Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
APRIL 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
NEW JERSEY BECOMES 30TH STATE TO RECOGNIZE FOREIGN ADOPTION DECREES |
New Jersey's acting governor, Richard Codey, signed a bill (S285/A1992) on April 29 that explicitly recognizes foreign adoptions of children born abroad, providing the same force and effect that exists for any child adopted from another state. The new law eliminates the need for adoptive parents to petition a court for adoption in the state if the foreign adoption can be verified as final and complete by the federal government - through the issuance of an IR-3 immigrant visa or a successor immigrant visa - and the adoptive parents are residents of New Jersey. New Jersey is the 30th state to recognize foreign adoption decrees. To read the text and history of the bill, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=A1992
EFFORTS TO RESUME ADOPTIONS FROM VIETNAM APPEAR TO BE PROGRESSING
The U.S. Department of State appears closer to finalizing a bilateral agreement that would enable intercountry adoptions from Vietnam to resume. According to a Department notice on April 6, the director of the Department of International Adoptions of Vietnam plans to submit a draft agreement to the U.S. by the end of April. In addition, according to a Feb. 19 State Department notice, the two nations have been discussing the possibility of creating a special needs adoption program as part of a "multi-track approach," separate from a general bilateral adoption agreement. Vietnam issued a decree in 2002 that barred adoptions to countries with which it did not establish such agreements. To read the April 6 notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2253.html. For the Feb. 18 notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2128.html
BILLS IN CONGRESS AIM TO RETAIN OR RAISE $10,000 ADOPTION TAX CREDIT
Several bills are under consideration in both the U.S. House and Senate that would make changes to the tax credit for families who adopt a child. Current law allows adoptive families to receive a $10,000 tax credit and is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2010, at which time the credit would revert to $6,000 for a special needs adoption from foster care and $5,000 for all other adoptions. Sen. Jim Bunning introduced legislation (S246), with two companion bills in the House (HR268, HR246), that would keep the $10,000 tax credit from expiring. Another measure (HR347) was introduced by Rep. Todd Platt in January that would eliminate the current carryover provision, thereby limiting the utilization of the credit to the year in which the adoption was finalized. Another House bill (HR1561) introduced in April by Rep. Harold Ford, "The Childhood Adoption Act of 2005," would increase the adoption tax credit to $15,000 per adoption but leave the sunset provision in place. In addition, Ford's bill would increase incentive payments to states. To read the bills, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type the bill numbers S246, HR268, HR246, HR347, and HR1561 in the search bill field.
COLORADO EXPEDITES FOSTER ADOPTIONS, ACTS ON ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS
Colorado Governor Bill Owens signed three laws intended to make it easier to adopt children from the state's foster care system. The new statutes, signed March 31, clarify language in existing laws and accelerate the adoption process by allowing some procedures to happen concurrently (HB1173); ensure medical coverage for the children who are adopted (HB1037); and outline procedures for "expedited relinquishment" of children for adoption (HB1170). On April 21, the Colorado House approved a bill (HB1287) that would require birth certificates to be made available to adult adoptees 18 and older. The measure would allow access and receipt of a "non-certified copy of the unaltered original birth certificate," while enabling birth parents to submit a contact preference form and updated medical information to the state registrar. The legislation is awaiting consideration in the Colorado Senate. To read the bills, go to: http://www.leg.state.co.us/ and click on House, then Bills, and type bill numbers HB1037, HB1170, HB1173, and HB1287 in the search field.
TEXAS HOUSE PASSES MEASURE THAT WOULD BAN GAY FOSTER PARENTS
The Texas House passed a bill in April that would overhaul the state's Child Protective Services (CPS), and tacked on an amendment that would ban gays, lesbians and bisexuals from becoming foster parents. The amendment would also remove children currently being fostered by gay and lesbian parents from their homes. The original bill (SB6) was passed by the state Senate in March and was intended to reform the state's child protective services by requiring more caseworkers to be hired, and privatizing the recruitment of foster parents and adoption arrangements. The House bill, with the current amendment, has to be reconsidered by the Senate, which will decide whether to accept the amended version or seek a compromise. To read the bill, go to:http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ and search for SB6 in the Bill Action and Vote History field.
