Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
JUNE 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
VIETNAM RESUMES FOREIGN ADOPTIONS, UKRAINE ORDERS TEMPORARY HALT|
The U.S. and Vietnamese governments formally signed a bilateral agreement on June 21 that will allow American citizens to adopt Vietnamese children for the first time since 2002. According to the U.S. State Department notice, the agreement will make the adoption process more transparent, facilitate adoptions for humanitarian purposes, and provide protection to birth families, prospective adoptive parents and orphaned children. Adoptions will not be processed until U.S. adoption agencies are licensed in Vietnam, which will take an estimated two to four months after the agreement goes into effect. Vietnam issued a decree in 2002 permitting adoptions only to countries with which such agreements were established. In addition, the decree required all foreign-based adoption agencies to be licensed in Vietnam, centralized all intercountry adoptions under one authority, and limited foreign adoptions to children in orphanages. Vietnam has not acceded to the 1993 Hague Convention, an international treaty to protect children involved in intercountry adoptions. To read the State Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2542.html
The Ukrainian government announced it would temporarily stop accepting applications by foreigners seeking to adopt Ukrainian children until a new government center for adoptions is established within the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports, according to a June announcement by the U.S. State Department. A June 13 Associated Press article reported that already-submitted applications will not be suspended, and that the new Ukrainian center is expected to be operational within two months, at which time intercountry adoption applications will resume. That country’s government will also reportedly consider ratifying the 1993 Hague Convention. To read the Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2544.html; to read the AP article, go to: http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/local/11884905.htm
TEXAS LETS SOME ADOPTEES GET BIRTH RECORDS, REVAMPS FOSTER CARE
Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law on June 17 that will enable adult adopted persons who know “the identity of each parent named on the original birth certificate,” to receive a non-certified copy of their original birth certificates without obtaining a court order. The bill (HB240) – introduced in February by House Rep. Tony Goolsby – amends Section 192.008 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, and will take effect on Sept. 1, 2005.
Gov. Perry also signed into law a measure in June that would overhaul the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) by allocating $250 million to CPS and $34 million to Adult Protective Services budgets to cut caseloads, hire an additional 2,500 workers, increase salaries, and initiate a plan to privatize all foster care and case management by 2011. The law signed by the governor omitted an amendment that had been approved in the Texas House version in April. That amendment, introduced by State House Rep. Robert Talton, would have banned gays, lesbians and bisexuals from becoming foster parents, and would have removed children currently being fostered by gay and lesbian parents from their homes. To read the law, go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/data/docmodel/79r/billtext/pdf/SB00006F.PDF
U.S. HOUSE OK’S FUNDING FOR FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION ASSISTANCE
The U.S. House approved the annual appropriations bill (HR3010) on June 23 to fund programs administered by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance would be funded at $6.8 billion, Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) and Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Acts (CAPTA) state grants would be maintained at current levels of $404 million and $27 million respectively. In addition, $50 million would go to tuition vouchers for youth who age out of foster care. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR3010 in the bill number field; for more information and budget analysis by the Child Welfare League of America, go to: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/budget.htm
HHS FINDS 2 N.Y. HOSPITALS DID NOT PROTECT CHILDREN IN MEDICAL TRIALS
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concluded that two New York City hospitals, Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital, failed to obtain enough information to protect children in foster care who participated in AIDS drug trials in the 1990s. According to the HHS Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) letter dated May 23, the two hospitals did not determine whether they had proper consent, information and safeguards to protect the rights and welfare of the children in at least four government-funded AIDS research studies. According to a June 16 Associated Press article, the federal agency is withholding its decision on whether the two hospitals should have provided the foster children with independent advocates, a requirement in New York state. To read the OHRP's letter, go to: http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/detrm_letrs/YR05/may05c.pdf; to read the AP article, go to: http://politics.yahoo.com/s/ap/aids_foster_kids
SOUTH AFRICA ASSEMBLY ESTABLISHES INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION PRACTICES
The South African National Assembly approved a controversial Children’s Bill in June that would set up the mechanisms stipulated by the 1993 Hague Convention for the protection of children in intercountry adoption – to which South Africa acceded in 2003 – thereby establishing a formal intercountry adoption practice. The bill would also strengthen domestic alternative family-care options by providing adoption grants to prospective parents, a national register to match prospective adoptive parents and children, and care by extended family members. The most controversial provisions of the bill include the protection of the right of a surrogate mother to have an abortion after agreeing to an adoption, and allowing same-sex couples to adopt. In addition, the bill would lower the age of majority from 21 years to 18, outlaw virginity tests, provide stricter punishments for child trafficking, and provide for the implementation of a child sex-abuse registry. The bill must be approved by the National Council of Provinces before it can be signed into law. To read the bill, go to: http://childrenfirst.org.za/pdf/childrensbill_04_August_2003.pdf?
