From the desk of April Dinwoodie

Welcome to DAI’s Spring 2015 Newsletter. Our Focus this month is on Foster Care Adoption, one of DAI’s Four Pillars. As you will see in the research, policy and advocacy updates as well as in the News & Views pieces so much is going on in this most important area to help address the needs of our most vulnerable children. I would particularly like to draw your attention to this edition’s Profile. In it, we feature Susan Notkin, Associate Director at the Center for the Study of Social Policy where she oversees work in child welfare systems reform. There is no one better informed about the state of foster care today – and the role of adoption in it. I am so proud to be able to say that Susan is both DAI’s Board Chair as well as my friend. The purpose of this Newsletter is to disseminate and amplify what’s going on in our community. Conferences are another great way that we share information broadly. And for those of us in the child welfare, adoption and foster care spaces, conference season is already well under way.  There is such interest in all four of our pillars that we are crisscrossing the country—and the Atlantic — to share what we know about Foster Care Adoption, The Adoption Experience, The Modern Family and Adoption Support Services. Already this Spring, I have discussed transracial adoption at the AAC meeting and co-presented at a CWLA workshop on post-adoption services.  I have just returned from an international forum in Turin, Italy where I was asked to present on the impact of the internet on adoption. Next stops, NYSCC, AACT and NACAC. It’s going to be a busy summer! Sometimes the conference circuit seems to be never ending and the last thing I want to do is get on another plane. (I know that many of you know what I’m talking about!) But then I arrive and the spirit of community and shared passion for making families stronger make it all worthwhile. For more on DAI’s outlook for 2015 click here. April-Signature DONATE

Spring 2015 Newsletter

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Foster Care AdoptionMay is National Foster Care Month, so there is no better time for us to focus attention on DAI’s Foster Care Adoption pillar. As you will see in this section, the world of foster care is vast and complex. So much work still needs to be done at all levels from reforming a system that increasingly relies on mind-altering drugs to finding out the best parenting style for foster parents as they deal with the emotional and behavioral consequences of previous abuse and neglect. Because there is so much to be done, DAI focuses efforts in this area on adoption from foster care. We do things like support federal adoption tax credits and shine a light on the difficulties of children aging out of care. All of our work is designed to help these most vulnerable children receive the attention and quality support they deserve as they navigate their way through the system to safe, loving and permanent families.

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ADOPTION TAX CREDIT REFUNDABILITY BILL INTRODUCED IN SENATE

Senators Casey (D-PA) and Blunt (R-MO) on April 15 introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2015 (S950) which would make the current adoption tax credit (ATC) fully refundable. Nearly one-half of families adopting from foster care are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and many have tax burdens so low that they cannot benefit unless the ATC is refundable.  DAI is a member of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group Executive Committee.  For more information and to get information to advocate for S950, visit  http://adoptiontaxcredit.org/.

DAI PROVIDES RECOMMENDATIONS TO HHS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO AFCARS

On April 10, DAI submitted recommendations to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services on its proposed changes to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) which collects state foster care and adoption data.  As Congress and ACF recognize, AFCARS serves a vital purpose in achieving child welfare objectives to facilitate and promote permanency for children in temporary care, to analyze factors associated with stable and successful placements and identify challenges that must be addressed.  DAI offers recommendations on issues on which it has expertise, specifically data collection on children who exit to adoption, as well as their adoptive parents, to allow improved understanding of factors related to adoptive parent recruitment and placement stability.

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 STUDY INDICATES THAT PARENTING STYLE AND AFFECT SHOWN BY FOSTER PARENTS TOWARDS CHILDREN ARE PREDICTORS OF FOSTER CHILDREN’S EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS

In Children’s Emotional and Behavioral Problems in the Foster Family Context, Journal of Child and Family Studies, (Volume 24, Issue 5), Salas et al. seek to identify factors related to emotional and behavioral problems of foster children within the context of their foster families. Study participants included 104 foster children placed in non kinship homes; the mean age of participants was eleven and the average age of the child when they entered foster care was 7. The majority of the children were ethnically similar to the foster family. A little over half of the sample had entered foster care due to neglect, around 32% had prior experienced physical abuse, and approximately 11% had experienced sexual abuse. The study analyzed internalizing and externalizing emotional and behavioral problems as well as impulsivity and lack of attention. Among other findings, results indicate that parenting style as well as type of affect shown by the foster parent to the child are predictors of the child’s potential problems. Another interesting finding of this study relates to the level of burden experienced by the foster parent, with a relationship being uncovered between high levels of burden and greater likelihood of the foster parent utilizing authoritarian parenting. This in turn may lead to increased emotional and behavioral problems among children. Recommendations from the study include assessing parenting styles of potential foster parent candidates as well as providing ongoing support and training for foster parents to minimize burden.

