THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
MARCH 2003 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
COLORADO LEGISLATION ACCELERATES VOLUNTARY RELINQUISHMENT
The Colorado legislature passed legislation (HB 03-1286) accelerating voluntary termination of parental rights, including a provision allowing women to sign affidavits during pregnancy. 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 or county department of social services is assisting the relinquishing parent, and the parent has signed an affidavit. Parents may sign the affidavit before birth and file the court petition 4 days after the child is born. In cases where only one parent voluntarily relinquishes rights, the bill provides notice to the other parent and allows 20 days to assert his/her rights.
To view the bill, as amended by the Senate, go to: http://www.leg.state.co.us/2003a/inetcbill.nsf/fsbillcont/
U.S. SUPREME COURT ALLOWS PAYMENTS TO FOSTER PARENTS
In February, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that Washington State could lawfully compensate foster parents with their foster children's Social Security payments. In Washington vs. Keffeler, the Justices determined that state agencies are not in violation of their status as a "representative payee" by allocating the funds to foster parents. In addition, they rejected the argument that the use of the payments was not in the child's best interest. To read the decision, see http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/02pdf/01-1420.pdf.
COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON FLORIDA GAY ADOPTION BAN
The Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on March 4, 2003, in the case Lofton vs. Kearney, challenging Florida's statute categorically banning adoption by gays and lesbians. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in 1998 on behalf of homosexual men seeking to adopt children. The Adoption Institute filed a friend of the court brief in support of the challenge last year. The 11th U.S. Circuit is not expected to rule on this case for at least six months. For more information, see the ACLU press release, http://www.aclu.org/LesbianGayRights/LesbianGayRights.cfm?ID=12015&c=104.
FLORIDA BILL WOULD CHANGE PUBLIC NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
A bill pending in the Florida Senate (S2526) would revoke the state's 2001 law requiring women considering adoption for their children to publish notices in newspapers with details such as descriptions of themselves, the potential father's name, and the city and date of conception. The bill would create a putative father registry, with the stated objective of enabling men to assert parental rights, be informed of, and be able to consent to adoptions. To read the bill, go to, http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/index.cfm?Mode=Bills,br>&SubMenu=1&BI_Mode=ViewBillInfo
SENATE CONSIDERS PAID LEAVE FOR NEW PARENTS
The Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (S304) permits states to use unemployment insurance to fund up to 12 weeks' partially or fully paid leave for parents who have newly adopted or newborn children. This bill amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which permits employees caring for new children to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. The Department of Labor has proposed repealing its rule allowing states to use unemployment insurance for new parents. A related bill has not yet been introduced in the House. To read the bill go to, http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:s304is.txt.pdf
HOUSE BILL SEEKS TO MAKE ADOPTION TAX CREDIT PERMANENT
The Adoption Tax Relief Bill (HR 1057) would make the $10,000 adoption tax credit permanent. Under current law, it is set to expire in 2010. The House Committee on Ways and Means is considering the bill; no similar legislation has been proposed yet in the Senate. To read the text of the legislation, see http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:h1057ih.txt.pdf.
NEVADA SENATE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS OPENING RECORDS
The Nevada Senate's Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on March 28, 2003, on SB267, legislation granting adopted persons age 18 or older access to their original birth and adoption records. Currently, such records can only be accessed by court order or by mutual consent of both parties through the State Register for Adoptions. For more information and the bill text, see: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/72nd/Reports/history.cfm?ID=627 .
ROMANIA TO RESUME SOME INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS IN JUNE
The U.S. State Department website reports that Romania has extended its moratorium on foreign adoption until June 1, 2003. According to a recent Reuters' article, Romania announced it will resume international adoptions beginning on that date, but only as a last resort if all domestic options fail. Initially meant to be a one-year ban, a moratorium has been in place since June 2001, and will continue until new adoption legislation can be enacted, for which no date has been established. Romania, which hopes to join the EU by 2007, has been reforming its child welfare system to comply with EU requirements. Information is available on the State Department website http://travel.state.gov/110802romanianadopt.html. To read the Reuters article, go to: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L27494568.htm.
GUATEMALA PLANS HAGUE CONVENTION IMPLEMENTATION
The Guatemalan adoption authority, Procuradora General de la Nacion (PGN), recently announced that the country will implement the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption effective March 5, 2003. In August 2002, Guatemala's Congress passed legislation approving its participation in the Hague Convention and began drafting regulations putting provisions in place. For the time being, the U.S. State Department expects delays in PGN's processing of adoption cases. To read an update, go to http://travel.state.gov/guatemala_notice.html.
2001 INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION STATISTICS SHOW FEW CHANGES
The Immigration and Naturalization Service in February published the 2001 Statistical Yearbook, which includes new statistics on the number of children adopted internationally by U.S. citizens. According to the new report, international adoptions increased from 18,477 in 2000 to 19,087 in 2001, numbers slightly different than the State Department's figures. The gender distribution of international adoptees (64% female and 36% male) remained the same as 1998. Infants still represent nearly half of those adopted from abroad: 44% are under one year old, 43% are between 1 and 4, 8% between 5 and 9 years and 3% older than 9. To view the section of the 2001 Statistical Yearbook that relates to adoption, go to http://www.immigration.gov/graphics/aboutus/statistics/IMM01yrbk/ExcIMM01/Table15.xls.
