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NOTE: We've moved! The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is pleased to announce the relocation of its main office to 120 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016, effective immediately. All phone numbers and email addresses remain unchanged.

1. Law, Policy & Practice
- Citing Abuses, U.S. Issues Strong Caution on Adoption from Guatemala
- Arkansas Law Speeds Adoption Process for Drug-Addicted Babies
- North Carolina Legislators Consider Adoptee Access to Birth Records
- Bills in Three States Would Allow Unmarried Couples to Adopt
- Federal Measure Aims to Ensure Foster Youth Can Use Social Security
- Proposed Immigration Fee Changes Would Increase Adoption Costs

2. Research
- Report Cites Progressive Drop in Federal Funding for Child Welfare
- Study on Adolescent Adoptions Finds 90% Have Birthfamily Contact
- Analysis Identifies Reasons for Changes in Levels of Openness
- Data Show Rise in Adoptions, Especially of Black Children, After ASFA
- Research Indicates Therapeutic Camp Benefits At-Risk Adopted Kids
- Birthfamilies Seen as Aiding Many Children in Lengthy Foster Care
- Review Calls for Special Care for Children Adopted from Orphanages

3. News
- New York City Plans Reforms to Limit Children's Time in Foster Care
- India Reportedly Will Relax Rules to Encourage Overseas Adoptions

4. Resources
- Article Delineates Ethical Issues in Practice of Open Adoption
- Strategies Focus on Reducing 'Disproportionality' In Child Welfare
- Website Lists Child Abuse Registries to Screen Parental Applicants
- Paper Suggests Ways to Help Children during Natural Disasters, Crises

5. Institute Update
- Institute Forms Collaboration with Premier Research Journal
- Bill to Pay Women Not to Abort, Then Choose Adoption, is Criticized
- Adoption Described as Beneficial, On Rise for Children Older than 18
- Institute Annual Spring Gala Set for May 17; Other Events Also on Tap

Law, Policy & Practice

CITING ABUSES, U.S. ISSUES STRONG CAUTION ON ADOPTION FROM GUATEMALA
The U.S. Department of State issued a notice on March 1 "strongly" cautioning prospective adoptive parents to consider whether they should adopt from Guatemala in light of recent problems including the arrests of adoption facilitators illegally smuggling Guatemalan children to the U.S. for adoption, fraudulent documents concerning adoption, and cases of children being illegally relinquished for adoption by individuals posing as biological parents. As a result, the notice stated that pending adoption cases will be reviewed with more scrutiny - which may slow down processing. At the same time, the U.S. government is supporting and working with the Guatemalan government to implement reforms to protect children involved in intercountry adoptions. In a March 2 notice, the DOS announced that the Guatemalan government had issued a new "Manual of Good Practices" intended to be a first step in preparing authorities for a national law to implement the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The Hague Convention, which seeks to protect children involved in international adoptions, is expected to come into full force in the U.S. this year. To read the March 1 notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3147.html; ; to read the March 2 notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3146.html ; to read the DOS frequently asked questions for prospective parents seeking to adopt from Guatemala, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/convention/convention_3170.html

ARKANSAS LAW SPEEDS ADOPTION PROCESS FOR DRUG-ADDICTED BABIES
The Arkansas state legislature passed a bill on March 15 allowing a mother suspected of using illegal drugs while pregnant, thereby endangering the welfare of her baby, the option of placing her newborn for adoption through a private agency rather than having the child removed and placed in state custody. The new statute (Act 381) amends the state's Garrett's Law, passed in 2005, under which the mothers of newborns who test positive for illegal drugs are presumed to be guilty of parental neglect under the Arkansas civil code, and medical personnel are required to report them to police and child protective service workers. To read the new law, go to: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/ftproot/acts/2007/public/act381.pdf

NORTH CAROLINA LEGISLATORS CONSIDER ADOPTEE ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS
A bill (HB445) that would allow adopted persons age 18 and older, or their direct descendants, access to copies of their original birth certificates was introduced in the North Carolina state House on March 5. A similar measure (SB111) was introduced in the state Senate in February. Both versions of the proposed "Access to Information for Adult Adoptees" legislation provide biological parents the option to submit contact preference forms at any time; birth parents, however, would be required to submit current medical information regardless of whether they want contact. Both bills are currently in committee. To read the House version of the bill, go to: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2007/Bills/House/HTML/H445v0.html; to read the Senate version of the bill, go to: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2007/Bills/Senate/HTML/S111v1.html

