THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
FEBRUARY 2004 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


BUSH SEEKS MORE FUNDS FOR ONE ADOPTION-RELATED PROGRAM, LESS FOR OTHERS 

Less than two weeks after the Senate approved overdue child welfare funding for Fiscal Year 2004 (FY04), the President released his budget for Fiscal Year 2005 (FY05). The Administration requested $405 million for the Safe and Stable Families Program, the same amount appropriated for FY2004. The Adoption Assistance program, on the other hand, is up for an increase: the President calls for nearly $1.8 billion, $70 million more than FY04, and $185 million more than FY03. The Adoption Opportunities program may suffer slightly - from $27.2 million in FY03 and FY04 to $27 million requested in FY05. The Administration is asking for $32 million for Adoption Incentives, compared to the $43 million authorization level. The President is again proposing the conversion of the Title IV-E foster care entitlement into a block grant, which would base funding on current 1996 AFDC eligibility standards, and would permit states to spend the money on children regardless of income. The block grant provision, however, would not affect the Title IV-E adoption assistance program. For more information about FY03 and FY04 funding and the FY05 budget, go to the Child Welfare League of America's website at: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/budget03-04.htm and http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/budget.htm.

AMERICAN LAWMAKERS TRAVEL TO GUATEMALA TO EXAMINE ADOPTION ISSUES

Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Dave Camp (R-MI) traveled to Guatemala in early February 2004 to "clarify the current situation" regarding adoption from that country, "and to offer their help to accelerate the progress of legitimate adoptions, while safeguarding the rights of both adoptive and biological families." The delegation, sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, "has received commitments from both [the U.S. and Guatemalan] governments to receive notification of any and all legal or systemic changes that affect inter-country adoption, and to establish direct lines of communication for prospective adoptive families on the status of any pending cases." In past months, there have been corruption allegations, case-processing delays, and uncertainty about Guatemalan law and policy on international adoption. To read the press releases, go to: http://www.house.gov/delahunt/adoptguat.htm; http://www.ccainstitute.org/detail.php?id=12.

U.S. PURSUES 'VIGOROUS' EFFORT TO REOPEN ADOPTIONS FROM ROMANIA 

The U.S. Department of State last month issued an update on the Romanian international adoption moratorium, reporting that the U.S. has "engaged vigorously with the highest levels of the Romanian government to seek a reinstatement of international adoptions." According to the update, the U.S. government has advised Romanian officials on reforming their adoption system and is "hopeful that the draft laws soon will be passed by the Romanian parliament." The current moratorium on adoptions from Romania, which had been scheduled to be lifted in June 2003, remains in effect because enactment of new adoption legislation has been delayed. A February 12, 2004, Economist article, "Baby Trade," reports that under pressure from Rome, 105 Romanian children were adopted by Italian families, in violation of the moratorium. To read the Update, go to: http://travel.state.gov/adoption_romania.html; to read the news article, go to: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=30978.

NEW JERSEY RELEASES PLAN TO REFORM CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM "

A New Beginning: The Future of Child Welfare in New Jersey," the state's draft report on reforming its child welfare system, establishes strategies, implementation steps and benchmarks to improve adoption services for children in foster care. The report, released February 18, 2004, outlines the following goals: increasing adoptions of older children, sibling groups and kinship adoptions; expediting adoptions (from case goal to termination of parental rights and placement to finalization); and increasing the provision of support services and decreasing disruptions. Proposed strategies to meet these objectives include instituting concurrent planning, dual certification for foster and adoptive families, and a family-child matching program, while also improving services to resource and adoptive families and facilitating interstate placements. To read the report, go to: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/CWA/A%20New%20Begining/A_New_Begining.pdf

ACLU ASKS COURT TO RECONSIDER FLORIDA’S BAN ON GAY/LESBIAN ADOPTION

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a motion this month requesting that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reconsider its decision upholding Florida’s ban on adoption by gays and lesbians. The three-judge panel that issued the original decision, or the full panel, could reconsider the case, or the court may decline to reconsider at all. Last month, the court rejected constitutional challenges to the ban in the Lofton case, calling adoption a privilege not a right, and holding that the state has broad discretion to regulate it. To read the ACLU’s press release, go to: http://www.aclu.org/LesbianGayRights/LesbianGayRights.cfm?ID=14990&c=104

