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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- U.S. Says Ukraine Open Again, Explains Adoption from Islamic Nations
- Two States Consider Bills Letting Gay and Non-Married Couples Adopt
- Report Shows Declines in Foster Children Receiving Federal Support
- Kentucky Bill Loses Provision Requiring Judges to Educate Parents

2. Research
- Study Finds Adoptees Have More Health Care Needs, But More Support
- Researchers: Early Institutionalization Has Long Impact on Children
- Analysis Identifies 5 Phases for Adults Dealing with their Adoptions
- Most Adopted Teens Express Desire for Contact with Birthmothers
- Early Neglect in Orphanages Seen to Have Negative Impact on Adoptees
- Foster Youths’ Criminal Behavior Reportedly Declines in Late Teens

3. News
- Italy’s International Adoptions Increase; Spain Considers New Law
- Growing Number of Westerners Going to India to ‘Adopt’ Embryos
- Fla. Governor Seeks Financial Incentives for Foster Care Adoptions

4. Resources
- Iowa Parents’ Association Offers Lifebook Pages to Download
- Website Offers Resources for Promoting National Foster Care Month
- Paper Promotes Systematic Improvements to Child Welfare Programs

5. Institute Update
- Pertman Adds Perspective to Study on Benefits of Adoptive Parents
- Celebrity Adoptions Offer Homes to Children Who Need Them
- Policy Staff to Speak at American Adoption Congress Conference
- Institute Hires New External Relations Director, Plans Office Move

6. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

Law, Policy & Practice

U.S. SAYS UKRAINE OPEN AGAIN, EXPLAINS ADOPTION FROM ISLAMIC NATIONS
The Ukraine has resumed acceptance of new dossiers for non-Ukrainian adoptive parents, according to a notice posted by the State Department on Feb. 5; the resumption took effect a couple of months ago, on Dec. 19. A suspension of new adoption cases began in January 2006, when the country’s president signed legislation moving the central authority in charge of adoptions – now known as the State Department for Adoptions and Protection of the Rights of the Child – to the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports. This transition resulted in the temporary halt. Another State Department notice, posted Feb. 2, responded to inquiries by Americans interested in adopting children from countries in which the Islamic Shari’a family laws are observed. The Department said that while these laws do not recognize non-relative adoption as practiced in the United States, some nations allow for a child’s custody to be transferred through guardianship. Prospective parents then have to obtain legal guardianship of an orphan for emigration and finalize the adoption in the U.S. in accordance with the laws of the sending country. To read the State Department notice on the Ukraine, go to: http://travel.state.gov; to read the notice on adopting children from countries in which Shari’a laws are observed, go to:  http://travel.state.gov

TWO STATES CONSIDER BILLS LETTING GAY AND NON-MARRIED COUPLES ADOPT
The New Hampshire and Michigan state legislatures are considering bills that would permit unmarried and same-sex couples to adopt jointly. The New Hampshire House bill (HB51), introduced on Jan. 4 and pending in the Children and Family Law Committee, would permit two unmarried adults in a “familiar relationship” – defined by the couple living together and sharing financial responsibilities – to adopt jointly. New Hampshire already permits children to be adopted by married couples and single adults, including gay individuals, but was inconsistent in applying the law to gay couples; the bill would eliminate discrepancies within different counties. A Michigan bill (HB4259), referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13, would amend the Probate Code of 1939 (PA 288) to permit unmarried adults and same-sex couples to adopt jointly; currently, only married couples can do so.  To read the New Hampshire bill, go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us; To read the Michigan bill, go to: http://www.legislature.mi.gov; to read the Adoption Institute’s Policy Brief on gay and lesbian adoption, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old

REPORT SHOWS DECLINES IN FOSTER CHILDREN RECEIVING FEDERAL SUPPORT
The proportion of foster children eligible for federal support has declined from more than half in 1998 to less than half currently – approximately 35,000 fewer children, according to “Time for Reform: Fix the Foster Care Lookback,” a report released Feb. 6. The report was issued by the “Kids Are Waiting: Fix Foster Care Now” campaign, led by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It projects that the number of affected children will continue to drop by about 5,000 each year. A primary reason is the “lookback” policy linking eligibility of foster children for federal support to an income standard in the former AFDC welfare program – that is, the child’s birth family has to meet the AFDC income standard of 1996, which has not increased with inflation. To access the report, go to: http://kidsarewaiting.org

