Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
FEBRUARY 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
1. Law, Policy & Practice
SENATE MOVES TO MAKE FEDERAL ADOPTION TAX CREDIT INCREASE PERMANENT|
Sen. Jim Bunning introduced a bill (S246) on Feb. 1 to make permanent the 2001 increase in the adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000, and to repeal the sunset provision for the credit (which is set to expire in 2010). The legislation, entitled “The Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act,” was referred to the Committee on Finance. The U.S. House unanimously passed a companion bill (HR1057) in Sept. 2004. In a related action, Rep. Todd Russell Platts introduced legislation (HR347) on Jan. 25 that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, making the credit for adoption expenses permanent and repealing the five-year carryover limitation of unused credit. Platt’s measure was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. To read the bills, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S246 or HR347 in the bill number field.
TEXAS LEGISLATION WOULD LET ADOPTEES HAVE ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS
Rep. Tony Goolsby introduced two bills (HB240 and HB770) in February to the Texas House of Representatives that would give adopted people 21 and older access to their original birth certificates. HB770 stipulates that the original documents would not be available if a birth parent files with the state registrar a copy of a signed affidavit of relinquishment promising anonymity, a contact preference form stating he or she does not want to be contacted, and medical records. Birth parents who do not have all the documentation could still indicate whether they want to be contacted by submitting a preference form to the state adoption registry. Both bills are pending in the Committee of Juvenile Justice and Family Issues and would take effect Sept. 1, 2005. To read the bills, go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ and search for HB240 and HB770 in the bill action and vote history field.
TENN. BILLS SEEK HALT TO GAY ADOPTIONS; FLORIDA MEASURE WOULD EASE BAN
Tennessee lawmakers proposed bills in February to forbid gays and lesbians not only from adopting children in state custody, but also from becoming foster parents. The Tennessee efforts, in separate bills sponsored by Sens. Doug Jackson and Diane Black, would prohibit gays from becoming foster parents (HB2234, SB1930) and make them ineligible to adopt (HB2234, SB1930). Another bill, introduced by Tennessee Rep. Chris Clem (HB0775) and Sen. Jim Bryson (SB1615) not only bars homosexuals from adopting, but also prohibits biological parents from consenting to adoptions if they know the prospective parent is gay. Meanwhile, in Florida, Sen. Nan Rich filed legislation (S1534) on Feb. 17 to amend a 1977 statute barring gays from adopting, the only such explicit prohibition in the country. Rich’s bill does not repeal the ban, but allows judges to grant such adoptions if there is clear evidence a permanent placement is “more important to the adoptee’s developmental and psychological needs” than a temporary one, and if the child considers the petitioning parent a “parental figure.” In January, Florida Rep. Sheri McInvale filed a separate bill (HB633) that stipulates a child’s best interest should be paramount in determining whether an adoption petition is granted, with preference for “any person or couple” who fostered the child for 36 months. To read the text of the Tennessee bills, go to: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/ and click on Legislation to search for HB2234/SB1930, HB2234/SB1930, and HB0775/ SB1615. To read the Florida bills, go to: http://www.flsenate.gov/Welcome/index.cfm and search for S1534 or HB633.
PROPOSED GAY ADOPTION PROBITION DIES IN VIRGINIA SENATE COMMITTEE
The Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Feb. 16 rejected a bill (HB2921) that would have amended the state’s adoption law by adding a phrase explicitly barring gays and lesbians from adopting, and would have required social workers and judges to consider a prospective adoptive parent’s sexual orientation and marital status. The measure, which was introduced in January by Delegate Richard H. Black, had been approved by the House of Delegates in early February. Currently, Virginia law permits any person or married couple residing in the state to adopt, without reference to sexual orientation or marital status. To read the text of the bill, go to: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?051+ful+HB2921 and type in HB2921.
