Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
NOVEMBER 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
NEW LAW ALLOWS FOR-PROFIT FOSTER CARE AGENCIES TO GET FEDERAL FUNDS|
President Bush signed a bill (S1894) this month that allows for-profit foster care agencies to receive Medicaid funds and federal foster care grants and assistance. The statute (P.L. No. 109-113), the "Fair Access Foster Care Act of 2005," amends part E of title IV of the Social Security Act by striking out "nonprofit" wherever it appears, thus eliminating the current restriction of federal money to nonprofit groups. The bill was passed in the Senate on Oct. 19 by unanimous consent, and passed in the House on Nov. 9. To read the measure, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S.1894 in the search bill text field.
ONTARIO ENACTS BILL ALLOWING ADULT ADOPTEES ACCESS TO RECORDS
Ontario this month became the fourth Canadian province to allow adopted people 18 years or older and birth parents access to original or current birth certificates. The legislation (183-2005), which will take effect in 18 months, eliminates the current Adoption Disclosure Register requiring both an adopted person and birth parent to register before having contact. Although the legislation gives birth parents and adoptees the option to refuse contact in writing, there is no disclosure veto allowing them to keep their records sealed. If an adoptee or birth parent wants to keep a record sealed, he or she will have to prove to a tribunal that unsealing the files would cause harm. Ontario joins British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland, which have already unsealed their adoption records; however, Ontario is the only province without a disclosure veto. To read the Ontario bill, go to: http://www.ontla.on.ca/documents/Bills/38_Parliament/session2/b183ra_e.htm
PENNSYLVANIA STATUTE GUARANTEES FOSTER PARENTS CHANCE TO ADOPT
Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed into law a bill (HB127) on Nov. 16 that ensures consideration of foster parents interested in adopting a child already in their care. The "Resource Family and Adoption Process Act" guarantee foster parents the right to be interviewed as prospective adoptive parents of a child in their care if the child's goal has changed from foster care to adoption, the foster parents have expressed an interest in adopting, and the foster child has resided with the family for six months or more. To read the Pennsylvania law, go to: http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2005/0/HB0127P2996.pdf
WASHINGTON HIGH COURT RULES SAME-SEX PARTNER HAS PARENTAL RIGHTS
The Washington state Supreme Court this month held that a de facto parent - an adult who has taken a committed parental role in a child's life but may not be biologically related or completed an adoption - "stands in legal parity with an otherwise legal parent, whether biological, adoptive or otherwise." The court, in a 7-2 decision, determined in the case In re the Parentage of: L.B. (No. 75626-1) that the same-sex partner who had helped raise a child with the biological mother for six years had standing to seek a determination of co-parentage with her former partner after the couple split. The ruling is similar to recent decisions this August in the California Supreme Court, which held that both partners in a lesbian relationship may have full legal parental rights and obligations regardless of gender, sexual orientation, biology, adoption or marriage. To read the court opinion, go to: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.opindisp&docid=756261MAJ ; to read an article on the case by the American Bar Association, go to: http://www.abanet.org/journal/ereport/n18moms.html
FLORIDA MEASURE WOULD ALLOW GAYS TO ADOPT IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES
A bill that would permit gays and lesbians to adopt "under certain enumerated circumstances," has been introduced in the Florida House (HB123) and Senate (S172). The legislation would let judges determine whether a homosexual man or woman could adopt a child if it finds "clear and convincing evidence" that the child already lives with the prospective adoptive parent and recognizes that person as his or her parent, and that "granting the adoptee permanency in that home is more important to the adoptee's developmental and psychological needs than maintaining the adoptee in a temporary placement." The bill, introduced in September, challenges the current Florida law, which bars gays and lesbians from adopting; it is the only such explicit prohibition in the country. In January 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a case to repeal the ban. Although gays and lesbians are excluded from adopting, the state permits them to be foster parents. Both bills have been referred to committee. To read the bill, go to: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/
ADDITIONAL TAX CREDIT PROPOSED TO SPUR ADOPTION OF OLDER CHILDREN
U.S. House Rep. Melissa Bean introduced a bill (HR4092) last month that would provide families who adopt children 9 years or older with an additional $2,000 annual tax credit until the child's 19th birthday. Currently, adoptive parents receive a one-time $10,000 tax credit for adoption-related expenses. The "Advocates Dedicated to Older Child Parental Tax Credit (ADOPT) Act of 2005" has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for H.R.4092 in the search bill text field.
