THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
APRIL 2003 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
SENATE CONSIDERS EXPANSION OF SPECIAL NEEDS SUBSIDIES
The Adoption Equality Act of 2003 (S862), aimed at providing adoption subsidy payments for all special needs children and their adoptive families, was introduced this month in the Senate. Currently, adoption subsidies are provided only to special needs children whose biological families would be eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children at 1996 levels. The bill was sponsored by Senators Rockefeller (D-WV), DeWine (R-OH), Landrieu (D-LA), Collins (R-ME), Levin (D-MI) and Johnson (D-SD), and was referred to the Committee on Finance. To read the bill, go to http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:s862is.txt.pdf.
HOUSE BILL WOULD BROADEN FOSTER, ADOPTION ASSISTANCE
The Child Protective Services Improvement Act (HR1534), introduced by Representative Cardin (D-MD), would allow states to apply current standards of welfare eligibility to determine children's eligibility for federal foster care funds and/or adoption assistance. It would also provide federal foster care funds to relatives who are in the process of becoming legal guardians of children in their foster care. In addition, states would be guaranteed the entire allotment of Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) funds each year, which would represent a broadening of current practices. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. To read the bill, go to http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:h1534ih.txt.pdf.
CONGRESS REVIEWS LEGISLATION TO BETTER SERVE DISABLED CHILDREN
The Family Opportunity Act of 2003 (S622, HR1811) would provide working families with disabled children, and incomes up to 250% of the poverty line, the option to purchase Medicaid coverage on a sliding scale basis. The legislation also extends home- and community-based waivers to treatment of in-patient psychiatric hospital services for children under 21. The bills, introduced by Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative Sessions (R-TX), have been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, respectively. To read S622, go to http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:s622is.txt.pdf.
COURT VOIDS FLORIDA NOTIFICATION LAW
This month, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals struck down a Florida law requiring women to publicize their sexual histories in newspaper ads before placing their children for adoption; the court held that the state did not justify its violation of biological mothers' right to privacy (Case No. 4D02-3410). The law was originally intended to ensure that fathers were afforded due process before surrendering their parental rights in the adoption process. Indicative of the controversy this law provoked, the office of the Attorney General refused to defend the legislation before the Appellate Court. Currently, the bill's original sponsor, State Sen. Walter Campbell, is sponsoring an alternative bill that creates a statewide birth father registry, which he says will protect the rights of potential fathers without intruding on the private lives of mothers considering adoption for their children. To read the court's opinion, see: http://www.4dca.org/opfrm.html, go to opinions released 4-23-03 and select 4D02-3410-G.P., C.M., and L.H. v. State of Florida.
GEORGIA HOUSE REJECTS OPEN RECORDS
The Georgia Senate passed a bill (SB192) allowing adopted adults access to their original birth certificates, but the House did not follow suit; instead, it passed an amendment making little change to the current law, which permits adoptees access to non-identifying information, and identifying information only with the consent of birth parents or by court order. For the bill to advance to the Governor, it must be approved by the Senate or re-negotiated with the House, which appears unlikely during the current session. For more information on SB192 and the House amendment, go to: http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2003_04/sum/sb192.htm.
TEXAS BILLS WOULD BAN GAYS, SINGLES FROM FOSTER PARENTING
A bill pending in the Texas House (HB194) would disqualify homosexuals from serving as foster parents. The legislation directs the Texas Department of Protection and Regulatory Services to ask applicants about sexual orientation and allows the department to conduct a "reasonable investigation" to determine a person's sexual preference if skeptical about the stated answer. The Texas Department of Child Protective Services says the bill would create further difficulty in placing children in need of permanent care. A related bill (HB1911) would "prevent the placement of a child in a foster home with any unmarried individuals." To find out more about HB194, go to http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/db2www/tlo/billhist/billhist.d2w/report?LEG=78&SESS=R&CHAMBER=H&BILLTYPE=B&BILLSUFFIX=00194. To find out more about HB1911, go to http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/db2www/tlo/billhist/billhist.d2w/report?LEG=78&SESS=R&CHAMBER=H&BILLTYPE=B&BILLSUFFIX=01911.
