THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
IN THIS ISSUE1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
6. About the Evan D. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
N.J. ENACTS SWEEPING CHILD WELFARE REFORM LAW
Governor McGreevey (R-NJ) signed legislation (A2985), which will restructure child-protection services and provide the state with statutory changes to fully implement a five-year reform plan, entitled “A New Beginning: The Future of Child Welfare in New Jersey.” The law, signed August 27, 2004, is part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Children’s Rights Inc, accusing the state of mistreating foster children. The statute calls for adding 1,000 new caseworkers and supervisors; requires the state Division of Youth and Family Services to start investigating reports of child abuse and neglect within 24 hours; establishes a centralized child abuse hotline; expands intervention programs focusing on prevention; and phases out long-term foster care in favor of adoption. To read the bill, click on Bills 2004-2005 and entire bill number A2985 at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillsByNumber.asp.
MAJORITY INTERVIEWED FIND SERIOUS FAULTS WITH INFANT ADOPTION AWARENESS TRAININGS
The Alan Guttmacher Institute found the majority of family and pregnancy planning counselors interviewed who participated in federally funded infant adoption awareness training programs had negative experiences, raising serious concerns about the implementation of the Infant Adoption Awareness Act (IAAA). The article by Cynthia Dailard, “ Out of Compliance? Implementing the Infant Adoption Awareness Act” – published in the August 2004 (Volume 7, Number 3) issue of The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy - was based on interviews conducted between September 2003 and July 2004 with 20 family-planning providers located in 15 states, along with an analysis by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute of the adoption awareness program curriculum. The IAAA authorized grants to national, regional or local adoption organizations to train family-planning and other federally funded health care providers in providing adoption information consistent with nondirective counseling; however, the majority interviewed reported the trainings were directive and promoted tactics and techniques to persuade a client to choose adoption; the training environments were sometimes described as “hostile”; and some trainers were said to have a “negative lens” toward clients. To read the full report, go to: http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/gr070310.html.
PSYCHOLOGISTS GROUPS SUPPORTS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND ADOPTION
The American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives announced two policy positions supporting gay and lesbian civil marriages and parenting, stating that efforts to ban same-sex unions and adoption of children are discriminatory and unfairly deny such couples “the legal, financial, and social advantages” of civil marriage. The resolution was approved July 28, 2004, at the recommendation of the APA Working Group on Same-Sex Families and Relationships, which developed the policy recommendations based on current research. A meta-analysis of the research indicates that “the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation,” that same sex-couples are similar to heterosexual couples in terms of commitment and stability, and that “the social stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and violence associated with not having a heterosexual sexual orientation” adversely affects lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals. To read the full resolution, go to: http://www.apa.org/releases/gaymarriage_reso.pdf
NEW BRUNSWICK PERMIST GAYS AND LESBIANS TO AODPT PARTNERS’ CHILDREN
A New Brunswick human rights Board of Inquiry ruled that one partner in a same-sex relationship can adopt the other’s child and be named as a legal parent on birth documents. Until now only individuals, including gays and lesbians, could adopt a child, but heterosexual common-law couples – as well as same-sex couples – have not been permitted to adopt jointly or be named as a child’s legal parents in the province. The decision, dated July 28 and released to the public on August 10, 2004, stated that the government had violated the Human Rights Act and had discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and marital status “in the delivery of birth registration and adoption services.” The lesbian couple who filed the complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission in November 2002 was awarded compensation of $12,500. To read the full decision, go to: http://www.samesexmarriage.ca/docs/NBHR_adoption.pdf.
