THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
MAY 2003 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
HAWAII BECOMES 46TH STATE TO PASS "SAFE HAVEN" LEGISLATION
Hawaii's state legislature recently became the latest to pass a bill (HB133) legalizing anonymous infant abandonment. The legislation awaits the governor's signature. To read the bill, go to http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb133_cd1_.htm. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts legislature will hear testimony on its "safe haven" legislation (S766, H2253) on June 18, 2003. To read S766, go to http://www.state.ma.us/legis/bills/st00766.htm. The only other states without safe haven laws are Alaska, Nebraska and Vermont, none of which have introduced abandonment legislation this year.
NEW YORK TO EXPEDITE ADOPTIONS OF WAITING CHILDREN
New York State and City officials announced a new state initiative, "Adoption Now," deigned to remove systemic barriers to timely adoptions, reducing from 3.5 years to 1 year the finalization time for adoptions from foster care. The goal is to finalize 5,000 adoptions by year's end. To read the press release, go to this link.
LOUISIANA CONSIDERS OPEN RECORDS
A Louisiana Senate bill would give adult adoptees the right to access their sealed original birth documents upon request, while allowing birth parents the opportunity to file contact preference forms (SB 941). Current law provides that adopted children's original birth documents are sealed and requires a court order to access them. To read the bill or research its status, see http://www.legis.state.la.us/bills/byinst.asp?sessionid=03RS&billid=SB941.
CHINA SUSPENDS ADOPTIONS DUE TO SARS
The China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) suspended the processing of dossiers for prospective adoptive parents who have not already received travel authorization letters, reports the U.S. Department of State. The suspension was effective May 15, 2003, and was instituted as a result of the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). CCAA hopes the suspension will last no more than a few months, if the infection rate continues to decline. To read the State Department's notice, go to http://travel.state.gov/china_notice2.html. More than three million children currently live in Chinese orphanages, according to a May 16, 2003, Times of London article "Orphanages are home to Three Million Children," by Alexandra Frean. To purchase the article, go to http://www.newsint-archive.co.uk.
ROMANIA EXPECTED TO EXTEND INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION BAN
Romania is likely to extend its two-year prohibition on intercountry adoption, according to a May 22, 2003, Reuters article, "Romania Says it Can't Lift Foreign Adoption Ban," by Radu Marinas. The European Union has not yet approved Romania's adoption legislation, which reportedly eliminates fees, requires an 18-month residency period and excludes private agencies from the process. The ban was set to expire June 1, 2003. To read more, go to http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L2257501.htm.
COMMISSION LAUNCHED TO IMPROVE FOSTER CARE OUTCOMES
The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, an independent and non-partisan group of child welfare experts, was established to propose recommendations to improve federal financing of child welfare and court oversight of children in care. At its launch, the Commission released the results of a national survey finding that a majority of Americans (56%) have a very or somewhat favorable opinion of foster care in their communities. When asked where they get most of their information about foster care, the same percentage (56%) also said news and other media. To learn more about the Pew Commission project, go to http://pewfostercare.org.
SUMMIT CULMINATES IN POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
Called by members of Congress and sponsored by the Center for Study of Social Policy and its Center for Community Partnerships in Child Welfare, "A Child Welfare Summit: Looking to the Future," examined problems with and promising approaches in child welfare. The panel, which consisted of a wide range of representatives from parents to legislators, issued federal child welfare policy proposals in April 2003 for improving the system. To enhance adoption and permanency outcomes, the panel recommended that guardianship as a permanency option be eligible for reimbursement under Title IV-E, that all Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act funds be mandatory, and that Title IV-E funds be available for post-adoptive and post-permanency services for children placed for adoption and reunited with their families. To read the report and other Summit resources, go to http://www.cssp.org/center/ccws_future.html.
MOST ADOPTION AGENCIES FOUND TO ACCEPT APPLICATIONS FROM GAYS
A national survey of 214 adoption agencies found that 63% of agencies accepted adoption applications from gays and lesbians, and that 38% made at least one placement with such parents during 1995-1996. The study, by Brodzinsky, et al., found strong associations - relating to agency religious affiliations and types of programs - for the agencies placing children with gays and lesbians. Public agencies and those focusing on special needs adoptions were most likely to make placements with homosexuals, according to "Adoption Agency Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Prospective Parents: A National Study," in Adoption Quarterly Vol. 5(3) 2002. To order this publication, go to http://www.haworthpressinc.com/store/product.asp?sku=J145.