CHANGES PROPOSED IN ASFA ADOPTION INCENTIVES
The subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means in the U.S. House held a hearing in April to review Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) adoption incentives. Various witnesses proposed changes to the adoption incentive program, including allowing the awards - currently reserved for adoptions of children from foster care - to be made to states that achieve other outcomes, such as placement in group foster homes. Additional changes under consideration are: altering the way state adoption baselines are calculated for determining awards, and providing larger awards for permanent placements of children over age 9. To read witness testimony, go to http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=detail&hearing=56&comm=2.
AFCARS REPORTING EFFECTIVENESS QUESTIONED
A March 2003 Department of Health and Human Services report, "Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS): Challenges and Limitations," identifies problems associated with AFCARS reporting. For instance, inconsistent definitions leading to inconsistent reporting by state agencies; limited access to technical assistance; and lack of incentives and penalties for reporting. To read the report, go to: http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-01-00660.pdf.
LINK SHOWN BETWEEN ADOPTION EXPERIENCE AND SELF-ESTEEM
Adoption experience (feelings as teenagers, current experience and similarity to adoptive parents) and psychological functioning (life satisfaction and self-esteem) were closely interrelated, according to "Predictors of Psychological Functioning and Adoption Experience in Adults Searching for Their Birthparents," in Adoption Quarterly, Vol. 5., No. 3. Muller, Gibbs, and Ariely surveyed 345 adopted adults who had met or were in the process of meeting their birthparents and found that in terms of psychological functioning, a more secure attachment to adoptive parents in the teenage years yielded higher self-esteem and greater life-satisfaction - supporting previous research findings. Specifically, the attachment between adoptive mother and child was found to be the most important predictor of the adoptees' current feelings on adoption. To order the publication, go to http://www.haworthpressinc.com/store/product.asp?sku=J145.
BETTER SUPPORTS NECESSARY TO ENSURE CHILDREN'S WELFARE
In Post-Permanency Services (2003), Freundlich and Wright address the many factors involved in maintaining the successful permanent placement of foster children. The authors state that maintaining permanency depends partially upon the formation of a viable family in which family management tasks are accomplished and the family members have their economic and physical needs met; give and receive nurturing and guidance; have a sense of belonging; and receive support during their development. While economic factors, environmental stressors and children's characteristics and needs can seriously affect permanency, understanding these issues - through such theoretical models as attachment and family systems - family members can address the challenges and service providers can more effectively support permanency. The authors conclude that the components of a coherent system of post-permanency services include law, policy, programs, services, a system of care, and environmental context. To download the book, go to http://www.casey.org/cnc/policy_issues/post_permanency_services.htm.
CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE FOUND AT RISK FOR HEALTH PROBLEMS
A review of research on children in foster care by Kools & Kennedy in a January/February 2003 Pediatric Nursing article, "Foster Child Health and Development: Implications for Primary Care," found that children in foster care are at risk for a number of health problems due to early deprivation. Physical health problems were reported to include untreated acute conditions, chronic illness, poor nutritional status, and inadequate immunization. The prevalence of psychopathology in children in foster care was reported to range from 30%-80%, and up to 60% of children in foster care experience developmental delays. Despite these health risks, health services available to children in foster care remain inadequate. The authors suggest several recommendations for change, including a focus on comprehensive health assessment, adequate documentation and maintenance of health records, follow-up treatment, and health-targeted advocacy. To purchase the article, go to http://www.ajj.com/services/pblshng/pnj/.
CONTINUOUS HEALTH COVERAGE CRITICAL FOR FOSTER CARE CHILDREN
A January 2003 report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, entitled "Children Discharged from Foster Care: Strategies to Prevent the Loss of Health Coverage at a Critical Transition," discusses the importance of maintaining continuous health coverage for this population. Given that children in foster care are at greater risk for a number of health-related problems, disruption of health coverage (short-term or long-term) poses serious risks for a child's health and family stress. While most children discharged from foster care are eligible for health coverage, either through Medicaid or through State Children's Health Insurance programs, the report says procedural barriers prevent them from receiving continuity of care. It proposes strategies for change, including continuous care requirements and improved case management. To read the report, go to http://www.kff.org/content/2003/4085/4095.pdf.