STUDY EXAMINES FACTORS RELATING TO FORMAL AND INFORMAL HELP SEEKING BEHAVIOR AMONG OLDER BLACK MALE FOSTER YOUTH AND ALUMNI

Scott, McMillen and Snowden explore help seeking behaviors among older Black male foster youth and alum in Informal and Formal Help Seeking Among Older Black Male Foster Care Youth and Alumni, Journal of Child and Family Studies, (Volume 24, Issue 2). Results of the study are consistent with the literature base pertaining to help seeking behavior among men, and more specifically black males, in that greater inhibition of emotional expression are a hindrance to both formal and informal help seeking. 55 older Black male foster youth participated in the study; participants were interviewed on two occasions, approximately 4 ½ months apart on average. The study specifically sought to examine “predisposing, enabling, and need variables and their relationship to help seeking from informal and formal sources” (pg. 272). Among other results, the data demonstrate greater help seeking from informal versus formal sources. Additionally, those with a greater level of need, such as meeting formal diagnostic criteria for a lifetime mental disorder, more often sought help from both formal and informal sources. Participants in this study also reported more informal help seeking behavior if they had greater negative social contextual experiences, particularly if the negative experiences were related to gender or race. Implications of the study include educating young Black men about therapies that are not emotion focused and also for systems of care to ask for and encourage feedback by service users.

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NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH

May is National Foster Care month! The Children’s Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funds the National Foster Care Month initiative on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website each May. The website contains information and resources for those touched by foster care, including youth, caregivers, professionals, community members, and tribes.

 

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CALIFORNIA’S FOSTER CARE SYSTEM DOLES OUT A SHOCKING AMOUNT OF DRUGS – THINK PROGRESS

An investigation by San Jose Mercury News last August revealed that 25 percent of children in California’s foster care system received mind-altering medication, some of which wasn’t approved by the FDA. News reports demonstrate that this issue is not just specific to California, but rather has impacted children in foster care throughout the United States. Lawmakers throughout the United States are working to curb this pressing problem. Last year, the federal government issued a call to all states to reduce the use of psychotropic medication in foster care, with President Barack Obama including money in his 2015 and 2016 budget proposals to assist in those efforts. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

NEW YORK FOSTER CARE ORGANIZATIONS GET GRANT FOR PERMANENCY PACT INITIATIVE– NEW YORK NON PROFIT PRESS

Transitioning into adulthood brings about a number of challenges for all young people, but can be particularly overwhelming for youth in care and those who have aged out of care. Without the benefits of older adults and family to provide guidance and support, foster youth are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to meeting even their most basic needs: finding a place to live, preparing for a job, becoming financially literate, and feeling secure and loved. Permanency Pacts provide young people with a responsible adult who has pledged to provide ongoing support and guidance as they navigate adulthood.  CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

BROADWAY’S BIGGEST STARS PETITION DE BLASIO TO RESTORE NYC ADOPTION FUNDING THAT HELPS OLDER KIDS FIND HOMES – PLAYBILL

On March 31, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) decided to end its partnership with two organizations, the Council on Adoptable Children (COAC), and You Gotta Believe, both of which help match foster care children age 8 and older with adoptive parents. The ACS felt it wasn’t getting its money’s worth out of the agencies. SiriusXM Radio personality and Playbill columnist Seth Rudetsky is gathering top Broadway stars to join in his protest of cuts to New York City adoption programs. “There are over 1,300 kids in New York City foster care who are available to be adopted right now. However, Mayor De Blasio’s administration has just made it a lot harder for them to find their permanent home,” Rudetsky and Wesley wrote in a moving post on the petition page. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

VULNERABLE FOSTER CHILDREN ARE LEFT SWINGING FROM HOME TO HOME – THE SEATTLE TIMES

Today, as a foster and adoptive parent myself, I know that much more meaningful strategies can be implemented to ensure safety and permanency for vulnerable children. We must get back to a place where the child is our main focus. Above all, we must treat children like individuals with rights rather than as the property of their parents or silent wards of the system. No one ever explained to me what was happening with my mother. No one ever asked me what I wanted. Let’s balance the pendulum. It’s not about biology. It’s not about budgets. It’s about doing what’s right for children. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

Focusing on the entire adoption community (birth parents, adopted people, adoptive parents and extended families of all), DAI works to improve the adoption experience and strengthen families by safeguarding the rights of parents (expectant, birth and adoptive), supporting adopted people and educating practitioners, professionals and policymakers. Nowhere is this work more important than in helping young people develop a strong positive identity. In this issue, we highlight several studies in this area as well as point to useful resources.

