THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
April 2004 E-NEWSLETTER


1. Laws, Policy & Practice

New Hampshire Legislators Approve Open Records, Bill Goes to Governor

State Department Aims for Hague Implementation “By Early 2006”

Federal Government Offers More Funding for “Embryo Adoption” Awareness

Court Gives Mother of “Internet Twins” Second Chance at Parental Rights

Colorado Judges Assert Jurisdiction in Missouri Contested Adoption

Infant Abandonment Bills in Hawaii and Nebraska Do Not Advance

Britain Considers Allowing Retroactive Access to Adoption Records  

  2. Research  

            Poll Shows One-Third of Americans Approve of Adoption by Same-Sex Couples

Most Canadian Birth Parents, Adoptees Support Information Access, Reunions

  3. News

Iowa Considers Income Eligibility for Adoption Assistance

Counseling Leads Woman to Place Baby for Adoption Rather than Abandon

“Safe Haven” Birth in Arizona Hospital Raises Anonymity Issues  

4. Resources

             Report Profiles State Innovations in Permanency Planning

Publication Summarizes 2004 State Legislation on Gay/Lesbian Adoption

  1. Laws, Policy & Practice

NEW HAMPSHIRE LEGISLATORS APPROVE OPEN RECORDS, BILL GOES TO    GOVERNOR

The New Hampshire House passed a bill (SB335) allowing adopted people 18 years and older access to their original birth certificates upon request; the Senate passed the bill last month. Current law permits the release of identifying information to adoptees 21 or older only if a court has found "good cause" or if birth parents have filed a release with the child-placement agency and have "been contacted, if possible, by the agency, and reaffirmed [their] desire to be contacted." Existing law also gives agencies receiving requests from adoptees and birth parents discretion in cases where no release of information has been filed for contacting birth parents and adoptees to discover their preferences. SB335 permits adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates on request and replaces references to "natural" parents with "birth" parents. To read and find out more about the bill, go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/ie/billstatus/quickbill.html and search for SB335 in the bill number field.

STATE DEPARTMENT AIMS FOR HAGUE IMPLEMENTATION “BY EARLY 2006”

According to an information flyer posted on the State Department’s website April 12, 2004, “It is hoped that preparations for U.S. implementation of the Convention and the IAA by the federal government, State courts and authorities, accrediting entities and those seeking to become accredited or approved to provide Convention adoption services will permit the United States to ratify the Convention and bring it into force between the United States and other party countries by early 2006.”  Later in the text of the document, it suggests implementation could be completed earlier: “preparations for U.S. implementation of the Convention and IAA are expected to take until some time in late 2005 or early 2006.”  The State Department reports that it is “now reviewing and analyzing” public comments on the Intercountry Adoption Act proposed regulations “and will modify the proposed rules and republish the rules as proposed or final regulations as appropriate.”  Among the preparations for implementation the State Department is undertaking are: establishing the Office of Children’s Issues as the Central Authority, issuing regulations, developing a “computerized case-tracking system for intercountry adoptions” and designating accrediting entit(ies).  Additionally, the second deadline for organizations to submit statements of interest to become accrediting entities is April 30, 2004.  To read the notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/hagueinfo2004.html.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OFFERS MORE FUNDING FOR “EMBRYO ADOPTION” AWARENESS

This month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a funding opportunity notice of $950,000 in fiscal year 2004 funds for the development and implementation of “embryo adoption public awareness campaigns.”  The announcement defines embryo adoption “as the donation of frozen embryo(s) from one party to a recipient who wishes to bear and raise a child or children.”  The April 12, 2004 announcement in the Federal Register (pages 19185-19191) anticipates 3-4 new one-year projects of $200,000-250,000 each.  HHS requires applicants to “demonstrate experience with embryo adoption programs that conform with professionally recognized standards governing embryo adoption and other applicable Federal or State requirements.” HHS awarded $1 million in 2003 to Nightlight Christian Adoption and Family Services, RESOLVE, and Women & Infant's Hospital in Providence, R.I., to develop and conduct embryo adoption public awareness campaigns.  To read the 2004 notice, go to: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html and search for “embryo adoption” in the 2004 search field.

COURT GIVES MOTHER OF “INTERNET TWINS” SECOND CHANCE AT PARENTAL RIGHTS

The Missouri Supreme Court reversed the termination of parental rights (TPR) of the mother whose twin children were placed for adoption over the Internet with two successive couples. In a separate opinion, the court also unanimously reversed the adoption of the twins, now three years old, by their foster parents. The court found that the mother’s placements of the twins did not qualify as “emotional abuse.”  The Supreme Court also rejected the lower court’s findings – as not supported by the evidence and insufficient grounds for parental termination – of the mother’s emotional state and the twins’ attachment disorder. (As an aside, the court mentioned that there was no factual basis to the rumor that the twins' mother had tried to sell her children on the Internet.) The court sent the case back to the judge who terminated the mother’s rights. To read the opinions, go to:  http://www.osca.state.mo.us/Courts/PubOpinions.nsf/0f87ea4ac0ad4c0186256405005d3b8e/80a9b747d4206e2f86256e66005b3880?OpenDocumentand  and http://www.osca.state.mo.us/Courts/PubOpinions.nsf/0f87ea4ac0ad4c0186256405005d3b8e/fad3978b333aee9a86256e66005ab6e9?OpenDocument.

