The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
February 2003 e-Newsletter
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
BILL ALLOWS IRA WITHDRAWAL FOR ADOPTION EXPENSES
The Dave Thomas Adoption Act of 2003 (HR 584) would allow penalty-free withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts in order to pay adoption costs. The bill is before the House Ways and Means Committee and would allow adoptive parents to withdraw up to $10,000, penalty-free. No comparable legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
To view the bill, see
COLORADO BILL EXPEDITES VOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
The Colorado House passed a bill to accelerate the termination of parental rights (HB 03-1286). The bill allows a court to terminate parental rights within 7 days and without a hearing if the infant is younger than one year, a child placement agency is assisting the relinquishing parent, and the parent has signed an affidavit. Parents may sign the affidavit before birth and file the court petition 72 hours after the child is born. In cases in which only one parent voluntarily relinquishes rights, the bill provides notice to the other birth parent and allows 20 days to assert their rights. The bill is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee. To view the bill, go to
UK HAGUE CONVENTION REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE MID-YEAR
England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have adopted regulations implementing the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The regulations will take effect June 1, 2003 and represent progress in the process of ratifying the Hague Convention. Next steps include drafting court rules for international adoption proceedings.
To read the regulations for England and Wales:
highlighter_first_match ; for Scotland: http://www.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2003/20030019.htm;
And for Northern Ireland: http://www.hmso.gov.uk/sr/sr2003/20030016.htm.
SIMULTANEOUS FILING OF TPRS AND ADOPTION PETITIONS SPEEDS PROCESS
Filing an adoption petition at the same time as filing for termination of parental rights (TPR) greatly expedites the adoption process for children in foster care, concludes a December 2002 Social Work Research article by Festinger and Pratt. The study, "Speeding Adoptions: An Evaluation of the Effects of Judicial Continuity," which examined 175 New York City family court cases, found that adoptions took place more than 17.2 months faster, generally in less than six months, if the adoption petition was filed at TPR. Joint filing also increased the overall odds of adoption -- children in the model group were 14.2 times more likely to be adopted than those in the control group. To order the article, see, http://www.naswpress.org/publications/journals/research/swrintro.html.
ADOPTION SUPPORT SERVICES UTILIZED BY SMALL PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES
A longitudinal study of 873 adoptive parents in California (368 of whom used public agencies, 168 private agencies, and 334 adopted independently) by Brooks, Allen, and Barth found that most post-adoption services are utilized by fewer than 30% of adoptive families. Post-adoption services studied include support groups for adoptive parents and adopted children, intensive crisis counseling, family therapy and child, marital or individual counseling. The study, "Adoption Services Use, Helpfulness, and Need: A Comparison of Public and Private Agency and Independent Adoptive Families," conducted from 1989 to 1997 and published in the April 2002 issue of Children and Youth Services Review, found that most adopters read books and articles on adoption (82%), and many attend adoption lectures and seminars (43%). When asked to rate the importance of various services, the majority of adopters (58%) place "quite a bit" or "a great deal" of importance on the "provision of information on the child's social, medical, and/or genetic history." Most parents also found reading material about adoption (79%), cost information (79%), legal advice (69%), and "classes/workshops on understanding adopted children" (66%) "quite a bit" or "a great deal" important. Among the services that a significant minority of adopters placed "none" or "very little" importance on were respite care (43%), intensive crisis counseling (38%), and family therapy (28%). To order the article, visit http://www.elsevier.com/locate/childyouth.
KINSHIP CAREGIVERS NOT SUFFICIENTLY SUPPORTED
A study of 37 kinship caregivers (85% formal caregivers and 15% informal caregivers) by Gordon et al. found that kinship caregivers had to significantly adjust their lifestyles, relationships and plans for the future. Most caregivers responded that they did not have sufficient time to prepare themselves for such dramatic life changes. The article, "A First Look at the Need for Enhanced Support Services for Kinship Caregivers," published in the January/February 2003 issue of Child Welfare, reported that the kinship caregivers were not receiving needed support services from their caseworkers and felt excluded from the decisions affecting the children in their care. The study also found that most kinship caregivers valued family very highly and were motivated to care for their children in order to preserve their families and to keep the children out of the foster care system. Many caregivers, however, misunderstood their legal rights to the children under their care. To order the article, visit http://www.cwla.org/pubs/default.htm.
STUDY SEES INCREASED RISKS FOR SOME ADOPTIVE PARENTS
Researchers Finley and Aguiar found that parents of adoptees with known genetic predisposition to psychopathology are twice as likely to develop psychiatric and alcohol-related problem behaviors than parents of adoptees without predisposition to psychopathology. The December 2002 study, "The Effects of Children on Parents: Adoptee Genetic Dispositions and Adoptive Parent Psychopathology," published in the Journal of Genetic Psychology, concluded that the overall risk is low, with a 3% risk for alcohol problems and an 8% risk for psychiatric problems. Additionally, the analysis of records of 581 adoptees and their parents did not find a direct causal relationship between adoptees' genetic predisposition and the parents' development of psychiatric and alcohol-related problem behaviors. To order the article, go to: http://www.heldref.org/html/body_gnt.html.
