Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
DECEMBEr 2006 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
SCOTLAND LAW PERMITS ADOPTION BY GAY AND UNMARRIED COUPLES |
The Scottish Parliament passed a law on Dec. 17 that allows unmarried and same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child. The Adoption and Children bill is intended to modernize Scotland's adoption system, increase the number of families available to children in need of care, streamline the adoption process, and provide better protection. Previously, gay individuals were able to adopt but partners were not recognized as legal parents. To read an article on the new law, go to: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-3212.html; to read the Adoption Institute's most recent report on gay and lesbian adoption, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/2006_Expanding_Resources_for_Children.php
FOSTER KIDS EXEMPT FROM MEDICAID PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENT
A provision included in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (P.L. No: 109-432), signed by President Bush on Dec. 20, exempts children who are in foster care or who are receiving adoption assistance from having to verify citizenship in order to obtain Medicaid. The mandate to show citizenship was established when the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 was passed last February; it had the potential to delay or prevent access to health and mental-health services for children in foster care who may have difficulty providing such documentation. A coalition of child welfare organizations lobbied in July to exempt these children from the requirement. To read the law, go to: http://www.thomas.gov/ and search for H.R. 6111 in the bill number field.
KENYA TO SIGN HAGUE TREATY; ETHIOPIA'S ADOPTIONS RISE AS CHINA'S FALL
The Kenyan Cabinet in December approved the signing and ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption; no date was set for the treaty to come into force. In 2005, 32 children from Kenya were adopted by American parents, according to U.S. Homeland Security statistics. The State Department's data on orphan visas, meanwhile, showed that adoptions from Ethiopia rose by 66 percent for fiscal 2006 (441 in FY05 to 732 in FY06), placing it in the top five sending countries for the first time - after China, Guatemala, Russia and Korea. In 2006, the number of children adopted from China declined significantly for the first time, from 7,906 in 2005 to 6,493. To read an article on Kenya's ratification of the Hague, go to: http://www.kbc.co.ke/story.asp?ID=39874; to read the FY06 orphan visa statistics, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/stats/stats_451.html
BILLS GIVING ADOPTEES ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS PROGRESS IN N.J., MASS.
The Massachusetts Legislature approved a bill (S2690) on Dec. 26 giving unrestricted access to their original birth certificates to adopted persons 18 years of age or older born in the state on or before July 17, 1974, or on or after Jan. 1, 2008 or to an adoptive parent of an adopted person under 18 years of age born there on or after Jan. 1, 2008. The bill, which does not allow access for any adopted persons born in-between those dates, is awaiting the governor's approval; he has not indicated whether he will sign it. On Dec. 4, the New Jersey Senate voted, 26-12, for a bill (S1087/A2557) to give adopted adults 18 and older in that state access to their original birth certificates and to allow birthparents to file "contact preferences" with the state registrar. Parents who relinquished a child prior to the law's enactment could request non-disclosure within 12 months after the law implementation; however, they would still be required to submit medical and cultural history information within 60 days of a request for a birth certificate. The legislation is now pending action in the state Assembly. To read the Massachusetts bill, go to: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/senate/st02/st02690.htm; to read its status, go to: http://www.mass.gov/legis/184history/s02690.htm; to read the N.J. bill, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/Default.asp and search for S1087 in the bill number field.
FEDERAL MEASURE EXPANDS RESPITE SERVICES TO KINSHIP, FOSTER PARENTS
The U.S. House and Senate passed a bill in early December that would expand and enhance respite care services to family caregivers, including kinship and foster parents. The Lifespan Respite Care Act (H.R. 3248/S. 1283) would establish a federal program for respite care providing relief for parents caring for children and adults with special needs at home. The bill authorizes $289 million over five years for states to enhance statewide dissemination and coordination of respite care, improve access and services, and train volunteers. In addition, it includes a grant to a public or private nonprofit to establish a National Resource Center on Lifespan Respite Care. The measure is pending action by President Busch. To read the bill, go to: http://www.thomas.gov/and search for H.R. 3248 in the bill number field.
