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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- EU Court Overturns French Ruling Prohibiting Gay/Lesbian Adoption
- 'Safe Haven' Legislation Passes in Alaska, Progresses in Nevada
- U.S. Cautions Against Initiating New Adoptions from Vietnam, For Now
- Indiana Senate Approves Sibling Visitation Measure for Foster Youth
- Utah Bill Would Allow Non-Married, Cohabitating Couples to Adopt
- HHS Proposes Regulation Change Expanding AFCARS Data Collection

2. Research
- Multi-State Study Shows Steady Decline in Foster Care Numbers
- Research Highlights Detrimental Effects of Foster Placement Moves
- Review Strongly Supports Importance of Keeping Siblings Together
- Caregivers Found to Play Critical Role in Influencing Sib Placements
- Danish Analysis: Higher Schizophrenia Risk for Intercountry Adoptees

3. News
- Indiana to Spend $4 Million to Promote Adoptions from Foster Care
- Western Michigan University Offers Scholarship to Foster Youth

4. Resources
- Chapin Hall Offers Audio Recording of Forum on Racial Disparity
- Bibliography Offers Resources for Work with Traumatized Children
- Guide Suggests Practices to Involve Relatives in Casework Process
- Report on Indian Child Welfare Advocates for IV-E Funding Reforms

5. Institute Update
- Adoption Institute Testifies on New Jersey Access to Records Bill
- State Passive Adoption Registry System is Described as Ineffective
- Reasons Cited for Higher Adoption Costs in the United States
- We Thank Our 2007 Donors, and Ask Your Support in the New Year
- Save the Date: Annual Spring Benefit Set for May 14 in New York City

Law, Policy & Practice

EU COURT OVERTURNS FRENCH RULING PROHIBITING GAY/LESBIAN ADOPTION
The European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on Jan. 22 that overturned a French court decision barring a single lesbian woman from adopting a child. In the 10-7 judgment in the case, E.B. v. France , the EU Court found the decision to exclude an individual from adoption based on sexual orientation was discriminatory and violated the European Convention of Human Rights; it ordered France to pay the plaintiff $14,600 in damages and $21,210 in legal costs. The ruling has set a precedent for gay rights and could affect adoption laws across Europe. Currently, only nine countries permit gay and lesbian couples to adopt children: Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, the U.K., and Sweden. To read the ruling, go to: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/search.asp?skin=hudoc-en and search under "Case Title" using the key words "E.B. v. France"; to read a news article about the case, go to: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1706514,00.html

`SAFE HAVEN' LEGISLATION PASSES IN ALASKA, PROGRESSES IN NEVADA
The Alaska legislature approved a measure (HB29) on Jan. 19 permitting parents to legally abandon newborn infants 21 days or younger at designated "safe haven" spots (hospitals, emergency rooms, fire and police stations) without criminal prosecution. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor by Feb. 12. In Nebraska, final amendments to a similar bill (LB157), which would decriminalize the abandonment of infants 30 days or younger at designated sites, was approved in committee and is pending a vote in the senate. Alaska and Nebraska are the only states that have not enacted such "safe haven" laws. To read the Alaska bill, go to: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill_text.asp?hsid=HB0029A&session=25 ; to read the proposed Nevada bill, go to:http://uniweb.legislature.ne.gov/QS/session.php and type in LB157 in the search field. To read the Adoption Institute paper on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html

U.S. CAUTIONS AGAINST INITIATING NEW ADOPTIONS FROM VIETNAM, FOR NOW
The U.S. State Department issued a warning to adoptive parents and adoption service providers on Jan. 28, saying it would be risky to start new adoption cases from Vietnam because they may not be completed before the 2005 Memorandum of Agreement between the two nations expires on Sept. 1, 2008. Although both nations are committed to continuing intercountry adoptions and want to renew the Agreement, the U.S. is seeking to renegotiate the contract because of instances of fraud in the current adoption process; thus, there is no guarantee that a new Agreement will be in place before the old contract expires. To read the notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3939.html; to read the State Department frequently asked questions about this issue, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3940.html