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ACCESS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES: LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP

Advocates in Montana made progress this year in passing a law allowing partial access for adopted persons to gain a copy of their original birth certificates; the law also clarifies provisions pertaining to options counseling measures for individuals who are exploring the possibility of placing a child for adoption. The bill was signed into law in April by Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Indiana measure SB 352, which would allow persons born and adopted between 1941 and 1993 access to their original birth certificates, has stalled in the Indiana House of Representatives. The bill extends provisions for OBC access that already exist for those born and adopted outside this closed period. Reasons cited for the delay include an overabundance of bills that need to be heard in the House Judiciary committee as well as concerns raised by the Governor’s office surrounding the impact on birth mothers. The bill passed out of the Senate by overwhelming majority in January.

A handful of other states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Massachusetts, have bills pertaining to adopted persons access to their original birth certificate in various stages of consideration in the legislatures. Advocates are working hard throughout the country to increase awareness about this critical issue.

NEW OHIO OBC LAW TAKES EFFECT

After 26 years of advocacy, on March 20th, 2015, Ohio became the ninth state to open birth certificates to adopted adults from a previously closed period. Adults adopted between 1964 and 1996 may now gain access to their original birth certificates. Adults whose adoptions were finalized in Ohio before 1964 already had access. Those adopted on or after Sept. 18, 1996, can receive their files unless their birthparent asks to be excluded. DAI applauds Betsie Norris and Adoption Network Cleveland for their steadfast advocacy of this vital issue.

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DAI’S LYNN FRANKLIN FUND OPTIONS COUNSELING PROJECT: A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

The Lynn Franklin Fund enables DAI to further its mission with a focus on positively impacting the lives of existing and future birth parents, as well as expectant parents who are considering their options. We are proud to announce the first project developed with the Fund’s support.

Best practices in adoption require that pregnant women considering whether to parent their children should receive informed, non-directive counseling regarding  the full range of options open to them. Too often, however, all options are not offered or are presented in ways intended to steer, pressure or coerce women (and men when they are involved) into placing their infants for adoption. The Option Counseling Project aims to utilize the information acquired from the research to establish best practice standards to disseminate them widely and to advocate for their broad implementation.

The project’s objectives are to address two major audiences, mothers and fathers who have placed a child within the past 18 years, and adoption professionals. DAI’s report on options counseling will provide context, information, analysis and recommendations regarding best practices to maximize informed decision making for expectant mothers and fathers. This project represents a strategic first step and holds the promise of drawing an important baseline and offering a substantial contribution to the community.  It will also serve to substantively inform future work in this area.

We are currently seeking a seeks candidates interested in undertaking this critical research. To view the full rfp and to learn more click here.

STUDY DELINEATES MICRO-AGGRESSION TYPOLOGY AND CORRESPONDING INTENSITY LEVELS TOWARDS ADOPTED ADOLESCENTS

In “YOU Were Adopted?!” Microaggressions Toward Adolescent Adopted Individuals in Same-Race Families, The Counseling Psychologist, (Volume 43, Number 3), Garber and Grotevant outline a microaggressions typology and corresponding intensity levels that occur towards adopted adolescents; non latino/a White adopted adolescents in same race families were analyzed for this study. The study uncovered sixteen different themes, including silence, questioning authenticity, and adoptees as non normative among other areas of microaggressions. The authors offer implications for theory and practice based on their findings.

PAPER ANALYZES MICRO-AGGRESSIONS TOWARDS ADOPTED PERSONS

Using the literature and theory on adoption stigma, Baden applies the microaggression model to experiences of adopted persons in “Do You Know Your Real Parents?” and Other Adoption Microaggressions, Adoption Quarterly, (April 2015). The paper offers definitions of four different areas of microaggressions related to adoption and proposes thirteen different themes for adoption microaggressions.