RHODE ISLAND CONSIDERS ALLOWING ADOPTEES ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS
Both the Rhode Island House and Senate are considering bills (H6301, S0570) that would allow adopted persons 21 years of age or older, who were born in the state, to obtain non-certified copies of their original birth certificates. The measures, introduced in February, would allow birth parents to express whether they desire contact, require birth parents to complete updated medical history forms, and eliminate the state's Passive Mutual Consent Registry (PMCR). Similar legislation to allow adult adopted persons access to their original birth certificates has passed in other states, including Alabama, Delaware, Oregon and Tennessee, and most recently New Hampshire in January 2005. To read the House bill H3601, go to: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Billtext/BillText05/HouseText05/H6301.pdf; To read the Senate bill S0570, go to: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Billtext/BillText05/SenateText05/S0570.pdf
CALIFORNIA SENATE VOTES TO MAKE STATE'S 'SAFE HAVEN' LAW PERMANENT
The California state Senate unanimously approved a bill (SB116) introduced by Sen. Bob Dutton in April that would extend current provisions allowing a parent, within 72 hours of a child's birth, to anonymously abandon a newborn without criminal penalty at designated "safe-surrender sites." The original law, passed in 2000, was set to expire Jan. 1, 2006. The bill is now being considered by the state Assembly. To read the bill, go to: http://www.legislature.ca.gov/port-bilinfo.html and type SB116 in the Bill Search field; To read the Adoption Institute's study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
AUTHORITIES EXPECT ADOPTING FROM THE PHILIPPINES WILL TAKE LONGER
The Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), the central authority for overseas adoptions in the Philippines, reported that prospective adoptive parents should expect a longer wait before they are matched with a child, unless they are willing to adopt a child with special needs. The ICAB stated that most of the children available for intercountry adoption are older (6 years or more), are members of sibling groups, or have medical or emotional difficulties; those traits do not match the preferences of the majority of approved prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a healthy child under the age of two. To read the notice, which was issued in February, go to: http://www.iss-ssi.org/Resource_Centre/New_Documents1/documents/Edito.2005.3.eng.pdf
LAWMAKER SEEKS TO ESTABLISH MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS FOR FOSTER YOUTH
Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald of California introduced a bill (HR822) in the U.S. House that would provide $15 million in grants to States to develop or expand academic mentoring programs for children in foster care. The legislation, "Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2005," was introduced in February and referred to the Subcommittee on Human Resources. The measure would also provide $4 million to fund a national coordination and media campaign, including a hotline or website, to raise public awareness and encourage individuals to become mentors to youths in foster care. In addition, the bill would provide $20,000 in student loan forgiveness for eligible college and graduate students who became mentors. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR822 in the bill number field.
STUDY IDENTIFIES NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF FOSTER CARE, RECOMMENDS CHANGES|
A study by Casey Family Programs, released this month, found that adults who had formerly been in foster care had more mental health problems (54 percent had one or more disorders); were less likely to earn a high school diploma, as opposed to passing the GED; and had lower employment rates and less health insurance coverage than those in the general population. "Improving Foster Care: Findings from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study," examined the life circumstances of 479 young adults who had been in foster care through the Casey Family Programs, or the Oregon or Washington state child welfare agencies between 1988 and 1998. The researchers reviewed case records of 659 youths and interviewed 479 of them. Statistical simulations were conducted to demonstrate the changes in outcomes that could be predicted in optimal foster care experiences - such as having a low number of placements and fewer school changes. Many recommendations are suggested for best practices and improved policies. To access this study, go to: http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/NorthwestAlumniStudy.htm
ARTICLE EXAMINES GENDER ISSUES, SEES `FEMINIZATION OF ADOPTION'
An article that provides a review of the adoption literature related to gender examines how gender roles influence the experiences of adopted individuals, adoptive parents and birth parents, and how identity and interpersonal adoption dynamics are shaped by gender. "Gender Differences and Dynamics Shaping the Adoption Life Cycle: Review of the Literature and Recommendations," by Kristine Freeark, Elinor Rosenberg, Jane Borstein, Michael Linkevich, Kelly Lohnes, and Debra Jozefowicz-Simbeni, published in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Volume 75, Issue 1), describes the "feminization of adoption;" for example women take the lead in communication about adoption in the family, and the focus is more on birth mothers than birth fathers. This article explores gendered meanings and coping strategies related to infertility and unwanted pregnancy, adoptive parents' preferences and stereotypes related to gender of their children, adjustment issues of adopted boys and girls, and gender and communication within adoptive families. To access this article for a fee, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/ort/75/1/86.html
