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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- Russia Delays Licensing, Causing Foreign Adoptions to be Suspended
- New Iowa Law Aims to Ensure Contact Among Siblings in Foster Care
- Hawaii Abandonment Bill Advances; Florida May Extend Time Period
- Texas Senate Approves 'Bill of Rights' for Children in Foster Care

2. Research
- Quality of Care in Institutions Seen as Key to Child Development
- Massachusetts Medical Students Call Adoption Training Valuable
- Research Finds Birthparents with Contact More Able to Resolve Loss
- Review Indicates Most Foster Youths Want More Birthparent Contact
- Professionals Voice Concerns about Independent Living Preparation
- Georgia Study Gives In-Depth Look at Child Welfare Worker Turnover
- Most Sexually Exploited Children in N.Y.C. Spent Time in Foster Care

3. News
- Slowdowns in Three Countries Expected to Lengthen Adoption Waits
- Minnesota Adoption Agency License Revoked on Grounds of Fraud
- North Carolina Governor Proposes State Adoption Tax Credit

4. Resources
- Bulletins on Siblings, Foster Parents Added to Information Gateway
- Iowa Group Offers Publication to Educate Teachers on Adoption
- Resource Center Offers Audio Files of Permanency Teleconference
- AdoptUsKids Adds Web Pages to Aid Interjurisdictional Placements
- Center Offers Resources for Caseworkers on Educational Advocacy

5. Institute Update
- Institute Testifies on Access to Records, 2nd Parent Adoption Bills
- Institute Staff, Senior Fellows Included in 'Handbook of Adoption'
- Institute Requests Meeting with Disney to Discuss Adoption
- Russia's Suspension Reflects Larger Changes in Adoption Practice
- Transracial Adoptions Fuel Growing Trend of Large, Diverse Families
- Institute Annual Spring Gala on May 17; Other Events to Follow

Law, Policy & Practice

RUSSIA DELAYS LICENSING, CAUSING FOREIGN ADOPTIONS TO BE SUSPENDED
The U.S. Department of State issued a notice on April 25 confirming that no U.S. adoption agencies have been accredited with the Russian Federation's Ministry of Education and Science; as a result, all foreign adoptions have been suspended indefinitely until accreditations are issued. Russia has issued no deadlines as to when the reviews will be finalized. A law passed by the Dumas last November requires all foreign adoption agencies to be registered as nongovernmental organizations and requires the approval of four government ministries (interior, justice, foreign affairs, and health) before a license for accreditation can be issued. In its notice, the State Department said it was encouraging the Russian government to complete appropriate accreditations "as expeditiously as possible." To read the April 25 State Department notice about Russia adoptions, go to: http://www.travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3229.html; to read a news article on the situation in Russia, go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0419/p01s01-woeu.html?page=1

NEW IOWA LAW AIMS TO ENSURE CONTACT AMONG SIBLINGS IN FOSTER CARE
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver signed legislation on April 16 ensuring that siblings separated in foster care will be able to visit each other. The new law (SF480) enables courts to approve a visitation order for siblings - defined in the statute as "an individual who is related to another individual by blood, adoption, or affinity through a common legal or biological parent" - so that they can maintain contact in situations where they are separated; it also ensures that foster parents are trained on the importance of sibling relationships and in the need to accommodate such visits. The state legislature unanimously approved the bill, which will go into effect on July 1, 2007. To read the law, go to: http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/

HAWAII ABANDONMENT BILL ADVANCES; FLORIDA MAY EXTEND TIME PERIOD
Both of Hawaii's legislative chambers approved legislation that would allow newborns to be legally abandoned at hospitals, fire stations and police stations, or with emergency service personnel within 72 hours of birth without criminal persecution. The state House approved the bill (HB1830) in March and the Senate approved a version on April 10; it is currently being reviewed in a conference committee. The measure would make Hawaii one of the last states (along with Alaska and Nebraska) to enact a so-called "safe haven" law. The Hawaii legislature passed a similar bill in 2003 but it was vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle. Meanwhile, in Florida, legislators included an amendment to a House bill that would extend the time period in which an infant could be legally abandoned from 72 hours to seven days. The bill (HB599) was unanimously approved by the state House Healthcare Council on April 14. To read the Hawaii legislation, go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/site1/docs/getstatus2.asp?billno=HB1830; to read the Florida bill, go to: http://www.flsenate.gov/; to read the Adoption Institute study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/Last%20report.pdf