COLORADO JUDGES ASSERT JURISDICTION IN MISSOURI CONTESTED ADOPTION

The Colorado Supreme Court this month decided the state had “jurisdiction to consider placement of a child when that child has lived in Colorado with prospective adoptive parents in excess of six months and has been determined by another state to be no longer available for adoption.” The case involves a child born in Missouri in April 2003, whose mother consented to the adoption a few days after the birth. In May 2003, a Missouri court found it could not approve the adoption because the possible father had not been identified; two months later, the mother revoked her consent and the Missouri court subsequently dismissed the adoption because she withdrew her consent before its approval of the adoption. The prospective adoptive parents sought relief with a Colorado district court that ruled it was without jurisdiction. After considering applicable state and federal law, the Colorado Supreme Court found “nothing that would mandate that Colorado decline to engage in the inquiry that it would afford to a Colorado-born child: namely – assessing the [prospective adoptive parents] and the natural mother’s claims in the context of the child’s own best interests.”  To read the case, go to: http://www.courts.state.co.us/supct/opinions/2004/04SA18.doc.

INFANT ABANDONMENT BILLS IN HAWAII AND NEBRASKA DO NOT ADVANCE

According to Hawaii Senator Baker, a bill before the Health Committee (HB1901) legalizing anonymous infant abandonment missed the deadline to move to a second committee and therefore will not be considered further this year. The House of Representatives had passed the legislation last month. Consideration of a Nebraska “safe haven” bill (LB933) that was before the Judiciary Committee has been “indefinitely postponed.”  To read the Hawaii bill, go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb1901_hd1_.htm; to find out the stratus of the Nebraska bill, go to: http://www.unicam.state.ne.us/scripts/dbBSInfo.asp?Prefix=LB&BillNumber=933&Suffix=&Session.

BRITAIN CONSIDERS ALLOWING RETROACTIVE ACCESS TO ADOPTION RECORDS

Britain is considering allowing retroactive access to records - with consent - for all adoptions, not just those occurring after the law goes into effect September 2005, which was the original intent. Regulations to implement the November 2002 Adoption and Children Act, the first major revision to its adoption law in 26 years, will be developed by the end of 2004. To learn more about the law, go to: http://www.dh.gov.uk/Consultations/ResponsesToConsultations/ResponsesToConsultationsDocumentSummary/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4017110&chk=zms/7f.

2. Research

POLL SHOWS ONE-THIRD OF AMERICANS APPROVE OF ADOPTION BY SAME-SEX COUPLES

Over one-third of American adults (36%) approve of adoption by a female same-sex couple, while 43% disapprove, compared to 16% and 61% respectively in 1996, according to a poll released April 15, 2004, by Harris Interactive.  As for adoption by same sex male couples, 33% of respondents approve and 45% disapprove (versus 15% and 65% in 1996).  The results of “Support for Adoption by Same-Sex Couples Has Increased Substantially, but Plurality of Public Still Opposes It” show a majority (51%) responded that a non-biological parent in a same-sex couple should be allowed to adopt a child if the other partner is a biological parent, while 27% disagree and 22% are not sure.  Illustrating the confusion surrounding the issue, an overwhelming majority (90%) agree “that children raised by a same-sex couple should have all the same rights and entitlements as other children.” The online poll was conducted from March 18-29, 2004, with 95% certainty that statistical precision is +/- 2 percentage points. To read the poll results, go to: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040415/nyth021_1.html. 

MOST CANADIAN BIRTH PARENTS, ADOPTEES SUPPORT INFORMATION ACCESS, REUNIONS

According to a survey by Sullivan and Lathrop of over 1,000 British Columbian triad members, 72% of birth parents, 60% of adoptees and 60% of adoptive parents said information on birth parents should be available to adoptees.  Flipping the question to whether identifying information on adult adoptees should be available to birth parents, 72% of birth parents, 56% of adoptees and 40% of adoptive parents responded “yes,” reports “Openness in Adoption: Retrospective Lessons and Prospective Choices.” Adoptees who were search subjects, as opposed to search initiators, were more likely to say no (64% versus 38%).  The study, in the April 2004 issue of Children and Youth Services Review, consisted of a mailed survey to all adoptees and birth parents who were reunited through the Adoption Reunion Registry at least a year before the survey, with 575 birth parents and 432 adoptees responding, for a 31% response rate; additionally, 175 adoptive parents submitted responses. Larger majorities of all three groups said reunions should be available (96% of adoptees, 90% birth parents and 84% adoptive parents), as long as the subject could refuse contact. Search subjects, as well as initiators, were almost uniformly glad (92%+) they had the reunion experience. About three-quarters of the adoptees had initiated a search (76%), while over one-half of the birth parents had done so (58%); about two-thirds of the adoptive parents (64%) were the parents of searchers. Nearly all birth parents (94%) and adoptees (91%) said “they expected the contact they had established to be sustained in an ongoing relationship,” with no significant differences between subjects and initiators. To order the article, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com.

