parents) that were significantly associated with adolescent adjustment.” To read the full abstract and purchase a copy of the article, go to: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/abstract.asp?ref=0009-3920&vid=75&iid=6&aid=823&s=&site=1
COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENTS TIED TO LENGTH OF INSTITUTIONALIZATION
A longitudinal study by Michael Rutter and Thomas O’Connor, comparing the developmental outcomes of 144 children adopted from Romanian orphanages and 52 British-born infant adoptees, found the proportion with cognitive impairments (below 80 IQ) increased with length of institutionalization: 2% in those with less than 6 months in orphanage; 12% in those with 6-24 months duration; and 33% in those with 24-42 months. The study, “Are there Biological Programming Effects for Psychological Development? Findings from a Study of Romanian Adoptees,” published in Developmental Psychology (Volume 40, Issue 1), reported on cognitive and attachment outcomes of children at age 6, and tested alternative hypotheses related to causation. There was substantial heterogeneity in outcomes even for children institutionalized over two years, with no clear indication of why some seem more resilient than others. A follow-up study on these children at age 11 is forthcoming. To obtain the study for a small fee, go to: http://www.psycinfo.com/psycarticles/index.cfm?fuseaction=browse&jrn=dev
CHILDREN OF SPERM DONORS REPORTED TO WANT INFORMATION, CONTACT
Findings from one of the first studies to examine the feelings and experiences of adolescents conceived through “open-identity” sperm donors found that the great majority (more than 4 out of 5) were likely to ask for the donor’s identity and try to contact him, and that most (76%) reported “always knowing, and were somewhat to very comfortable with their conception origins.” The study, “Adolescents with Open-Identity Sperm Donors,” by J.E. Scheib, M. Riordan and S. Rubin, published in the November issue of Human Reproduction, included 29 young people aged 12 to 17 who had been conceived through insemination programs in which donors willingly release their identities to adult offspring. Just over 40% were the children of lesbian couples, 38% had single mothers, and 21% had heterosexual-couple parents. The researchers found that although the youths were curious about the donor, it did not mean they wanted him to pay a critical role in their lives; none reported wanting money and few (7%) wanted a father/child relationship. Most of the research to date has focused on families who used anonymous donors. To obtain a copy of the research, go to: http://www3.oup.co.uk/eshre/press-release/freepdf/id_donors.pdf
10 ADOPTION AGENCIES IN INDIA FACE INVESTIGATION FOR PRACTICES|
The Delhi government ordered an investigation after the Social Welfare department accused 10 licensed adoption agencies of violating laws in the past three years. According to an article by Sreelatha Menon published on Nov. 12 in Delhi Newsline, “Government to Probe 800 Adoptions Abroad,” 1,500 children were adopted during this period, 800 of them by families abroad. The department alleged that the agencies did not follow adoption protocols, including mandatory presentation of the children before the Child Welfare Council within 48 hours of receiving them, adequate efforts to restore the children to their biological parents, a preference for foreigners as adoptive parents, and failing to follow up on the children’s progress after adoption. To read the full article, go to: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=106540
FEWER CHILDREN RELINQUISHED, BUT MORE ADOPTIONS IN AUSTRALIA
The number of Australian children relinquished for adoption hit a record low, even as the total number of adoptions rose 6%, according to 2003-2004 figures reported in an article by Sid Maher and Cindy Tahija, “Adoption, An Option We’re Giving Up,” published in The Australian on Nov. 26. The increase in adoptions was attributed to the record 10-year high in intercountry adoptions. The decline in Australian-born children relinquished for adoption continues a dramatic 30-year trend attributed to “women making more informed choices about birth control and changing community attitudes towards single parenthood.” The snapshot of adoption was provided in a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. To read the full article, go to: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11502479%255E2702,00.html
RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES RAISE CONCERNS ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
During hearings held in the lower house of Russia’s parliament, a Deputy Prosecutor General expressed concerns over the rising number of complaints by foreigners seeking to adopt Russian children. He also said the costs of intercountry adoption, sometimes almost $50,000, are making it a “profitable business.” According to the article, “Russia’s Children Go on Sale – Law Enforcers,” published in MosNews on Nov. 15, the Prosecutor General’s Office reported only a handful of complaints led to investigations, and of the 17 cases that were investigated between 1998 and 2004, only three people were held “criminally liable for unlawful adoption.” The prosecutor raised serious concerns over the rise in “independent adopters,” stating that a “criminal business has been formed in this sphere,” requiring tougher legislative requirements and law enforcement. To read the full article, go to: http://www.mosnews.com/news/2004/11/15/prospersh.shtml
CHILDREN’S BUREAU RELEASES ADOPTION ESTIMATES FOR 2000, 2001|
The U.S. Children’s Bureau released a new report in November, “How Many Children Were Adopted in 2000 and 2001?” The authors utilized data from state courts, a federal data verification system, and other sources to estimate the number of children adopted in each state during those two years. The number of adoptions annually reportedly has “remained steady since the late 1980’s, but the source of adoption has shifted from mostly private agency, kinship or tribal organizations to a greater number of public agency and intercountry adoptions.” To obtain the full report, go to: http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/s_adopted/s_adopted.pdf
EDUCATION ORGANIZATION OFFERS TOOL FOR ASSESSING CHILD DEVELOPMENT
The Center for the Improvement of Child Caring (CICC), a parent education and training organization, is offering a free electronic newsletter and a tool for assessing child development from birth through age 4. The CICC Discovery Tool also offers feedback to parents and professionals to help identify the presence of special needs that may require professional attention in children at higher risk of developmental delays, such as those with birth complications, early institutionalization, or other risk indicators. The website contains links to reports on the development and testing of this instrument, in addition to referrals to professionals, community agencies, and other websites. Organizations can pay a fee for members, staff, and clients to use the tool free of charge. To learn more about this resource, go to: http://www.ciccparenting.org
5. Institute Update||
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF ‘SAFE HAVEN’ LAWS ARE CITED|
In an article published on Nov. 26 in the Cincinnati Enquirer, “'Havens' Rescue Children: Adoption Program Aiming to Save Babies' Lives,” by Matt Leingang, Adoption Institute Policy Director Hollee McGinnis comments that “safe haven” laws fail to address the roots of the problem of baby abandonment and can lead to negative unintended consequences. McGinnis’ remarks reflected research conducted by the Adoption Institute on infant abandonment and “safe haven” laws that have now been implemented in 46 states. To read the full article, go to: http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041126/NEWS01/411260366
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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