The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - December 2002

IN THIS ISSUE

1. Laws, Policy & Practice

2. Research

3. News

4. Resources

5. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute


1. Laws, Policy & Practice


PENNSYLVANIA BECOMES 42ND STATE TO ENACT INFANT ABANDONMENT LAW

Pennsylvania is the forty-second state to enact a law in the last three years legalizing the anonymous abandonment of newborns. The "Newborn Protection Act" provides parents immunity from prosecution for leaving a newborn who is less than 28 days old in the care of a hospital. Parents are not required to provide any information, such as the newborn's medical or health history. To read the law, see http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2001/0/SB0654P2386.HTM.

In related news, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed an infant abandonment bill (H5281) during its informal session. The bill is pending consideration with the Senate Ways and Means Committee. If it is not passed by year's end, it must be reintroduced in the next legislative session that begins in January to be considered. The current draft of the bill is not available on-line, for the bill's history, see http://www.state.ma.us/legis/history/h05281.htm.

CHINA RESCINDS ADOPTION AGENCY APPLICATION QUOTAS

The China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) recently announced it has lifted its agency application quotas for 2003 (beginning December 1, 2002). CCAA also increased the percentage of single parent adoption applications it will accept from 5 percent to 8 percent. In October 2001, CCAA said that concerns about timely processing of large numbers of applications led it to develop a quota system restricting the number of U.S. agency applications, and it also limited the number of single parent placements to only 5 percent of an agency's adoptions.

In its 2003 announcement, CCAA also issued measures -- expedited processing and reduced payments -- to facilitate adoptions of handicapped children and those 6 and older. Additionally, CCAA made a number of procedural recommendations, including agency development of annual adoption plans and timely submission of thorough post-placement reports. To read CCAA's "Notice About Acceptance of Adoption Application Documents in 2003," visit http://www.china-ccaa.org/zxwj/021202syzb-english.htm.

MOST STATES FAIL TO USE MEDICAID OPTIONS FOR CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law reports that just 12 states have implemented policy options to permit Medicaid-ineligible parents of children with serious mental or emotional disorders to access non-institutional care without relinquishing custody. The options, "TEFRA" and home- and community-based waivers, allow families who otherwise may not be income-eligible for Medicaid to access comprehensive mental health services for their children. Such policies would enable parents to keep their children and access care -- the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) found in 1999 that 20 percent of parents of mentally ill children relinquish custody to the state to get treatment. Bazelon's November 2002 report, "Avoiding Cruel Choices: a guide for policymakers and family organizations on Medicaid's role in preventing custody relinquishment" also offers advocacy suggestions to improve state policy. To obtain Bazelon's report, access http://www.bazelon.org/issues/children/publications/TEFRA/index.htm and to obtain NAMI's, access http://www.nami.org/youth/brink10.html.

AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION BACKS ADOPTION BY SAME-SEX COUPLES

This month, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a position statement in support of adoption by gay and lesbian couples. The association of 38,000 physicians noted that "[r]esearch over the past 30 years has consistently demonstrated that children raised by gay or lesbian parents exhibit the same level of emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as children raised by heterosexual parents. The research also indicates that optimal development for children is not based on the sexual orientation of the parents, but on stable attachments to committed and nurturing adults." The APA is the latest in a number of associations of health professionals to indicate support for adoption by homosexuals.


2. Research


STUDY IDENTIFIES FOUR FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH DISRUPTION

A study of 52 sets of parents of adopted special needs children finds seven factors associated with "parent perception of family functioning," identifying four as risk factors for disruption: children adopted as part of a sibling group, children's behavior problems, number of legal contacts (e.g., arrest) since adoption, and child's age at adoption. While most of these findings are consistent with earlier studies, the body of research on outcomes for sibling adoption and disruption is mixed.

