Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
JULY 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL MAKING 'SAFE HAVENS' PERMANENT|
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois signed a bill (HB0175) this month that extends current provisions allowing parents to anonymously abandon their newborn babies in designated 'safe haven' sites indefinitely. The sunset clause of the "Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act," which was set to expire on July 1, 2007, was repealed. According to a News-Gazette article, since the law was passed in 2001, 16 babies have been "safely relinquished" and 36 have been "unsafely abandoned," of whom 17 were found alive. To read the bill, go to: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/default.asp and click on House bills, and search for HB0175; to read the News-Gazette article, go to: http://www.news-gazette.com/localnews/story.cfm?Number=18603; to read the Adoption Institute's study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
R.I. REQUIRES FULL PRE-ADOPTION INFORMATION, OFFERS TAX CREDIT
Rhode Island legislators passed and the governor signed legislation to ensure full disclosure of a child's history and background to prospective adoptive parents and adoptees over the age of 18, and to provide financial support for adoptive families through a state tax credit. "An Act Relating to the Adoption of Children" (HB5350), which became law on July 6, requires the state Department of Children, Youth and Families and private adoption agencies to provide as much pre-adoption background about a child as possible; that includes medical, developmental and psychological history, placement history, and school performance. In addition, the pre-adoption report must include information on the biological parents, including age, race, religion, other biological children, non-identifying medical, substance abuse and mental health histories, and the circumstances of any judicial order terminating parental rights. Bill SB656, passed on July 19, amends Rhode Island's tax code by providing a state tax credit in addition to the federal tax credit for families who have adopted a child through the public child welfare system. To read HB5350, go to: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Billtext/BillText05/HouseText05/H5350A.pdf;
to read the tax credit bill, SB656, go to: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Billtext/BillText05/SenateText05/S0656A.pdf
SPAIN AND CANADA LEGALIZE EQUAL RIGHTS TO SAME-SEX COUPLES
National laws giving gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples - including marriage and inheritance - came into force in Canada and Spain in early July. Those two nations joined the Netherlands and Belgium as the only countries to recognize same-sex marriages. The laws in Spain and Canada are more liberal in that they eliminate all legal distinctions between same-sex and heterosexual unions. Spain's law permits same-sex couples to adopt children. In Canada, adoption laws are determined by each province. In June, the Netherlands passed a law that would permit same-sex couples - who are already permitted to adopt domestically - to do so from overseas, and eliminated the three-year waiting period before a second-parent adoption of a partner's child. To read the Canadian Civil Marriage Act, go to: http://canada.justice.gc.ca/en/fs/ssm/index.html; to read an AP article about Spain's Gay Marriage law, go to: http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/06/063005spain.htm; to read an article about the Netherlands' law, go to: http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=38117
U.S. URGES UKRAINE TO COMPLETE PENDING INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
The U.S. government is urging the Ukraine government to minimize disruption of intercountry adoptions as it implements new policies and establishes a government center for adoptions. According to a State Department notice, the Ukrainian president signed a decree on July 11 intended to promote the "improvement of the child protection system, with special focus on orphaned children and those deprived of parental care." That decree said the Ukranian government will review proposals to improve the welfare of children, including the creation of a new central authority for adoptions and children's issues, by Sept. 1, 2005. Although Ukraine is currently continuing to accept new dossiers from American families, the impact of this transition on pending adoptions remains unclear. To read the July 14 U.S. State Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2544.html
GEORGIA SETTLES SUIT, AGREES TO REFORM ITS FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
The state of Georgia agreed to implement major changes in its foster care system, part of a settlement of a class-action suit filed by the child advocacy organization Children's Rights on behalf of 3,000 children in state custody in Fulton and DeKalb Counties. Under the terms of the settlement, announced July 5, the state has agreed to make systematic reforms, including reducing caseloads, increasing compensation to foster parents, reducing the time a child remains in foster care and expediting permanency, and setting strict limits on the number of children who can be placed in a foster home. In addition, the state agreed to improve outcomes for children by ensuring quality services, keeping siblings together, and appointing independent child welfare experts to report on the state's performance every six months. To read the press release on the settlement issued by Children's Rights, go to: http://www.childrensrights.org/PDF/07-05-05.pdf; to read an AP article about the settlement, go to: http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/12058460.htm
HOUSE BILL WOULD MANDATE ADOPTION, FOSTER BACKGROUND CHECKS
U.S. House representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced legislation (HR3132) that would require states to complete child abuse and neglect background checks on prospective foster or adoptive parents, and on any adults living in a home prior to the finalization of a placement. "Children's Safety Act of 2005" combines 15 recently introduced bills and would specifically eliminate the current option for states to opt out of the background check requirement. In addition, the legislation would ensure that child welfare agencies have access to national crime-information databases. The legislation, introduced in June, has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR3132 in the bill number field.