INDIANA SENATE APPROVES SIBLING VISITATION MEASURE FOR FOSTER YOUTH
The Indiana Senate passed a bill (SB91) on Jan. 29, introduced by Sen. Mike Delph, that would promote sibling visitation among children in foster care. The legislation would require the state Department of Children's Services (DCS) to arrange a visitation schedule with any child in care who requests to see her/his sibling - defined as a brother or sister by blood, half-blood or adoption - if it is determined to be in the child's best interest. If the department says "no," the measure allows any individual to petition the juvenile court for an order requiring sibling visitation. To read the bill, which is pending action in the state House, go to: http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2008/IN/IN0091.1.html

UTAH BILL WOULD ALLOW NON-MARRIED, COHABITATING COUPLES TO ADOPT
Legislation (HB318) that would remove a cohabitation restriction from current adoption laws in Utah, thereby permitting unmarried cohabiting heterosexual and same-sex couples to adopt jointly, was introduced by state House Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck on Jan. 23. Currently, individuals - including gays and lesbians - can adopt a child in the state, but only married couples can adopt jointly. The legislation, if passed, would permit children to be adopted by a second parent but would give preference for an adoption to people who are legally married. To read Utah's proposed bill, go to: http://le.utah.gov/~2008/bills/hbillint/hb0318.pdf

HHS PROPOSES REGULATION CHANGE EXPANDING AFCARS DATA COLLECTION
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on Jan. 11 released a notice of proposed rulemaking that would change how child welfare data is gathered. The proposed changes would require states to expand their reports to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) to include all children in out-of-home care and not just those in foster or adoption placements; these would include children in guardianship settings, some psychiatric treatment facilities, and juvenile justice facilities. Comments on the proposed changes are due to ACF by March 11, 2008. To read the proposed rules, go to: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20081800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/
2008/E7-24860.htm
to download a PDF version, go to: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20081800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/
pdf/E7-24860.pdf

Research

MULTI-STATE STUDY SHOWS STEADY DECLINE IN FOSTER CARE NUMBERS
A Chapin Hall study of foster care placement patterns between 2000 and 2005 for a multi-state sample of 348,695 children revealed a steady decline in the number entering care and a shift toward more children being from nonurban areas. "Foster Care Dynamics 2000-2005: A Report from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive," by Fred Wulczyn, Lijun Chen and Kristen Hislop, was published in December 2007 and funded by Casey Family Programs. Other findings included: 1 in 5 children entering care are under age 1; the percent placed in care with kin increased from 17 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2005; 42 percent changed placements in the first six months in care; and the racial gap in the likelihood of discharge between white and African American children has been stable since 2000. To access the report, go to: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract.aspx?ar=1465

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF FOSTER PLACEMENT MOVES
Researchers assessed the self-control abilities and oppositional behaviors of 102 children in three groups: adopted children experiencing only one foster placement, those adopted after multiple foster placements, and never-placed children. They found that those experiencing multiple placements had poorer inhibitory control abilities and more oppositional behaviors than children in the other groups. "The Effect of Placement Instability on Adopted Children's Inhibitory Control Abilities and Oppositional Behavior," by Erin Lewis, Mary Dozier, John Ackerman and Sandra Sepulveda-Kozakowski, was published in the final 2007 issue of Developmental Psychology (Volume 43, Issue 6). The findings underscore the need for a consistent care-giving relationship for children in foster care. To access an abstract, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/dev/43/6/1415

REVIEW STRONGLY SUPPORTS IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING SIBLINGS TOGETHER
A review of 11 studies of sibling placement in the foster care system reinforces the importance of keeping siblings together in placement. "Research Review: Sibling Placement in Foster Care: A Review of the Evidence," by Karla Washington, was published in the November 2007 issue of Child and Family Social Work (Volume 12, Issue 4). Other findings include: research on sibs needs more of a theoretical base; siblings kept together have fewer problems; and kinship homes are more conducive to maintaining joint placements than other types of care. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bsc/cfsw/2007/00000012/00000004/art00014

CAREGIVERS FOUND TO PLAY CRITICAL ROLE IN INFLUENCING SIB PLACEMENTS
Caregivers play a crucial role in influencing the course of sibling placements, according to a qualitative study involving interviews with 14 caregivers of children with behavioral problems in the child welfare system. "Maintaining Sibling Relationships for Children in Foster and Adoptive Placements," by Sigrid James, Amy Monn, Lawrence Palinkas and Laurel Leslie, was published in the January issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 30, Issue 1). The willingness and ability of the caregiver to handle multiple children and the extent of sibling conflict were important factors in the maintenance of sibling relationships, and caregivers were primary gatekeepers on maintaining sib contact for those not placed together, with caseworkers having minimal involvement. To access an abstract, go to the link below and click on Issue 1 in the left menu: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01907409

DANISH ANALYSIS: HIGHER SCHIZOPHRENIA RISK FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTEES
An epidemiological study analyzing the risk of schizophrenia among three groups - 10,278 intercountry adoptees, over a million native-born Danes, and 2,161 biological siblings in adoptive families - found that the incidence rate was 2.7 times greater for the adoptees and 2 times greater for sibs than for other Danes. "Risk of Schizophrenia in Intercountry Adoptees: A Danish Population-Based Cohort Study," by Elizabeth Cantor-Graae and Carsten Pedersen, was published in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Volume 48, Issue 11). Among the thousands of adoptees, 112 had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, with males having twice the rate of females. The reason for the higher incidence among the birth children was not apparent. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01788.x

 

News

INDIANA TO SPEND $4 MILLION TO PROMOTE ADOPTIONS FROM FOSTER CARE
Indiana plans to expand its efforts to increase the number of adoptions of children from the state's foster care system with a new two-year, $4 million program that will include the recruitment of minority parents through churches and community groups. According to a Jan. 21 article published in the Indianapolis Star, "State to Spend $4 Million to Boost Adoptions," by Tim Evans, Indiana has increased the number of adoptions of children from foster care between 2005 to 2007 by 40 percent, in part through the development of a state website and magazine featuring photos of waiting children. The new project will build on these successes and will include the "One Church, One Child" program to reach out to minority communities, considered an important component since children of color make up 45 percent of the state's foster care population. To read the article, go to: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080121/LOCAL19/801210342

WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY OFFERS SCHOLARSHIP TO FOSTER YOUTH
Western Michigan University, in conjunction with the Michigan Campus Compact and the Michigan Department of Human Services, will be launching the Foster Youth and Higher Education Initiative next fall to recruit and provide financial assistance and support to youth aging out of the foster care seeking to attain a higher education. According to a Jan. 18 article published in WMU News, "Scholarships Support Programs for Foster-Care Youth," any foster youth qualified for admission or transfer to the university will be eligible for free undergraduate tuition for four years. In addition, the scholarship provides year-round on-campus housing, a work-study component, and a support network on campus of professionals in the areas of career planning, mentoring, tutoring, counseling and legal services. To read the article, go to: http://www.wmich.edu/wmu/news/2008/01/041.html

 

Resources

CHAPIN HALL OFFERS AUDIO RECORDING OF FORUM ON RACIAL DISPARITY
A January 10 public policy forum, co-sponsored by Chapin Hall and the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., examined issues related to racial disparity in the child welfare system. Fred Wulczyn presented findings from Chapin Hall's study on foster care admissions (cited above, under research) and panelists discussed initiatives in New York City and the District of Columbia to address racial disparity. To listen to the audio recording, go to: http://www.about.chapinhall.org/conferences/urban/jan2008/presentations.html

BIBLIOGRAPHY OFFERS RESOURCES FOR WORK WITH TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN
A 29-page annotated bibliography of recent resources for working with traumatized children, entitled "Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice," was compiled in December 2007 and added to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. To access, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/bib/trauma_informed_child_welfare.pdf

GUIDE SUGGESTS PRACTICES TO INVOLVE RELATIVES IN CASEWORK PROCESS
ChildFocus published a 33-page report, Making "Relative Search" Happen: A Guide to Finding and Involving Relatives at Every Stage of the Child Welfare Process, in October 2007. This guide highlights practices to locate and involve relatives throughout the case process and includes a number of links to practice tools developed throughout the country as well as strategies for conducting internet searches and accessing existing databases. To access, go to: http:/www.childfocuspartners.com/images/RelativeSearchGuide10-15.pdf

REPORT ON INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ADVOCATES FOR IV-E FUNDING REFORMS
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and the Kids Are Waiting campaign, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts, released a report last month entitled "Time for Reform: A Matter of Justice for American Indian and Alaskan Native Children." The report states that American Indian and Alaskan Native youth are found to be victims of child maltreatment at the rate of 16.5 per 1,000, as compared with 19.5 for black children and 10.8 for white children. It suggests that allowing tribal governments to have direct access to Title IV-E funding, rather than having the money appropriated first to an "intergovernmental" entity within the state, would benefit the children who are under tribal jurisdiction. To access the report, go to: http://kidsarewaiting.org/reports/files/NICWAReport.pdf