REPORT SUGGESTS STATE LAWS NEED TO ADDRESS MORE ADOPTION BARRIERS
The National Adoption Day Coalition released its report, "Trends in U.S. Foster Care Adoption Legislation: A State by State Analysis." This study by the Urban Institute, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures, analyzes legislation introduced in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., in 2002-2006 (nearly 1,000 bills) and includes in-depth examinations of eight bills. Among the major findings were that state legislation, while dealing with many issues, is not addressing some barriers to adoption from foster care and is not providing all the post-adoption services that families need. The analysis is the first of its kind; it examines legislation relating to all phases of the adoption process, from entry into care and permanency planning through post-adoption supports. The report, released last month, also includes tables of state-by-state information. To access, go to: http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/2006/media/index.asp
ILLINOIS RESEARCH FINDS DECLINE IN ADOPTION DISRUPTIONS SINCE ASFA|
A large-scale study of close to 16,000 adoptive placements over a six-year period in Illinois found that the risk of disruption was 11 percent lower for placements occurring after the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997. "Where Are We Now?: A Post-ASFA Examination of Adoption Disruption," by Susan Smith, Jeanne Howard, and Scott Ryan, was published in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 9, Issue 4). Smith and Howard are both senior staff members of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute; Ryan is a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute. Their study found an overall disruption rate of 9.5 percent; some of the factors associated with a higher disruption risk included older age at placement, being an African American child, living in a non-relative home, child disability, and less experienced workers. Also, placements of four or more children were 36 percent less likely to disrupt. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/store/Toc_views.asp?sid=5N8XGNGRNDXV8H8X6PWT
RESEARCH LINKS OPEN COMMUNICATION TO POSITIVE ADOPTION ADJUSTMENT
A study of 73 adopted children placed as infants found that openness in communication about adoption was associated with better self-esteem and lower levels of behavior problems for children; however structural openness was not associated with these measures. "Family Structural Openness and Communication Openness as Predictors in the Adjustment of Adopted Children," by David Brodzinsky, was published in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 9, Issue 4). Brodzinsky is a senior staff member of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. His study found a modest positive correlation between structural openness and communication openness. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/store/Toc_views.asp?sid=5N8XGNGRNDXV8H8X6PWT
ANALYSIS SHOWS FISCAL, PERSONAL GAINS IN ADOPTION FROM FOSTER CARE
A new paper issued by the Department of Economics at American University reports that, for each child welfare dollar spent on the adoption of a foster child, the government saves between $2.45 and $3.26 in overall spending, including for foster care services and reduced likelihood of criminal justice costs. "The Value of Adoption," an economic analysis issued in December, was the latest in a series of working papers on adoption by Mary Hansen. Other findings included that there are many private benefits of adoption, including that the adopted youth is 23 percent more likely to complete high school, twice as likely to obtain additional schooling beyond high school, and has a 37 percent increase in earnings over the fostered youth. To download this study, go to: http://ideas.repec.org/p/amu/wpaper/1506.html
ONE-THIRD OF FOSTER ALUMNI IN NORTHWEST STUDY ARE LIVING IN POVERTY
A study of 659 young adults up to age 33 - all of whom spent at least a year in foster care between the ages of 14 to 18 - found that one-third were living at or below the poverty level, one-third had no health insurance, and more than one-fifth had been homeless after leaving foster care. "Educational and Employment Outcomes of Adults Formerly Placed in Foster Care: Results from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study," by Peter Pecora, Ronald Kessler, Kirk O'Brien, Catherine White, Jason Williams, Eva Hiripi, Diana English, James White and Mary Herrick, was published in the current issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 28, Issue 12). These young adults were also six times more likely than the general population to receive a GED instead of a high school diploma. Recommendations included minimizing placement changes, encouraging youth to finish high school, and providing concrete resources as youths leave care. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=PublicationURL&_cdi=5892&_pubType=
MOST PARENTS ADOPTING FROM ABROAD ARE WHITE, WITH ASIAN CHILDREN
