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BUSH SIGNS BILL CUTTING FUNDS FOR ADOPTION, CHILD WELFARE SERVICES
President George Bush signed legislation on Dec. 26 approving the 2008 federal budget (HR2764), which reduces federal spending in a number of child welfare programs. The Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program - which funds services for families including reunification from foster care, adoption services, children at risk of being placed in foster care and at risk of abuse and neglect - was cut for the third time in the last four years, by $25 million. Other programs were cut by 1.7 percent below 2007 spending (and have not received any increases in the past decade); they include Child Welfare Services, Child Welfare Training, Abandoned Infants, and Adoption Awareness and Adoption Opportunities grants. To read the bill, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR2764 in the bill text fields; to read more about the new federal budget, go to:
CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE REAUTHORIZED - WITH NO EXPANSION
President Bush signed legislation (S2499) on Dec. 29 that will extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) through March 31, 2009, with funding to maintain current enrollment. President Bush vetoed two bills this fall that would have reauthorized and expanded the program. SCHIP provides health insurance for children who are ineligible for Medicaid and unable to afford private health insurance; although most children in foster care receive Medicaid benefits, SCHIP would help youth aging out of the system who could otherwise not afford health care. To read the bill, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S2499 in the bill text field; to read an analysis of the legislation by the Child Welfare League of America, go to:
GUATEMALA APPROVES PRACTICES TO IMPLEMENT HAGUE TREATY REQUIREMENTS
The Guatemalan congress approved legislation on Dec. 11 that will enable the nation to comply with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Guatemala has been a party to the Hague Convention since March 2003, but had not yet instituted practices consistent with the treaty. According to a Dec. 11 U.S. State Department notice, the new law establishes a National Adoption Council, which will be the central authority for all intercountry adoptions and will be responsible for setting fees and registering orphanages. It also prohibits payments to birthparents, requires a six-week waiting period after a birth before a child can be relinquished by a parent for adoption, and eliminates the facilitation of adoptions by notaries and baby brokers. Cases in process prior to the new legislation will be completed if they are registered with the new central authority within 30 business days after the Dec. 31 effective date of the law. The Hague Convention will come into force in the U.S. on April 1, 2008; the State Department has warned that if Guatemala fails to put its new regulations into practice by that time, new adoptions will not be approved. To read the Dec. 11 State Department notice, go to:
to read a notice to prospective adoptive parents, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3825.html
NORTH CAROLINA ESTABLISHES `CONFIDENTIAL INTERMEDIARY' SYSTEM
A new law in North Carolina (SL2007-262) will permit licensed adoption agencies and county departments of social services to act as "confidential intermediaries" - that is, they will be allowed to provide non-identifying family health information to adopted adults 21 years or older (or their descendents) and to birthparents; if written consent of all parties is provided, they will also be allowed to facilitate contact or provide identifying information. Previously, such information could only be provided if a court order was obtained. The law was signed by Governor Mike Easley on July 23 and does not provide any state funding; agencies will establish fees for services. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2008. To read the law, go to:
CHAPIN HALL REPORT SUPPORTS YOUTH REMAINING IN FOSTER CARE UNTIL 21
Chapin Hall Center for Children published a report in December of 591 youth who aged out of foster care in three Midwestern states (Wave 3 of a longitudinal study). "The Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 21," by Mark Courtney, Amy Dworsky, Gretchen Cusick, Thomas Keller, Judy Havlicek, Alfred Perez, Sherri Terao and Noel Bost, found that former foster youth, when compared with a national sample of 21-year olds, were less likely to have finished high school, attended college or be earning a living wage. An Issue Brief, "When Should the State Cease Parenting? Evidence from the Midwest Study," by Courtney, Dworsky and Harold Pollack, compares former Illinois foster youth (who can choose to remain in care until age 21) with former foster youth in Wisconsin and Iowa (who must leave care at age 18); it found that Illinois youth were 2.2 times more likely to have completed at least one year of college and Illinois girls were less likely to have become pregnant. To access these reports, go to:
ANALYSIS FINDS PARENTS' ACTIONS AID ADOPTEES' BICULTURAL COMPETENCE
A longitudinal study of the factors linked with bicultural competence in over 300 7-year-old adopted Chinese children found that parental attitudes toward bicultural socialization (measured in Wave 1), their networks with Chinese adults, and the racial composition of their communities all affect the children's levels of Chinese cultural competence. "Bicultural Socialization among Adoptive Families: Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way," by Kristy Thomas and Richard Tessler, was published in the September issue of the
Journal of Family Issues(Volume, 28, Issue 9). The authors suggest that professionals provide parents with resources on how to connect with local Chinese/Asian communities. To access a free abstract, go to:
MANY BEHAVIORS OF FOSTER CHILDREN ARE LINKED TO UNRESOLVED GRIEF
A qualitative study involving interviews with 23 foster children, along with analyses of projective tests from 182 foster children, analyzed the symptoms of ambiguous loss in the children's stories - frozen grief, intense anger, confusion, guilt, helplessness, depression, and others. "Foster Children's Expressions of Ambiguous Loss," by Robert Lee and Jason Whiting, was published in the most recent issue of
The American Journal of Family Therapyy (Volume 35, Issue 5). The authors encourage professionals to recognize that many foster children's disturbing behaviors are symptoms of unresolved grief, so they need help to understand their losses and to express their feelings verbally. To access an abstract, go to:
and click "Online Contents" on the right menu.