NEBRASKA CONSIDERS 'SAFE HAVEN' LEGISLATION

 The Nebraska legislature has before it a bill legalizing anonymous infant abandonment (LB933). The legislation provides immunity to a parent or her/his "agent" who leaves an infant 72 hours or younger with a "safe haven provider," defined as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, or staff member at a health-care institution, child-placement agency or church. The Judiciary Committee is currently considering the bill. Forty-five states have enacted "safe haven" bills since 1999; the only states besides Nebraska that have not are Massachusetts, Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii, where the governor vetoed a measure passed by that state's legislature. To read the bill or find out its status, go to: http://www.unicam.state.ne.us/ and search for 933 using the bill finder search by number

MISSOURI FINDS MOST RECIPIENTS OF TAX CREDIT ADOPTED INTERNATIONALLY 

The Missouri state auditor released a report this month detailing the disbursement of the state's adoption tax credit. Auditors found that 90 percent of the $2 million fund for Special Needs Adoption Tax Credits went to parents adopting children internationally. Any Missouri resident who adopts a special needs child is eligible for a maximum of $10,000 for nonrecurring adoption expenses. The law does not limit the credit to families who adopt children from foster care in Missouri, and the auditors were unable to determine whether imposing such a restriction would increase the prospects for the 2,187 children in the public system waiting to be adopted. One reason it was hard for them to make such a projection is that families adopting from foster care already can receive state subsidies for nonrecurring expenses. To read the report, go to: http://www.auditor.state.mo.us/press/2004-13.pdf.

HAWAII MOVES TO REGULATE ADOPTIONS OF CHILDREN FROM MARSHALL ISLANDS 

The Hawaii Senate is considering a bill (SB2607) making "prior written approval of an appropriate court of the Republic of the Marshall Islands consenting to the adoption" a prerequisite to a Marshallese child's eligibility for adoption in Hawaii. The move by the state follows a new federal law (P.L. 108-188) prohibiting entry into the United States under the Compact by Pacific Islanders for the purpose of adoption. Additionally, the Marshall Islands enacted a law prohibiting the solicitation of birth mothers and arranging for them to leave the republic to finalize adoptions, as well as establishing a Central Adoption Authority to process all adoptions and regulate agencies. All these legislative actions came in the wake of reports of corruption relating to the adoption of children from the Marshall Island. To read the bill or find out its status, go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/docs.asp?press1=docs and search for SB2607


2. Research


NEW SURVEY REPORTS NEARLY 125,000 U.S. ADOPTIONS ANNUALLY IN 2000 AND 2001

 Surveying child welfare agencies, state courts, and bureaus of vital records in 2003, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) estimated that there were 123,208 adoptions in 2001 and 124,774 in 2000 in the United States (excluding Georgia, Maine and North Carolina). The study also reported that "many social service agencies experienced the removal of federal and state obligations to report data and information on adoptions completed without public agency involvement," without identifying what those "obligations" are. Additionally, NCSC found private agencies do not have "comprehensive data" and believe that public agencies track all adoptions in the state, all leading to too little information about private adoptions. To read more about the survey, go to: http://www.ncsconline.org/WC/FAQs/KIS_AdoptFAQ.pdf; http://www.ncsconline.org/WC/Publications/KIS_Adopt_Trends03.pdf.

STUDY FINDS MORE KIN ADOPTING, ESPECIALLY OLDER AND MINORITY CHILDREN 

"When Children Cannot Return Home: Adoption and Guardianship," by Mark Testa, found that more older and minority children are achieving permanence as a result of increases in the number of relatives who adopt - "the fastest growing source of new adoptive homes" since 1997 - and in the number of kin who serve as guardians. Based on data from California, Illinois and Washington, children discharged from foster care to guardianship (compared to adoption generally) were older and were more likely to be members of racial minorities. The article, in the Winter 2004 Children, Families, and Foster Care issue of David and Lucile Packard Foundation's "The Future of Children," reports that relative adoptions were less likely to "rupture" than non-relative ones and that dissolutions of kin guardian arrangements with post-permanency support were rare. To read the article, go to: http://www.futureofchildren.org/usr_doc/tfoc1401_115.pdf

