THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
July 2003 E-NEWSLETTER

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


CONGRESS SEEKS TO PROMOTE ADOPTION OF OLDER WAITING CHILDREN
Senator Bunning (R-KY) recently introduced legislation (S1439) reauthorizing adoption incentive payments to states, providing $6,000 for each older child adoption (defined as the final adoption of a child 9 or older) over the base number (beginning with 2003) of such adoptions. Current law provides states $2,000 for each special needs adoption, defined as birth family income eligibility based on pre-1996 standards, above the baseline. The bill also authorizes $43 million for adoption incentive payments in fiscal year 2004, the same amount as 2003. S1439 does not incorporate other aspects of the Administration’s proposal to convert Title IV- E entitlement funding to a block grant. The Senate Finance Committee is considering the bill; there is currently no companion legislation in the House. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type S1439 in the bill number field.

DELAYS EXPECTED AS RESULT OF NEW GUATEMALA ADOPTION PROCEDURES
According to the State Department, the Guatemalan Central Authority for Adoptions “will not accept post-June 30, 2003 cases in which children have been referred under the old notarial process.” Since the Central Authority is now the referring body, the State Department warns prospective adoptive parents not to accept referrals from agencies or attorneys. State also informs parents to expect delays as a result of backlogged pre-June 30 cases and implementation of the new procedures. For more information, go to: http://travel.state.gov/guatemala_notice.html.

INDIA RATIFIES HAGUE CONVENTION ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
In June, India joined the growing number of countries that have ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Convention will enter into force there on Oct. 1, 2003. In 2002, Americans adopted 466 children from India, making it the eighth largest sending country. As reported in last month’s newsletter, a group in India is challenging the legality of several intercountry adoptions from that nation, alleging corruption and child trafficking, and is advocating a nationwide moratorium on international adoptions pending an investigation and changes in domestic practices. For more information on other countries’ Convention status, go to: http://www.hcch.net/e/conventions/menu33e.html.

UK REGISTER FACILITATES PLACEMENTS OF WAITING CHILDREN
The Adoption Register for England and Wales, a national databank of children waiting to be adopted and of approved prospective adoptive parents, has generated 30 adoptions and 600 “viable” matches in its first year. The Register holds information on 3,200 waiting children and 3,000 prospective adopters. Analysis of Register records finds that a majority of potential adopters want young children, but a majority of the waiting children are age 6-8. The majority of children also have special needs, and evidence indicates “adopters are generally unable/unwilling to meet these needs, although approved for them.” To read the annual report, go to: http://www.doh.gov.uk/adoption/register-annrep-may03.pdf.


2. Research


RELATIVES, FOSTER PARENTS MOST LIKELY TO ADOPT SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN
New research by the Urban Institute on the characteristics of parents who adopt children from foster care found that children’s relatives and foster parents are more likely than “general applicants” (those who are not foster parents or relatives) to adopt children with special needs. “Who Will Adopt the Foster Care Children Left Behind,” a June 2003 report by Rob Geen also shows that general applicants and foster parents are comparable in terms of age, marital status and race. The report highlights that general applicants account for the greatest proportion of transracial adoptions, at 28%, compared to 22% for foster parents. Geen recommends encouraging foster parenting prior to adoption to increase the pool of parents for special needs children in particular, and dismantling obstacles to relative adoption to increase adoptions in general. To read the report, go to: http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=310809.

STUDY SHOWS ORIENTATION INCREASES PARTICIPANTS’ DESIRE TO ADOPT
A study of 78 prospective adoptive parents who participated in Pre-Adopt, a psychosocial educational orientation program, found that 82% “report a firm decision to adopt” post-orientation, up from 40% who “had decided to adopt” pre-orientation. The research, by Michaela Farber et al, of Virginia couples who participated in Pre-Adopt from 1999-2001, showed changes in participants’ approach to adoption after the orientation, with greater percentages reporting: taking opportunities outside of orientation to prepare for adoption, “expanding their energy focus to include” birth parents and foster families, feeling less concern about adoption issues, and being more accepting about children’s birth family backgrounds. The study, reported in the June 2003 issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, found that pre-orientation, 54% of the participants had “less than adequate … knowledge about adoptive parenting” but improved their knowledge as a result of the orientation. To order the journal, go to: http://www.kluweronline.com/issn/0738-0151
.

LESBIAN COUPLES REPORT BONDING DIFFERENCES IN THEIR ADOPTED CHILDREN
In a recent qualitative study, Susanne Bennett explored the existence of a primary mother-child bond among a sample of 15 lesbian couples and their internationally adopted children. Participants reported that at the time of adoption, all 15 children developed attachments to both mothers. However, in the first 18 months post-adoption, despite mothers’ reports of shared parenting and equal division of household labor, 12 of the 15 couples reported that their children exhibited a preference for one parent over the other. Analysis showed that quality of care (i.e., mother’s degree of nurturance, patience, maternal behavior, etc.) was the most influential factor in the children’s parent preferences. Time spent with the child and a parent’s legal status were not found to be defining factors. To read an abstract of this article, go to: http://www.kluweronline.com/issn/0738-0151/contents
.

ANALYSIS CITES DRAWBACKS IN ASFA PROMOTION OF TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION
In an impact analysis, “A Family Perspective on Transracial Adoption,” Maureen Ittig examines what she describes as drawbacks in the Adoption and Safe Families Act’s (ASFA) promotion of transracial adoptive families. Ittig explains that the law does not address maintaining the adopted child’s extended family, community, or cultural and ethnic background in matching adoptive families with children in foster care. ASFA neither requires that birth relatives be involved in permanency planning nor facilitates open adoption. Furthermore, families deemed unstable or financially insecure are generally considered unfit adoptive resources, thereby excluding extended family members from becoming caregivers. To read this report and others in this series, go to: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/familyimpact.