FAULTS FOUND IN MEDICAID MANAGED CARE FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
Given that a majority of states are enrolling foster children in managed care, Leslie, et al. assert that states must address the unique circumstances of these children, such as "abrupt entry" into the system, lack of medical information, multiple health care needs, coordination of needs, and placement changes. "Foster Care and Medicaid Managed Care" makes a number of specific policy and practice recommendations to meet these needs, including presumptive Medicaid eligibility, interagency agreements to access health records, specialized referral systems, comprehensive provider contracts and multidisciplinary clinics. The article in the May/June 2003 issue of Child Welfare also proposes that Medicaid and child welfare agencies draft regulations on service provision and oversight, and that research be conducted on managed care's effect on foster children. To order this journal, go to http://www.cwla.org/pubs/subjsearch.asp?SUBJ=Periodicals.
ADOPTION RECEIVES SCANT ATTENTION IN COLLEGE FAMILY TEXTS
College level textbooks and anthologies used for undergraduate family courses, written between 1998 and 2001, provide little or no coverage on adoption, according to a study conducted by Allen P. Fisher published in Family Relations Spring 2003. Moreover, the coverage of adoption that exists is largely negative - there were almost twice as many negative as positive comments - reports "A Critique of the Portrayal of Adoption in College Textbooks and Readers on Families, 1998-2001." To order the journal, go to http://ncfr.allenpress.com/ncfronline/?request=get-static&name=subscrib.
STUDY SHOWS MOST AMERICANS DON'T WANT ADOPTIONS DISSOLVED
A majority of respondents (58%) think that "adoptive parents should be required to keep a child who, after a placement, was discovered to have sever behavior problems," according to a national survey of 916 adults, reported in "When an Adoption Disrupts: A Study of Public Attitudes," Family Relations Spring 2003. Twenty-three percent said that adoptive parents should be allowed to change their minds, while 12% say it depends, and 7% responded that they did not know or did not give an answer. The study, conducted by Hollingsworth, also found that respondents with some college education and those age 30 and older were more likely to approve of ending the adoption. To order the journal, go to http://ncfr.allenpress.com/ncfronline/?request=get-static&name=subscrib.
TWO PERCENT OF STORED EMBRYOS DESIGNATED FOR DONATION
Fertility clinics in the United States are storing almost 400,000 frozen embryos, according to a 2002 national survey by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology and RAND. A small proportion (2.3%) of the frozen embryos have been designated for donation, while the vast majority (88.2%) have been reserved by patients for their treatment, reports "Cryopreserved Embryos in the United States and Their Availability for Research," in the May 2003 issue of Fertility and Sterility. To read the report, go to
GOVERNMENT BEGINS PROGRAM TO ENSURE ADOPTEES ARE ORPHANS
In June, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) will begin a pilot program called Adjudicate Orphan Status First, according to an article in USA Today on May 27, 2003, "Government Program Aims to Curtail Fraud in Foreign Adoptions," by Steve Friess. For prospective parents adopting from Haiti, Sierra Leone, Poland, the Philippines and Honduras, BCIS will work to ensure that the children involved are legal orphans before they travel abroad. To read the article, go to http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20030527/5189799s.htm.
COLORADO LAW CHANGE ENABLES REUNION
New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel and his wife recently were reunited with the son they relinquished for adoption years ago, a reunion made possible by a change in Colorado's law that allowed them to find each other, according to the article "34 Years Later, One Coach's Sweetest Victory," by Bill Pennington. The article, in the May 16, 2003, edition of the New York Times, has been praised but also has generated criticism because it does not portray the adoptive parents' perspective and uses outdated, potentially stigmatizing adoption language. To read the article, go to this link.
NATIONAL EMBRYO ADOPTION CENTER TO OPEN
The Christian Medical Association, along with a fertility clinic and hospital in Tennessee, plans to open a national embryo adoption center by the end of the summer, reports "Embryo Adoption Center Nears" in Family News in Focus. The head of the center explains that "it will not be run as a traditional adoption… It will really be run as just another aspect of infertility care," according to the May 13, 2003, article by Stuart Shepard. To read the article, go to http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0025926.html.
NEW AFCARS DATA
The preliminary FY 2001 AFCARS estimates are available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report8.pdf.
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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