TEXAS SENATE APPROVES 'BILL OF RIGHTS' FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
The Texas Senate passed a measure (SB805) on April 19 that outlines the legal rights of children in foster care, including the right to a safe, healthy and comfortable home that is free of abuse, discrimination or harassment. The legislation also stipulates the rights of foster youth to adequate amounts of healthy food, to appropriate medical care, to attend religious services of their choice, and to certain rights to privacy and participation in extracurricular activities. The measure also mandates a simplified version of the bill of rights to be explained, printed and given to each child in foster care. The Senate bill is being considered in the state House; a House companion bill (HB1752) is being considered in committee. To read the Texas bill, go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=80R&Bill=SB805

Research

QUALITY OF CARE IN INSTITUTIONS SEEN AS KEY TO CHILD DEVELOPMENT
A longitudinal study of infants and toddlers reared in institutions and in families in Romania - the first to investigate the association of differences in caregiving quality and child development - found that even after controlling for other factors, observed caregiving quality was associated with cognitive development, competence and negative behavior in very young children. "The Caregiving Context in Institution-reared and Family-reared Infants and Toddlers in Romania," by Anna Smyke, Sebastian Koga, Dana Johnson (an Adoption Institute Senior Fellow), Nathan Fox, Peter Marshall, Charles Nelson, Charles Zeanah and the BEIP Core Group, was published in the February issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines (Volume 48, Issue 2). Caregiving quality was associated with three of six outcomes evaluated, while percentage of time the child had spent in institutions was associated with only one outcome - competence. The researchers conclude that having an understanding of the early rearing environment experience is important to providing treatment to internationally adopted children. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/jcpp/2007/00000048/00000002/art00012

MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL STUDENTS CALL ADOPTION TRAINING VALUABLE
Evaluations of an elective course on adoption and foster care, developed by the Center for Adoption Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, showed that medical students found this eight-session course valuable in preparing them to work with members of adoption and foster care triads. "Teaching Medical Students about Adoption and Foster Care," by Martha Henry, Daniel Pollack and Aaron Lazare, was published in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 10, Issue 1), and delineates the course content. In post-tests, everyone who took the course unanimously responded that this area of knowledge was needed by all medical students; the University plans to expand use of the course to its school of nursing. To access a free abstract, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/

RESEARCH FINDS BIRTHPARENTS WITH CONTACT MORE ABLE TO RESOLVE LOSS
An English study interviewing 72 birthparents or grandparents of children adopted under age 4 (both voluntary and child welfare) found three patterns of adaptation - positive acceptance, resignation, and anger and resistance. "Coming to Terms with the Loss of a Child: The Feelings of Birth Parents and Grandparents about Adoption and Post-Adoption Contact," by Elsbeth Neil, was published in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 10, Issue 1). Grandparents were more accepting than parents, and parents having face-to-face contact with the child rather than mediated contact through letters were more able to come to terms with the loss. Surprisingly, those whose children were involved in child welfare adoptions were more likely to fall in the "positive acceptance" category than those in voluntary adoptions - 52 percent compared to 39 percent. To access a free abstract, go to: https://www.haworthpress.com/; To read the Adoption Institute's report on birthparents, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2006_11_birthparent_wellbeing.php

REVIEW INDICATES MOST FOSTER YOUTHS WANT MORE BIRTHPARENT CONTACT
A review of 22 studies examining foster children's perspectives on their own care concludes that most feel safe in their caregivers' homes (but often not in their neighborhoods), and the majority want more frequent contact with their birthparents. "A Response to No One Ever Asked Us: A Review of Children's Experiences in Out-of-Home Care," by Adair Fox and Jill Berrick, was published in the February issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (Volume 24, Issue 1). A recent study review reported that while many youth are pleased with their current placements and hope they can stay, they are unsure as to whether they can. The authors recommend that children's perspectives be included more in case planning. To access an abstract of this article, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/casw/2007/00000024/00000001/00000057