KENTUCKY BILL LOSES PROVISION REQUIRING JUDGES TO EDUCATE PARENTS
A section has been cut out of proposed legislation in Kentucky that would have required judges to educate prospective birthparents on their rights when their children are being adopted; instead, the legislation calls for attorneys to be appointed for indigent parents and allows the chief justice of the state courts to establish rules pertaining to protecting the rights of all involved parties. In a Feb. 19 Lexington Herald-Leader article, “Foster Care Adoption Bill Changed: Parental-Education Provision Cut,” Valerie Spears reports on the debate around the proposed bill (SB 141, sponsored by Senator Julie Denton). The Administrative Office of the Courts suggested cutting the birthparent provision because of “separation of powers in what lawmakers require of judges.” To track this legislation, go to: http://www.lrc.ky.gov

Research

STUDY FINDS ADOPTEES HAVE MORE HEALTH CARE NEEDS, BUT MORE SUPPORT
A newly published study reports that adopted children are more likely to have special health care needs, learning disabilities and other mental health difficulties – but also finds that they receive more preventive medical and dental visits, and are more likely to have consistent health insurance, to be read to daily, to live in supportive neighborhoods, and to live in non-smoking households. “The Health and Well-being of Adopted Children,” by Matthew Bramlett, Laura Radel and Stephen Blumberg, was published in the February issue of Pediatrics (Volume 119, Issue 2). The researchers used data from a national children’s health study, comparing 2,903 adopted children to almost 100,000 non-adopted children on 31 indicators. For a free abstract, go to: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org

RESEARCHERS: EARLY INSTITUTIONALIZATION HAS LONG IMPACT ON CHILDREN
A team of British researchers studying a group of Romanian adoptees and domestic infant adoptees at ages 4, 6, and 11 published two studies on their findings for the children at age 11 – “Early Adolescent Outcomes for Institutionally-Deprived and Non-Deprived Adoptees. I: Disinhibited Attachment” and “II. Language as a Protective Factor and a Vulnerable Outcome.” These articles by Michael Rutter, Carla Croft and 8 other authors were published in the January issue of Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Volume 48, Issue 1). They found that disturbed attachment patterns show a high degree of persistence from ages 6 to 11, but also diminsh over time for some children. At age 11, 28.5 percent were classified with mild attachment disturbances and 10 percent with more severe ones. These patterns were associated with greater behavior problems and usage of services. With both attachment problems and language, there was no negative impact if institutionalization lasted less than 6 months, but there was no variation between those institutionalized 6 to 42 months. The majority of children achieved language within the normal range but, as a group, their cognitive and language scores were lower than domestic English adoptees. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com 

ANALYSIS IDENTIFIES 5 PHASES FOR ADULTS DEALING WITH THEIR ADOPTIONS
Through qualitative analyses of 100 written narratives of adopted adults, ages 35 to 55, researchers identified five phases or patterns for addressing adoption issues, ranging from “no awareness” (phase 1) to “drowning in awareness” (phase 3) to “finding peace” (phase 5). “Reconstruction of Adoption Issues: Delineation of Five Phases Among Adult Adoptees,” by Judith Penny, DiAnne Borders and Francie Portnoy, was published in the Winter 2007 issue of the Journal of Counseling & Development (Volume 85, Issue 1). The researchers assessed the extent to which various measures of well-being varied according to adults’ classification in the five phases, and found that on a majority of measures, the most positive scores were found among adoptees on either end of the spectrum of phases, and the most negative scores were among those in phase 3, characterized by anger, resentment and sadness. To access a free abstract, go to:
http://aca.metapress.com

MOST ADOPTED TEENS EXPRESS DESIRE FOR CONTACT WITH BIRTHMOTHERS
Based on interviews with 152 adopted adolescents concerning their satisfaction with the openness in their adoptions, 74 percent of teens having contact with their birthmothers were satisfied with the contact, and almost all of those who were not satisfied wanted more contact. “Adolescents’ Feelings about Openness in Adoption: Implications for Adoption Agencies,” by Jerica Berge, Tai Mendenhall, Gretchen Wrobel, and Adoption Institute Senior Research Fellows Harold Grotevant and Ruth McRoy, was published in the final 2006 issue of Child Welfare (Volume 85, Issue 6). Of those adoptees not having contact with their birthmothers, about 55 percent wished they had contact and the rest said they were satisfied with not having contact. The study identifies themes in the responses of each group. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.cwla.org

EARLY NEGLECT IN ORPHANAGES SEEN TO HAVE NEGATIVE IMPACT ON ADOPTEES
A study of 115 girls, aged 6-8 who were adopted from China before age 2, compared those experiencing serious neglect in their orphanages (31 girls) to those assessed as not having been neglected (84 girls). On the Overall Competence scale of the Child Behavior Checklist, 42 percent of the neglect group and 14 percent of the comparison group scored below the normal range. “History of Early Neglect and Middle Childhood Social Competence: An Adoption Study,” by Tony Tan, was published in the final 2006 issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 9, Issue 4). The author recommends rigorous interventions as early as possible to minimize the impact of neglect. To access the article during this month, copy and paste into browser: http://www.haworthpress.com