PHPSESSID=24ad04a11c35d4b8345370fe611277bf ; to read an article about the bill, go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/200506271051.html
SENATORS SEEK TO EXTEND COLLEGE AID TO SPUR ADOPTION OF FOSTER TEENS
U.S. Senators Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced a bill (S1287) on June 22 aimed at encouraging the adoption of teens in foster care by maintaining a youth’s eligibility for financial aid after an adoption is finalized. Currently, foster youth who are adopted can lose out on some or all college financial aid that would be available if they stayed in foster care, depending on his or her adopted parents' financial situation. The “Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act” would amend the definition of “independent student” (as defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965) to include youths who were adopted from the foster care system after their 13th birthdays. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/and search for S1297 in the bill number field.
SIBLINGS IN FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION FARE WELL, BARRIERS REMAIN|
Landmark studies and position papers on sibling issues of children in out-of-home care are published in the July 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 27, Issue 7). Three articles from this issue are summarized below: an overview of international research on sibling placement in foster care and adoption, a longitudinal study of a large child welfare population, and an analysis by two former foster youth who are now child welfare professionals.
Almost all 17 studies of siblings in foster care and adoption demonstrate that those placed together have equal or better outcomes (stability of placement and level of behavior and emotional problems) than those separated in care. Rebecca Hegar’s review of studies conducted over 15 years (1988-2003), “Sibling Placement in Foster Care and Adoption: An Overview of International Research,” also discusses the implications of these findings for policy and practice. A majority of states have statutes promoting sibling connections of foster children; however, courts have not recognized a right of association for siblings.
“Sibling Placements in Longitudinal Perspective,” by Fred Wulczyn and Emily Zimmerman, uses New York City data on about 175,000 children over a 15-year period to study factors associated with maintaining sibling connections. While approximately 70 percent of children in foster care have siblings in foster care, only 43 percent of the sibling groups in the study enter care on the same day, with another 10 percent entering within 30 days of each other. This reality largely shapes their chances of being together over the long term. This study finds 78 percent of those entering care together are placed together initially and another 12 percent are partially intact. However, 66 percent of those entering care later are not placed with any sibling initially and have a much lower chance of ever being placed with sibs.
Two child welfare researchers describe the emotional benefits of sibling connections, such as natural support, security in a frightening situation, permanency of unconditional relationships, validation of self-worth, a framework for developing a positive identity, and a shared sense of culture and family history. “Sibling Connections: The Importance of Nurturing Sibling Bonds in the Foster Care System,” by Mary Anne Herrick and Wendy Piccus, who themselves spent significant time in foster care, describes poignant aspects of their own experiences to reinforce findings from past research on the benefits of keeping siblings together and the negative impact of separating them.