LONGITUDINAL STUDY ANALYZES ADOLESCENTS’ CLOSENESS TO ADOPTIVE PARENTS AND ATTACHMENT STYLE IN OUTSIDE RELATIONSHIPS DURING YOUNG ADULTHOOD

Grant-Marsney, Grotevant, and Sayer examined adolescents closeness to adoptive parents and attachment styles in outside relationships during young adulthood in Links between Adolescents’ Closeness to Adoptive Parents and Attachment Style in Young Adulthood, Family Relations, (Volume 64). This longitudinal study analyzed the closeness of 156 adolescents with each adoptive parent and nine years later the sample was analyzed again both for closeness with adoptive parents as well as attachment style in their outside relationships. Adopted persons with increased closeness to both adoptive parents over time demonstrated less anxiety in close relationships as young adults. Over time, high closeness to either adoptive parent was related to less avoidance and anxiety in the young adult relationships of adopted persons.

RESEARCHERS EXPLORE PERCEPTIONS OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS IN FRANCE RELATING TO THEIR INTERNATIONALLY ADOPTED CHILD’S BIRTH CULTURE

In Cultural identity and internationally adopted children: qualitative approach to parental representations, Public Library of Science, (Volume 10, Issue 3), Harf et al. explore French adoptive parents perceptions of their child’s cultural belongings as well as their thoughts and representations surrounding connections with the child’s birth country and culture. 51 French parents who adopted internationally participated in semi structured interviews and the researchers analyzed the results for themes relating to cultural awareness and infusion. Based on this analysis, participants were grouped into three categories; those who had no association with the child’s birth culture and refused infusion of cultures, those who actively participated in the culture and country of birth and affirmed the family’s transcultural nature, and those who adapted their associations with the child’s birth culture and country based on the child’s expressed interests. Of the 51 parents who participated in the study, more than half either disavowed the multicultural nature of the family and had no contact with the birth culture/country or only acknowledged the cultural differences when the child had questions or brought up the topic. 18 parents chose to regularly infuse the child’s birth culture into the entire family system. The mean age of the adopted children among the parents was approximately 2 years old. The researchers indicate follow up studies in the area of evaluating the adopted persons experience pertaining to birth and adoptive family cultural differences as well as studies to determine the advice and education provided by social welfare professionals who engage in adoption related services in these countries.

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ADOPTION LEARNING PARTNERS: LIVE WEBINAR- IDENTITY IN ADOPTION: MIRRORS AND WINDOWS

Adoption Learning Partners will host a live webinar on May 7th, 2015, entitled Identity in Adoption: Mirrors and Windows. Leah Bloom, LMFT, who was adopted from Korea, will moderate a panel of adopted persons through a discussion about the intricacies of identity formation in adoption. The panel will include persons who were adopted domestically, internationally and from foster care.

SPENCE-CHAPIN SERVICES: TUNING INTO YOUR TEEN

On May 20, 2015, Spence-Chapin will hold the first in a new parenting series, where parents will learn, talk together, and hear from family experts and guest speakers. Together, they will explore the challenges of raising children today while developing insight and confidence into your parenting. Each month we’ll discuss a new theme connected to parenting in today’s modern world of work, family life, the internet, racial and gender identity, relationships, communication, and more!

All parents and future parents are welcome to attend.  For more information please contact Spence-Chapin Services.

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COULD THIS AMENDMENT SAVE ADOPTEE ADAM CRAPSER FROM DEPORTATION? – NBC NEWS

Adam Crapser – adopted from Korea at age three and now facing possible deportation because his adoptive parents never applied for naturalization – has been granted a brief reprieve as his deportation hearings have been delayed until June. Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have agreed to co-sponsor an amendment to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 that would grant automatic U.S. citizenship to all international adoptees, including retroactive citizenship to those such as Crapser who were already 18 when the Act first went into effect. “For the U.S. to deport adoptees to a country they likely do not speak the language, do not understand the culture, and do not have any connections or resources is a reprehensible and shameful act,” said March. “If members of Congress do not support this amendment, it is equivalent to objecting to the fundamental purpose and values of adoption.”  CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

STARTLING CASE OF “REHOMING” UNWANTED CHILDREN RATTLES ADOPTION WORLD – NON PROFIT QUARTERLY

Ineffective protocols or a lack of state oversight have been cited in some of the worst cases of preventable child abuse. However, in what appears to be a clear loophole in the policies and guidelines in place, most states allow individuals to unofficially give away their adopted children to others in a process known as “rehoming.” “There’s probably no greater trauma than thinking you have found a forever family and finding that’s not the case,” said Sandy Santana, the interim executive director of Children’s Rights, an advocacy organization based in New York. “The foster kids are coming into the foster system because they have been abused or neglected. They’ve already experienced trauma; they’ve experienced separation from their birth parents.” CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

RAVEN GIRL: ADOPTIVE PARENTS WORK TO PRESERVE ALASKA NATIVE DAUGHTER’S CULTURE – ALASKA DISPATCH

Haammom’ax. A gift that makes you smile.