ADOPTION FACILITATOR IN "INTERNET TWINS" CASE ARRESTED
The FBI recently arrested Tina Johnson, the adoption facilitator who arranged for two couples to adopt the so-called Internet twins. As detailed in the February 14, 2003, St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, "Mother in Internet Adoption Case Feels Vindicated by Broker's Arrest," Johnson has been charged with multiple counts of wire fraud. FBI investigators claim Johnson defrauded numerous people during the five years her service, "A Caring Heart," was in operation, while failing to complete even one adoption. The parental rights of the twins' birth parents were terminated in a December 2002 decision.
To access the full article for a fee, go to http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/help.nsf/archives/$first?opendocument and type "internet adoption" in the "Search for" field.
ADOPTIONS BY SINGLE, PROFESSIONAL BLACK WOMEN ON THE RISE
In recent years, record numbers of single, professional black women have adopted children, according to the February 10, 2003, Washington Post article, "More Black Women Adopt New Path to Families." In 2001, 32% of public adoptions in the U.S. were by single women, 55% of whom were black, according to Department of Health and Human Services' statistics. The largest impact from this trend is that children once difficult to place, such as older black children, now are finding homes. To read the article, see
UNSUCCESSFUL ADOPTIONS INCREASING IN ILLINOIS
Since the 1997Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), the number of adoptions in Illinois has increased dramatically. As reported in the February 2, 2003, Chicago Tribune article, "Adoptions Up, but Many are Unsuccessful," more than 28,000 children have been adopted in the state since ASFA. However, in the past year alone, a record 434 adoptions disrupted (the article does not specify whether these were legally finalized adoptions or adoptive placements). An examination of state records reveals that many of these adoptions failed because of shortcomings in the system -- officials placed seriously troubled children with adoptive parents who weren't adequately prepared for their special needs. To access the full article for a fee, go to http://www.chicagotribune.com/ and type "Adoption Up, but Many are Unsuccessful" in the "Older Than 7 Days" column at the upper right-hand corner of the page.
CONCERNS RAISED IN IOWA OVER ASFA-INSPIRED LAWS
Laws enacted in Iowa to comply with the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) have negatively impacted children in the state, according to the February 9, 2003, Des Moines Register article, "Lost Generation." The article asserts that the number of legal orphans-children in the system whose parents' parental rights have been terminated-is growing in Iowa, while the time it takes for them to be adopted is increasing. Critics are most concerned about state law provisions that expedite severing of parental rights, which they say can happen as quickly as 6 months after a child enters state care and that, over time, children losing parents will not be placed with new ones. To read the article, see http://desmoinesregister.com/news/stories/c4780934/20448298.html.
FLORIDA WILL NOT DEFEND ADOPTION NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENT
Florida did not defend its requirement for public notification of adoption relinquishment in court, according to the February 15, 2003, article, "State Decides Not to Fight Adoption Law Challenge," in the Sun-Sentinel. The law requires women to publish newspaper notices announcing pending adoption proceedings, and include their name and description, the putative father(s) names or descriptions, and the date and city of conception. The law's sponsor plans to introduce a bill to strike the requirement and establish a birth father registry. Adoption attorneys assert that the law is responsible for a 17 percent statewide decrease in adoptions the first six months of 2002. To order the article, go to http://www.sun-sentinel.com/.
EFFORTS TO END DONOR ANONYMITY IN U.K. HALTED
The British government has withdrawn a decision to end donor anonymity, precluding people conceived from donated sperm, eggs, or embryos ability to learn the identities of their genetic parents, reports a January 29, 2003, article, "Ministers Retreat on Sperm Donor Identity," published on Independent Digital, U.K.. Roughly 1,000 people are born each year in the U.K. through donor insemination. While Health Minister Hazel Blears agrees there is a strong argument for those wanting to discover their genetic background, she explains that efforts to end donor anonymity have halted because "this sensitive area needs further consideration and debate." To read the story, see http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health/story.jsp?story=373642.
UKRANIAN ADOPTION CENTER ACCUSED OF FORGING DOCUMENTS
Officials of the State Child Adoption Center of Ukraine are accused of forging documents to facilitate international adoptions for Ukrainian children, according to the Forum article, "Education Ministry accused of child trafficking." After further investigation, the General Prosecutor's Office intends to either reorganize or close the Center. To read the article, see http://eng.for-ua.com/news/2003/02/07/134057.html.
5. About The Evan B. 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.
Our award-winning web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org/old, is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information. Read past e-Newsletters at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/newsletter_archives.html.
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