N.Y. PROPOSAL WOULD PUT INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS ON PAR WITH DOMESTIC
New York Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz introduced a bill (AO1900) in January that would provide the issuance of the same documents for adoptions from abroad as those for domestic adoptions. Currently, families who adopt internationally obtain an adoption decree issued by the sending country, but have to re-adopt their children in New York State to obtain a birth certificate, certificate of adoption, and order of adoption – documents necessary to ensure the children are afforded all the rights and privileges of a U.S. citizen. Dinowitz’s bill would amend the domestic relations law and the public health law in relation to “granting full faith and credit to adoption orders from foreign countries.” The legislation would expedite the process by affording foreign adoptions the same sufficient proof of adoption as domestic adoptions in the state. To read the text of the proposed bill, go to: http://assembly.state.ny.us/ and click on Bill Search & Legislative Information to search for bill AO1900.
STUDY CITES FACTORS IN PARENTS’ SENTIMENTS ON SPECIAL NEEDS ADOPTION|
A research study identified 12 variables that were predictive of whether adoptive parents would perceive themselves as well prepared to parent their children with special needs. The study, “Factors Contributing to Parents’ Preparation for Special Needs Adoption,” by Susan Egbert and Elizabeth LaMont, was published in the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (Volume 21, Issue 6). The researchers found that the most salient factors in predicting parents’ feeling prepared were: the child’s level of difficulty attaching, the parents’ overall relationship with the child welfare agency, the duration of the adoption, and the parents’ ages at the time of the adoption. To access the abstract of the study, go to: http://springerlink.metapress.com/ and search for Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal in the Publications field.
OPTIMISM ABOUT RACE RELATIONS FOUND KEY TO SOCIAL WORKERS’ ATTITUDES
Optimism about the future of race relations is the cardinal predictor of positive attitudes toward transracial adoption, according to Judy Fenster’s most recent study focusing on attitudes of black and white social workers toward transracial adoption of African-American children. The study, “The Relationship between Optimism about Race Relations, Black Awareness, and Attitudes toward Transracial Adoption,” was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work (Volume 13, Issue 3). Fenster found that for white social workers, optimism was related to higher levels of altruism and lower levels of conservatism; for African-American social workers, it was related to lower commitment to promulgating black awareness. The original analysis of this research, utilizing standardized measures and surveys from 363 social workers, was published in 2002. To access the study, go to: http://www.haworthpressinc.com/web/ECDSW/
POLICY ISSUES, NOT CHILD BEHAVIOR, SEEN AS CAUSING MOST DISRUPTIONS
A study analyzing the primary reasons for placement changes in a group of 580 foster children in San Diego County found that disruptions due to behavior problems accounted for only 20 percent of the moves. The study by Sigrid James, “Why Do Foster Care Placements Disrupt? An Investigation of Reasons for Placement Change in Foster Care,” was published in the December 2004 issue of Social Service Review (Volume 78, Issue 4). It was conducted over an 18-month period in the early 1990s and looked at the children beginning with their entry into foster care. James found that system or policy-related reasons precipitated 70 percent of moves, and foster-family related factors accounted for 10 percent. A child’s older age, externalizing behaviors, and emotional abuse increased the risk for behavior-related moves, while time in kinship care decreased the risk. More system-related moves of the children did not raise the risk for behavior-related placement changes. To access this article, go to: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/SSR/journal/contents/v78n4.html
ASFA IDENTIFIED AS HAVING MOST IMPACT ON CHANGING PUBLIC CHILD WELFARE
The impact of three major federal policy reforms on public child welfare – the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 and Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996 (MEPA-IEP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, passed as part of welfare reform legislation in 1996 (TANF), and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) – was investigated by Lorelei Mitchell, Richard Barth, Rebecca Green, et. al. Their study, “Child Welfare Reform in the United States: Findings from a Local Agency Survey,” published in the January/February 2005 issue of Child Welfare (Volume 84, Issue 1), surveyed child welfare administrators in a national probability sample, as an extension of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being. Administrators reported that MEPA-IEP, which has been in effect the longest, has had little impact — more than three-quarters of agencies experienced no increase in the proportion of transracial foster care or adoption placements. ASFA was reported to have had the greatest impact for the majority of agencies, helping ensure child safety (versus family preservation) and increasing emphasis on adoption of older children and children in kinship foster care. TANF has had a lesser effect than ASFA, although coordination between child welfare and TANF agencies had increased in approximately one-third of agencies. To obtain an abstract or to subscribe to the journal, go to: http://www.cwla.org/articles/cwjabstracts.htm