It’s my daughter’s Tsimshian name. She received it last summer at her great-grandparents’ home in Southeast Alaska after we met them for the first time earlier that day. The naming ceremony was my idea. Olive is growing up in Anchorage but she’s a daughter of the Tongass — that fortress of towering spruce, cedar and hemlock, a rainforest that blankets the Southeast panhandle. She’s Tsimshian, a member of one of three Alaska tribes that have inhabited the place for thousands of years — a rugged, bear-infested strip of mountainous coastline, defined by isolated communities, jagged fjords and huge runs of wild salmon.Olive’s biological family is from Metlakatla, a Tsimshian community in the southernmost reaches of the panhandle. As her adoptive mother, I wanted Olive to know this rain-swept place, her blood relatives, her Tsimshian heritage. I figured it could start with a name. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

KATE MULGREW’S QUEST – NBC NEWS

At her mother’s urging she went to Catholic Charities and agreed to put the unborn baby up for adoption, while the producers of “Ryan’s Hope,” wrote her pregnancy into the plot line.

“Six million people watched me have this baby,” said Mulgrew. “And I had the baby. And I gave the baby up and went back to work two days later.”

“And you had to have the baby on the show,” said Mason. “How did you get yourself ready for that?”

“That was the hardest moment of my life — walking onto that set with that stunt baby and delivering a monologue about love, fidelity, endurance, and ‘I will never leave you,’ without falling apart.”

She instantly regretted giving her up. “It was instant. I went immediately, the first week. I begged.”

“You went to the church?”

“Yeah, I begged.”

“And said, ‘I made a mistake.’”

“Yeah.”

“And they said?”

“No, no, no, no, no.”

The decision, the church said, was unalterable. . CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

The month of April 2015 will long be remembered as pivotal in the struggle for dignity for LGBT families. On April 28th, the US Supreme Court took up the issue of gay marriage. For some years now DAI has sought to play a leadership role in the family equality movement, and in this case we were proud to bring together a group of leading child welfare organizations to submit an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs. However, this month also saw state legislatures across the country consider laws that could negatively impact these families. So while we remain optimistic and pleased about all of the positive things that are occurring, we are aware that progress isn’t always a one-way street.  That is why DAI will continue to monitor developments and do whatever we can to make certain that all families are strong.

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DAI AND LEADING CHILD WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS AMICI ON BRIEF FILED WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT IN SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CASE

DAI was lead amicus on an amici curiae brief filed March 6 by law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges, et al. (No. 14-556), which challenges the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in states under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The amici curiae brief focuses on the harmful impact of state same-sex marriage bans on adopted children and the child welfare system in the United States.  The amici include some of the most respected nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving child welfare policy and practice. Joining DAI in signing the brief are the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, First Focus, North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voice for Adoption.  The brief, drafted by Mintz Levin, argues the crucial point that adopted children in states that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and adopting jointly (or adopting as “second parents”) have legal ties to only one parent, and consequently, those children and families suffer numerous and profound harms.  Oral argument in the case was held April 28.

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STUDY ANALYZES ATTITUDES TOWARDS SAME SEX PARENTING WITHIN UNDERSTANDINGS OF THE ETIOLOGY OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION

In Etiology of homosexuality and attitudes toward same-sex parenting: a randomized study, Journal of Sex Research, (Volume 52, Issue 2), Frias-Navarro et al analyzed “whether attributions about the genetic or learned etiology of the homosexual sexual orientation produce more or less rejection of same-sex parenting and whether they affect opinions about the social rights of individuals with a homosexual sexual orientation” (p. 152). 109 Spanish university students with an average age of 22 participated in the study. Among other results, participants who attributed the etiology of sexual orientation to genetics had greater support for same gender parenting as well as social rights of the gay community when there had been a traditional opposition to the family with same sex parenting.