STUDY SHOWS BENEFITS OF SPECIALIZED ADOPTION PRESERVATION SERVICES|
A qualitative study of over 800 adoptive families' evaluations of adoption preservation services received through an Illinois program, supports the benefits of specialized post-adoption services. "Investing in Adoptive Families: What Adoptive Families Tell Us Regarding the Benefits of Adoption Preservation Services," by Diane Zosky, senior staff members of the Adoption Institute Jeanne Howard and Susan Smith, and Anne Howard and Kristal Shelvin, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 8 Issue 3). Among the benefits of services reported by parents were improved communication within families, better understanding of the relationship between children's current behaviors and past emotional issues, addressing adoption grief and identity issues, reducing children's extreme anger problems, and advocacy for needed resources. Flexibility of service delivery, adoption focus, and qualities of the therapeutic relationship were also unique aspects of these services. For a free abstract, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/store/
SIBLING SEPARATIONS, MOVES IN CARE AMONG PREDICTORS OF DISRUPTION
A longitudinal study of 99 children placed for adoption between the ages of 5 and 11 years from the care system in England found that, about six years after placement, 49 percent were positive, 23 percent had disrupted, and 28 percent were continuing with difficulties. "Predictors of Outcome for Unrelated Adoptive Placements Made During Middle Childhood," by Cherilyn Dance and Alan Rushton, was published in the November 2005 issue of Child and Family Social Work (Volume 10, Issue 4). Being placed apart from siblings was associated with poorer outcomes, as was preferential rejection in the birth family (being singled out for negative treatment). The adoptive mother's rating of the child as poorly attached and low ratings on maternal sensitivity at the end of the first year of placement also were strong predictors of negative outcomes. Long-term difficulties were best predicted by the number of moves in care and returns home. Better preparation and post-placement supports are suggested for maximizing success. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bsc/cfsw/2005/00000010/00000004/art00002
TEENS' INVOLVEMENT IDENTIFIED AS KEY TO THEIR SUCCESSFUL ADOPTIONS
The findings of a South Carolina qualitative study of adolescent adoptions (primarily of children from child welfare and a few internationally adopted teens) suggest that youths' involvement in decisions and planning are critical to a placement's success. The full study, "Field-Initiated Research on Successful Adolescent Adoptions," by Cynthia Flynn, Wendy Welch and Kathleen Paget, involved interviews with 58 adoptive parents and 37 teens who were successfully adopted after age 12. The study recommends key steps for preparing and engaging the adolescents, including explaining their legal status, explaining the adoption process, assessing birth family issues and providing support in addressing those issues. In an article based on thEs study, "Adolescent Adoption: Success Despite Challenges," by Lois Wright and Flynn, to be published in a future issue of Children and Youth Services Review, adolescents state the benefits of adoption are having a family and improved quality of life; the primary drawback was missing birth families. To read the study, go to: http://www.sc.edu/ccfs/research/fullfinalreport.pdf; to access an abstract of the Children and Youth Services Review article or purchase the article, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/
ANALYSIS FINDS SINGLE AND KIN ADOPTERS RECEIVE LOWER SUBSIDIES
While state policies largely account for variations in adoption assistance payments, an analysis of subsidy rates - using a bargaining model - found child- and family-related factors accounted for variations in payments, with subsidies to adopters who are both single and a relative being cumulatively 16 percent lower than those to couples adopting unrelated children. "Unintended Consequences of Bargaining for Adoption Assistance Payments," by Mary Hansen and Daniel Pollack, was published in the July 2005 issue of Family Court Review (Volume 43, Issue 3). It found two-parent families adopting children already in their care were at an advantage and single women who adopted kin or foster children have a disadvantage. Foster parents were most able to bargain for subsidies, receiving an average of 5 percent more than adoptive parents with no prior relationship to the child. Subsidies to kin adopters were the lowest - 6 percent less than those to unrelated families, while single adopters received 5 percent less than couples. The report said families most at risk need to be afforded more equitable treatment in adoption policies and practices. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-1617.2005.00049.x
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTEES FARE WELL ON ATTACHMENT AS ADULTS
A Swedish follow-up to an earlier study of internationally adopted children assessed the attachment status of adult adoptees (mean age=28 years) using the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), and compared their level of attachment to those in the general population; it found the adoptees did not differ significantly from the norm. "Attachment in a Group of Adult International Adoptees," by Malin Irhammar and Hans Bengtsson, was published in a recently released issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 8, Issue 2). A majority of these participants were adopted after 18 months of age, and later-placed children were less likely to have a secure attachment style. Factors associated with unresolved/disorganized status with respect to loss or abuse (a classification based on the interview transcripts) included having memories from before the adoption, experiencing divorce in their adoptive family, lack of contact in the adoptive family with the child's origin, and a tendency not to think about their biological background. To access a free abstract, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/store/ArticleAbstract.asp?
