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PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNS MAJOR CHILD WELFARE LEGISLATION INTO LAW
On Oct. 7 U.S. President George Bush signed into law the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (H.R. 6893; Public Law #110-351), initiating one of the most significant reforms in child welfare in more than a decade. Many of the provisions will be phased in over the next few years. For instance, a section giving Native American children direct access to federal assistance will start in federal fiscal year 2010 (Oct. 1, 2009) and states will be able to extend foster care to youth up to age 21 in FY2011. Some parts of the new law are mandatory for states, such as demonstrating greater efforts to keep siblings together, improving foster youths' health care, and minimizing the need to switch schools. Other provisions are optional and will depend on state budgets, such as participating in a new guardianship program for relatives. Overall, the new law will provide more financial incentives for the adoption of children from foster care, especially older youth and those with special needs. Despite the breadth of the act, it is limited in that it does not provide any initiatives that would prevent children from entering the child welfare system in the first place. To read the legislation, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR6893 in the bill text field.
JUDGE RULES CALIFORNIA'S FOSTER PAYMENTS ARE TOO LOW, ORDERS REVIEW
On Oct. 21 U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled in favor of three groups of foster caregivers who argued that California's payments to foster parents are so "low that the state is in violation of the federal Child Welfare Act," and ordered the state to begin a systematic review to determine the actual costs of foster care. Attorneys for the caregivers said current subsidies to foster parents in the state are 29 percent to 40 percent below actual costs, and total compensation is less than the state is required to cover to be eligible for federal matching funds. According to a Los Angeles Times report, the opinion fell short of requiring an increase in payments, leaving foster families in limbo. To read the L.A. Times story on the case, go to:
RESEARCH LINKS ADOPTIVE FAMILY STRUCTURE WITH ADOLESCENT BEHAVIOR
A Minnesota-based study of 384 adoptive and 208 non-adoptive families found that both adoption status and family communication patterns contribute to the greater frequency of externalizing behavior problems in adopted adolescents. "The Effect of Family Communication Patterns on Adopted Adolescent Adjustment," by Martha Rueter and Ascan Koerner, was published in the August issue of the
Journal of Marriage and Family (Volume 70, Issue 3). Families were classified according to four types of structures combining parental control and communication types. Consensual families, which were high on conversation and conformity orientations, had the lowest frequency of adolescents in the high externalizing problems subgroup (0% of non-adoptive, 2.6% of adoptive); Laissez Faire families, which were low in both conversation and conformity orientations, had the highest frequency of teens with externalizing problems (7.8% of non-adoptive, 26.9% of adoptive). To access a free abstract, go to:
SURVEY INDICATES RACE STILL A FACTOR IN ADOPTIONS FROM FOSTER CARE
A national survey of child welfare social workers (261 respondents) indicated that workers seemed knowledgeable about the federal laws governing transracial adoption from foster care - the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) and its amendments (IEP); however, most did not believe that the laws affected their current practice in child welfare and believed that race is still used in adoption matching in public child welfare settings. "Evidence-Based Practice or Practice-Based Evidence: What Is Happening with MEPA and Current Adoption Practices?" by Susan Mapp, Needha Boutte-Queen, Stephen Erich and Patricia Taylor, is in the current issue of
Families in Society (Volume 89, Issue 3). The study also found that only 22 percent stated their agencies had the goal of recruiting parents of color. To access an abstract, go to:
CASE STUDY RECOMMENDS BEHAVIORAL TRAINING FOR TREATMENT OF RAD
A clinical case study of a 7-year-old child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), conducted at the Florida State University outpatient clinic, reports on the efficacy of Behavior Management Training (BMT) for achieving a marked reduction in the child's problematic behaviors. "Behavior Management Training for the Treatment of Reactive Attachment Disorder," by Julia Buckner, Cristina Lopez, Stephanie Dunkel and Thomas Joiner Jr., was published in the August issue of
Child Maltreatment (Volume 13, Issue 3). The authors recommend that randomized clinical trials be conducted on the use of BMT for children with RAD. To access an abstract, go to:
PARENTS IN OPEN ADOPTIONS REPORT POSITIVE RESULTS FOR THEIR CHILDREN
A longitudinal study of openness in adoptions reports on families 14 years after initial interviews with them, based on 20 interviews with 31 adoptive parents. All families with some openness (13 of the 20) saw it as a benefit to the child, and all were committed to staying in touch with biological families and working through any uncomfortable issues that arose. "Open Adoption and Adolescence," by Deborah Siegel, is in the current issue of
Families in Society (Volume 89, Issue 3). The author stresses that open adoption relationships evolve over time and are managed differently in different families. She underscores the need for adoption professionals - ones with specific training in guiding participants in open adoptions - to be available for consultation, as needed. To access a free abstract, go to:
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTEES FOUND TO IDENTIFY WITH BIRTH COUNTRIES
A study of 50 children adopted into New Zealand from Eastern Europe found that they had maintained a moderate identification with their home countries; had reasonably strong self concepts; and just under one-third had experienced negative treatment related to being adopted. "The Ethnic Identification of Same-Race Children in Intercountry Adoption," by Rhoda Scherman and Niki Harre, is in the most recent issue of
Adoption Quarterly (Volume 11, Issue 1). Over 80 percent of the children reported watching teams from their native countries compete in the Olympics, and the majority preferred to see these teams win over New Zealand - seen by the authors as evidence of greater identification with their birth countries than appeared on the standardized identity measure. To access a free abstract, go to:
SOME FOREIGN-BORN CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM CHILD WELFARE IN LEGAL LIMBO
Some children who were adopted from California's child welfare are now discovering they are not U.S. citizens and face the possibility of deportation, according to an Oct. 20 piece published in the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Foreign Adoptees in Legal Limbo," by Leslie Berestein and David Hasemyer, report officials have identified about a half-dozen cases in San Diego County of adoptive parents learning that their children's legal status was in question; in response, the county has changed its policies and now requires that every child's legal residency be established before leaving the system, although no one knows how many children may have been adopted without it. A 1990 federal law permits children in care to become legal permanent residents, but they lose the privilege once they are emancipated or adopted. To read the article, go to:
ECUADOR ESTABLISHES CIVIL UNIONS - BUT PROHIBITS ADOPTION - FOR GAYS
According to an Oct. 9 report published in the Gay & Lesbian Times, by Rex Wockner, Ecuadoreans passed a new constitution on Sept. 28 that guarantees civil rights for gays and lesbians, including civil unions for same-sex couples affording them all the rights of marriage. However, the new constitution also stipulates that marriage can only between a man and woman, and outright bans adoption by gays. To read the news article, go to:
PROFESSOR ADVOCATES LEGAL REFORMS IN ADOPTION OF BLACK CHILDREN
An essay, "Race Matters in Adoption" by Ruth-Arlene Howe in the Boston College Law School Series, examines how the needs of African American children can be met in adoption. The essay includes a discussion of the findings of the May 2008 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report "Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race and Law in Adoption from Foster Care" and of the Child Welfare League of America's Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services. Howe urges family law attorneys to support the Adoption Institute study's recommendations. To access this essay, go to:
WEBCAST EXAMINES STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE PERMANENCY FOR OLDER YOUTH
A one-hour webcast entitled "Permanency for Older Youth: Strategies that Work," co-sponsored by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Casey Family Programs, can be accessed online. Speakers at the Oct. 7 session included two alumni of foster care: Krista Penrod, an Iowa Youth Advocate, and Michelle Chalmers, who worked with the Homecoming Project in Minnesota, as well as Andrea Khoury, speaking on American Bar Association projects on permanency for older youth. To access the archived webcast, go to:
ADOPTION QUARTERLY SEEKS PAPERS ON GAY/LESBIAN ISSUES IN ADOPTION Adoption Quarterly - whose Editor, Scott Ryan, is an Institute Senior Research Fellow and whose Associate Editor, Adam Pertman is the Institute's Executive Director - is requesting paper submissions for a special issue on all aspects of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) people involved in the foster care and adoption systems; these include GLBTQ youth who are in the system, GLBTQ foster, adoptive and kinship parents, and the views of child welfare workers, other adoptive parents, etc. Adoption Quarterly is the premier academic journal focused on adoption. For more information, go to:
INSTITUTE STAFF SPEAK AT EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY - AND THE WORLD
Executive Director Adam Pertman delivered the Marshall Schechter Lecture on Adoption at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Chicago on Oct. 31; the Academy also presented Pertman with an award for his work at the event. On Nov. 1, Pertman will deliver the keynote address - "12 Things the World Needs to Know about Adoption" - and present a workshop at the 27th Annual Let's Talk Adoption conference at Rutgers University in Princeton, N.J.; also presenting at the conference will be the Institute's Policy & Operations Director, Hollee McGinnis. Pertman then travels to Hong Kong, where he will deliver the keynote address - "A Revolution in the Family" - at the island's first adoption conference, sponsored by Mother's Choice and other local organizations; in addition, Pertman will speak to social work students and alumni at Hong Kong University and to international journalists based in Hong Kong, among others. For more information about the New Jersey event, go to:
http://cpfanj.wscape.net/events/lta/; to learn about the Hong Kong event, go to: http://www.motherschoice.org/pages/index.asp?pg=adoption_festival_program
INSTITUTE'S L.A. BENEFIT DRAWS CELEBRITIES - AND SUPPORT FOR OUR WORK
This year's Adoption Institute Los Angeles Benefit, held on October 23, was a great success in every way, continuing the growth and presence of the Institute on the West Coast. Event hosts and adoptive parents Sue Naegle (President of HBO Entertainment) and Dana Gould (comedian and long-time writer on "The Simpsons") graciously opened their home to more than 80 guests. Actors Laura Dern, Zach Braff, Famke Janssen, Scott Lowell, Victoria Rowell, Regina Taylor, Nanci Christopher, and Taylor Treadwell joined other entertainment industry movers and shakers and adoption supporters to help raise funds, and to learn more about the Institute's efforts to make adoption work better for everyone it touches.
The event netted more than $70,000, assisted by attendees and donors, silent auction bidders, and generous corporate sponsors, including HBO; Creative Artists Agency; United Talent Agency Foundation; the Oprah Winfrey Network (Discovery); William Morris Agency; NBC Universal; Warner Bros.; Hansen, Jacobsen, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman, LLP; and Myman Abell Fineman, Fox Greenspan & Light LLP.
To see photos from the event, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/la_2008.php.
To see a full list of the event's corporate sponsors, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/la_2008_sponsors.php
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:
• 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 introduce us to foundations, corporations and other sources of support
• Making "in-kind" donations of computer equipment, air miles and hotel vouchers
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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