CANADIAN CHILDREN WAIT WHILE OVERSEAS ADOPTIONS INCREASE
In the April 2003 edition of Child and Youth Care Forum, researchers explore why Canadian adopters are turning to international adoption while the number of children in public care remains high. According to the article, "Adoptable but Still in Limbo: The Forgotten Children in Canada," Canadian parents are adopting from other countries in increasing numbers, while more than 20,000 Canadian children remain in care, with only 2,000 placed for adoption annually. To examine reasons for this trend, researchers surveyed 119 people with interest in adopting and found that: almost 90% indicated a willingness to adopt a child over 3 years old, 85% indicated willingness to accept a child of a different racial origin, and 74% reported willingness to adopt a child with minor developmental delays. Researchers highlighted the need for better funding of adoption services, better coordination among child welfare agencies, more post-adoption services, and increased adoption subsidies. To order the publication, go to http://www.wkap.nl/orders/?journal=1053-1890.
TRANSRACIAL ADOPTING FAMILIES NEED MORE SUPPORT
A study by researchers Vidal de Haymes and Simon of 20 transracial families, "Transracial Adoption: Families Identify Issues and Needed Support Services," found that they report a lack of pre- and post-adoption services and supports. According to the article, published in the March/April 2003 issue of Child Welfare, families recommended that agencies educate parents about children's ethnic and racial history and how to instill in children an appreciation of their racial and ethnic history. Among the proposals were networking activities for transracial families in the form of newsletters or support groups. To order the publication, go to http://www.cwla.org/pubs/pubdetails.asp?PUBID=P101.
U.S. URGES ROMANIA TO RELAX RESTRICTIONS ON ADOPTION
According to a April 15, 2003, Reuters article, "U.S. Senators Press Romania to Ease Adoption Rules," Senators Landrieu (D-LA) and Craig (R-ID) and other members of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption are urging Romanian officials to ease its strict new adoption regulations. The Senators assert that such requirements as an 18-month compulsory residency period will unnecessarily hinder adoptions. To read the article, go to http://www.alertnet.org/printable.htm?URL=/thenews/newsdesk/L15100438.htm.
INFERTILE POOR FOUND TO HAVE FEWER OPTIONS
An April 20, 2003, article in the Washington Post Magazine, "A Special Kind of Poverty," addresses the challenges of the infertile poor. Liza Mundy reports that lower-income Americans have limited choices in resolving infertility issues because medical treatments and adoption alike are expensive. In addition to the cost issues of adoption, the article points out that consideration of foster care adoption is often dismissed because of the fear of children being returned to their biological parents. Additionally, pregnant women considering adoption for their children reportedly consider poor Americans to be less-appealing prospects as adoptive parents because of their income status.
To read the article, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41046-2003Apr16.html.
ADOPTION COSTS VARY GREATLY
"Priceless," in the April 2003 issue of Money magazine, addresses the cost of adoption. The article by Gay Jervey provides examples of different types of adoptions and the costs - an agency adoption from Russia at $29,000, a domestic infant agency adoption at $24,000, a domestic infant independent adoption at $11,000, and an agency adoption of an African American infant $4,300. To order the publication, go to http://www.moneymagazine.com.
NATIONAL AND STATE DATA ON FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION
The Child Welfare League of America recently updated its national and state fact sheets that report on foster care, kinship care, and foster care adoption in the United States. To view the National Fact Sheet, go to http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/nationalfactsheet03.htm, and to view the State Fact Sheets, go to http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/statefactsheets/statefactsheets03.htm.
UPDATED FOR 2003: ADOPTION AGENCY DATABASE
Adoptive Families provides an Adoption Agency Search, a searchable database containing information on licensing, requirements, costs, and timing for more than 500 U.S. adoption agency programs. To utilize the database, go to http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoptionprograms.php.
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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