STUDY FINDS 1/3 OF YOUTHS AWOL FROM FOSTER CARE FACE HIGH RISKS
The Vera Institute of Justice, at the request of New York City’s Administration for Childrens’ Services, published its study on youth who repeatedly run away from group care, titled “Youth Who Chronically AWOL from Foster Care: Why They Run, Where They Go, and What Can Be Done.” The August 2004 report was based on interviews with 30 youths (24 girls and 6 boys) with chronic absent-without-leave(AWOL) histories, and 17 facility staff who responded to AWOL situations, as well as a review of the limited research and discussion with child welfare managers familiar with the problem. The results found that the majority of these youths spent time with friends, and that nearly two-thirds returned to care voluntarily. About one-third encountered little risk during the period away from care; one-third experienced moderate risk, including consensual sex and casual drug use; and the rest experienced high-risk situations involving “heavy drug use, drug selling, or being the victim or perpetrator of physical violence.” The youths interviewed reported boredom as a significant influence on their decision to leave, in addition to romantic and sexual relationships. To read the full report, go to: http://www.vera.org/publications/publications_5.asp?publication_id=244.
ANALYSIS EXAMINES CORRELATION BETWEEN MOTHERS’ JAILING AND FOSTER CARE
The second of two studies conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, at the request of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, examined the implications of maternal incarceration for foster care visitation. The August 2004 report, “Hard Data on Hard Times: An Empirical Analysis of Maternal Incarceration, Foster Care, and Visitation,” examined foster care data from ACS and criminal history data from New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice Services relating to fiscal year 1997. It found that “5.2 percent of those children had mothers who were incarcerated for at least 30 consecutive days during the first three years of the children’s placement in foster care.” In addition, the data showed 90 percent of maternal incarcerations occurred after child placement, contrary to current concerns that rising incarceration rates among women resulted in more children entering foster care. It suggests that child removal may “accelerate criminal activity among the study group’s mothers.” To read the full report, go to: http://www.vera.org/publications/publications_5.asp?publication_id=245
ADOPTED CHILDREN EXPRESS CHALLENGES, BARRIERS TO SEEKING HELP
In order to understand post-adoption service utilization, a recent pilot study interviewed adopted children on perceived challenges, supports, and barriers to seeking help. The article – published in the Adoption Quarterly (Volume 7, Issue 2) – written by Scott D. Ryan and Blace Nalavany and titled “Adopted Children: Who Do They Turn to for Help and Why?” utilized concept mapping in interviewing eight children, ranging in age from 12 to 14, who were involved in “special needs” adoptions. The data indicated that for these children, family integration was most challenging and difficult; that the children utilized informal supports of friends and family, and less on formal supports (such as school counselors); that fear of others “looking down on them,” and of making someone angry, was the overriding factor preventing them from seeking help; and that “communication (including prayer) and building relationships” were important strategies in getting help. To obtain the full study for a small fee, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/web/AQ/
HIGH RATE OF FOSTER CHILDREN FOUND TO BE RECEIVING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, an organization contracted by the state Department of Social Services to coordinate mental health services for children in foster care, guardianship programs, and some adoption cases, reported almost two-thirds of the children in DSS care received mental health counseling or treatment in the 2003 fiscal year, according to an August 9, 2004, article in The Boston Globe, “Prevalence of Drugs for DSS Wards Questioned,” by Jessica E. Vascellaro. Some lawmakers and parents reportedly are alarmed because the number of children being treated for mental disorders is inordinately high, compared to the incidence of mental health disorders in the general population. The statistic did not track the number of children on psychotropic medication. State Representative Marie Parente, sought to create a task force to study the issue, but it was vetoed by Governor Mitt Romney. To read the full article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/08/09/prevalence_of_drugs_for_dss_wards_questioned/
KOREAN ADOPTEES MARK 50 YEARS OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