PROFESSIONALS VOICE CONCERNS ABOUT INDEPENDENT LIVING PREPARATION
A qualitative study of the quality of preparation of youth in congregate care for independent living reported most professionals had concerns about the effectiveness of classroom instruction and the need for more opportunities to practice skills while living in the world. The study involved interviews or focus groups with 56 representatives of five stakeholder groups, as well as 31 young adults who left care. "Preparation of Youth in Congregate Care for Independent Living," by Madelyn Freundlich (an Adoption Institute Senior Fellow), Rosemary Avery, and Deborah Padgett, was published in the February issue of Child and Family Social Work (Volume 12, Issue 1). Youth respondents were divided in their perceptions of how well prepared they were and how involved they were in planning and decision-making. A primary recommendation was routine incorporation of conversations with youth about their goals, the quality of services, and decisions that affect them. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2006.00444.x

GEORGIA STUDY GIVES IN-DEPTH LOOK AT CHILD WELFARE WORKER TURNOVER
A statewide study of public child welfare workers in Georgia identified 17 specific organizational or personal factors contributing to turnover (large workloads and long hours, not being valued, intrusion of work into family life, fear related to liabilities, etc.) and 14 to retention (benefits, challenging and meaningful work, support, supervision, mentoring, a sense of humor, etc.). "A Qualitative Study of 369 Child Welfare Professionals' Perspectives about Factors Contributing to Employee Retention and Turnover," by Alberta Ellett, Jacquelyn Ellis, Tonya Westbrook and Denise Dews, was published in the February issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 29, Issue 2). The findings of other studies are summarized and specific recommendations given, including developing a career model that includes vertical and horizontal work options and developing strong mentoring and support programs for workers. To access a free abstract, go to the bottom of the following site: http://www.sciencedirect.com/

MOST SEXUALLY EXPLOITED CHILDREN IN N.Y.C. SPENT TIME IN FOSTER CARE
A report released on April 18 by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services found that the vast majority of the state's sexually exploited children are in New York City and that of these 2,253 children, 75 percent had been in foster care at some point in their lives. "New York Prevalence Study of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children" found the boys and girls in New York City tended to be female and black, and to be exploited by strangers in hotel rooms or outside; upstate, where there were an estimated 400 affected children, they tended to be white and were often exploited at home by adult friends or acquaintances. The study was conducted during a two-month period last year and was based on interviews, focus groups and surveys sent to 159 law enforcement and social service agencies statewide. To read the report, go to: http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/reports/default.asp#csec

 

News

SLOWDOWNS IN THREE COUNTRIES EXPECTED TO LENGTHEN ADOPTION WAITS
As a result of changes in the top three sending countries for international adoptions - China, Russia and Guatemala - prospective adoptive parents are facing longer waits, according to an April 23 report, "Wait Grows for Foreign Adoptions," by Richard Read in The Oregonian. The article suggests the slowdowns in these countries may result in a temporary reversal in the rapid growth in U.S. overseas adoptions, and may contribute to the decision of some Americans to adopt domestically, opt for special-needs children in China (which is a faster track), or switch to newer sources of adoption including Ethiopia, Haiti, Nepal and other developing countries. China had instituted new requirements for applicants seeking to adopt a healthy child; Russian adoptions have stalled as a result of agencies not getting accredited; and U.S. officials have warned against adoptions from Guatemala due to corruption and will require tougher child-protection measures to be implemented once the U.S. has ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. To read the article, go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/
1177296939251070.xml&coll=7