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BILL ENDING BAN ON GAY ADOPTION HEADS TO RICK SCOTT – BROWARD PALM BEACH TIMES

The Florida Senate has approved a bill that would officially remove Florida’s gay adoption ban from the state’s statutes. The bill has already passed the House and now moves to Gov. Rick Scott for finalization. In 1977, Florida banned same-sex couples from adopting. The law has not been in effect since 2010, when a state appeals court struck it down as unconstitutional. But the law was never officially removed from the books. The bill will additionally give state workers a $5,000 incentive for adopting children from the child welfare system and $10,000 for adopting those with special needs. (According to the Donaldson Adoption Institute, special-needs children include “those older than eight, minorities, those who come with a brother or sister, or have emotional or developmental disabilities.”) The benefits of the proposed bill would be available for adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 2015. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

DUCEY EXPLAINS DECISION TO VETO GAY ADOPTIONS BILL – YOUR WEST VALLEY

Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday he wants more children adopted and does not particularly care if the parents are straight or gay.The governor said there are about 17,000 children in foster care. And while some will be placed back with their biological families, some will not.

“So the North Star for me is I want to see more adoptions,” the governor said.“I want to see more kids in loving homes under the legal structure,” he continued. “And that’s just something I’m going to continue to be a legal advocate for.” The comments followed Ducey’s decision Monday to veto legislation which would have allowed county attorneys to refuse to provide legal help to couples seeking to adopt. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

HOW MARRIAGE EQUALITY OPPONENTS’ ARGUMENTS ARE GETTING TURNED AGAINST THEM – THINK PROGRESS

Last Friday was the deadline to submit amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. Over 60 different briefs were filed by various “friends of the court,” including coalitions, organizations, scholars, and individuals. Contained within them are a variety of arguments in favor of recognizing same-sex couples’ right to marry. Adoption organizations also expressed their support for letting same-sex couples marry. A brief filed by groups like the Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voice for Adoption points out that children benefit greatly when same-sex couples can marry. Studies show that same-sex couples are far more likely to adopt or foster-parent children, but marriage laws often prevent those children from being legally connected to both parents. When couples can’t marry, they’re less likely to adopt, which keeps more children in the child welfare system. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

Family needs do not end when an adoption is nominally “finalized.” “Re-homing” serves as the most recent and disturbing example of what can happen when families are not properly prepared and supported before, during and for many years following an adoption. DAI strives to increase access to quality pre and post-adoption services in order to ensure strong and stable families. That is why we are pleased to announce the creation of a DAI resource that once it is up and running will be used to create awareness, share policy developments and post advocacy opportunities on post-adoption services.

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REP. LANGEVIN INTRODUCES PROTECTING ADOPTED CHILDREN ACT

On April 28, Rep. Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Protecting Adopted Children Act (HR2068) “to ensure the safety and well-being of adopted children.”  Rep. Langevin remarked that HR2068 is “a response to the many problems and potential dangers associated with the term ‘rehoming’’ adoptive children.  Families involved in this underground practice are connecting online and making dubious or outright illegal arrangements to give away their children to strangers, often with forged or fake documentation.”  The bill would “provide for pre- and post-adoptive counseling and help to fund treatments specialized for adopted children, including psychiatric residential services, outpatient mental health services, social skills training, intensive in-home supervision services, recreational therapy, suicide prevention and substance abuse treatment.“  Services such as peer-to-peer mentoring, support groups, and a 24-hour emergency hotline would also be available for adoptive parents.  Additionally, the legislation would add addressing illegal child transfers to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force training.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means and Committees on Energy and Commerce and the Judiciary.  It has six Democratic and one Republican cosponsors; there is currently no companion bill in the Senate.

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QUALITATIVE STUDY DELINEATES POST ADOPTION SERVICE SYSTEM IN UTAH

In Supporting and Strengthening Foster Adoptive Families: Utah’s Story of Post-Adoption Service Development, Delivery, and Ongoing Evaluation, Journal of Public Child Welfare, (Volume 9), Egbert provides a macro level case study of Utah’s public-private university collaborative to respond to the needs and challenges of foster adoptive families. In addition to describing the development and delivery of post adoption services, the case analysis also describes a model for evaluating awareness of, access to and use of post adoption services by adoptive families.