VAST MAJORITY IN CHINA SURVEY SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION|
China's residents reportedly have overwhelmingly positive attitudes toward the international adoption of children abandoned in their country, with 94 percent of 180 survey respondents from the general public agreeing with the practice. "Born in China: Birth Country Perspectives on International Adoption," by Nili Luo and Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist, was published in a recently released 2004 issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 8, Issue 1). The study also reported on interviews with government officials and welfare institution administrators, who expressed positive perceptions as well, although many stressed the importance of post-placement monitoring of these children's welfare. A small minority expressed concerns about children being socially isolated or losing their Chinese roots, or said that the practice of international adoption brings shame to China. To access this article, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/
CANADIAN STUDY SHOWS SUPPORT FOR MORE OPENNESS IN ADOPTION
A majority of Canadians support the unconditional release of confidential identifying information to adult adoptees, according to a newly released survey. A randomly selected sample of 706 Canadians were interviewed by phone to assess public attitudes about adoption practices, and found more than 75 percent of respondents favored the release of such records. "Social Support for Changes in Adoption Practice: Gay Adoption, Open Adoption, Birth Reunions, and the Release of Confidential Identifying Information," by Charlene Miall and Karen March, was published in the January-March 2005 issue of Families in Society (Volume 86, Issue 1). The poll found that, overall, younger and more educated respondents were more amenable to non-traditional adopters, such as single parents. Slightly fewer than half of the respondents (48 percent) viewed lesbian or gay male couples as acceptable adoptive parents. Approximately three-fourths of respondents approved of the most basic form of openness - exchange of cards and letters between birth and adoptive parents; and more than 60 percent approved of complete openness in adoption. To access this study, go to: http://www.familiesinsociety.org/PastIssues.asp
FOSTER CARE FOUND TO YIELD BETTER OUTCOMES THAN ORPHANAGES
A study assessing the health and development of 103 children adopted from Guatemala upon arrival in the U.S. showed that children coming from Guatemalan foster homes prior to adoption had significantly better physical growth and cognitive scores than children who had resided in orphanages. "Health of Children Adopted from Guatemala: Comparison of Orphanage and Foster Care," by Laurie Miller, Wilma Chan, Kathleen Comfort, and Linda Tirella, was published in the June 2005 issue of Pediatrics (Volume 115, Issue 6). Most of the children were doing well developmentally (80-92 percent of expected performance), but 14 percent had global developmental delays. The most common medical problems found among the entire group were anemia (30 percent) and symptoms of prenatal alcohol exposure (28 percent). To access this study, go to: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/115/6/e710
STUDY: PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP IS KEY PREDICTOR OF BEHAVIOR
A study of 83 African American adoptive families found that qualities of the parent-child relationship, such as amount of enjoyable time the parents and children spend together and how often the parent thinks of the child when separated, are stronger predictors of child behavior problems than pre-adoption characteristics of the child or parent. "Child Behavioral Outcomes in African American Adoptive Families," by T. Chedgzsey Smith-McKeever, was published in the final 2004 issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 7, Issue 4). Children's age at adoption, a factor strongly associated with problems in previous research on primarily white or mixed-race samples of adoptive families, was not a predictor of behavior problems in this study. To access this study for a fee, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/
RESEARCH INDICATES CULTURAL EXPOSURE HELPS KOREAN ADOPTEES
A study investigating the benefits of cultural exposure for transracially (TRA) adopted children found that cultural exposure was beneficial in helping their development of racial identity. "Benefits of Cultural Exposure and Development of Korean Perspective-Taking Ability for Transracially Adopted Korean Children," by David Lee and Stephen Quintana, was published in the May 2005 issue of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology (Volume 11, Issue 2), and involved interviews of 50 Korean-born TRA children - with a median age of 13 - attending a Korean culture camp. The study found that while their development of racial status was similar to that of non-adopted peers raised in same-race families and correlated with maturity, TRA children's understanding of their racial status occurred at an older age. The researchers found that this difference was related to levels of cultural exposure and suggested that the kinds of cultural exposure may need to change at different ages. To access this article, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/cdp/11/2
MORE MIDDLE-CLASS COUPLES IN CHINA REPORTEDLY ARE ADOPTING |
The number of domestic adoptions of orphans by Chinese has tripled since 1996 as a result of a growing middle class, the influence of Western ideas of altruism and giving charity to strangers, shame associated with infertility, and changes in laws, according to the article, "China: Charity Begins at Home," by Sarah Schafer, published in the July 25-Aug. 11 issue of Newsweek International. In 1999, the Chinese government amended some laws so that an adopted child would not be counted as an "extra" child, thus enabling a family to get around the one-child policy. In addition, in 2002, the government launched a campaign to "convince Chinese that orphans belong in families, not group homes" which has resulted in more Chinese becoming foster parents and many children - most of whom are girls - subsequently being adopted by their foster parents. To read the article, go to: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8598730/site/newsweek/
RESEARCH CRITICAL OF SAME SEX ADOPTION BASED ON PERSONAL VIEWS
An article in the July 31 Boston Globe reported a growing trend in "small think tanks, researchers, and publicists" who are providing "what they portray as medical information" on controversial issues -- when, apparently, their data is based on their personal moral beliefs. A key example in the story, "Beliefs Drive Research Agenda of New Think Tanks: Study on Gay Adoption Disputed by Specialists," by Michael Kranish, is the research of Dr. Paul Cameron, founder of the Family Research Institute. Cameron's derogatory conclusions about gay and lesbian parenting contradict those of a positive 2002 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics that found no meaningful difference between children raised by same-sex and heterosexual couples. Kranish reports that Cameron's research - which has been heavily criticized as flawed - has been widely disseminated among conservatives who "oppose homosexuality for moral or political reasons," and has been used in legal proceedings to restrict gay rights, including the Florida Supreme Court decision to uphold that state's law banning adoption by same-sex couples. To read the article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/
REPORT CITES DESERTION OF, BIAS AGAINST RUSSIAN BABIES WITH HIV
Up to 20 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women in Russia abandon their babies, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. The organization also said both the mothers and children involved face widespread discrimination and abuse, especially from health care workers. "Positively Abandoned Stigma and Discrimination against HIV-Positive Mothers and their Children in Russia," released in June, found that the stigma of HIV/AIDS means that most abandoned HIV-positive children are sent to specialized orphanages, segregated in regular orphanages, or kept in hospital wards. To read the report, go to: http://hrw.org/reports/2005/russia0605/
UNDERSTANDING PARENTAL METH ABUSE AND ITS IMPACT ON CHILDREN|
Two resources for understanding the scope of the methamphetamine drug problem and its impact on children entering foster care were released this month. According to a study by The National Association of Counties, almost 60 percent of county sheriffs surveyed report that methamphetamine abuse is their counties' biggest drug problem. "The Meth Epidemic in America: Two Surveys of U.S. Counties," is based on interviews with more than 800 sheriffs and child welfare officials. Many counties are continuing to see increases in out-of-home placements of children due to meth abuse by their parents and, according to 59 percent of child welfare officials, the nature of meth use increases the difficulty of family reunification. To access this report, go to: http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=Media_Center
An ethnographic study of the impact of parental methamphetamine abuse on children in rural Illinois indicates a high incidence of trauma, health and mental health problems, and anti-social socialization among these children. "In these Bleak Days: Parent Methamphetamine Abuse and Child Welfare in the Rural Midwest," by Wendy Haight and five coauthors, was published in the August 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 27, Issue 8). The highest rate of meth abuse is among 20-29 year olds, many of whom have young children who are brought up in a drug culture toxic to their social and emotional development. The study said child welfare workers need further education in order to conduct comprehensive assessments of children's needs, involve them in high-quality mental health services, and address their trauma symptoms and past anti-social socialization. To access this article, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/
GAO OUTLINES OBSTACLES TO ADOPTION OF MORE FOSTER CHILDREN