MOST ADULT ADOPTEES REPORT SOME FEELINGS OF UNCERTAINTY AND LOSS
A study of 54 adult adoptees conducted by Kimberly Powell and Tamara Afifi explores the extent to which adopted adults struggle with uncertainty and ambiguous loss, and how they manage these feelings. "Uncertainty Management and Adoptees' Ambiguous Loss of their Birth Parents," in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Social & Personal Relationships (Volume 22, Issue 1), explores circumstances contributing to or minimizing adoptees' feelings of uncertainty and loss. Of the 54 adoptees interviewed, 30 percent expressed security and no apparent loss; 36 percent experienced a moderate degree of uncertainty and loss that fluctuated with life circumstances, and 33 percent experienced high uncertainty and loss, a deep need for closure and inner peace. Some adults chose to search for birth parents in order to reduce their uncertainty and unresolved grief, while others tolerated a high degree of uncertainty due to fear of upsetting their adoptive parents. The authors emphasize the importance of adoptees being able to express their feelings of uncertainty and loss openly in their adoptive families. To access the article for a fee or obtain a free abstract, go to: http://spr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/1/129
ADOPTED CHILDREN FOUND TO DO WELL ON IQ TESTS, BUT LESS SO IN SCHOOL
A meta-analysis of 62 studies examining cognitive development in adopted children (from a variety of backgrounds) found that they scored higher on IQ tests than children who remained in institutions or their siblings who remained in birth families, and were on par with non-adopted siblings in their adoptive families. At the same time, the study "Adoption and Cognitive Development: A Meta-Analytic Comparison of Adopted and Nonadopted Children's IQ and School Performance," by Marinus van IJzendoorn, Femmie Juffer, and Caroline Poelhuis, published in the March 2005 issue of Psychological Bulletin (volume 131, Issue 2), also found that adopted children performed significantly lower in school achievement and language abilities than non-adopted siblings in their adoptive families. To access the study for a fee, go to: http://www.apa.org/journals/bul.html
DATA SHOW TRANSRACIAL AND SAME-RACE ADOPTED ADOLESCENTS ON PAR
A study using data from a national study of adolescent health found that, on most measures, transracial adoptees were on par with same-race adopted adolescents. The study, "Transracial, Same-Race Adoptions, and the Need for Multiple Measures of Adolescent Adjustment," compares adolescent adjustment on 12 indices among four specific child-parent racial groupings. The study, by Anthony Burrow and Gordon Finley, published in the October 2004 issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Volume 74, Issue 4), found that of the 12 outcomes, there were significant differences on only two measures: transracial adoptees (largely Asian) had higher grades and higher academic expectations, but also higher levels of psychosomatic symptoms than same race adoptees. Black adolescents adopted by black parents had the highest levels of depression, although these youths reported higher levels of self-worth than non-black adoptees. To access this article for a fee, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/ort/74/4/577.html
WITHOUT TREATY IMPLEMENTATION, S. AFRICA ADOPTIONS `IN LEGAL LIMBO'|
Although South Africa acceded and is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption in 2003, legislation has yet to be enacted within the country to set up the mechanisms stipulated by the treaty, according to an article in the Pretoria News published on April 15. "International Adoptions in Legal Limbo" reported that the Children's Bill, which would set up a central authority as required by the Convention, has yet to pass. It also said considerable debate has taken place about who should be involved in providing adoption services, with social workers opposing the involvement of lawyers in the adoption process. The article states that while there is no moratorium on international adoptions, the government is presently "reluctant to enter into arrangements with other countries." To read the article, go to:http://www.pretorianews.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=665&fArticleId=2483349
INSTITUTE POLICY BRIEFS ON TSUNAMI ORPHANS, INTERSTATE ADOPTIONS|
The Adoption Institute released policy briefs this month focusing on two timely issues. The first, "Intercountry Adoption in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans," relates to the role of intercountry adoption in situations such as the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia, examining the existing laws and international conventions guiding decisions about the care of children without parents at times of emergency. The brief reviews guidelines for best practice in planning for these children, including protection, family reunification, community and family solutions, permanency, and respect for culture.