MINNESOTA ADOPTION AGENCY LICENSE REVOKED ON GROUNDS OF FRAUD
The Minnesota Department of Human Services revoked the license of Reaching Arms International adoption agency, which had placed hundreds of children with Minnesota families since 1992, on the grounds it falsified documents, forged signatures, and threatened clients who complained about delays and additional costs. According to the April 9 Star Tribune article by Patricia Lopez, "Adoption Agency's License is Revoked," the agency had been under investigation since last September and the revocation was issued on March 30, 2007. The agency - which has filed an appeal - is barred from taking on new clients as a result of losing its license, but it can continue to work with existing families. The agency will not have to turn over existing contracts until the outcome of the appeal is determined. To read the article, go to: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1109672.html; to view Minnesota's licensing requirements for adoption agencies go to: http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR PROPOSES STATE ADOPTION TAX CREDIT
In his budget for the next fiscal year, Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina has proposed a special tax credit to help offset adoption expenses, according to an April 22 article in The News & Observer, "Easley calls for adoption tax credit," by J. Andrew Curliss. Funding the state credit - which would amount to about half the existing federal tax credit for those who used it - reportedly would cost about $3 million in the state's $20 billion annual budget. Eligible expenses would include "reasonable and necessary" adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, travel expenses and other costs directly related to the legal adoption of an eligible child; expenses would be covered up to a total of $11,000. The tax credit would apply to any eligible child under the age of 18. To read the governor's proposed budget, go to: http://www.ncleg.net/sessions/2007/bills/senate/html/s765v1.html ; to read the article, go to:http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/566526.html

 

Resources

BULLETINS ON SIBLINGS, FOSTER PARENTS ADDED TO INFORMATION GATEWAY
New bulletins for professionals - written by two Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute senior staff members - have been added to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. "Sibling Issues in Foster Care and Adoption," by Susan Smith (the Institute's Program and Policy Director), summarizes research on the benefits of siblings in children's development and the impact of separating sibs, and discusses practice strategies for preserving sibling bonds in foster care and adoption. To access this publication, go to: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/siblingissues/index.cfm

"Foster Parent Adoption," by Jeanne Howard (the Institute's Policy and Research Director), reviews the costs and benefits of foster care adoption and practice issues for children and parents. To access this bulletin, go to: http://www.childwelfare.gov/

IOWA GROUP OFFERS PUBLICATION TO EDUCATE TEACHERS ON ADOPTION
The Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association offers an array of resources online, including a booklet to educate teachers about the needs of adopted children. "Adoption Basics for Educators: How Adoption Impacts Children and How Educators Can Help," a 23-page resource, includes factual information about adoption and children's understanding of adoption at different ages, a discussion of concerns related to curriculum and adoption language, and a recommended book list for children at different ages as well as for parents and professionals. To access, scroll down to "Education" on the website below: http://www.ifapa.org/resources/adoption.asp. To read the Adoption Institute's report on adoption in the schools, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/policy/2006_09_adoption_in_the_schools.php

RESOURCE CENTER OFFERS AUDIO FILES OF PERMANENCY TELECONFERENCE
The National Resource Center Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning and the Child Welfare League of America hosted a recent teleconference on youth permanency for state program managers in foster care and adoption. Audio files of that teleconference, along with handouts, are now available for download on the Center's website. A particularly insightful speaker was foster care alumnus Schylar Canfield, who gave a youth's perspective on permanency at the March 21 teleconference. To access, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/teleconferences/index.html

ADOPTUSKIDS ADDS WEB PAGES TO AID INTERJURISDICTIONAL PLACEMENTS
Two web pages with information to facilitate the interjurisdictional placement process have been added to the AdoptUsKids website. They include checklists for steps to be carried out by sending and receiving states, and a web page with state-specific information on resources and requirements in interjurisdictional placements. Currently, information is available for 16 states and the District of Columbia. States not yet represented are asked to send information to Melody Roe at AdoptUsKids. To access the new web pages, go to: http://216.38.216.37/adoptusa/placements.html

CENTER OFFERS RESOURCES FOR CASEWORKERS ON EDUCATIONAL ADVOCACY
The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement sponsored a teleconference on April 30, "Advocating for the Educational Needs of Children in Out-of-Home Care: The Colorado Experience." Handouts from this presentation are on the group's website, including a 105-page manual and training curriculum for caseworkers to enhance their skills in advocating effectively for the educational needs of the children they serve. To access a review of the curriculum and outline of the contents go to: http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/tele.htm#april30. Also, the curriculum manual is available at: http://tatis.muskie.usm.maine.edu/pubs/pubdetailWtemp.asp?PUB_ID=B060061

 

