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


 

Editor’s Note: Beginning in this issue, we are implementing changes designed to enhance the content and appearance of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute E-Newsletter. These include a new section, entitled Institute Update, that highlights our projects, activities, media interviews, and recent publications. As always, we welcome your thoughts, comments, questions, and news tips; please send your correspondence to info@adoptioninstitute.org.

 

IN THIS ISSUE

 

1.       Laws, Policy & Practice


2.       Research

 

3.       News


4.       Resources


5.       Institute Update


6.       About the Evan D. Donaldson Adoption Institute


1. Laws, Policy & Practice


MASSACHUSETTS BECOMES LATEST STATE TO ENACT `SAFE HAVEN’ LAW

Massachusetts became the 47th state to establish infant “safe havens” when Lt. Gov. Healey signed bill H4325 into law on July 31, 2004. The bill had gained momentum after a near-fatal abandonment of “Baby Vinnie” in Martha’s Vineyard drew attention to the issue. The bill will take effect in 90 days and requires the Department of Social Services to take custody of infants less than 7 days old, who have been abandoned in designated areas, and find safe foster homes. To read the bill, go to: http://www.mass.gov/legis/legis.htm and type in bill number H4325.

CLINTON, SNOW INTRODUCE BILL TO STREAMLINE KINSHIP CARE

On July 21, 2004 Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Olympia Snow (R-Maine) introduced the “Kinship Caregiver Support Act,” aimed at addressing the financial, logistical and emotional challenges of the more than six million children being raised by grandparents or other relatives other than their parents. Specifically, the bipartisan bill calls for three-year grants to state agencies, agencies in metropolitan areas, and tribal areas to establish “kinship navigator programs” that would connect kinship caregivers with information about and access to available services and would foster partnerships between agencies. In addition, the bill requires States to notify relatives when children enter the foster care system, and creates a subsidized guardianship option with the federal foster care system Title IV-E funds. To read the bill and status, enter S.2706 in the search engine at: http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/g_three_sections_with_teasers/legislative_home.htm

 

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS FLORIDA BAN ON GAY AND LESBIAN ADOPTIONS

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 6-6 decision, declined to reconsider the January decision in the Lofton case that upheld Florida’s prohibition on adoption by homosexuals, the only such blanket ban in the country. A majority of the court’s judges was required to grant a rehearing of the case. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed a motion requesting the reconsideration, said it was disappointed by the July decision, and will explore further legal options. To read the opinion, go to: http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200116723ord.pdf

 

COLORADO COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF LESBIAN PARTNER’S PARENTAL RIGHTS

The appellate court of Colorado, on July 1, 2004, unanimously decided to uphold a ruling by Denver District Judge John Coughlin that granted Elsey McLeod joint parental custody of the adopted Chinese daughter of her former lesbian partner, Cheryl Clark. Clark and McLeod had decided to adopt the child as a couple, although only Clark legally filed the adoption papers; they raised the child together until Clark converted to Christianity and renounced homosexuality. After the couple split, Clark claimed sole parental rights. The court found that McLeod had become a “psychological parent” to the child, and that it was in the child’s best interest to not break that bond. To read the opinion, go to:

http://www.courts.state.co.us/supct/supctopinion.htm and type in court of appeal number 03CA1121 in the search terms field.

 

 

 

JUDGES SAY LACK OF FAMILY SERVICES UNDERMINE KIDS IN FOSTER CARE

A national survey of judges who oversee child abuse and neglect cases found their greatest frustration was the lack of available services for families. A majority of judges also indicated that overcrowded dockets lead to longer stays in foster care and delayed permanency for children in the child welfare system. The mail-in survey, conducted in March and April 2004, was sent to 5,149 judges nationally, and had a response rate of 43.5 percent, or 2,241 respondents. The survey report, “View from the Bench: Obstacles to Safety and Permanency for Children in Foster Care,” was sponsored by Fostering Results, a national, nonpartisan public education project funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, To read the executive summary, go to: http://www.fosteringresults.org/results/reports/pewreports_07-01-04_judicialsurvey.pdf.