Restrictive eligibility requirements for Adoption Assistance and subsidies that are lower for adoption than for foster care discourage the adoption of foster children in some states, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, "Better Data and Evaluations Could Improve Process and Programs for Adopting Children with Special Needs." Other barriers cited by this report include delays in court processes and interstate placements, cuts in post-adoption programs, and failure of most states to evaluate the effectiveness of post-adoption services. Many services that are accessible to foster families were found not to be available to adoptive families in most states, and guardianship families were found to get fewer services still. The need for expanding Title-IV-E eligibility criteria to qualify for Adoption Assistance payments is emphasized. To access, go to: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05292.pdf
DATA POINT TO A DECLINE IN FOSTER CHILDREN AWAITING ADOPTION
Preliminary FY03 estimates from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) show a slight drop in the number of children waiting to be adopted - 119,000 compared to 126,000 the previous year; at the same time, the estimates indicate that the number of children adopted from foster care fell from 53,000 to 50,000. The AFCARS report also showed that the total number of children in foster care - not all of whom are available for adoption - decreased by 9,000 (from 532,000 to 523,000) nationally during this time period. To access this report, go to: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/dis/afcars/publications/afcars.htm
NEW 'KIDS COUNT' DATA BOOK SHOW DECLINE IN CHILDREN's WELL-BEING
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2005 Kids Count Data Book this month, tracking an array of state-by-state indicators of child well-being. In contrast to last year's study, which found most indicators had improved nationally, five out of 10 of them have worsened since 2000. These include a rise in the number of children living in poverty and living with parents facing persistent unemployment, an increase in the percentage of low birth-weight babies and infant mortality; and a slight increase in the teen death rate. Positive trends included a fall in the high school dropout rate, a downward trend in teen birth rate; and a leveling off in the number of children in single-parent households. To obtain a copy of the data book, go to: http://www.aecf.org/kidscount/sld/databook.jsp
5. Institute Update||
`BATTLES STILL RAGING' OVER INFANT ABANDONMENT LAWS |
In a July 10 article published in the Boston Globe, "Six Years After First 'Safe Haven' Laws, Battles Sill Raging," by Eric Ferkenhoff, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman questions whether the children being left in `safe havens' would otherwise have been unsafely abandoned and suggests they might have instead been raised by family members or placed for adoption through traditional means. He also points out that these children are left without any identity or medical information. To read the article, go to: http://www.boston.com/; to read the Adoption Institute study on the issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
`HELPING KIDS FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THEIR SKINS IS A POSITIVE THING'
In a July 17 article by Rachel La Corte, "Lt. Gov. Owen, Sons, Make Trek to South Korea in Support of Cross-Cultural Adoption," published in the Seattle Times, Executive Director Pertman explains that trips to an adopted person's birth country are becoming increasingly common, and are an important experience that contributes to an adopted person's understanding of who they are. "Helping kids feel comfortable in their skin is a positive thing," he said. To read the article, go to: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002386051_koreanadopt17.html
MORE SINGLE WOMEN BECOMING PARENTS THROUGH ADOPTION
In a July 14 article on MSNBC.com, "With No Mr. Right in Sight, Time for Plan B," by Lorie A. Parch, Pertman points out the growing trend of single women - including more African-American women adopting from foster care - who want to parent and are willing to adopt older children or children of a different race than their own. To read the article, go to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8284173/
MATT DONALDSON COMPLETES TRIATHLON TO RAISE FUNDS FOR INSTITUTE
On Sunday July 24, 2005, Matt Donaldson - a member of our Board of Directors and son of the Institute's namesake - completed the Iron Man Triathlon in Lake Placid, N.Y. to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Adoption Institute (Hooray, Matt!). It's not too late to donate by sponsoring Matt's miles and supporting the important work of the Institute; to do so, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/2005triathlon.html
UPCOMING INSTITUTE EVENT: `A NIGHT OF COMEDY FOR A CAUSE'
On Monday, September 26, 2005, comedian Alison Larkin will perform her internationally acclaimed one-woman show, "The English American," at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, CA, to benefit the work of the Adoption Institute. For more information about the event or to download an invitation, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/comedyforacause_la.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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