 

Institute Updates

ADOPTION INSTITUTE TESTIFIES ON NEW JERSEY ACCESS TO RECORDS BILL
Executive Director Adam Pertman testified on Jan. 24 before the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in support of legislation (S611) that would permit adult adoptees 18 years or older to obtain their original birth certificates. The legislation, which was passed unanimously by the committee later that day and is now pending a vote in the Senate, allows birthparents to submit a no-contact preference form with the state, but would require them to complete updated medical and cultural information every 10 years until they reach the age of 40, and every five years thereafter. To read the Adoption Institute testimony, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/policy/20080124_testimony_openrecord_nj.php. To read the bill, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and search for S611 in the bill number field.

STATE PASSIVE ADOPTION REGISTRY SYSTEM IS DESCRIBED AS INEFFECTIVE
In a Jan. 13 article published in the Times Union, "Opening Closed Books on Adoption" by Jennifer Gish, Executive Director Pertman comments on the limitations of New York's current passive registry system, which allows adopted adults to obtain non-identifying information if a birthparent is also registered; only 21,768 adoptees and 5,270 birthparents have registered in the system, and 1,067 matches have been made since it was started in 1984. Pertman noted that such numbers indicate registries are not highly effective - in part because most people are unaware of them. Currently, New York is considering bills that would eliminate the passive registry and grant adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates and medical information. To read the article, go to: http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=654783&category=LIFE&BCCode=
HOME&newsdate=1/13/2008&TextPage=2
; to read the Adoption Institute paper on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2007_11_for_records.php

REASONS CITED FOR HIGHER ADOPTION COSTS IN THE UNITED STATES
In a Jan. 2 article by Caitriona Palmer, entitled "So You Want to Adopt a Baby" published in the Irish Independent, Pertman explains some of the differences in adoption practices in Europe and the U.S., including the higher fees in this country. Whereas in Ireland, the government generally covers fees to provide adoption-related services - including medical and social services, counseling and social worker salaries - these are typically paid for by adoptive parents in the United States. To read the article, go to: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/parenting/so-you-want-to-adopt-a-baby-1255662.html

WE THANK OUR 2007 DONORS, AND ASK YOUR SUPPORT IN THE NEW YEAR
The Board and staff of the Adoption Institute are very grateful to everyone who generously supported our unique, important work in 2007. It was perhaps the most productive, highest-impact year in our history - so your contributions made a real difference. We've got many more initiatives ready to launch in the coming months and year - all designed to improve the lives of the millions of Americans for whom adoption and foster care are everyday realities. Please see our website for new and upcoming projects, and start the New Year with a donation to make our work possible. To support our work, please go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/support.php

SAVE THE DATE: ANNUAL SPRING BENEFIT SET FOR MAY 14 IN NEW YORK CITY
The Adoption Institute is excited to host its annual "Taste of Spring" benefit in New York City on May 14. The event promises to be another special night filled with delicious food, fine wine and good company. Please contact External Relations Director Laura James at ljames@adoptioninstitute.org with questions, to reserve tickets (they go quickly!), or become an individual or corporate sponsor.

In addition, the Institute is planning fund-raising events across the country in the coming months, to be held by our loyal supporters and advocates who want to ensure that we can continue doing our unique, important work; stay tuned for dates and locations.

If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please contact Laura James at ljames@adoptioninstitute.org or please consider advancing our initiatives by:

  • Making a donation - and asking friends and relatives to honor birthdays and anniversaries with gifts to the Institute
  • Making a gift to the Institute in a loved one's honor or memory
  • Including the Institute in your estate plans
  • Using your contacts to help introduce us to foundations, corporations and other sources of support
  • Volunteering
  • Making "in-kind" donations or computer equipment, air miles and hotel vouchers

To find out more about donating and contributing to the important work of the Institute, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/support.php

 

About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

Since its establishment in 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has been a pre-eminent, independent voice for improving adoption for everyone it touches - particularly children - through innovative programs, educational initiatives, research and analysis, and advocacy for better practices, policies and laws. Our award-winning web site, 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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