To access these articles for a fee, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/
RESEARCH FINDS CHINESE CHILDREN ADJUST THE SAME WITH 1 OR 2 PARENTS
A study comparing 126 single-mother adoptive families with 415 dual-parent adoptive families found that children in the single-parent families were as well adjusted as those with two parents. “Child Adjustment of Single-Parent Adoption from China: A Comparative Study,” by Tony Xing Tan, was published in a recently released 2004 issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 8, Issue 1). The study found both samples of adopted children scored significantly lower on both the internalizing and externalizing scales of the Child Behavior Checklist than the norms for American-born children, and there were no significant differences between Chinese adoptees in one- and two-parent homes. To access a free abstract or purchase a copy of this study, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/
SWEDISH STUDY FINDS SPERM DONORS FAVORABLE TO CONTACT BY OFFSPRING
Two-thirds of sperm donors for two Swedish clinics felt positively about being contacted in the future by their offspring, according to a Swedish study that had a 100 percent response rate of 30 men surveyed. Since the late 1980s, Swedish law has required sperm donors to provide identifying information that is available to their offspring. “Semen Providers and Their Three Families,” by K. Daniels, A. Lalos, C. Gottlieb and O. Lalos, was published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology (Volume 26, Issue 1). It reports that almost all donors had consulted with their spouses or partners about providing semen, although only one-third had shared this information with their original birth families (their parents and siblings). To access this article for a fee, go to: http://journalsonline.tandf.co.uk/
ANALYSIS RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION REGULATION
A legal analysis of current trends in intercountry adoptions, including the 1993 Hague Convention for the protection of children in intercountry adoption and the U.S. Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, raises concerns regarding regulation. “Intercountry Adoption: Forecasts and Forebodings,” by Joan Hollinger, published in the recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 8, Issue 1), raises concerns about how intercountry adoptions will operate in the future. These include the need for post-adoption service providers, the lack of regulation of costs, the failure of many sending countries to join the Hague, and the need in the general public to have information about the track records of adoption service providers. To access this article, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/
ROMANIA’S BAN ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS LEAVES CHILDREN STRANDED |
A new child welfare law in Romania that took effect on January 2005 – which restricts all intercountry adoption except by biological grandparents living overseas – is being criticized in light of reports that a large number of abandoned infants are living in hospital wards. According to a June 21 International Herald Tribune article, “ `Good Impulses’ Strand Romanian Orphans,” by Elisabeth Rosenthal, Law 272 also prohibits infants under the age of two from being placed in an orphanage; however, there are not enough Romanian families willing to adopt or become foster parents, leaving children with few options except to live in hospitals until they can be placed in an institution. Although the law was intended to encourage Romanian families to stay together and end the practice of abandoning unwanted children, child abandonment has continued at the same level for the past 40 years, with close to 10,000 children being abandoned at hospitals annually. To read the full article, go to: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/06/21/news/adopt.php
INVESTIGATORS SAY FOREIGN ADOPTERS GET PREFERENCE OVER RUSSIANS
A Russian prosecutor, Gen. Vladimir Ustinov, conducted an investigation of 45 regions in Russia over the past two years and found that international adoptions significantly outnumbered domestic adoptions, in part because of violations by administrators who gave preference to foreigners rather than to Russian couples. According to the June 24 story published in Novosti, “Prosecutor's Office Comes to Grips with Child Adoption Legislation Abuse,” government agencies did not provide information in a timely manner and either failed to report or falsified information that would have enabled children to be adopted by Russian families. Other reasons for low domestic adoption rates included social problems such as poverty and poor housing of potential adoptive parents, lack of government incentives, and health and behavioral problems of available children. To read the article, go to: http://en.rian.ru/society/20050624/40758756.html
ADOPTION SUBSIDY WEBSITES PROVIDE UPDATED 2005 RATES AND POLICIES|
Two websites on adoption subsidy rates and policies have been updated to include 2005 contacts and current rates. The most detailed information is available on the Adoption Subsidy Resource Center website of the North American Council for Adoptable Children (NACAC), which includes rates for U.S. states and many Canadian provinces as well as definitions for special needs, types of services included in subsidy, fact sheets, and contact persons in each state. To access this information, go to: http://www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy.html. Also, subsidy information from NACAC has been utilized to update several tables regarding subsidy on the National Data Analysis System of the Child Welfare League of America at: http://ndas.cwla.org/whatsnew/061505.asp
EDUCATIONAL TOOLS SUGGEST WAYS TO ADVOCATE FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA), in collaboration with the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning, has developed a manual and a curriculum to educate foster parents about federal laws governing child welfare and ways they can advocate for their foster children. To get the four-module manual, written by Regina Deihl and Cecilia Fiermonte, order from NFPA, or download from their website at:http://www.nfpainc.org/training/nfpaTraining.cfm?page=4. To get the curriculum for the three-hour training on the content of the manual, complete with power point slides, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/other-issues-in-child-welfare.html