3. News

IOWA CONSIDERS INCOME ELIGIBILITY FOR ADOPTION ASSISTANCE

The Iowa legislature is contemplating making adoption assistance payments to parents who adopt children from foster care contingent on income eligibility, according to a April 12, 2004, Associated Press article.  “State Proposes Limits on Adoption Subsidies” reports that the legislature also may eliminate payments to parents who adopt healthy minority children under age 2. The state Department of Human Services will assess all payments to adoptive and foster parents in considering funding cuts. To read the article, go to: http://www.kcrg.com/article.aspx?art_id=80174&cat_id=123.

COUNSELING LEADS WOMAN TO PLACE BABY FOR ADOPTION RATHER THAN ABANDON

According to an April 18, 2004, Chicago Tribune story, a woman who received counseling at a hospital decided to place her newborn for adoption rather than abandon her as she originally planned. The woman had given birth at home, gone to a fire station to drop off her baby and a firefighter took her to the hospital. “Abandoned-baby law celebrated,” by Grace Aduroja, mentions the woman’s experience at the end of an article describing “Save Abandoned Babies Day” in Illinois, at which proponents advocated safe haven use. Six babies reportedly have been abandoned at safe havens since the law was passed in Illinois in 2001. To read the article, go to: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0404180255apr18,1,3507836.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed.

“SAFE HAVEN” BIRTH IN ARIZONA HOSPITAL RAISES ANONYMITY ISSUES

According to an April 14, 2004 story on Fox 11-TV in Tucson, a woman who gave birth in a hospital is claiming an anonymous “safe haven” abandonment. At issue is whether the hospital must release the woman’s identity to the state child welfare agency, reports Rebecca Taylor in “A Victory for Arizona's ‘Safe Baby’ Program.” A Pima County Superior Court judge has rejected the state’s subpoena for the woman’s identity, but scheduled a hearing in June to consider both sides. The state argues that the law only pertains to criminal abandonment, while the Judge told the child welfare agency to seek the woman’s identity through notice and publication, and that the legislature “intended for the mother to remain anonymous.”  To read the article, go to: http://www.fox11az.com/news/local/stories/kmsb_safebaby_041304.121ed105f.html.

4. Resources

REPORT PROFILES STATE INNOVATIONS IN PERMANENCY PLANNING

“Achieving Permanence For Children In the Child Welfare System: Pioneering Possibilities Amidst Daunting Challenges,” provides descriptions of state innovations in permanency planning. The report, by Lorrie Lutz, MPP, was published by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning in November 2003.  To read the report, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/achieving-permanence.pdf.

PUBLICATION SUMMARIZES 2004 STATE LEGISLATION ON GAY/LESBIAN ADOPTION

The Human Rights Campaign published in March 2004 “Equality in the States: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans and State Laws and Legislation in 2004,” which highlights bills introduced and/or passed in state legislatures concerning adoption and fostering by same-sex couples. To read the report, go to: http://www.hrc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Press_Room&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=18086

>> 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 our past e-Newsletters at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/newsletter/archive.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 212-925-4089 or go online to http://www.guidestar.org/controller/searchResults.gs?action_donateReport=1&partner=networkforgood&ein=13-3904148.  You can also contribute by check by filling out this form, http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/development/form.doc, and sending it to us at The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 525 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012.

>>SHARE THE ADOPTION INSTITUTE E-NEWSLETTER

Please forward this e-Newsletter to a friend or colleague. They can sign up for the Adoption Institute E-Newsletter here: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/mail.html

>>DISCLAIMER

The Adoption Institute e-Newsletter reports information to educate readers about issues that may impact adoption. Reports in the e-Newsletter do not constitute representations of sources’ accuracy or reliability or endorsement of authors’ perspectives or positions.

>> COMMENTS?  

We welcome your thoughts about the e-Newsletter. Please let us know how we can make it better. Comments, questions and news tips may be directed to info@adoptioninstitute.org. 

>> YOUR PRIVACY

The Adoption Institute will never trade or sell your e-mail address. Our policies can be accessed here: www.adoptioninstitute.org/old

 All contents © 2004 by The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.