BILLS IN THREE STATES WOULD ALLOW UNMARRIED COUPLES TO ADOPT
The Colorado and New Hampshire state Houses passed separate legislation in March that would permit joint adoptions by unmarried partners, including gay and lesbian couples. The Colorado bill (HB1330) was approved by a 39-25 vote on March 14 and the New Hampshire bill (HB51) won on a 234-127 vote on March 21; both measures are pending action in their respective state Senates. In addition, similar legislation (LB571) was considered by the Nebraska Senate Judiciary Committee on March 20, but it has not progressed. Gay individuals in Colorado are permitted to adopt, but couples are barred from adopting jointly; in Nebraska a 2002 Supreme Court ruling barred adoptions by unmarried partners, although Nebraska law permits individuals to adopt. In New Hampshire, gay singles can adopt but same-sex couples can do so only in six of the state's 10 counties because of different interpretations of the law by judges. To read the Colorado bill, go to: http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2007a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/; to read the New Hampshire bill, go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2007/HB0051.html; to read the Nebraska bill, go to: http://uniweb.legislature.ne.gov/Apps/BillFinder/finder.php?page=view_doc&DocumentID=544

FEDERAL MEASURE AIMS TO ENSURE FOSTER YOUTH CAN USE SOCIAL SECURITY
that children in foster care are able to use their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The "Foster Children Self-Support Act" (HR1104), sponsored by Rep. Pete Stark, would ban states from using Social Security or SSI benefits of foster youth to offset foster care costs, would require states to determine foster children's eligibility for SSI or disability benefits under Social Security, and calls for developing plans for collecting and managing such funds for youth in care. To read the proposed legislation, which was introduced on Feb. 15, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for H.R.1104 in the bill search field.

PROPOSED IMMIGRATION FEE CHANGES WOULD INCREASE ADOPTION COSTS
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCICS) has submitted a proposal to change the current fee structure for immigration and naturalization applications which, if approved, would lead to average increases of 66 percent in filing fees for international adoptions. The proposal was submitted to the Federal Register on Feb. 1 for a 60-day public comment period. After that time, USCICS will submit its final proposal for review to the Office of Management and Budget, which will make the final decision on the fee structure and issue the final rule. To read the proposed rules published in the Federal Register, go to: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/; to read more about USCICS proposed changes, go to: http://www.uscis.gov/21stCenturyService

Research

REPORT CITES PROGRESSIVE DROP IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CHILD WELFARE
The Urban Institute released a report on March 15, "Kids' Share 2007: How Children Fare in the Federal Budget," that found a downward trend in federal domestic dollars spent on child welfare programs in comparison to spending in non-child health care and retirement programs. The report, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found a progressive decline in federal spending for children since 1960, from 20.1 percent that year to 15.4 percent in 2006. If this trend continues, the authors said, by 2017 children's spending will decline from 2.6 to 2.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product, while Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will rise from 7.6 to 9.5 percent. To read the report, go to: http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=411432

STUDY ON ADOLESCENT ADOPTIONS FINDS 90% HAVE BIRTHFAMILY CONTACT
Researchers found, based on interviews with 58 adoptive parents and 37 adolescents adopted after age 10, that birth family contact was a central component of these adoptions; 90 percent of parents reported contact with birth family members, and 51 percent had contact with birthparents. (Three families who adopted internationally did not have access to their children's birth relatives.) "Adolescent Adoption and the Birthfamily," by Lois Wright, Cynthia Flynn and Wendy Welch, was published in the spring issue of the Journal of Public Child Welfare (Volume 1, Issue 1). In some cases, where agencies did not contact birth family members who were potential adoption resources, it had an ongoing negative impact on the adoptee's adjustment. Some teens had resentment related to their long waits in the process and not being given sufficient information to understand specific events. To access an article abstract, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/