The research, by Patrick Leung and Stephen Erich at the University of Houston, also shows that high "parent perception of family functioning" is associated with high levels of support from spouses, other parents of adopted children, physicians and day care. Higher levels of support from relatives, schools and professionals, however, are associated with lower "parent perception of family functioning" levels. The study, "Family Functioning of Adoptive Children with Special Needs: Implications of Familial Supports and Child Characteristics," is reported in the November 2002 issue of Children and Youth Services Review. To order the report, go to http://www.sciencedirect.com.

STATES SPEND 10 PERCENT OF CHILD WELFARE BUDGETS ON ADOPTION

State spending on adoption increased 36 percent from 1998 to 2000 and represented 10 percent of its 2000 child welfare spending, reports the Urban Institute in "The Cost of Protecting Vulnerable Children." The November 2002 study provides a comprehensive account of state child welfare spending sources and amounts, finding that states spent $20 billion on child welfare services during state fiscal year 2000, nearly half of which came from the federal government. While 30 federal program fund child welfare services, Title IV-E accounts for nearly half the federal contribution. To read the report, access here.


3. News


AMENDMENTS TO BE OFFERED TO NEW YORK INFANT ABANDONMENT LAW

New York Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffmann (R-48th), who originally sponsored the state's infant abandonment law, is seeking to amend it in 2003. Her proposed changes include providing immunity from prosecution for those who help women safely abandon their newborns and allowing anonymous hospital births for women who will relinquish their newborns for adoption, according to a November 29, 2002 Associated Press article in Newsday. Sen. Hoffmann indicated she does not support enumerating safe places to abandon an infant, noting that a "busy supermarket" and "the front porch of a neighbor" could qualify as potential "safe havens." To access the story for a fee, see http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/newsday/.

JUDGE TERMINATES RIGHTS OF BIOLOGICAL PARENTS OF SO-CALLED "INTERNET TWINS"

A St. Louis judge terminated the parental rights of the biological parents of twins, now two years old, who were adopted by both a California couple and an English couple in late 2000 through an Internet facilitator. The twins have been in foster care in Missouri since April 2001. The judge stated he will hold hearings in the next few months to determine permanent placement. The ruling was reported in the December 13, 2002 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Story here

WASHINGTON STATE STRUGGLES TO KEEP SIBLINGS TOGETHER

The Washington Supreme Court is deliberating over whether to mandate that the state keep siblings together in foster care. The state, however, has historically not committed resources to recruit sufficient numbers of foster parents who will accept sibling groups, and the child welfare agency fears the legislature is unlikely to do so in the face of a deficit, forcing the agency to cut services to other groups. Half of the over 6,000 foster children with siblings in Washington's system have been separated from at least one brother or sister. To read the article, go to http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/99087_siblings09.shtml.


4. Resources


Beginning with this issue, the Adoption Institute will refer readers to other organizations' resources that compile valuable information on timely issues.

FEDERAL TAX BENEFIT GUIDE FOR FOSTER AND ADOPTIVE PARENTS AVAILABLE

The Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support has published a guide to 2002 federal tax benefits for foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers, available at http://www.casey.org/cnc/support_retention/federal_tax_benefits.htm.


5. About The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute


ABOUT THE INSTITUTE
Since 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national not-for-profit organization, has advanced sound adoption policy and practice for adopted people, adoptive families and birth parents. The Adoption Institute gathers, analyzes and synthesizes the best available information from research and practical experience to identify and develop the most effective policies and practices to increase the numbers of permanent and loving families for waiting children, as well as to provide positive life-long experiences for all participants. Working with lawmakers, practitioners and researchers, the Adoption Institute strives to improve the ethics of adoption policy and practice, and the day-to-day experiences of everyone involved.

Our award-winning web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org/old, is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information.

SUPPORT OUR WORK
The Adoption Institute was established in 1996 with a one-time grant. To continue our work, we depend on new and renewable sources of funding. We need the financial support of people like you whose lives have been touched by adoption and who care about the future of vulnerable children everywhere. Please send a generous contribution to the Adoption Institute's annual fund today. To learn more about our initiatives and how you can help, visit http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/development/devintro.html or call 212-269-5080.

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2002 The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute