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1. Law, Policy & Practice
Massachusetts Makes Infant Abandonment ‘Safe Haven’ Law Permanent
Illinois Law Extends Survivor Benefits for Adopted Children
- Appeals Court Upholds Recognition of Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples
- Lesotho Halts Intercountry Adoptions While Probing Abuse Reports
- College Aid for Child Welfare Workers Progresses in U.S. Congress

2. Research
- Tax Credit Found to Primarily Benefit Private and Foreign Adoptions
- Two Studies Examine Experiences of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
- Analysis Compares Internet Adoption Photo-Listings in Three Nations
- Review Cites Ways to Support Attachment in International Adoption

3. News
- States Seeking to Help Youth Aging Out of Care by Extending Benefits
- Stigma Leads to Few HIV-Positive Children Being Adopted Within India
- South Korea Proposes Additional Tax Cuts for Families that Adopt

4. Resources
- Publications Offer Financial Strategies for Youth Leaving Foster Care
- Paper Suggests Ways to Promote Placement Stability in Foster Care
- Website Offers Evidence-Based Approaches to Improving Child Welfare

5. Institute Update
- Reports Question Effectiveness of Current Infant Abandonment Laws
- Putative Father Registries Important but Aims May Not Be Realistic
- Staff Members Discuss Culture Camps on Radio, Adopted Teens in Book
- Register Now for the National Ethics Conference Oct. 15-16
- A Successful Party, With More to Come: Events to Enable Our Work

Law, Policy & Practice

MASSACHUSETTS MAKES INFANT ABANDONMENT ‘SAFE HAVEN’ LAW PERMANENT 
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation (SB2177) on Aug. 6 that will make permanent the Safe Haven Act of 2004, allowing parents to legally abandon newborn infants 7 days or younger at designated “safe haven” spots (hospitals, police stations or staffed fire stations) without criminal prosecution. The current law would have expired in June 2008, but the new one (Chapter 86 of the Acts of 2007) strikes out the sunset clause. In addition, it requires the state to track the effectiveness of the program. Since the legislation passed, six babies have been surrendered at “safe havens,” two newborns are known to have been abandoned, and at least 35 women who have called the safe haven hotline have been advised on pregnancy plans, according to one news report. To read the legislation, go to: http://www.mass.gov/legis/; to read a news report on the law, go to: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/; to read the Adoption Institute study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/

ILLINOIS LAW EXTENDS SURVIVOR BENEFITS FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation (HB4) into law (Public Act 095-0279) on Aug. 17 guaranteeing that adopted children receive the same benefits as biological children when a parent dies, including survivor benefits from public pension plans. The legislation amends 15 pension codes for several categories of  public sector positions (judges, General Assembly members, firefighters and police) that had previously denied benefits for adopted children if the parent was older than 50 when the adoption took place or if the parent died within a certain time after the adoption. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2008. To read the new law, go to: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS RECOGNITION OF ADOPTIONS BY SAME-SEX COUPLES 
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 3 rejected the Oklahoma Department of Health’s challenge to a lower court’s decision overturning a 2004 law prohibiting the recognition of adoptions by same-sex couples finalized in other states or foreign countries. The 35-page decision by the Court of Appeals upheld the May 2006 ruling by the U.S. District Court, which found the state law violated the U.S. Constitution by singling out a specific group for discrimination. The decision protects same-sex couples who adopted while living in other states and later moved to Oklahoma with their families, or who want to visit the state. The Oklahoma Department of Health has stated it will not appeal the decision. To read the Appeals Court opinion, go to: http://pub.bna.com/fl/

LESOTHO HALTS INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS WHILE PROBING ABUSE REPORTS 
The U.S. Department of State issued a noticed on Aug. 29 confirming that the African nation of Lesotho has suspended all international and domestic adoptions effective June 4, resulting from as-yet-unsubstantiated reports of trafficking or abuse of adopted Basotho children. The Lesotho Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will be investigating these allegations of trafficking and expressed its hope that intercountry adoptions could resume as soon as possible. To read the notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/

COLLEGE AID FOR CHILD WELFARE WORKERS PROGRESSES IN U.S. CONGRESS 
Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed versions of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 (HR2669), which would provide loan forgiveness for child welfare workers who receive a degree in social work or a related field and are employed in either public or private child welfare services. The House bill would provide loan forgiveness of $1,000 a year, up to $5,000, for a person working in one of the eight areas of national need (including child welfare) and current national service program (subtitle D of title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990). The Senate bill provides loan forgiveness after an individual has been employed in child welfare for 10 years. The separate bills, both passed in July, are now being reconciled in conference committee between the two chambers. To read the legislation, go to: http://www.thomas.gov/ and search for HR2669 in the bill search field.

Research

TAX CREDIT FOUND TO PRIMARILY BENEFIT PRIVATE AND FOREIGN ADOPTIONS
A research brief published this month by Child Trends, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research center, indicates the federal adoption tax credit – enacted by Congress in 1966 – is not serving its original purpose. While the tax credit was initially designed to promote adoption of U.S children from foster care, the brief, “The Adoption Tax Credit: Is It An Effective Approach to Promote Foster Care Adoption?” found that the majority of recipients adopted privately or from foreign countries rather than from foster care. The research also showed that the tax credit disproportionately supports those families with higher incomes, and that it mainly supports the adoption of younger children. To read about these findings, visit: http://www.childtrends.org/Files/

TWO STUDIES EXAMINE EXPERIENCES OF YOUTH AGING OUT OF FOSTER CARE
Based on interviews with 732 foster youth ages 17 or older, researchers identified four subpopulations with distinctive profiles that may forecast different trajectories in the transition to adulthood. “Approaching the Transition to Adulthood: Distinctive Profiles of Adolescents Aging out of the Child Welfare System,” by Thomas Keller, Gretchen Cusick and Mark Courtney, is in the September issue of Social Service Review (Volume 81, Issue 3). The subgroups are labeled: “distressed and disconnected” (43% with troubled history of multiple placements and placement in non-family settings); “competent and connected” (38% with fewer placements, often with kin, and have people to count on); “struggling but staying” (14% with numerous challenges, higher prevalence in special education, and more amenable to intervention than first group); and “hindered and homebound” (5% who are primarily in first foster placement with relatives but low school achievement and prior employment). For a free abstract, go to:
http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/SSR/

Another study, based on data gathered from 10 focus groups with 88 participants – including children in foster care, foster alumni, foster parents, and child welfare and education professionals – identified strategies to aid foster youth with the transition to adulthood. Those included reducing the personnel (i.e. caseworkers and school transition staff) children interact with on a daily basis in order to provide stability, and consolidating multiple funding sources in order to support one fully integrated and individualized transition plan. “Tomorrow is Another Problem: The Experiences of Youth in Foster Care During Their Transition into Adulthood,” by Sarah Geenen and Laurie E. Powers, is in the August issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 29, Issue 8). To access the abstract for free, go to:
http://www.sciencedirect.com./

ANALYSIS COMPARES INTERNET ADOPTION PHOTO-LISTINGS IN THREE NATIONS 
A comparative analysis of national internet-based photo-listing programs for children waiting for adoption in three countries (U.S., Canada, and Russian Federation) identified practice issues to consider in the development of best practices and outcome data, where available. “Websites Featuring Children Waiting for Adoption: A Cross-Country Review,” by Madelyn Freundlich (an Institute Senior Fellow), Sarah Gerstenzang, and Meredith Holtan, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption & Fostering (Volume 31, Issue 2). For the U.S. listing site, the number of visitors has increased more than 300 percent to approximately 268,000 a month. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.baaf.org.uk/res/

REVIEW CITES WAYS TO SUPPORT ATTACHMENT IN INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
A review of interventions for internationally adopted children and families reports the effectiveness of existing empirical evidence. Some specific models are recommended, such as two developed by Zeanah – the New Orleans Intervention for Maltreated Children in Foster Care and the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, improving orphanage care. “Interventions for Internationally Adopted Children and Families: A Review of the Literature,” by Janet Welsh, Andres Viana, Stephan Petrill and Matthew Mathias, was published in the June issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (Volume 24, Issue 3). Some short-term interventions to support attachment by teaching caregivers to understand child signals and respond in a sensitive manner have been empirically validated. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.springerlink.com/content/

 

News

STATES SEEKING TO HELP YOUTH AGING OUT OF CARE BY EXTENDING BENEFITS
Although all states provide some housing, counseling, scholarships and career training for youth in the U.S. foster care who are “emancipated” from the system at the age of 18, states are seeking ways to extend more benefits to foster youth, according to an article by Christine Vestal, “States Trying to Extend Foster-Care Benefits,” published on the website Stateline.org. Three states (Illinois, District of Columbia and Vermont) have extended foster-care services to the age of 21, if a youth chooses to remain in the program. Other states reportedly would consider extending benefits through age 21 if there was more federal support. At least 18 states offer Medicaid health-care benefits for youth up to age 21, and some states are starting to find mentors for youth who have not found permanent homes. Critics argue that raising the age for foster care is only part of the solution, and that states must do more to find permanent homes as well as to provide more preparation for adulthood. To read the article, go to:
http://www.stateline.org/live/

STIGMA LEADS TO FEW HIV-POSIITVE CHILDREN BEING ADOPTED WITHIN INDIA
As a result of social stigma and lack of education about HIV/AIDS, many orphaned children who are HIV-positive in India have a difficult time being adopted domestically, according to an Aug. 27 Times of India article by Shanthi Selvarajan, “Orphaned HIV +: Children No One Wants.” Those children who are adopted within this group in India tend to be adopted by wealthy Indians, by ones who live overseas, or by foreigners. Despite various measures taken by the government, people suffering from the disease still face stigma and isolation. A United Nations AIDS report said in 2006 that India had the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS, an estimated 5.7 million. To read the article, go to: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

SOUTH KOREA PROPOSES ADDITIONAL TAX CUTS FOR FAMILIES THAT ADOPT 
The South Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy has proposed tax-law revisions that would provide additional tax cuts for childbirth and adoption, according to an Aug. 23 article published in Hankyoreh, “New Tax Law Revision to Ease Burden on Low-Income Families.” The proposed revisions would allow anyone giving birth or adopting a child to deduct 2 million won (US $2,128) from taxed income. The revisions would mostly ease the tax burden on low- and mid-income earners, self-employed workers and small- and medium-sized companies. If approved, the new tax law would become effective starting Jan. 1, 2008. To read the article, go to: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/

 

Resources

PUBLICATIONS OFFER FINANCIAL STRATEGIES FOR YOUTH LEAVING FOSTER CARE
The Finance Project, a non-profit research, consulting, technical assistance and training firm, has published three papers designed to provide information about the unique financial issues faced by youth transitioning out of the foster care system, along with suggestions for how to deal with these issues. The strategy briefs discuss funding sources and financial plans that can aid youth entrepreneurship opportunities, workforce development programs, and asset-building and financial education programs. To access the three publications, visit http://www.financeproject.org/practice/ and look under featured publications.

PAPER SUGGESTS WAYS TO PROMOTE PLACEMENT STABILITY IN FOSTER CARE
Casey Family Programs, in collaboration with other organizations, provides a review of current studies supporting the finding that one of the main predictors of a successful youth experience in foster care is placement stability. The paper, “Why Should the Child Welfare Field Focus on Minimizing Placement Change as Part of Permanency Planning for Children?” by Peter Pecora, includes information on five primary areas in which practitioners could help to lower the possibility of placement change for children. To download the paper, go to http://www.casey.org/Resources/ and click on the link at the top right corner of the page.

WEBSITE OFFERS EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACHES TO IMPROVING CHILD WELFARE 
While a large number of child welfare systems report wanting to improve the experiences of children and families they work with, finding effective ways to do so can be difficult. The website of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) offers many resources that focus primarily on the application of evidence-based approaches. The website also includes recent research findings, a newsletter, and links to other resources. For more information, go to http://nirn.fmhi.usf.edu/.

 

Institute Updates

REPORTS QUESTION EFFECTIVENESS OF CURRENT INFANT ABANDONMENT LAWS
In an article by Richard A. Webster published Aug. 10 in New Orleans City Business, “Help or Hindrance: Safe Haven Law Critics Say There’s No Proof it Saves Babies,” child-welfare workers and others are quoted as questioning whether these laws are serving their intended purpose. Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman cites a report by the Institute that indicated those women who would put their babies in danger are not in psychological condition to think through the realities of legal abandonment. In effect, Pertman says, states have effectively endorsed abandonment as a reasonable resolution to unplanned pregnancy, rather than just a means to save children in real danger. “The assumption is that kids who wind up in Safe Haven are in mortal danger, but there are no indicators that the women who put them there would have otherwise hurt those kids,” he says. To read the article, go to: http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/

In a column by Issac J. Bailey on South Carolina’s infant abandonment “safe haven” law, “Jury Still Out on Efficacy of Daniel's Law,” published Aug. 26 in The Sun News, Pertman says, “The real problem is that there's no way of knowing whether the haven abandonments were really kids in danger. And the research/evidence/experience is that those babies would have wound up safe somewhere without these laws." Remarking on the argument of proponents that the laws are worthwhile even if they save only one baby, Pertman says, “Let’s come up with a law/practice that aims to save them all.” To read the article, go to: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/ ; to read the Adoption Institute study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/

PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRIES IMPORTANT BUT AIMS MAY NOT BE ‘REALISTIC’
In an Aug. 6 Associated Press article by Michael Felberbaum, “Va. Joins Ranks of States with Registry for Possible Fathers,” Executive Director Pertman remarks that the registries, which require unmarried men to register every time they have sex with a woman in order to secure their parental rights, have an important objective but may not work well in practice if the practice they suggest is unrealistic. “If the intent is to engage and empower fathers,” he say, “so far I don’t see the evidence that that’s happening.” To read the article, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/; to read the Institute white paper on the rights and well-being of birth parents, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/

STAFF MEMBERS DISCUSS CULTURE CAMPS ON RADIO, ADOPTED TEENS IN BOOK 
Executive Director Pertman was interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio on Aug. 1 for the show “Here on Earth” on the importance of cultural camps for children adopted internationally or raised in transracial families. In addition, Institute Policy & Operations Director Hollee McGinnis contributed a chapter on search and reunion in the recently released book for adopted teens, Adopted: The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Suzanne Slade, published in August by Scarecrow Press. To listen to the radio broadcast, go to: http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/; to learn more about the book, go to:  http://www.scarecrowpress.com/Catalog/

REGISTER NOW FOR THE NATIONAL ETHICS CONFERENCE OCT. 15-16 
The Adoption Institute, which sponsored the first-ever ethics conference in the field in 1999, is partnering with Ethica, Inc. to hold a second major national ethics conference, with prominent presenters and attendees from this country and throughout the world. Registration is now available for the event, "Adoption Ethics and Accountability: Doing it Right Makes a Lifetime of Difference," which will take place Oct. 15 and 16 at the Marriot Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Va. An early registration discount and CEU credits are available. Visit the conference website, http://www.ethicsconference.net, for the most up-to-date program schedule and to register. If you have questions, please e-mail Adoption Institute Project Administrator Mari Cochran at [email protected] or call 617-680-0808.

A SUCCESSFUL PARTY, WITH MORE TO COME: EVENTS TO ENABLE OUR WORK 
On August 18, more than 30 new friends of the Institute gathered at a beautiful home in the Massachusetts Berkshires town of Monterey to meet Executive Director Adam Pertman and talk with others interested in adoption in an informal (and scenic) setting. While parents learned about the Institute’s important work, a large group of children ranging in age from 3 to 13 found plenty to keep themselves busy … including tasting the delicious food at the event, especially the brownies!

Upcoming fall events include a major fundraiser in Los Angeles on October 25 and a Boston Benefit Concert on November 9. The benefit concert, “Rockin’ for Our Kids,” is in celebration of National Adoption Month and will be held at the Spring Valley Country Club in Sharon, MA. The concert will include cocktails, dinner and a silent auction as well as live entertainment. To see the invitation and/or purchase tickets using our secure PayPal site, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/rockinkids; or you can print and mail this response card to secure tickets, here: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/rockinticket.

And you may not have your 2008 calendar yet, but it’s never too soon to save the date for our 2008 Taste of Spring on May 14, 2008. Our fourth annual food and wine benefit will be as fun and entertaining as ever!

If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please contact Laura James at [email protected]. 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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