Using 2000 Census data, researchers analyzed factors associated with same-race or cross-race intercountry adoptions; factors associated with greater likelihood of white parents adopting a white child included their having less than college educations, having birth children in the household, and older age and health conditions of the adopted child. "Constructing Interracial Families through Intercountry Adoption," by Hiromi Ishizawa, Catherine Kenney, Kazuyo Kubo and Gillian Stevens," was published in the December issue of Social Science Quarterly (Volume 87, Issue 5). The study indicated that, of the children adopted internationally by married white parents, 53 percent were Asian, 28 percent were white, and 18 percent were Hispanic/Latino. The parents adopting internationally were were overwhelmingly (97.5 percent) white themselves. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/ssqu/2006/00000087/00000005/art00017
EVALUATION: WEB-BASED TRAININGS ARE EFFECTIVE FOR FOSTER PARENTS
An evaluative study using an experimental design of web-based training courses for foster parents, operated through California Community Colleges, found that parents demonstrated both improved knowledge and a better sense of competence in dealing with specific problem behaviors. "Web-based Training for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Parents," by Caesar Pacifici, Richard Delaney, Lee White, Carol Nelson and Kelli Cummings, was published in the November issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 28, Issue 11). The Foster Parent College offers a series of interactive multimedia training courses on specific problem behaviors, with an orientation class and discussion board. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=PublicationURL&_tockey=
CHINA TO IMPLEMENT STRICTER CRITERIA FOR ADOPTIONS OF ITS CHILDREN|
The China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCA) - which handles all international adoptions from mainland China - confirmed in late December that it will impose new guidelines that it said are intended to shorten the waiting time for more-qualified applicants seeking to adopt a child. According to a Dec. 25 China Daily article by Guan Xiaofeng, "New Criteria Spelt out for Adoption by Foreigners," the new guidelines will go into effect on May 1, 2007; they will ban adoption by singles, disabled couples, people who are obese, and applicants taking psychiatric medication. Applicant couples will have to be married for at least two years (and at least 5 years for those who were previously divorced), have fewer than four children, and have a net worth of at least $80,000. In addition, they will have to be between the ages of 30 and 50 (a maximum of 55 for a special needs child), have no criminal record, and have at least a high school diploma. These guidelines would be more lenient for applicants interested in adopting special-needs children. The director of CCA stressed that less qualified applicants could still apply and that these new guidelines were temporary and may be revised. To read the article, go to: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2006-12/25/content_766420.htm. To listen to Executive Director Adam Pertman's comments on China's new restrictions on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC Radio, go to: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2006/12/28 and click on "Chinese Adoptions".
MORE LATINOS REPORTEDLY CONSIDERING PLACING CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION
Professionals across Oregon are seeing a slow increase in the number of Latino women seeking to place their infants for adoption as a result of changing attitudes, according to a Dec. 10 article in The Oregonian. "More Latinos Relinquishing Babies," by Nikole Hannah-Jones, reports that African American and Latino women historically have been least likely to relinquish a baby for adoption because it was expected that a children in need of homes would be cared for by the extended family. As the traditional extended family and support weaken, more immigrant Latino women are beginning to consider adoption, according to the article, which said agencies in the state are increasingly responding with targeted services for this population. To read the article, go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/116563112
BERMUDA UPDATES ADOPTION LAWS WITH MORE REQUIREMENTS, PROTECTIONS
"House Passes All-New Child Adoption Bill," an article published Dec. 4 in The Royal Gazette, reports that members of the Bermuda House of Assembly unanimously passed the Adoption of Children Bill 2006 on Oct. 30 to update the nation's adoption laws for the first time since 1963. The new legislation requires the completion of a home study for prospective adoptive parents, provides guidelines for overseas adoption, creates the position of an adoption coordinator to monitor the adoption process, and establishes procedures to ensure that the rights and well-being of birth parents, adopted individuals and adoptive parents are maintained. There are 157 children in the foster homes in Bermuda, and a growing interest by foreigners in adoption from that country. To read this article, go to: http://www.theroyalgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061204/NEWS/112040126
CONTINUED ADOPTIONS FROM GUATEMALA TIED TO IMPROVEMENTS IN SYSTEM