PAPERS ASSESS OVERREPRESENTATION OF MINORITIES IN FOSTER CARE
The Race Matters Consortium, a collaboration of child welfare experts working together to delineate reasons for the disproportionate number of minority children in the foster care system and to identify practices that will better address the needs of these children, has established a website, Race Matters, with a collection of working papers. This website was established by the Children and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois with a grant from Casey Family Programs. One paper recently added to this website, “Overrepresentation of Children of Color in Foster Care in 2000,” by Robert Hill, contains statistics on minority populations in the child welfare system of various states. This and other papers analyze the key issues related to this topic and make recommendations. To access these papers, go to: http://www.racemattersconsortium.org/whopapers.htm
CURRICULUM PROMOTES COLLABORATION TO REDUCE COURT DELAYS
The National Curriculum for Caseflow Management in Juvenile Dependency Cases Involving Foster Care was developed by a partnership of judicial organizations through funding by the Pew Charitable Trusts in order to foster collaboration among the variety of individuals engaged in child welfare cases. This curriculum encourages the development of multidisciplinary, interagency teams to utilize strategies for condensing case processing delays for child welfare cases. The 82-page curriculum is designed to facilitate a two in a half day training of highly interactive workshops and team activities, and was successfully piloted in Arizona. To access this curriculum, go to: http://jeritt.msu.edu/Documents/National_Curriculum_Final_06-21-05.pdf
5. Institute Update||
INSTITUTE SUBMITS LETTER IN CALIF. ON `SAFE HAVENS’ PROBLEMS |
The Adoption Institute submitted a letter to the California State Assembly, which is considering a bill (SB116) that would make infant ‘safe haven’ laws permanent. The letter outlined findings from the Institute’s study on infant abandonment, entitled “Unintended Consequences,” which found no evidence that these statutes are working, principally because they do not address the causes of the problem. In April the state Senate unanimously approved the bill. To read the letter, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/20050609_letter_calif.html. To read Adoption Institute's study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
DESPITE SETBACKS, MOMENTUM BEHIND OPENING ADOPTION RECORDS
In a June 29 article in the Washington Times by Cheryl Wetzstein, “Adoption Battle Rages,” Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman asserts that despite some legislative defeats that continue to prohibit adult adopted people from accessing their adoption records, there is momentum favoring the opening of records. Pertman says most adoption agencies now offer open adoptions, in which birth and adoptive families maintain contact, and points out that there is no evidence of any negative consequences in states that have opened records in recent years. To read the article, go to: http://www.washingtontimes.com/culture/20050628-111041-1792r.htm
SUBSIDY CUTS SEEN CONTRIBUTING TO FEWER FOSTER ADOPTIONS IN MO.
In a June 15 article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Adoption of Foster Children Declines,” by Matt Franck, Pertman asserts that state budget cuts passed in April – which dramatically reduced adoption subsides – have likely contributed to the recent drop in the number of children adopted from Missouri’s foster care system. To read the article, go to: http://www.stltoday.com/
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT ADOPTION OF AMERICAN CHILDREN ABROAD
In a June 6 article in People magazine, “Why are American Babies Being Adopted Abroad?” by Anne-Marie O’Neill, Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on whether enough is being done to find homes in the U.S. for the hundreds of children, almost all African-American or biracial, being adopted overseas by foreigners. To obtain a copy of the article, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/commentary/20050606_people_quoted.html
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RECEIVES LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Executive Director Adam Pertman received the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Adoption Council. He was presented with the award after delivering the keynote address at the Council’s annual Law and Policy conference in Tampa on June 3. Pertman was recognized for his effort “to instigate positive changes in adoption,” and for the work of the Adoption Institute in helping children and families. To read the press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/20050607_press_achievementaward.html
UPCOMING INSTITUTE EVENT: MATT DONALDSON RAISES FUNDS IN TRIATHLON
On Sunday July 24, 2005, Matt Donaldson – a member of our Board of Directors and son of the Institute’s namesake – will be participating in the Iron Man Triathlon in Lake Placid, N.Y., to raise funds for the Adoption Institute. To sponsor Matt’s miles and support the important work of the Institute, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/2005triathlon.html
Executive Director Adam Pertman will be a keynote speaker at two upcoming events: the American Adoption Congress’ annual conference in Las Vegas on July 8 and the post-adoption conference of Friends in Adoption in Stratton Mountain, VT, on July 17. To learn more about these events, please go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/pertman2005.html#july. For a list of Pertman’s speaking engagements, 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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