ANALYSIS IDENTIFIES REASONS FOR CHANGES IN LEVELS OF OPENNESS
A qualitative study of the processes underlying changes in openness levels in eight adoptive kinship networks of adolescents found that when contact decreases, it is often the result of miscommunication and assumptions about another's perspective. While adoptive mothers are central in arranging contact prior to a child's adolescence, all of the adults assumed the adolescents would take control over contact, even when the teen was unaware of these assumptions. "Processes Linked to Contact Changes in Adoptive Kinship Networks," by Nora Dunbar, Manfred van Dulmen, Susan Ayers-Lopez, Jerica Berge, Cinda Christian, Ginger Grossman, Susan Henney, Tai Mendenhall and two Adoption Institute Senior Fellows - Harold Grotevant and Ruth McRoy - was published in the December 2006 issue of Family Process (Volume 45, Issue 4). The authors recommend that agency policies regarding mediated contact and open adoptions provide options that can change over time in relation to individuals' needs, wishes and developmental changes. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2006.00182.x

DATA SHOW RISE IN ADOPTIONS, ESPECIALLY OF BLACK CHILDREN, AFTER ASFA
Researchers at Chapin Hall Center for Children evaluated the impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 on the adoption rate by analyzing data from six states involving almost 400,000 children entering foster care between 1990 and 2002; they found a significant increase in the probability a child would be adopted occurred after the passage of ASFA. "Adoption Dynamics and the Adoption and Safe Families Act," by Fred Wulczyn, Lijun Chen and Kristen Hislop, was published in the December 2006 issue of Social Service Review (Volume 80, Issue 4). Of the 85 percent of children in the total sample who had left foster care, 21 percent were adopted; a higher percentage of black children (24 percent) were eventually adopted than white children (17 percent), but after longer time in care. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/SSR/journal/issues/v80n4/800402/brief/800402.abstract.html

RESEARCH INDICATES THERAPEUTIC CAMP BENEFITS AT-RISK ADOPTED KIDS
After evaluating neuro-chemical imbalances in at-risk adopted children, researchers at Texas Christian University reported reductions in levels of salivary cortisol (a hormone released under stress) and in depression during children's participation in a five-week therapeutic day-camp program. "Improvements in Salivary Cortisol, Depression, and Representations of Family Relationships in At-Risk Adopted Children Utilizing a Short-Term Therapeutic Intervention," by Karyn Purvis and David Cross, was published in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 10, Issue 1). This study highlights reduction of fear as a critical aspect of behavioral change in these children, showing elevated cortisol levels in pre- and post-tests, but a 50 percent reduction during the three points of measurement in the camp. It also describes treatment strategies used in the camp intervention. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/store/

BIRTHFAMILIES SEEN AS AIDING MANY CHILDREN IN LENGTHY FOSTER CARE
Because almost 20 percent of foster children have been in care for five or more years, an initiative in Texas examined whether the birth families of children in care for over three years are viable candidates for reconnection or permanent placement. The Replacement with Birthfamilies Project found that this was the case for 60 of the 158 children whose relatives were assessed. "Birthfamilies as Permanency Resources for Children in Long-Term Foster Care," by Susan Mapp and Cache Steinberg, was published in the January/February issue of Child Welfare (Volume 86, Issue 1). Contacts established included letters, phone calls, visits and, for 18 children, permanent placements. Themes identified among the permanent placements were: new caseworker, caretaker overcoming addiction, male abuser no longer present, child advocating to return home, and extended kin caregiver now mature. For an abstract, go to: http://www.cwla.org/articles/cwjabstracts.htm#0701

REVIEW CALLS FOR SPECIAL CARE FOR CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM ORPHANAGES
A model for caring for newly adopted post-institutionalized children, based on research on optimal care in early infancy, recommends physical closeness - such as carrying the child in a sling - skin-to-skin contact, co-sleeping, and frequent nurturance through feeding. "A Model for Caregiving of Adopted Children after Institutionalization," by Karleen Gribble, was published in the February issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing (Volume 20, Issue 1). Dr. Gribble hypothesizes that replication of ideal infant care common in non-Western countries provides opportunities to experience missed nurturance and optimizes development of secure attachment. To access the full article while this issue is current, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/jcap/20/1

 