A notice by the U.S. State Department issued on Dec. 15 clarifies the situation on international adoptions from Guatemala once the U.S. ratifies the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption. Although Guatemala acceded to the Hague treaty in 2003, it has not created the infrastructure and system necessary to implement it. If Guatemala does not comply with the treaty's provisions after the United States completes its own ratification process and implementation (anticipated in 2007), then the U.S. will not be legally permitted to approve adoptions from that country; orphan petitions filed prior to the date the Convention enters into force in the U.S. would be completed, however. The State Department notice says the Guatemalan government has indicated that adoption reform and compliance with the treaty are high priorities. To read the notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3102.html
RESOURCE CENTER UPDATES INFORMATION ON FOSTER CARE PAYMENTS|
The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning has recently updated information on foster care monthly maintenance payments for children at various age levels in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These monthly payments range from $227 to $913. The new information used data from the National Data Analysis System and updated some figures by contacting specific states. To access this resource, go to the website below and click on Foster Care Maintenance Payments: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/state-policies.html
WEBSITE OFFERS RESOURCES FOR TREATING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
An array of resources for the treatment of adopted children with special needs is available on the website of The Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. Recent articles about the innovative work of this Institute and its therapeutic approach, including its neurochemical research, may be accessed by clicking on "TCU Model" on the left menu. Information on a range of topics - such as attachment, sensory integration, PTSD, and others - can be accessed by clicking on "Resources." To explore this website, go to: http://www.child.tcu.edu
ADOPTEES IN U.K. SURVEY SAY THEY WANT MORE INVOLVEMENT, INFORMATION
The Office of the Children's Rights Director in the United Kingdom surveyed adopted children about the experience, benefits and drawbacks of being adopted. "About Adoption: A Children's Views Report," by Dr. Roger Morgan, describes the responses of 208 young people, ages 6 to 22. The top three suggestions for making the adoption process better were: make it quicker; involve and support the children more; and keep the children in touch with what is happening in their birth families. To access, go to: http://www.csci.org.uk/PDF/Adoption%28Tagged%29.pdf
REPORT EXAMINES ROLE THAT RACE PLAYS IN CHILD WELFARE DECISIONS
The Casey-Center for the Study of Social Policy Alliance for Racial Equity in the Child Welfare System recently issued an updated research report by Robert Hill, "Synthesis of Research on Disproportionality in Child Welfare: An Update." This report includes more information regarding the role that race plays at specific decision-making stages in child welfare. The only stage where no racial differences were identified was at reentry into the system. To access this report, go to: http://www.racemattersconsortium.org/
5. Institute Update||
ADOPTION LAWS VIEWED AS NOT KEEPING UP WITH CHANGING TIMES|
In a Dec. 3 article published in the Dec. 3 Daily Record in New Jersey, "A Joyful Reunion" by Lorraine Ash, Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on the cultural changes that have taken place in this country over recent decades; he states that current adoption laws do not reflect those changes - such as the trend toward more open adoptions, in which adoptive and birth parents maintain a level of contact. Pertman said that "the shame and stigma once linked to unwed parenting are remnants of days gone by. Also, it's a historical, legal fact that there has never been a legal document in any court of law or in any state in this country that promised anybody … anonymity." To read the article, go to: http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061203/LIFE/612030324/1203. To read the Institute's recent study on birthparents rights and well-being, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2006_11_birthparent_wellbeing.php
ADOPTIONS FROM ETHIOPIA ON RISE, HIGHLIGHTING NEEDS OF ALL CHILDREN
In a Dec. 7 Boston Globe article, "Lifeline to Ethiopia" by Erica Noonan, Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on the growing number adoptions from Ethiopia, where more than 4 million children have been orphaned as a result of war, famine, or AIDS. Pertman states, "Most countries in the world don't understand 'stranger' adoption. 'It takes a village' really is a model ... but when the village of adults is being wiped out, the people in the country have to say to themselves, what do we do for the kids? … Now more people are aware of the responsibility we have to the children of the world." To read this article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/12/07/lifeline_to_ethiopia?mode=PF
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION SPURS EFFORTS TO EMBRACE CULTURES, RACES