BIRTH RELATIVES’ ACCEPTANCE OF ADOPTION ASSOCIATED WITH CONTACT
A British study of birth relatives of children placed for adoption in 1996-1997, who experienced face-to-face contact with the children, found that “almost all relatives described a process of acceptance increasing over time through the experience of contact.” The research, “Accepting the Reality of Adoption: Birth Relatives Experiences of Face-to-Face Contact,” by Elsbeth Neil, in the July 2003 Adoption and Fostering, consisted of 15 interviews of 19 relatives (some interviews were conducted in pairs) of 15 children. Neil reported that contact “primarily” enabled participants to know that the children were “all right” and indicated that beneficial contact may be more likely with children who are placed at a younger age. The study also found that 11 of the 15 interviewees demonstrated a “realistic and accepting” understanding of the “reality of roles and relationships after adoption,” after a mean time of 26 months in placement. To order the article, go to: http://www.baaf.org.uk/
.


3. News


MEDIA CONSIDERS BOTH SIDES OF “SAFE HAVEN” DEBATE
Increasingly, media coverage of infant abandonment and “safe haven” laws is focusing on the perspectives of critics of legalized anonymous infant abandonment, in addition to safe haven advocates. For instance, a July 24, 2003, article in the Christian Science Monitor points out that newborns who are left at safe havens spend a minimum of nine months in foster care, as opposed to infants whose parents make an adoption plan and are quickly placed in pre-adoptive homes. A July 14, 2003, National Public Radio report includes the views of a woman who unsafely abandoned her infant and states that she was not in a sufficiently rational state of mind at the time to consider accessing a safe haven. And a July 16, 2003, column in the Baltimore Sun reports that the city’s Department of Social Services suggests more research on the issue is needed. To read the Christian Science Monitor article, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0724/p14s02-lifp.html; to hear the NPR report, go to: http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1335825; and to read the Baltimore Sun article, go to: http://www.sunspot.net/news/local/bal-md.kane16jul16.story.

GROUP PROPOSES AN ORPHANAGE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
A group of adoptive parents has convinced some child welfare professionals to support an orphanage in Columbus, OH, according to a July 22, 2003, Cleveland Plain Dealer article, “Advocates Seek to Start Orphanage.” One reason the group wants to establish an orphanage is to avoid multiple foster care placements that some children experience. The concept runs counter to statistics showing that 70% of the state’s adoptions are by foster parents, and conflicts with research and expert opinion that is highly critical of outcomes when children live in orphanages. To read the article, go to: http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1058866483310463.xml.

TEXAS DELAYS SOME ADOPTIONS DUE TO BUDGET CRISIS
The Texas Department of Protective & Regulatory Services is delaying adoption placements handled by private agencies under contract until Sept. 1, 2003, because it lacks funds, according to a July 27, 2003, Houston Chronicle article, “State Budget Crisis Puts Kids’ Adoptions in Limbo.” Private agencies handle about one-third of foster care adoptions, and 433 such pending adoptions are experiencing delays as a result of the state’s budget crisis. There are 3,800 Texas children in foster care waiting to be adopted, and it costs the state much more to keep them there than it does to pay private agencies to find them permanent homes. Next year’s budget for contracts with private agencies is even smaller. To read the article, go to: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printstory.hts/metropolitan/2012819.

SAME SEX COUPLE TESTS UTAH BAN ON ADOPTIONS BY UNMARRIED COUPLES
A Utah lesbian couple is legally challenging the state’s ban on adoption by unmarried, cohabiting adults. According to the July 7, 2003, article, “Lesbian Couple Challenging Gay Adoption Ban in Utah,” in the Salt Lake Tribune, the prohibition seems to have affected single parent adoptions as well: 30 single parents adopted foster children in 1999, the year before the ban, while fewer than half that number adopted in each of the following two years. To read the article, go to: http://www.sltrib.com/2003/jul/07072003/utah/utah.asp.

GEORGIA BIRTH PARENTS PERMITTED TO INITIATE SEARCHES
As of July 1, 2003, birth parents can legally access the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry to search for children they placed for adoption. For the Registry to facilitate contact, the adopted person must be 21 or older and both parties must consent. According to the July 2, 2003, article, “New Law Lets Birth Parents Seek Children They Gave Up,” in Savannah Now, the Registry has helped 95 adopted people or siblings start searches, 40 of which have resulted in reunions from July 1, 2002, to May 31, 2003. The state Office of Adoption reports that “about 85-90 percent of the birth parents we contact do want contact” and each year about 1,000 people sign up for the Registry. To read the article, go to: http://www.savannahnow.com/stories/070203/LOCadoption.shtml.


4. Resources


JOURNALIST GUIDE TO ADOPTION
The Adoption Information Institute’s “A Journalist’s Guide to Adoption” provides the media appropriate language, facts, issue overviews, and resources to inform their coverage of adoption-related news items. To access the Guide, go to: http://www.adoptioninformationinstitute.org/JGuide.html.

NEW ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE LAW WEBSITE
The National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at Capital University Law School has launched a free adoption and foster care law website, providing statutes, regulations, case law, and journal articles. To access the website, go to: www.adoptionlawsite.org.


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/nl_archives.html.

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 donate, please call 212-269-5080 x10 or go online to https://www.networkforgood.org/makeDonation.go

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