SRI LANKA CONSIDERS LAW CHANGE TO HELP ADOPTION OF TSUNAMI VICTIMS |
The Sri Lankan government is considering a statutory change to help more children orphaned in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami find adoptive parents within the country, according to a report published on Feb. 21 in the Khaleej Times. The article, “Sri Lanka to Amend Laws to Help Tsunami Victims” reported that the Tsunami Special Provision Bill would amend existing laws and would increase the age of a child eligible for adoption from 14 to 18 years. The bill would only apply to children affected by the tsunami, and no adoptions would take place until at least June. Sri Lanka has not changed its ban on intercountry adoption of tsunami orphans at this time. An estimated 1,000 Sri Lankan children were orphaned by the tsunami, but the country’s child welfare institutions already have received more than twice that number of adoption applications. To read the article, go to: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/subcontinent/2005/February/subcontinent_February729.xml
NAMIBIA LAUNCHES NATIONAL DRIVE TO ADDRESS NEEDS OF ORPHANS
Namibia has launched a national initiative to address the needs of an estimated 150,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the country, according to an article published by Reuters on Feb. 10. The article, “Namibia: Policy Aims to Assist OVC,” states that the new policy will facilitate interaction between the government, communities, and NGOs to reduce the vulnerability of affected children, many of whom are impacted by HIV/AIDS. The policy emphasizes the need for orphans to be protected from discrimination and raised by relatives through extended family networks or placed with foster or adoptive families. Namibia is one of the five countries in the world most affected by HIV/AIDS. To read the article, go to: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/bcced5c2b326e56f57a3cea3e338c0e4.htm
MODEL PROVIDES GUIDELINES FOR PERMANENCY WORK WITH CHILDREN|
An article by Darla Henry, “The 3-5-7 Model: Preparing Children for Permanency,” published in the February 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 27, Issue 2), articulates a framework for practice with children in the child welfare system – a model that was implemented statewide in 2003 by the public child welfare department in Pennsylvania. This practice model is focused on helping children resolve issues of loss and abuse in the past and prepare them for permanency. It involves three tasks (clarification of life events, integration of family memberships, and actualization of their membership in one specific family); five questions that the child must be able to answer in resolving losses and their feelings about them; and seven critical elements that guide practice in permanency work with children. To access the article for a fee, go to: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/childyouth
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND RELEASES FACT SHEETS ON FOSTER PROGRAMS
The Children’s Defense Fund released national and state fact sheets to inform the upcoming debate on President Bush’s 2006 budget proposal. The fact sheets provide data on each state’s foster care programs, with statistics on child abuse and neglect victims in 2002, types of permanency of children exiting in 2001, the amount expended by the child welfare system from federal sources of funding, and an overview tracking federal Title IV-E Foster Care Spending from 1995-2003. According to CDF, the president’s proposed budget would lead to increased risk for abused and neglected children. To access this report go to: http://www.childrensdefense.org/pressreleases/050217.aspx
5. Institute Update||
COLUMN SUGGEST ADOPTEES SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTH HISTORIES|
Executive Director Adam Pertman, in a column published Feb. 14 in the Baltimore Sun, addressed U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona’s recent initiative to persuade all Americans to obtain their family medical histories. Pertman wrote that “the anachronistic reality” is that “most states still prohibit adoptees, even after they reach adulthood, from obtaining their birth certificates or other documents that would enable them to follow the surgeon general's sage advice.” To read the full commentary, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/commentary/20050214_baltimoresun_oped.html
NEWSPAPER IN INDIA QUESTIONS U.S. THIRST FOR ADOPTION REALITY SHOW
An article in The Telegraph (Calcutta, India) ridiculed the recent Fox reality show, “Who’s Your Daddy,” and suggested that the taste for such programming had sunk too low. The author of the Feb. 15 article, “What We’re Asking Is, Are You For Real?” quotes Pertman as criticizing the program as tasteless and offensive, saying that it turned a “deeply personal, complex situation” into a “money-grubbing game show.” To read the article, go to: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050215/asp/atleisure/story_4374715.asp
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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