CALIFORNIA STUDY EXAMINES FACTORS PREDICTING FAMILY REUNIFICATION
A multivariate analysis of 1,215 cases of children, ages 4-11, entering foster care in a single California county found that the strongest predictors of reunification (which occurred within one year for 73 percent) were a shorter amount of time in care, receiving longer services after returning home, and experiencing multiple foster placements (the explanation for the latter finding was unknown). "Achieving Permanence in Foster Care for Young Children: A Comparison of Kinship and Non-Kinship Placements," by Jennifer Pabustan-Claar, was published in the most recent issue of the
Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work (Volume 16, Issue 1/2). The study also found that children in kinship care were in care longer than those in regular foster care. To access a free abstract, go to:
FOSTER CHILDREN, IN INTERVIEWS, ASK MORE CONTACT WITH BIRTH FAMILIES
As part of a longitudinal study of children in long-term foster care, interviews were conducted with 59 children at two points in time; the results indicated that while the children appeared to have good relationships with their caretakers, most wanted more contact with their families of origin. "How Children Experience Fostering Outcomes: Participatory Research with Children," by Elizabeth Fernandez, was published in the November issue of
Child and Family Social Work (Volume 12, Issue 4). More than half of the children never saw their fathers and many wanted to reconnect. The majority had multiple anxiety symptoms on a standardized measure, and anxiety at Time 1 was strongly associated with adjustment problems at Time 2. For a free abstract, go to:
ISRAELI COURT ORDERS RECOGNITION OF SAME-SEX OVERSEAS ADOPTIONS
In a ruling issued on Dec. 9, a 9-member panel of Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the government must recognize foreign adoptions by same-sex couples. According to a Dec. 9 article published on the website 365Gay.com, "Israel High Court Rules Gov't Must Recognize Foreign Same-Sex Adoptions," one partner in a lesbian couple with dual American-Israeli citizenship gave birth to a boy through IVF while living in California, where the non-biological partner also legally adopted the child. When they returned to Israel in 1999, the Interior Ministry refused to recognize both women as the legal parents on the child's papers, even though they possessed documents showing a lawful adoption in the U.S. The new ruling upheld a 1999 court order requiring the Israeli government to amend its records to show both women as parents; the government said it would consider an appeal. To read the article, go to:
AUSTRALIA REPORTEDLY PLANS TO STREAMLINE INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS
The Australian government plans to create a federal governing body to streamline overseas adoptions, establish uniform national regulations, and open new adoption programs with more countries, according to a Dec. 23 article published in Australia's
Daily Telegraph"Deborra-Lee's Adoption Victory," by Ellen Connolly. These efforts were supported by actor and adoption activist Deborra-lee Furness (wife to actor Hugh Jackman and an adoptive mother), who has been advocating for the need to cut wait times and make the process easier and faster for couples in Australia seeking to adopt. To read the article, go to:
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN PUBLISHES GUIDE FOR WORK WITH GLBT FAMILIES
The Human Rights Campaign's All Children - All Families initiative has published a guide to effective practice strategies for working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender foster and adoptive parents. The guide can be requested online at the website below, and other resources can be accessed online, including an index of state laws related to GLBT foster and adoptive parents, criteria for GLBT cultural competence, a resource list, and a list of trainers and consultants. To access, go to:
ADOPTION INSTITUTE HOSTS 'FOR THE RECORDS' NATIONAL STRATEGY SESSION
On Dec. 10, the Adoption Institute hosted a daylong round-table discussion in New York City with leaders and advocates from across the nation who have been working to restore the right of adopted adults to have access to their original birth certificates. The discussion was hosted in the wake of the Institute's groundbreaking report, "For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees," which was released in November. The report, which has garnered extensive attention from the media, policy-makers and activists, provides the most extensive examination to date of the various issues related to state laws relating to this issue. The round-table discussion focused on lessons learned and strategies for taking next steps to successfully change state laws so that adopted adults have the same rights as every other American citizen to access their original birth certificates. To read the report, go to:
SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOWS, STAFF PARTICIPATE IN CONCLAVE AND CONFERENCE
The Adoption Institute for the first time brought together all of its Senior Research Fellows on Nov. 15 for a one-day conclave/discussion on current and future trends in adoption; the following day, the University of Maryland School of Social Work hosted a conference featuring the Institute's policy staff and Senior Fellows. Both the conclave and the conference gathered some of the most accomplished researchers and experts in the fields of adoption and child welfare; the events were organized by the Institute in collaboration with Dr. Rick Barth, who is a Senior Research Fellow and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. The conference, "Adoption in America 2007: What We Know and How it Matters for Children and Families," was attended by over 100 professionals working in child welfare. Proceedings from the conclave of the Institute Senior Fellows will be made available on the Adoption Institute website at a future date. To read a press release about the conference, go to:
http://www.oea.umaryland.edu/communications/news/?ViewStatus=FullArticle&articleDetail =3155 ;
to read a summary of the presentations, go to: http://www.ssw.umaryland.edu/adoption
FLORIDA LAWMAKERS TOLD THAT GAY ADOPTION BAN HURTS WAITING CHILDREN
On Dec. 3, the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs held a public hearing in Miami on issues relating to adoption and foster care. Executive Director Pertman presented oral comments and submitted written testimony at the hearing about Florida's ban on adoption by gays and lesbians - the only such statutory prohibition by a state in the nation. "The bottom line is painfully simple," Pertman said in his written remarks. "Florida's prohibition … doesn't necessarily prevent any of those adults from becoming parents; they can readily do that in other ways, in other places. So, instead, it only decreases the odds that children in this state's custody will ever get permanent, loving homes." To read the written testimony, go to:
PERTMAN: `THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT WE BELIEVE MORE KIDS WILL GET HOMES'
In a Dec. 21 article published by Out & About, "HRC Foundation Launches New Initiative to Help Find Permanent Families for Children in Foster Care," Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on the importance of educating agencies to work with gay and lesbian prospective adoptive parents. The article describes the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's "All Children - All Families" initiative, which seeks to increase the number of permanent families for children in foster care by promoting equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples and families. "We encourage agencies to engage in the process of becoming more competent in working with GLBT families, which the AC-AF Promising Practices Guide will help them to do, and the bottom line is that we believe more kids will get homes as a result," Pertman is quoted as saying. To read the article, go to:
to read the Institute 2006 policy brief on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/policy/2006_Expanding_Resources_for_Children.php
POSITIVE NEWS FOR ADOPTIONS FROM GUATEMALA, BUT WITH UNCERTAINTIES
In a Dec. 13 article in the Chicago-area Daily Herald, "Families Waiting on Adoptions Get Good News," by Amy Boerema - which reported on Guatemala's new adoption legislation to change intercountry adoption practices - Pertman cautions that there is still much uncertainty as to whether Guatemalan officials will successfully implement the new regulations and eliminate problematic practices. The new legislation provides for the completion of the approximately 3,700 adoptions that were already in process when a controversial freeze was implemented. To read the article, go to:
PLEASE INCLUDE THE ADOPTION INSTITUTE IN YOUR YEAR-END GIVING
As 2007 draws to a close, it's not too late to make a donation to support the Adoption Institute's work to provide evidence-based, unbiased information to improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption. The Institute has no endowment, and depends on the generosity of supporters who understand the importance of the work we do, and the wide-reaching impact it has on the entire field of adoption. While we accomplish a great deal with very little, we can only pursue the projects and activities for which we have funding.
Thank you for your continued interest in our work, and all best wishes for a wonderful New Year from the Board, staff, fellows and volunteers of the Adoption Institute.
And as soon as you get your 2008 calendar, be sure to save the date for our Taste of Spring benefit on May 14, 2008. Our fourth annual food and wine benefit in New York City 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@example.com. And if parties are not "your thing," we welcome direct support of our work! Some of our current projects available for support include:
• RESTORING RIGHTS TO ACCESS
• ADOPTIVE PARENT PREPARATION
• SAFE HAVENS: ARE THE LAWS
• TRANSCULTURAL ADOPTION
• ADOPTION AGENCY PRACTICES WITH
GAYS AND LESBIANS
• RIGHTS & WELL-BEING OF
• EXPANDING RESOURCES FOR
CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
• EDUCATE THE EDUCATORS AND
EDUCATE THE MEDIA PROGRAMS
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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