More than 400 Koreans adopted by families overseas gathered in Seoul, South Korea, to share their experiences and mark the 50th anniversary of intercountry adoption from Korea. The Korean Adoptee Gathering 2004, held from August 4-8, was the third conference of its kind, and was intended to “acknowledge and empower” the growing community of Korean adoptees, currently estimated to number between 150,000-200,000 individuals worldwide. The first International Gathering of Korean Adoptees was held in Washington, D.C., in 1999 and was sponsored by the Korea Society, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Also-Known-As (an adult adoptee organization), and Holt International Children’s Services. The second conference was held in 2001 in Oslo, Norway, and was hosted by three Scandinavian Korea adoptee organizations. The gathering in Seoul was organized and hosted entirely by adoptees. To visit the official site of the Gathering, go to: http://www.adopteegathering2004.org/
QUEENSLAND ELIMINATES AGE LIMIT FOR DOMESTIC AND INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
Couples seeking to adopt in Queensland, Australia, will no longer be restricted by age when adoption registers reopen in September, the Minister for Child Safety said in an article published on Alternate News Network on August 6, 2004, “Minister Announces Adoption Age Limits to Be Dropped and Adoption Unit Capacity Enhanced.” Current regulations stipulate that, for domestic adoptions, prospective parents must be under age 36; for those seeking to adopt overseas, one parent has to be under 41 and the other under 47. The decision to remove the age limit from the eligibility criteria for all categories of adoption, including intercountry, was supported by information gathered from the initial phases of the Adoption Legislation Review. The review commenced in 2002 and is intended to reevaluate current adoption legislation, with the purpose of developing a legislative framework consistent with contemporary values and practices. In the near future, a bill will be drafted seeking authority to prepare new legislation to govern adoptions in Queensland. To read the full article, go to: http://us.altnews.com.au/drop/node/view/423; to read the findings from the Adoption Legislation Review, go to: http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/family/adoption/publications/documents/pdf/cp_full.pdf
YOUNGER COUPLES WITH TECHNOLOGY JOBS OPTING TO ADOPT IN INDIA
Between 30 percent and 40 percent of the couples in India who are choosing to adopt domestically have a professional background in information technology, according to the Times of India article, “IT Couples Opt for Adoption,” published on August 14, 2004, and written by Vinita A. Shetty, Adoption agencies report the profile of childless couples adopting is changing, with the majority now urban, educated, first-time parents, with “high awareness levels.” The average age of couples choosing to adopt has decreased to anywhere between the late 20s and mid-40s. Figures suggest that of every 100 children adopted, 65 are girls and 35 are boys, an encouraging factor since the majority of children available for adoption in India are girls. One adoption professional attributed these trends to a changing of attitudes and greater awareness of adoption issues. To read the full article, go to: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/814608.cms
`‘CHILDREN MISSING FROM CARE: AN ISSUE BRIEF’
The Child Welfare League of America published the initial product of the Children Missing from Care project, “Children Missing from Care: An Issue Brief,” by Caren Kaplan. The report “identifies and analyzes the current state of knowledge regarding children missing from care, causative factors, and prospective remedies.” It also includes relevant research and “identification of promising practices.” This issue brief is intended to provide guidance for federal, state and local policymakers in the development of effective polices and practices for this particularly vulnerable population of children and youth. To read the full brief, go to: http://www.cwla.org/programs/fostercare/childmiss01.pdf
5. Institute Update
ADOPTION INSTITUTE TO RECEIVE ANGEL IN ADOPTION AWARD
On Thursday September 23, 2004, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute will receive a 2004 congressional “Angel in Adoption” award, along with other recipients nationally, at the annual Angels in Adoption dinner held in Washington, DC. The Adoption Institute was nominated by Senator Hillary Clinton for what she described as the “highly effective” and “unique role” of the organization in “improving the lives of the millions of Americans affected by adoption.” The national event is sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, in partnership with the United States Congress, in recognition of the “unsung heroes” making differences in the lives of children through adoption. To read the full press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/pressrelease/200408_angels.html
ADOPTION AND GENEOLOGY GROUPS CITE NEED FOR ACCESS TO RECORDS
According to an article in the Ohio News Service, “States Restrict Access to Vital Records, but Fraud Grows,” states with open birth and death records are facing a dilemma as loopholes leave residents vulnerable to identity theft, while adoptee and genealogy groups seek more access to those indexes. In the article, published on August 31, 2004, Executive Director Adam Pertman comments that any safeguards should not restrict adoptees from gaining access to their own documents. To read the full article, go to: http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=2241052
6. About the Evan D. 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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