The second brief, "Safeguarding Interstate Adoptions: The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)," looks at current reforms to reduce barriers to interstate adoption of foster children and to regulate practices in other types of interjurisdictional adoptive placements. The ICPC is currently being redrafted; the brief makes recommendations about issues related to this process, such as the inclusion of private and independent adoptions in the newly proposed ICPC and the reinstatement of courtesy home studies and supervision in interstate foster and adoptive placements. To access these two briefs, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/policybriefs.html
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT SUGGESTED FOR CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME CARE
A new report by Ronald Molin and Sally Palmer offers recommendations to mental health providers for resolving dilemmas related to interactions with state child welfare representatives, birth parents, and providers of foster care (foster parents, group homes, and residential services) regarding children's evaluation and treatment. "Consent and Participation: Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Children in Out-of-Home Care," was published in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Volume 75, Issue 1). The authors suggest that, in addition to communicating with state representatives, providers should inform parents and foster care givers about referrals and offer them the opportunity to participate in children's treatment, unless the best interests of the child and the consent of the legal guardian (the state) contraindicate such involvement. Guidelines are also presented for periodic reviews of an intervention and the rights of children to informed consent and confidentiality. To access this report for a fee, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/ort/75/1/152.html
NATIONAL ANALYSIS UPDATED WITH DATA ON ADOPTION, FOSTER CARE
The National Data Analysis System, a function of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), offers a comprehensive resource for the latest statistics on foster care, adoption, and other child welfare information. The data system has been updated with tables on all child welfare expenditures and funding for 2002 and 2003, with CWLA State Agency Survey Data (which includes staff training requirements, levels of care in state systems, family preservation and juvenile justice sections), and other data. To access the data system, go to:http://www.cwla.org/ndas.htm
5. Institute Update||
AS STATES CONSIDER OPENING RECORDS, CURRENT LAWS CALLED `DINOSAURS'|
In an April 19 article in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, "Adoptees Seek Access to Keys to Their Pasts," by Tess Nacelewicz, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on efforts in Maine and other states to allow adult adoptees access to their birth records. Pertman says the laws sealing such records are "dinosaurs" that "reflect a period of time that no longer exists when adoption was mired in shame and secrecy." To read the article, go to: http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/news/local/050419adopt.shtml
INSTITUTE WEIGHS IN ON OPENING RECORDS, ADOPTION SUBSIDY CUTS IN MO.
The Adoption Institute submitted a letter to Texas lawmakers, who are considering legislation giving adult adoptees access to their birth records, outlining research findings on the subject; the letter described the current practice of sealing such records as an "anachronism." The Institute also submitted a letter to the editor of the New Jersey Asbury Park Press taking issue with a commentary by an official of the American Civil Liberties Union in that newspaper ("Registry best for reuniting" 4/21/05); the commentary had asserted that mutual consent registries were the best way to unite birth parents and adopted people, but the Institute said the ACLU argument was "based on inaccurate information, faulty stereotypes, and wishful thinking."
The Adoption Institute also issued a press release, and gave interviews to media, criticizing Missouri Governor Matt Blunt's initiative dramatically reducing subsidies to foster parents in his state. The release said the new law was "as callous as lawmakers can get in balancing their fiscal duties against their responsibility to care for boys and girls who need loving homes." The governor signed the law after it passed both houses of the Missouri legislature in April; it will impose an income "means test" on prospective parents who adopt from the child-welfare system, as well as on those who have already adopted children with special needs. To read the Institute letters and press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/newsmedia.html
INSTITUTE HIRES TWO PROMINENT SCHOLARS, ESTABLISHES ACADEMIC LINK
The Adoption Institute is proud to announce that two highly respected adoption experts, authors and educators - Susan Livingston Smith and Jeanne Howard - have joined the Institute's senior staff. Smith, the new Program and Project Director, and Howard, the new Policy and Research Director, come to the Adoption Institute from Illinois State University where they were co-directors of the Center for Adoption Studies; as part of the arrangement for bringing them on, the Adoption Institute is forming a collaboration with ISU for carrying out research, programs and projects, adding an academically based dimension to the Institute for the first time. To read the press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/200504_smithhoward.html
INSTITUTE PLANS CONFERENCE MAY 20, HOLDS SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISER
The Adoption Institute will co-sponsor a conference May 20 at New York Law School, "Gay and Lesbian Adoption: Past, Present and Future." For more information about the event, held in conjunction with the Center for Adoption Policy and the New York Law School, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/2005_05_conference.html
The Adoption Institute held its most successful fundraiser ever, "A Taste of Spring," at Christie's Auction House in New York City on April 14. As a result of the generosity of our supporters, the Institute will be able to continue improving adoption through its unique, high-impact programs and projects. In addition, on April 27, the Institute held a special adoption dinner/discussion with Executive Director Adam Pertman, in Washington D.C.; the dinner was part of a series of outreach events, with more planned around the country. To learn of Pertman's other upcoming appearances, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/pertman2005.html
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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