News

NEW YORK CITY PLANS REFORMS TO LIMIT CHILDREN'S TIME IN FOSTER SYSTEM
The City of New York plans to phase in changes in the way private agencies providing foster care are funded and monitored; the intent of the reforms is to move children through foster care more quickly, "with fewer moves within the system and more limited use of institutional care," according to a March 22 New York Times article, "New York Acts to Ease Process in Foster Care," by Leslie Kaufman. The changes, which could begin as early as July, include: eliminating payments to agencies based on the number of days a child spends in care, creating 500 new supervisory positions responsible for maintaining monthly scorecards on agency performance, and cutting 650 positions for case managers currently working for the city supervising the agencies by July 2008. The three dozen affected foster care agencies will be given more discretion on the types of services they provide with city money, including the possibility of offering more support for children in their own homes. To read the article for a fee, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/nyregion/22foster.html?pagewanted=all; to read the Administration for Children and Families "Safeguarding Our Children 2006 Action Plan, go to: http://www.nyc.gov/html/acs/downloads/pdf/action_plan_06.pdf

INDIA REPORTEDLY WILL RELAX RULES TO ENCOURAGE OVERSEAS ADOPTIONS
The government of India wants to make it simpler for foreigners to adopt children from that country, according to a March 26 article published in The Hindu, "Adoptions Rules to Be Relaxed." The article said the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) has formed a committee to review intercountry adoptions guidelines, which are currently complicated and lengthy. While there has been an increase in domestic adoptions within India - 2,294 through CARA in 2004 and 2,450 in 2006 - the Hindu said there are nearly 26,000 orphaned children in the country. International adoptions of Indian children reportedly have dropped, from 1,298 in 2001 to 853 in 2006; foreigner adopters are considered a resource especially for children with special needs and for girls. To read the article, go to: http://www.hindu.com/2007/03/26/stories/2007032600711400.htm

 

Resources

ARTICLE DELINEATES ETHICAL ISSUES IN PRACTICE OF OPEN ADOPTION
"Ethical Issues in Open Adoption: Implications for Practice," by Frederic Reamer and Deborah Siegel, identifies key ethical issues associated with various forms of open adoption, including privacy, confidentiality, self-determination, paternalism, conflicts of interest, deception and truth-telling. The article, published in the current issue of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services (Volume 88, Issue 1), raises ethical concerns about some practices, such as using open adoption as an incentive to entice birth parents to relinquish parental rights of children in foster care, and offers guidelines for best practices. To access a free abstract and summary of this article, go to: http://www.familiesinsociety.org/currentissue.asp

STRATEGIES FOCUS ON REDUCING `DISPROPORTIONALITY' IN CHILD WELFARE
An alliance of five Casey organizations and the Center for the Study of Social Policy has published its report on strategies for reducing racial "disproportionality" - the overrepresentation of children of color - in child welfare. The 100-page report, "Places to Watch: Promising Practices to Address Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare," highlights the work of 10 jurisdictions that are committed to addressing this issue. Included in the paper, which was issued several months ago, are a review of pertinent research, the 10 case summaries of individual projects describing the main features of each and progress made to date, and an overview of common themes across multiple sites. To access, go to: http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/PlacesToWatch.htm

WEBSITE LISTS CHILD ABUSE REGISTRIES TO SCREEN PARENTAL APPLICANTS
"State Child Abuse Registries" - a listing of contacts in most states with information on procedures for screening foster or adoptive parent applicants - was updated on March 22 and can be accessed on the website of the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning. To access, scroll down to "S" on the following webpage: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/state-policies.html

PAPER SUGGESTS WAYS TO HELP CHILDREN DURING NATURAL DISASTERS, CRISES
The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement has published a 54-page paper that offers a framework for helping managers improve child welfare systems' services to children and families during natural disasters and man-made crises. "Coping with Disasters and Strengthening Systems: A Framework for Child Welfare Agencies," by Mary O'Brien, Sarah Webster and Angela Herrick, is divided into three sections focused on steps to take before, during, and after a disaster, each with a checklist of key points. To access this paper, which was published on the organization's website in February, go to: http://tatis.muskie.usm.maine.edu/pubs/pubdetailWtemp.asp?PUB_ID=B060062

 