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DAI TO LAUNCH POST-ADOPTION SERVICES MICROSITE THIS SPRING

In the coming weeks, DAI will launch a microsite for ADOPT REFORM: “Building Stable Families, Advancing Post-Adoption Services” to create awareness, share policy developments and post advocacy opportunities on post-adoption services (PAS).  Building Stable Families is advocating for state law – beginning with a pilot project in New York — mandating quality PAS, funding and oversight through an action-oriented blueprint and grassroots parent/youth network, as well as collaboration with national and state Advisory Committees.  DAI is advancing this advocacy plan in New York State because its mid-level PAS policy and practice development, significant advocate presence, large population of children in care/exiting care to adoption, and mix of urban/rural areas provide a promising climate for progress.  The campaign aims to address the lack of state mandates and funding for PAS in order to ensure stable adoptions from care, prevent disruptions/dissolutions, and promote adoptive parent recruitment.  Based on the NY experience, DAI will develop a guide and model for replication in other states which will be shared on the microsite and through email announcements.  The microsite will aggregate national and state level policy, research, resources and news around national and state PAS, as well as profile adoptive parents, adopted young adults and professionals.  To submit information, ask questions, or be added to the PAS mailing list, email pas@adoptioninstitute.org.

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AS ARKANSAS OUTLAWS REHOMING, OTHER STATES MIGHT FOLLOW SUIT – THE SOCIAL WORK HELPER

One study reported that only 26 percent of adoptive families in the United States felt they received quality mental health services. Parents engaging in re-homing often mention the lack of support as a reason for their actions.

Acknowledging the high vulnerability of children in rehoming cases and the inadequate support available to families overwhelmed by children with behavioral problems, Chang underscored the federal government intention to change the situation. “This is an important policy change that really needs to happen. The President 2016 budget contains a proposal that would guarantee federal funding for prevention and post-placement services.” CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

MANATEE COUNTY WISE TO PURSUE A LIFELINE PROGRAM FOR STRUGGLING ADOPTIVE FAMILIES – THE BRANDENTON HERALD

The tax credit, for adoptions finalized in 2014, is $13,190 per child. It is not a refundable credit, meaning that taxpayers only receive the credit against a federal income tax liability and that tax payment may be reduced to, but not below, zero.

This credit is designed to offset what the IRS determines to be “qualified adoption expenses,” enabling families who might not otherwise be able to adopt to do so. These expenses include reasonable and necessary adoption fees like court costs, attorney fees and traveling expenses (including food and lodging). CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

DEPRESSION AMONG NEW PARENTS IS NOT LIMITED TO THOSE WHO GO THE CHILDBIRTH ROUTE – THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Adoptive mothers suffering from post-adoption depression, which may wax and wane over many years, often are reluctant to talk about their unmet expectations. “There is often a lot of stigma and shame felt by parents who have the symptoms of post-adoption depression, so they are hesitant to seek help,” Foli said. “That’s why awareness of the problem is so important. It’s important that an adoptive parent seek help from a person who is aware of the dynamics of adoption and understands the unique issues of adoptive families.”

Adoption agencies are beginning to meet that need. In 2010 Bethany Christian Services launched services to educate parents who are adopting children about the risk for depression after adoption, to screen for depression after the adoption and to refer parents to specialists for help. CLICK TO READ ARTICLE


SUSAN NOTKIN
DAI is particularly pleased and honored to profile one of our own. Susan Notkin is DAI’s Board Chair, bringing us wisdom and expertise from a lifetime in child welfare.
Susan Notkin Photo (Newsletter Profile Pic)
Susan is Associate Director at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) where she manages their work in child welfare systems reform. In this capacity she advances CSSP’s role in promoting responsive, progressive public policies for children and families involved in the child welfare system. She leads CSSP’s Youth Thrive, a multi-year national initiative, which works to promote the healthy well-being and development for all youth, with a particular focus on youth in foster care. Prior to joining CSSP, Susan was the Director of the Children’s Program and of the Homeless Families Program at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. During her 17 years with the Clark Foundation, she created and implemented a ten-year $50 million grant-making program that pioneered public/private efforts focused on preventing and reducing child maltreatment through reforming the child welfare system. Previously, she designed the New York City Child Protective Services Training Academy and held positions in the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, where she represented the rights of clients residing in mental health institutions, and directed the state’s policy agenda in child abuse prevention, child protection, early care and education and domestic violence. Notkin is a recipient of the LEAD! Award from Women and Philanthropy for her work to improve the child welfare system and combat domestic violence. READ MORE