RESEARCH SHOWS IN-STATE ADOPTION IS A QUICKER PROCESS THAN INTERSTATE 

Analyzing placement intervals for children placed out-of-state, compared to those placed in their home states, "The Challenge of Interstate Placement for Adoption," by Penelope Maza, found that the median time from removal to adoption for children adopted across states is one year longer than those adopted in-state (4 years vs. 3). Breaking down the intermediate steps between removal and adoption, the analysis showed that "delays in interstate placement occur prior to crossing state lines." While median time from removal to termination of parental rights (TPR) for children placed out-of-state was 35 months and for instate placements it was 22, interstate-placed children are adopted generally two months faster after TPR than in-state-placed children (median of 10 months vs. 12 months). The median time from removal to last placement for out-of-state placements was 43 months and 20 months for instate placements, while the median time from last placement to adoption for out-of-state placements was 11 months, compared to 16 for in-state. The article in Vol. 17, No. 2 of the National Resource for Special Needs Adoption's The Roundtable also reports that out-of-state placements were twice as likely as in-state to be in homes identified as pre-adoptive (30 percent vs. 15 percent) or as relative foster homes (38 percent vs. 16 percent) and that 16 percent of children with finalized adoptions in 2000 were out-of-state. To read the article, go to: http://www.nrcadoption.org/resources/roundtable/V17N2.pdf

PEW COMMISSION IDENTIFIES HUMAN COSTS OF FOSTER CARE 

The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care this month released its first report, "Voices from the Inside," providing perspectives on children in foster care and birth, foster and adoptive parents. Through focus groups with children and parents affected by the system, the report pinpoints long-term human costs of maintaining children in foster care: insecurity for children, and stigma for them and foster parents, as well as systemic problems such as poor communication, inflexibility, untimely intervention and professional burnout. The Pew Commission has determined that federal financing of the child welfare system often leads to maintaining children in temporary foster care, instead of moving them to permanence. To read the report, go to: http://pewfostercare.org/research/voices/voices-complete.pdf

RESEARCHERS EXPLORE DECISION-MAKING ABOUT ADOPTION BY GAYS AND LESBIANS 

"Coming Out of the Closet: Opening Agencies to Gay and Lesbian Adoptive Parents" identifies the intrapersonal, interpersonal and organizational factors that influence adoption workers' decision-making concerning adoption by gays and lesbians. The article by Scott D. Ryan, Sue Pearlmutter and Victor Groza, in the January 2004 issue of Social Work, proposes interventions to enable workers to accept gays and lesbians as prospective adopters, including training for workers to identify their beliefs and attitudes, tempering supervisor and colleagues' influences, and being prepared to address critics' questions and positions in public forums. To order the article, go to: http://ceres.naswpressonline.org/vl=3111362/cl=86/nw=1/rpsv/cw/nasw/00378046/v49n1/s9/p85.


3. News



GEORGIA LAW FACILITATES SEARCHES BY BIRTH PARENTS 

Since July 2003, "about a dozen parents" have been reunited with the children they placed for adoption years ago, according to "New Law Helps Mother Find Girl She Gave Up 40 Years Ago," by Craig Schneider. The February 21, 2004, article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that one birth mother looked for 30 years for the daughter she placed for adoption. With the changed law, allowing birth parents to access the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry to search for children with their approval, she was able to meet her daughter after about four months. The Registry states that "almost all" the adoptees agree to be contacted by their birth parents and "a majority of the reunions results in ongoing relationships." To read the article, go to: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/0204/22reunion.html#

BULGARIA, SEEKING TO JOIN EU, INSTITUTING ADOPTION IMPROVEMENTS 

In an effort to join the European Union by 2007, Bulgaria is seeking to improve conditions for the 14,000 children in 189 public orphanages, and to institute laws that comply with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, according to a February 14, 2004, article on EU Business. "EU-hopeful Bulgaria Makes Orphanages More Humane, Improves Adoption Laws" reports that the government has moved against three orphanage directors charged with "untruthfulness" in 17 adoption cases from 1998-2001. Just one of every 50 children in institutions has lost both parents, while most others were abandoned by impoverished families. U.S. State Department data show Americans adopted 260 children from Bulgaria in 2002. To read the article, go to: http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/040214043255.gh2tercv


4. Resources


TEEN PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND ABORTION RATES CONTINUE TO FALL 

The Alan Guttmacher Institute's U.S. Teenage Pregnancy Statistics examines state-by-state pregnancy, birth and abortion rates for young women aged 15-19. The report, released this month, shows that all these rates declined slightly from 1999 to 2000, and fell approximately 25 percent each from their peak rates. To read the report, go to: http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/state_pregnancy_trends.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/newsletter/archive.html.

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