FOSTER YOUTHS’ CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR REPORTEDLY DECLINES IN LATE TEENS
Youths aging out of foster care commit more crimes than do their peers not involved with the child welfare system, according to a national study by Chapin Hall that compared self-reported criminal offenses and arrests of the two categories of teens. At ages 17-18, foster youths had about twice the frequency of offenses as their peers. Criminal offenses for both groups declined from age 17 to age 19, but the drops were greatest for those in care. “Offending during Late Adolescence: How Do Youth Aging Out of Care Compare with their Peers?” by Gretchen Cusick and Mark Courtney, reports declines in 9 out of 10 criminal behaviors over time, such as stealing something less than $50 in value dropping among foster youths from 37 percent at age 17-18 to 11 percent at age 19. To access this report, go to: http://www.chapinhall.org

 

News

ITALY’S INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS INCREASE; SPAIN CONSIDERS NEW LAW
Italians adopted three times as many children internationally in 2006 than they did within their country, according to a Jan. 28 article by Tom Kington, “Adoption on the Rise in Italy,” published in The Hindu in India. The article said 3,158 children were adopted into Italy from Russia, Colombia, Ethiopia and other nations at a time when overseas adoptions within other European countries dropped by 10 percent. The Spanish government, meanwhile, is considering legislation that would set new legal requirements for international adoptions, according to a Feb. 10 article published in China’s People’s Daily Online, “Spanish Cabinet Releases Plans for International Adoption Law.” The proposed legislation is intended primarily to protect children and parents, but would also prohibit adoption from countries affected by war or natural disaster, or that lack a specific adoption oversight authorities. In addition, the measure would give adoptees 18 or older the right to search for birth relatives. To read the article on Italy, go to: http://www.hindu.com; to read the article on Spain, go to: http://english.people.com.cn

GROWING NUMBER OF WESTERNERS GOING TO INDIA TO `ADOPT’ EMBRYOS
A rising number of Westerners are traveling to India seeking embryos to “adopt,” according to a Feb. 9 article by Ashling O’Connor published in the U.K. magazine Times. The article said the Westerners are attracted by highly trained, English-speaking doctors who can provide IVF treatments at one-third the price they would pay in their home nations. “The White Parents, An Indian Baby, and the New £3bn Fertility Tourism” describes the growing “reproductive tourism” industry in India and recounts one of the first transfers of an Indian embryo to a white British couple. The fertility doctor in India who completed the process said, “It is a lot like adoption but you have the feeling of a natural pregnancy.” There are no laws in India governing fertility services, although there are loose guidelines and accredited clinics. To read the article, go to: http://www.timesonline.co.uk

FLA. GOVERNOR SEEKS FINANCIAL INCENTIVES FOR FOSTER CARE ADOPTIONS
Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, who is entering his first legislative session, has goals that include providing financial incentives to families adopting from foster care, according to a story in The Bradenton Herald, “Crist Pushes Lofty Agenda.” The article reports that the governor want to provide $5,000 a year to families that adopt from the public system until the children turn 18. He also proposes to establish a state office of adoption and child protection. To read the article, go to: http://www.bradenton.com

 

Resources

IOWA PARENTS’ ASSOCIATION OFFERS LIFEBOOK PAGES TO DOWNLOAD
The Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents’ Association has created pages that can be downloaded separately to assist a child in creating a lifebook. There are almost 50 individual, colorful pages that include optional covers and ones geared toward children and youths of various ages. To download, go to the bottom of the page at the following website: http://www.ifapa.org

WEBSITE OFFERS RESOURCES FOR PROMOTING NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH
In preparation for National Foster Care Month in May, a website has been set up containing resources for campaigns and media events with the theme, “Change a Lifetime.” Additional information about events and activities, along with materials to use in promoting Foster Care Month, will be added soon. To access, go to: http://www.fostercaremonth.org

PAPER PROMOTES SYSTEMATIC IMPROVEMENTS TO CHILD WELFARE PROGRAMS
A report by Fred Wulczyn, “Monitoring Child Welfare Programs: Performance Improvement in a CQI Context,” describes the application of the continuous quality improvement process (CQI) to child welfare systems. This short paper is intended as advice to guide major child welfare reform efforts. Beginning with the delineation of outcomes and baseline performance measures and extending through setting goals, monitoring and feedback, the CQI process is applied systematically to improvement of child welfare systems. The author recognizes that systems changes in child welfare are long-term goals, and he advocates for setting and measuring interim goals. To access, go to: http://www.chapinhall.org

 

