INSTITUTE CALLS FOR GREATER PROTECTION OF BIRTH/FIRST PARENT RIGHTS
Media Advisory: For Immediate Release
For Use in Weekend/Monday Stories Relating to ‘Baby Veronica’
To arrange an interview or if you have questions, please contact the Adoption Institute’s Chief Executive, April Dinwoodie, at 212-925-4089 or [email protected].
NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2013 – In the wake of “Baby Veronica’s” return to her adoptive parents, the Donaldson Adoption Institute today called for better education about and protection of birth parent rights, saying that – just as in this case – they too often are undervalued, misunderstood or ignored.
The Institute – which was a party to an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Veronica’s Cherokee father, and whose publication ” Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents” was used by Native American groups supporting him in their own court filings – said: “Undercutting the rights of these men and women does more than just harm the affected adults; most pointedly, it deprives children of the care of the people who created them and of their own family connections.”
Today’s comments from Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman expanded on his remarks earlier this week, when he called the 4-year-old girl’s return to her adoptive parents a “cautionary tale about what can happen when everyone’s rights are not fully addressed at the start, when all the legal iii’s are not dotted, and when the impact on the child is not placed front and center.” Pertman elaborated in this interview, which was published a few days ago in South Carolina’s The Post and Courier.
The Institute is expanding its work focused on birth/first parents with funding provided by its new Lynn Franklin Fund, a unique, dedicated source of financing for research and advocacy on the issues and concerns that matter most for this too-often-neglected population. Today, the Institute called on other organizations and individuals – in the adoption, child welfare, legal, women’s and human rights realms, among others – to support and join in the effort, including through enhanced education by professionals of pre-adoptive and adoptive parents about the pivotal issues relating to families of origin.
Irrespective of how anyone feels about the outcome for Veronica, Pertman had said earlier this week, “several legal and human lessons can and should be learned from this heart-wrenching story:”
- All parties in such cases, particularly courts, should expedite their resolution. Taking years to determine custody creates situations that are legally and financially problematic for the adults and emotionally damaging to everyone involved, especially the children.
- The rights of all parties – pointedly including children, birth/first parents and, in cases involving Native Americans, the Indian Child Welfare Act’s provisions – need to be seriously factored in from the start. Clearly, not doing so can lead to painful and protracted legal battles.
- While it may be complicated and difficult for adults in custody cases like this, retaining children’s contact/communications with their families of origin is important for many reasons, including that it can moderate the negative impact on them, regardless of who ultimately gains custody.
The Donaldson Adoption Institute is the leading research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to improve the lives of everyone for whom adoption is part of their everyday reality. For more information about its work, or to arrange an interview, please contact Executive Director Adam Pertman at 617-763-0134 or [email protected].