STATES FOUND TO PREFER PLACING FOSTER CHILDREN WITH KIN
A study of kinship foster care policies found that all states prefer to place children with relatives over non-kin, and therefore provide some leeway for the licensing of these providers. The Urban Institute report, "The Continuing Evolution of State Kinship Care Policies," also shows how each state's assessment process for kinship licensure can affect the support services that these families are eligible to receive. Fifteen states require full licensure equivalent to that of non-kin foster families, 23 use a "waived or modified" standard of assessment, while 20 offer a separate, modified approval process. Forty-nine states provide federal funding to fully licensed kin; in 26 states, however, families approved through the usually less-stringent "waived/modified" or "separate approval" processes may be denied state and/or federal foster care payments. To read the report, go to http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/310597_state_kinship_care.pdf.
HEALTH CONCERN RAISED FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTEES IN BRITAIN
Many health issues among intercountry adoptees and asylum-seeking children in the United Kingdom remain inadequately addressed, according to an article in the Winter 2002 issue of Adoption and Fostering. The article, "Caring for the Health of Children Brought into the UK from Abroad" by Mather and Kerac, says the health concerns include incomplete immunizations, malnutrition, undiagnosed medical conditions, and vulnerability to new illnesses. To order the article, visit http://www.baaf.org.uk/.
KINSHIP CAREGIVERS RECOMMEND EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
"Education and Kinship Caregivers: Creating a New Vision," in the March 2003 issue of Families in Society, examines why children raised by kin apparently do not perform as well in school as their peers raised by at least one parent. According to a previous study, 41% of children living with relatives are behind at least one grade level, and 28% receive special education services. Researchers explored the reasons for this finding, while also seeking to collect information on the unique challenges faced by older African-American caregivers of disabled children when interacting with the school system. The researchers conducted focus groups with 19 African American kinship caregivers, aged 40 to 70 years, raising disabled children in Baltimore, MD. These caregivers expressed concerns about: teacher expectations; labeling, stigmatizing and marginalization of their children by the school system; the use of medication as an oversimplified solution; and the school system's failure to communicate with them. To improve the situation, the group recommended that kinship caregivers receive education on issues surrounding substance abuse, ADD/ADHD and other behavioral difficulties, alternatives to Ritalin, greater communication between caregivers and teachers, and higher teacher-to-student ratios. To access the article, go to: http://www.alliance1.org/Publications/fis/FIS_PDFs/
LESS CONTINUITY OF MEDICAL CARE SEEN FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
Children in foster care experience less medical care continuity than their peers outside foster care who are enrolled for Medicaid fee-for-services (FFS), finds a study published in the March 2003 issue of Pediatrics. The authors, DiGiuseppe and Christakis, examined records from 1998-1999 for 2,709 children: 903 who were in foster care and were continuously enrolled for 24 months in Medicaid, 903 not in foster care who were enrolled in Medicaid managed care, and 903 not in foster care and who were Medicaid fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries. However, children not in foster care and enrolled in managed care had the least continuity of care of the three groups. Although differences among the groups were small, they were found to be "clinically significant," especially since children in foster care already have special heath care needs. The authors note that it remains unclear if the variations were due to actual discrepancies in health care services or inherent differences in delivery systems. To view the free abstract or to order the article, go to http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/abstract/111/3/e208.
ADOPTION INSTITUTE REPORT RAISES DOUBTS ABOUT 'SAFE HAVENS'
On March 10, 2003, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute published a report analyzing unsafe infant abandonment and legalized anonymous infant abandonment, or so-called "safe haven" laws, which have been enacted in 42 states over the past 3 years. The report, entitled, "Unintended Consequences: 'Safe Haven' Laws Are Causing Problems, Not Solving Them," raises serious questions about the effectiveness of these laws and offers suggestions on how the problem of unsafe infant abandonment can be more responsibly addressed. Media outlets across the country carried stories about the Adoption Institute's study, which also appears to have re-ignited debate on the issue in several states. To view the full report, go to http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/.
AD CAMPAIGNS FEATURE ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
The March 19, 2003, New York Times column, "Adoptive Families Get Starring Role," reports that several national companies have used advertising campaigns featuring adoptive families. The companies cited by the columnist, Abby Ellin, include: J.C. Penney, John Hancock, Lands' End, Merrill Lynch, Tide and Weight Watchers. Adoption experts in the article said that normative portrayals of adoption and adoptive families, as in the recent advertisements, help to alter public perceptions of the institution and those it affects in positive ways. To read the article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/19/business/media/19ADCO.html
ADOPTIONS BY SINGLE WOMEN ON THE RISE
A growing number of unmarried women are now choosing to adopt, accounting for nearly a third of adoptive parents in the US in 2002, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. As reported in the article "One + One Makes a Family," in the March 19, 2003, issue of the Christian Science Monitor, financially secure and educated women, mostly in their 30s and 40s, are adopting children from the US and from other countries. To read the article, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0319/p15s02-lifp.html
STATE DATA ON FOSTER CARE ONLINE
The Children's Defense Fund's "Children in the States 2003" contains state-by-state statistics on the number of U.S. children in foster care, the number of children adopted from foster care, and the number of grandparents raising grandchildren. Totals for the United States as a whole are: more than half a million children in foster care; more than 50,000 children adopted from foster care, and nearly 2.5 million grandparents raising their grandchildren. To read the report, go to: http://www.childrensdefense.org/states/all_states.pdf
A GUIDE TO ADOPTION FOR HEALTH CARE & COUNSELING PROFESSIONALS
A Guide to Adoption for Health Care & Counseling Professionals, published by Celebrate Adoption and Adoptions Together, is available for $8.00 through Celebrate Adoption, PO Box 4405, Bennington, VT 05201; www.celebrateadoption.org; or 802-442-7135.
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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