Institute Updates

INSTITUTE TESTIFIES ON ACCESS TO RECORDS, 2ND PARENT ADOPTION BILLS
On April 4 the Adoption Institute submitted testimony during a public hearing in support of a Missouri bill (HB509) that would permit adult adoptees 18 years or older to obtain a certified copy of their original birth certificates. A similar bill was rejected on April 23 by the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly, the second time such legislation has failed to become law; Gov. M. Jodi Rell had vetoed the measure last year. The Adoption Institute also submitted a letter in support of legislation in Michigan (HB4259) that would permit second parent adoptions and allow unmarried couples to adopt jointly in the state. To read the Institute testimony in Missouri, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/policy/20070402_testimony_openrecords_missouri.php; to read the Missouri bill, go to: http://www.house.mo.gov/bills071/bills/hb509.htm; to read the Institute testimony in Michigan, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/policy/20070413_letter_secondparent_michigan.php; to read the Michigan measure, go to: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/

INSTITUTE STAFF, SENIOR FELLOWS INCLUDED IN `HANDBOOK OF ADOPTION'
Sage Publications released a new book, Handbook of Adoption: Implications for Researchers, Practitioners, and Families,edited by Rafael A. Javier, Amanda L. Baden, Frank A. Biafora, and Alina Camacho-Gingerich. It includes contributions from the Adoption Institute's Policy & Operations Director, Hollee McGinnis, and its Research & Project Director, Dr. David Brodzinsky, as well as several chapters authored by Institute Senior Research Fellows. For more information on the book, go to: http://www.transracialadoption.net/

INSTITUTE REQUESTS MEETING WITH DISNEY TO DISCUSS ADOPTION
The Adoption Institute called for a meeting with Walt Disney Pictures in an April 9 press release to discuss the potentially negative impact on children and families of its new movie, "Meet the Robinsons." The Institute said the studio was well-intentioned, but suggested that the strong criticism of the movie within the adoption community indicated more education could improve the treatment of adoption and foster care in future films. To read the press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/media/20070409_press_disney.php

RUSSIA'S SUSPENSION REFLECTS LARGER CHANGES IN ADOPTION PRACTICE
In an April 12 New York Times article by Lynette Clemetson, "Working on Overhaul, Russia Halts Adoption Applications," Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman explains that the delays in reaccrediting adoption agencies in Russia are part of a "fundamental restructuring of international adoption across several countries" that reflect a widespread effort to implement practices that protect children. To read the article for a fee, go to: http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00716F8395B0C718DDDAD0894DF404482

TRANSRACIAL ADOPTIONS FUEL GROWING TREND OF LARGE, DIVERSE FAMILIES
Executive Director Pertman explains in an April 6 Newsday story by Rhonda Amon, "Hand Picked Families," that the growing number of large families of kids who don't look like their parents is a result of the numbers of American families choosing transracial adoptions. Transracial and international adoptions have amounted to a "whole revolution in adoption" that challenges traditional notions of family and has transformed communities. Despite the growth in such families, Pertman also points out that for those children adopted into a large multi-adoption family, questions of identity are particularly salient. To read the article, go to: http://www.newsday.com/features/printedition/longislandlife/ny-lfcover08,0,1491765.story

INSTITUTE ANNUAL SPRING GALA ON MAY 17; OTHER EVENTS TO FOLLOW
Our third annual "Taste of Spring" benefit in New York City is right around the corner. Thanks to the generosity of so many donors and supporters; dedicated Benefit Chair Sandy McManus and her hard-working committee; donations of one-of-a-kind opportunities and adventures; and a host of talented chefs, the event promises to not only be a fun evening, but a very successful one in garnering funds to support the Institute's vital work. The evening features food from some of New York's top chefs and restaurants, delicious wine, music and a silent auction. We look forward to recognizing this year's honorees, the esteemed journalists and adoptive parents Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt, and the good corporate citizens of Prudential Financial. For more information about the event, 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) 979-0384.

In addition to this signature event in New York City, we are holding a variety of events around the country throughout the year. Following up on our successful event in Washington, D.C., on March 27, we are planning a second gathering there this June to launch the Institute's new legislative initiative; it will increase our efforts to improve laws, policies and practices relating to adoption and foster care at the local, state and national levels. We will again assemble a group of government and community officials, professionals with adoption in their families, journalists and advocates to help increase our presence - and effectiveness - in the nation's capital.

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:

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120 East 38th Street
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