FEWER WOMEN REPORTEDLY TAKE STEPS TO ADOPT, BUT MORE CITE INTEREST
The number of women interested in adoption increased between 1995 and 2002, from 13 million to 18 million - a rise of 38 percent - according to a study conducted by the Urban Institute and commissioned by the National Adoption Day Coalition. "An Analysis of Interest in Adoption and a Review of State Recruitment Strategies," by Jennifer Macomber, Erica Zielewski, Kate Chambers and Rob Green, utilized data from the 1995 and 2002 National Survey of Family Growth to examine levels of interest in adoption. More women were found to be interested in adopting children with special needs and across demographic groups (nearly all ages, races, religions, income and religious groups). However, the study found a decline in the number of women who took steps toward adoption between 1995 and 2002, with 1.9 million (10 percent) doing so in 2002, compared to 2.1 million (16 percent) in 1995. Analysis of data extracted from states' Child and Family Services Reviews found 80 percent of the states used all three types of recruitment strategies to find adoptive homes for children: child-specific, general and targeted. To access the study, go to: http://www.urban.org/publications/411254.html
RUSSIA CONSIDERS PERMITTING ADOPTIONS ONLY BY ACCREDITED AGENCIES |
The Russian Education and Science Minister, Andrei Fursenko, introduced a bill to the Duma (parliament) in November that would only allow agencies accredited in Russia to complete intercountry adoptions, with the exception of relative adoptions. According to a Nov. 16 article published in the RIA Novosti, "Accredited Agencies Should Mediate Foreign Adoptions," the minister supported a proposal to ban adoptions conducted by independent foreign agencies and changes to the criminal code that would ensure punishment for offenses. In addition, he urged the ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection and Cooperation in Intercountry Adoption, which Russia signed in 2000. According to the article, Fursenko opposed a total moratorium on international adoption, but suggested Russia may require the United States to sign an adoption cooperation agreement. To read the full article, go to: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20051116/42112968.html
KATRINA'S TOLL EVIDENTLY INCLUDES CHILDREN WHO NEED ADOPTIVE HOMES
As a result of the major property loss, damage and loss of jobs resulting from hurricane Katrina, some prospective parents in the affected area have dropped plans to adopt in Mississippi. According to the Nov. 15 article published in the Clarion Ledger, "Katrina Spiked Adoption Need, Advocates Say," by Julie Goodman, there is a serious need for adoptive placements. The loss of prospective parents, who themselves were hard hit by the hurricane, has meant that some children, including ones already living with affected families, will have to start the adoption process all over. To read the full article, go to: http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051115/NEWS0110/511150400/1263
REPORT PROVIDES PERMANENCY STRATEGIES FOR OLDER FOSTER YOUTH|
Best-practice strategies for achieving permanence for older foster youth have been consolidated in a project funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "A Family for Every Child: Strategies to Achieve Permanence for Older Foster Children and Youth," was produced by the North American Council on Adoptable Children and issued in August. This 72-page report reviews the research related to older youth in foster care, analyzes the barriers to their adoption, reviews projects nationwide that have demonstrated success in accomplishing permanency for them, and makes recommendations for action steps. To access, go to: http://www.aecf.org/initiatives/familytofamily/tools/family_every_child.pdf
UPDATE ISSUED OF `TOOLS FOR WORKING WITH KINSHIP CAREGIVERS'
The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning has updated a report entitled "Tools for Working with Kinship Caregivers," by Susan Dougherty. The tools include curricula, research studies, assessment forms, fact sheets and legal resources. One of the recommended tools is the "Kinship Care Practice Curriculum," developed by Faith Johnson Bonecutter and James P. Gleeson at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago. This approximately 200-page curriculum contains six units with video segments, and can be downloaded for free from their website. To access the "Tools" resource, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/
Tools-for-working-with-kinship-caregivers.pdf ; to obtain the "Curriculum", go to: http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/college/kincare/curriculum_videos/curriculum_videos.html
PROJECT SUGGESTS CHANGES THAT WORK BEST TO RECRUIT, RETAIN FAMILIES