Institute Updates

INSTITUTE FORMS COLLABORATION WITH PREMIER RESEARCH JOURNAL
On March 12, the Adoption Institute announced a new collaboration with Adoption Quarterly, the premier academic research journal in the field of adoption. Dr. Scott Ryan, a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute and Associate Dean at Florida State University's College of Social Work, has been named the Editor, and Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman has been named to the newly created post of Associate Editor. The collaboration is intended to better disseminate the work of AQ, while helping the Institute further its mission of bringing research-based knowledge to policy-makers and professionals in order to improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption - especially children - through better-informed laws, policies and practices. To read the press release about this ambitious initiative, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/media/20070312_press_adoptionquarterly.php

BILL TO PAY WOMEN NOT TO ABORT, THEN CHOOSE ADOPTION, IS CRITICIZED
Legislation introduced in the Texas legislature (SB 1567) on March 8 would offer $500 as an incentive to women who decide not to have abortions but, instead, place their children for adoptions. Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman is quoted in a March 24 Associated Press article, "Bill Would Pay Women to Avoid Abortion," as criticizing this approach; he said it could be "coercive" to offer money to women faced with an "excruciatingly" difficult decision. To read the article in one newspaper in which it was published, go to: http://www.theeagle.com/stories/032407/texas_20070324021.php. To read the Institute study on safe-guarding the rights and well-being of birthparents, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2006_11_birthparent_wellbeing.php

ADOPTION DESCRIBED AS BENEFICIAL, ON RISE FOR CHILDREN OLDER THAN 18
In a March 14 Associated Press article about the practice of adopting adults, "Adoption: Not Just for Children," by Karen Hawkins, Pertman points out that for foster children older than 18, adoption offers the benefits of living in a permanent family and is becoming more common. According to the article, most adoptions of adults are undertaken by two non-related people looking to formalize an existing parent-child relationship; it is also sometimes used by adopted adults who have reunited with birth parents as a way of reestablishing legal connections. To read the article in one newspaper in which it was published, go to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6479221,00.html

INSTITUTE ANNUAL SPRING GALA SET FOR MAY 17; OTHER EVENTS ALSO ON TAP
Our third annual "Taste of Spring" benefit in New York City is fast approaching. Tickets for the May 17 event are still available, but are going quickly. Please join us if you can for a fun evening featuring food from some of New York's top chefs and restaurants, delicious wine, music and a silent auction. This year we will be honoring two esteemed journalists, Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt, along with Prudential Financial. For more information about the gala, please go to http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/tasteofspring_2007.php or email anna@bradleyevents.com. If you are interested in a corporate or individual sponsorship, or in donating to the Institute, please contact External Relations Director Laura James at ljames@adoptioninstitute.org or at (212) 979-0392.

In addition to this signature event in New York City, we are holding a variety of events around the country throughout the year.On March 27, two of our supporters - Kathy Bushkin Calvin, chief operating officer of the U.N. Foundation, and Kimberly Allman, president of Allman Strategies - hosted a gathering for the Adoption Institute of government and community officials, professionals with adoption in their families, journalists and advocates in Washington, D.C. We plan to establish a strong presence in Washington to help improve laws, policies and practices relating to adoption and foster care at the local, state and national levels. Immediate plans include a larger event in D.C. this coming June.

Summer events will include a house party in the Massachusetts Berkshires in August, and fall plans feature a major fundraiser in Los Angeles. A benefit concert is also scheduled for the Boston area on November 9. And coming full circle back to New York, we are planning our first child-focused event for next winter. Dates and details will be included in future newsletters and will be posted on our website as they become available. Thanks to all the hard-working volunteers and supporters who are helping to make these events possible, ensuring that we can continue doing our unique, important work.

If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please contact Laura James at ljames@adoptioninstitute.org. And if parties are not "your thing," we welcome direct support of our work. Some of our current projects available for support include:

  • 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 more about contributing to the important work of the Institute, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/support.php

 

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.


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.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/support.php, or print and complete this form http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/donate/donatereply.pdf, and fax it to 775-796-6592, or mail it with your check or credit card information to:

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016

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The Adoption Institute e-Newsletter highlights laws, policy, practice, news, research, and public opinion to educate readers about emerging issues and new information that may impact adoption. The Adoption Institute does not make any representations about the accuracy or reliability of the information reported in the newsletter, and inclusion of items in the newsletter does not signify Adoption Institute support of author perspectives or positions.


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