Institute Updates

PERTMAN ADDS PERSPECTIVE TO STUDY ON BENEFITS OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS
In a Feb. 12 Associated Press article, “Study: Adoptive Parents Get High Marks,” reporter David Crary writes about new research that found adoptive parents invest more time and money in their children than do biological parents. The study was featured in the most recent issues of American Sociological Review, and Crary’s story about it was carried by print, online and broadcast media nationally. The researchers said their findings call into question the long-standing notion that children are best off with their biological parents, an argument that was cited in state Supreme Court rulings last year in New York and Washington that upheld laws against same-sex marriage. Adam Pertman, the Adoption Institute’s Executive Director, provided context for the findings, concluding: "It's an affirmation that there are all sorts of families that are good for kids. Adoptive parents aren't less good or better. They just bring different benefits to the table. In terms of how families are formed, it should be a level playing field." To access one version of this story, from MSNBC, go to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com

CONTROVERSY OVER CELEBRITY ADOPTIONS CONTINUES WITH JOLIE, MADONNA
An ABC News online story on Feb. 5, “When Stars Adopt,” described a seeming spat created when Angelina Jolie, who has adopted children internationally, was quoted as criticizing Madonna’s recent adoption of a son from Malawi. A number of adoption experts were featured in the story discussing the implications of controversies relating to celebrity adoptions. In his comments, Executive Director Pertman said the focus needs to be on the needs of children who need families. “They are better off with loving homes, whether with movie stars or with accountants," he said. To access this story on KABC News, go to: http://abclocal.go.com

INSTITUTE HIRES NEW EXTERNAL RELATIONS DIRECTOR, PLANS OFFICE MOVE
The Adoption Institute welcomes Laura James, a highly respected and experienced development professional who joined our staff on Feb. 19 as Director of External Relations. James, who will be based in New York and will oversee all national development and fundraising efforts for the Institute, earned a B.A. degree from Wellesley College and an M.A. in Communication from Columbia University. She brings to her new position over 20 years of experience in a range of settings, including a university, museums, a social service organization, and a political advocacy association. She and other New York-based Institute staff will be moving on April 1 to our new office at 120 East 38th Street. The Institute also has staff members around the country – in Massachusetts, California, Illinois and North Carolina. For more information about James and details about our office move as they become available, please go to http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old

UPDATED EDITION OF 'ADOPTION NATION' FOR INSTITUTE 10TH ANNIVERSARY
The Adoption Institute is proud to announce a new, updated "Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Special Edition" of Executive Director Adam Pertman's ground-breaking book, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America. The new edition is dedicated to the Institute on the occasion of its 10th anniversary, and all profits from its sale will be donated to the Institute. To order online, go to: http://www.amazon.com; to order multiple signed copies (which the author can sign), write to info@adoptioninsitute.org; more information and details for arranging an interview with Pertman are available on a press release at: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/media/

POLICY STAFF TO SPEAK AT AMERICAN ADOPTION CONGRESS CONFERENCE
Pertman and all of the Institute’s policy staff members – David Brodzinsky, Jeanne Howard, Hollee McGinnis and Susan Smith -- will be speaking at the 28th annual conference of the American Adoption Congress outside Boston; the event runs from March 7-10. They will give a joint presentation on March 8, “Adoption Nation: Current Trends,” in addition to offering separate workshops. For more information about the conference, go to:
http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org.  For a full listing of appearances by Adoption Institute staff, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/

Among the major events the Institute is planning for this year is a national conference on Ethics in Adoption, which we are sponsoring with the adoption reform organization Ethica. The event will be held in suburban Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15-16, 2007. The Institute held its landmark first ethics conference in 1999, and this one – like its predecessor – promises to have significant impact on the field. More details will be available on our website in coming months.

Our annual "Taste of Spring" benefit will be held in New York on May 17; please save the date and contact us if you have questions, want to reserve tickets (they go quickly) or are interested in an individual or corporate sponsorship. We are planning additional fund-raising events across the country during the coming months and year, to be held by our loyal supporters and advocates who want to ensure that we can continue doing our unique, important work; stay tuned for dates and locations. Most important, we are producing some of the best, highest-impact initiatives since our founding a decade ago. 

Here are just a few of the initiatives we are working on:

  • TRANSCULTURAL ADOPTION & IDENTITY

  • RIGHTS & WELL-BEING OF BIRTHPARENTS

  • EXPANDING RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE

  • ADOPTION AGENCY PRACTICES WITH GAYS AND LESBIANS

  • ADOPTIVE PARENT PREPARATION PROJECT

  • RESTORING RIGHTS TO ACCESS BIRTH RECORDS

  • SAFE HAVENS: ARE THE LAWS WORKING?

  • EDUCATE THE EDUCATORS AND EDUCATE THE MEDIA PROGRAMS

To find out how you can contribute to the important work of the Institute, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/

 

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, http://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/research/enewsletter.php


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