Policy & Operations Director Hollee McGinnis was quoted in two articles examining international adoption and efforts by adoptive families and adopted people to blend different races and cultures. In a Dec. 1 San Antonio Express article, "Adoptive Parents Blend Races, Cultures," by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, McGinnis comments on some common misperceptions that children adopted from overseas have fewer problems than those adopted domestically and that there is less potential contact with birth families. She also states that adoptees have wide-ranging interests in their birth cultures. In "Asian Fusion" by Elizabeth Larsen, published in the January 2007 issue of Minnesota Monthly, McGinnis remarks on the paradoxes in identity that arise for transnational adoptees whose lives cross borders of race, ethnicity and culture. To read the San Antonio Express article, go to: http://www.mysanantonio.com/salife/family/stories/MYSA120306.1P.adoption.18f44f5.html; to read the Minnesota Monthly article, go to: http://www.minnesotamonthly.com/media/Minnesota-Monthly/January-2007/Asian-Fashion/
CONTINUED ABANDONMENTS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT 'SAFE HAVEN' LAWS
Executive Director Adam Pertman questioned the effectiveness of 'safe haven' laws in a Dec. 2 Ohio Beacon Journal article, "'Safe Haven' Program for Abandoned Babies Faces Scrutiny." The story dealt with a woman in Ohio who abandoned her 2-month-old baby in a garage. Pertman pointed out that there is no evidence that the laws are accomplishing their stated purpose, saying, "Babies still wind up in unsafe places." To read the article, go to: http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/16150204.htm; to read the Institute's report on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
INSTITUTE STUDY ON ADOPTION & IDENTITY: CALL FOR ADOPTEE PARTICIPANTS
The Adoption Institute is conducting a ground-breaking study on identity and adoption. We are currently seeking adopted adults age 18 or older to participate in a national Internet-based survey to help identify - from those who know best - the factors that can help promote and sustain a positive identity for individuals who have been adopted internationally and raised in transracial adoptive families. We are particularly seeking the participation of adopted adults of Asian descent who have been raised in transracial families, and are also seeking a comparison group of domestically adopted adults raised in same-race families. To fill out the survey, which will be available until the end of January, go to: https://fs10.formsite.com/AdoptionIDProject/AdoptionIdentitySurvey/secure_index.html
UPDATED EDITION OF `ADOPTION NATION' FOR INSTITUTE 10TH ANNIVERSARY
The Adoption Institute is proud to announce a new, updated "Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Special Edition" of Executive Director Adam Pertman's ground-breaking book, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America. The new edition is dedicated to the Institute on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, and all profits from its sale will be donated to the Institute. To order online, go to: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465056512/theevanbdonaldsa; to order multiple signed copies, write to firstname.lastname@example.org; for more information or to arrange an interview with Pertman, read the press release at: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/media/200610_pertmanebdaiedition.php
Among Pertman's appearances in coming months are as a training/presenter at a Special Needs Forum sponsored by the Prudential in New Jersey on Jan. 24, and as a commentator at the Third Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law in Ohio on Feb. 15. For more information about either event, please email email@example.com or call 617-332-8944. For more information about appearances by members of the Adoption Institute staff, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/appearances.php#dec
Among the major events the Institute is planning for the coming year is a national conference on Ethics in Adoption, which will sponsored with the adoption reform organization Ethica. The conference will be held in suburban Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15-16, 2007. The Institute held its landmark first ethics conference in 1999, and this one - like its predecessor - promises to have significant impact on the field.
Our annual "Taste of Spring" gala will be held in New York on May 17; please save the date and contact us if you have questions, want to reserve tickets (they go quickly) or are interested in an individual or corporate sponsorship. We are planning additional fund-raising events across the country during the coming months and year, to be held by our loyal supporters and advocates who want to ensure that we can continue doing our unique, important work; stay tuned for dates and locations. Most important, we are producing some of the best, highest-impact initiatives since our founding a decade ago. Here are just a few of the initiatives we are working on:
To find out how you can contribute to the important work of the Institute, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/about/support.php
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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