Casey Family Programs sponsored a pilot project in 22 public child welfare agencies to determine what changes work best in recruiting and retaining resource families. The project used a method called Breakthrough Series Collaborative, whereby small-scale changes are rapidly tested. The project report, "Recruitment and Retention of Resource Families: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned," was issued over the summer; it offers strategies and outcomes in relation to 10 critical themes for effective practice. They include culturally sensitive recruitment, educating and engaging the community, recruitment of homes for youth and siblings, role clarity, and the relationships between resource families and birth families. Specific strategies and examples of each theme's use are delineated under the heading, "What Can You Do by Next Tuesday?" To receive the report, go to: http://www.casey.org/NR/rdonlyres/F3127E06-7325-
BIRTH RATE INCREASES FOR UNMARRIED WOMEN, DECLINES FOR TEENS
The National Center for Health Statistics released a study this month with the latest analysis of maternal and infant health birth data. "Preliminary Births for 2004" reports that childbearing by unmarried women reached a record high in 2004 - up 4 percent from the previous year to 35.7 percent of all births. Teenage birth rates have continued to decline since 1991, although the pace of the decline has slowed. The birth rate per 1,000 females ages 15-19 was 41.2, as compared to 61.8 in 1991. Childbearing by women in their early 20s declined, and births to women 35 and older increased. To access the study, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/prelim_births/prelim_births04.htm
5. Institute Update||
NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH: A CALL FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDIA COVERAGE |
Executive Director Adam Pertman, in an op-ed published Nov. 30 in the Christian Science Monitor, advocated for responsible media coverage of adoption issues, saying that the consequences "can be painful and profound … when the power of the press is exercised without sufficient knowledge or context." Pertman specifically said the portrayal of tragic incidents, such as the Chicago woman convicted in the death of the son she adopted from Russia, can have impact "from stigmatizing adoptive families, to making would-be parents wonder if adoption is a reasonable option, to fueling questions in other countries about whether it is better to keep children institutionalized than allow them to be adopted." To read the commentary, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1130/p09s02-coop.html
RADIO INTERVIEW REFLECTS ON 50 YEARS OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
Executive Director Pertman was recently interviewed by Michael Montgomery of American Radio Works for a project entitled, "Finding Home: Fifty Years of International Adoption." Pertman spoke of the "cultural transformation" that is being spurred by intercountry adoption, along with other specific changes and challenges. To read the full interview, go to: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/adoption/h1.html
EMPLOYER BENEFITS THAT HELP ADOPTIVE FAMILIES, HELP MORALE
In the November issue of Employee Benefits, "Adoption Benefits Mature in the Workplace," by Leah Carlson, Pertman comments on the phenomenon of employer adoption benefits and on how such benefits show respect for adoptive families, are helpful for workplace morale, and place adoptive families on a par with families formed in other ways. To read the full article, go to: http://www.benefitnews.com/detail.cfm?id=8241
UPCOMING EVENTS: SAVE THE DATE FOR THESE CONFERENCES
The Adoption Institute will cosponsor major conferences in the coming year. Please mark your calendars, register, and check our website periodically for additional information:
The latest edition of the Adoption Institute's print newsletter, "Inside the Institute," will be mailed to our contributors this month. You can receive a copy, too, by supporting our unique, important work - and perhaps taking advantage of a major new tax break in doing so. Your generous donation will help us achieve substantive improvements in the lives of millions of children and families in a host of ways - from cutting edge projects on identity, siblings and birth parents in adoption, to advocacy for better laws and practices, to our innovate Educate the Educators and Educate the Media programs. For an explanation of the tax incentive, which expires at the end of the year, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/newsletter/2005_10_taxinfo.html. To donate to the Adoption Institute and to read the Executive Director's report from "Inside the Institute," go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/donate.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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