 

STUDY FINDS FEW CHILDREN WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS GET TREATMENT

A high percentage of children involved in child welfare agencies have emotional or behavioral disorders, according to “Mental Health Needs and Access to Mental Health Services by Youths Involved With Child Welfare: A National Survey,” by Barbara J. Burns, et al. The study, published in the August Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, found evidence that supports previous research in the field. The findings, based on federal data, found that 47.9% of the youths aged 2 to 14 evaluated for neglect or abuse had “clinically significant” emotional or behavioral problems; only one-fourth of those youths received mental health services. Those least likely to receive such services included adolescents who lived at home rather than in nonrelative foster care, African Americans, and children evaluated for neglect rather than sexual abuse. To read the abstract and purchase a copy of the article, go to: http://www.jaacap.com/pt/re/jaacap/abstract.00004583-200408000-00006.htm

 

 

 

GERMANY PLANS TO EXTEND ADOPTION RIGHTS FOR PARTNERS OF GAYS, LESBIANS

The German government announced plans to expand the registered partnership law, according to the July 18, 2004, Deutsche Well article “Germany Mulls Adoption for Gay Couples.” The law, passed in 2001, gave gay and lesbian couples some of the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, but did not address issues of tax benefits and adoption. The proposed expansion of the law would allow for “stepchild adoptions,” enabling a partner to co-adopt the child of his or her partner. Beginning in January 2005, gay and lesbian couples registered in life-partnership will be required to pay alimony to their mates in the event the relationship ends. Those who support the expansion of the law argue it will contribute to building more stable families, while opponents argue the proposal puts children at risk because “we do not know how homosexual relationships affect children.” To read the full article, go to: http://www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1432_A_1268920_1_A,00.html?mpb=en

 

U.S. PRESIDENT REPORTEDLY DISCUSSES ADOPTION BAN WITH ROMANIAN LEADER

According to an article in the Portsmouth Herald, “President Gets into Adoption Battle,” published on July 23, 2004, President Bush broached the topic of adoption in his meeting with the Romanian Prime Minister Andre Nastase. Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH), and two adoptive parents met with the Romanian leader and other officials after Bush’s meeting to discuss the fate of 250 Romanian children who are waiting to be adopted by American families, but are in limbo as a result of a new law that effectively halts all international adoptions from that country, except by a child’s grandparents. While there was no formal commitment to allow those adoptions already in process to be completed Romania reportedly agreed to find a fair solution to the problem. To read the full article, go to: http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/07232004/news/28240.htm

 

CHINA, CONCERNED ABOUT PREFERENCE FOR BOYS, PROMOTES VALUE OF GIRLS

China has developed a five-year plan intended to address the gender disparity and the critical shortage of women resulting from a cultural preference for boys and one-child family planning laws, according to a WorldNetDaily report, “China Battles ‘Gendercide’: Beijing to Promote Value of Girls to Fix Alarming Sex-Ratio Disparity,” posted on July 16, 2004. The government program, called “Girls Care Project,” is designed to correct the growing phenomenon of far more males than females in the country by educating rural families on the value of daughters and by strengthening the social welfare system. To read the full article, go to: http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=39475

 

 

 

CHILD AND FAMILY STATISTICS FOR 2004 SHOW DECLINE IN TEEN PREGNANCY

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics released “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being” in July, a new and condensed version of the more detailed publication, “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being,” which has been published annually since 1997. Overall, the report indicates a decrease in teen pregnancy and involvement in violent crimes by youth; however, children are found more likely to be overweight and child poverty has increased. To get a copy of the report, go to: http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/

 

 

 

NEW POLICY DIRECTOR APPOINTED TO ADOPTION INSTITUTE

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute announced that Hollee McGinnis, a respected educator on an array of adoption issues, has joined the Institute’s staff as Policy Director. For more information on McGinnis and the full announcement, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/pressrelease/newpolicydirector.html

 

`SAFE HAVENS’ EFFECTIVENESS QUESTIONED AFTER ABANDONMENTS IN DENVER

In a Denver Post article by Chuck Plunkett, “Adoption Expert Doubts `Safe Haven Law,” Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman raised doubts about the effectiveness of Colorado’s statute, which is one of 46 enacted across the country. Pertman’s comments, based on the Institute’s study “Unintended Consequences,” came in the wake of a spate of unsafe abandonments of babies in Denver. To read the full article, go to: http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~53~2289010,00.html

 

INTERNET’S IMPACT ON ADOPTION DESCRIBED AS EXTENSIVE, CHALLENGING

An article in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, “Net Transforms US Adoption Process,” says that the Internet “has made it much easier for people to adopt children – and for scam artists to prey on hopeful parents.” In the article, published July 23, 2004, Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on both the positive and negative impact of using the Internet in adoption. To read the full article, go to: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/22/1090464788021.html?oneclick=true

 

6. 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.

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 https://www.networkforgood.org/makeDonation.go

Or you can fill out this form, http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/development/form.doc, and fax it with your credit card information to 212-269-1962, or mail it with your check or credit card information to:


The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
525 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10012

 

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© 2004 The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption