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THE BOARD AND STAFF OF THE INSTITUTE WISH YOU A HAPPY, HEALTHY 2009

PLEASE SUPPORT THE ADOPTION INSTITUTE AS THE YEAR ENDS Our deepest thanks to all of our subscribers who made a year-end donation to support the Institute. For those of you who haven't done so yet, we hope you will consider making a contribution to make the e-newsletter and all our important work possible. Checks dated December 31, or on-line donations made before midnight on December 31, are fully tax-deductible for 2008. more

1. Law, Policy & Practice
- New Jersey Requires Criminal Background Checks of Adoption Workers
- Ohio Legislators Vote to Expand Legal Infant Abandonment to 30 Days
- Louisiana Ordered to Issue Birth Certificate Recognizing Two Fathers
- Philippine Lawmakers Act to Speed Adoptions of Abandoned Children

2. Research
- Birthmothers Express Interest in Searching, Don't Mind Being Found
- Statistics Indicate Low State Use of National Adoption Listing Service
- Research Underscores Value of Post-Adoption Support Groups
- Analysis Shows Keeping Sibs Together Decreases Reunification Time
- Dutch Study Finds Most International Adoptees Interested in Search
- Review Calls for Balance in Cultural Socialization of Adoptees

3. News
- Russian Lawmakers Planning to Tighten Adoption Rules for Americans
- Kansas to Examine Racial Disparity in Its Child Welfare System
- Brazil State Gives Adopted Adults Access to Original Birth Certificate

4. Resources
- Manual Offers Guidance for Creating, Running Respite Care Programs
- Webcast Provides Overview of 'Fostering Connections to Success' Act
- HHS Publishes Brief on Adoptions of Children Maltreated as Infants
- Resource Center Publishes Adoption Competency Curriculum Online

5. Institute Update
- 'No Basis in Reality' of Arguments Against Access to Birth Certificates
- State Law Results in Birthfather Failing to Gain Custody of Son
- Training for Adoption Professionals and Families Now Available
- Read our New Annual Report - and Save the Date for Our '09 Event
- Please Support the Adoption Institute as Year Draws to an End

Law, Policy & Practice

NEW JERSEY REQUIRES CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS OF ADOPTION WORKERS
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine signed into law (P.L. 2008, c.114) legislation on Dec. 15 that mandates all adoption agency employees working with the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) undergo criminal history background and child abuse records checks. The bill specifies criminal offenses that would bar anyone from working at an adoption agency, including but not limited to any crime against a child; abuse, abandonment or neglect of a child; sexual assault, murder and domestic violence. An employee may be retained if the agency can prove there is no risk to the safety or well-being of a child due to the nature of the person's job position, the conviction was not related to a crime committed against a child, the employee has unique skills, or has affirmatively demonstrated rehabilitation. Adoption agencies that have already been approved to work with DYFS will have 60 days after the bill's effective date (60 months after signing) to submit background checks to the state Department of Children and Families; agencies approved after the bill's effective date will have to submit background checks within two weeks of the start of employment. Any agency found to be in violation of the bill's provisions will be suspended and run the risk of having its license revoked. To read the new law, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2008/Bills/S0500/111_U1.HTM

OHIO LEGISLATORS VOTE TO EXPAND LEGAL INFANT ABANDONMENT TO 30 DAYS
The Ohio House of Representatives gave final approval to a bill (SB 304) on Dec. 9 that will expand the timeframe during which a baby can be legally abandoned at designated "safe haven" sites from 72 hours to 30 days after birth. The bill, which amends the state's original infant abandonment legislation enacted in 2001, also stipulates the development of a plan to educate "at-risk populations who are most likely to voluntarily deliver a child" about the law. The bill, which was approved by the state Senate in May, is awaiting signature by the governor. To read the legislation, go to: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=127_SB_304; to read the Adoption Institute report on this topic, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html

LOUISIANA ORDERED TO ISSUE BIRTH CERTIFICATE RECOGNIZING TWO FATHERS
A same-sex couple whose son was born in Louisiana and adopted in New York won a law suit on Dec. 22 against the state of Louisiana after it refused to issue a new birth certificate identifying both fathers as the child's parents. The state argued it did not recognize adoptions by unmarried parents, but the U.S. District Court judge in Louisiana ruled in favor of the couple. The judge ruled that the Louisiana Office of Vital Records was violating the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize the New York adoption and ordered a new birth certificate to be issued that includes the name of both parents. To read the opinion, go to: http://data.lambdalegal.org/in-court/downloads/adar_la_20081222_order-granting-summary-judgment.pdf

PHILIPPINE LAWMAKERS ACT TO SPEED ADOPTIONS OF ABANDONED CHILDREN
Lawmakers from both houses of the Philippine Congress passed legislation (SB2391) on Dec. 16 that will help to expedite the adoption of abandoned children by streamlining the process and by reducing the period before a child may be considered legally available for adoption. Currently, children are considered to be abandoned if they have been deserted by their parents for six consecutive months and a child may be considered legally available for adoption after a minimum of six months. The new legislation would shift adoption proceedings from the Family Courts to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and would reduce the period before a child may be considered for an adoption to a maximum of three months. The legislation is awaiting signature by the country's president. To read the legislation, go to: http://www.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=14&q=SBN-2391

Research

BIRTHMOTHERS EXPRESS INTEREST IN SEARCHING, DON'T MIND BEING FOUND
A longitudinal study on adoption openness explored the attitudes of 125 birthmothers about their roles in their birth children's lives over 12 years after placement. Overall, about two-thirds of the women expressed some interest in searching; the one-third in fully disclosed adoptions were most likely to say they would search if they lost contact. "Openness in Adoption and the Impact on Birth Mother Plans for Search and Reunion," by Susan Ayers-Lopez, Susan Henney, Ruth McRoy (an Adoption Institute Senior Fellow), Michele Hanna and Harold Grotevant (also an Institute Senior Fellow), was published in the current issue of Families in Society (Volume 89, Issue 4). Another finding was that no birthmothers felt negatively about a birth child initiating a search for them. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.familiesinsociety.org/ShowSummary.asp?docid=3815. To access the Institute's report on birthparents, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2006_11_birthparent_wellbeing.php

STATISTICS INDICATE LOW STATE USE OF NATIONAL ADOPTION LISTING SERVICE
A study of state usage of the AdoptUsKids national photolisting service during its first five years found that it is underutilized, with no state listing more than 17 percent of its waiting children, and some listing few to no children (national average=6.6%). "AdoptUsKids National Photolisting Service: Characteristics of Listed Children and Length of Time to Placement," by Rosemary Avery, J.S. Butler, Ellie Schmidt and Barbara Holtan," is in the January issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 31, Issue 1). Data indicate that harder-to-place children are more likely to be listed. From 2003 to 2007, this service listed 14,202 children, of whom 5,702 (40%) were placed for adoption. Factors associated with faster placement were being female and being in a sibling group. African American children were 15 percent less likely to be adopted than white children and took five months longer to place. For an abstract, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01907409

RESEARCH UNDERSCORES VALUE OF POST-ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUPS
Researchers explored factors linked with 912 adoptive parents' levels of cultural competence on a standardized measure; all had adopted from Korea and China. The following factors were significant predictors of greater cultural competence: current participation in support groups, parent is female, travel to child's birth country during the adoption process, post-adoption contact with adoption professionals, absence of birth children, and family income over $75,000. "Factors Related to Transracial Adoptive Parents' Levels of Cultural Competence," by Elizabeth Vonk and Richard Massatti, was published in a recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 11, Issue 3). The most important predictor was participation in post-adoption support groups, underscoring the importance of these services to parents. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/store/Toc_views.asp

ANALYSIS SHOWS KEEPING SIBS TOGETHER DECREASES REUNIFICATION TIME
An analysis of foster placements over their first 18 months in care for 602 Nevada children found that 67 percent were placed with all other siblings in care and that these placements were more stable and had a higher rate of reunification during the time period examined. "Survival Analyses of the Dynamics of Sibling Experiences in Foster Care," by Vicky Albert and William King, is in the current issue of Families in Society (Volume 89, Issue 4). The study also found that placements with relatives were more likely to keep siblings intact (77%) as compared to those with non-relatives (60%). To access an abstract, go to: http://www.familiesinsociety.org/ShowSummary.asp?docid=3819

DUTCH STUDY FINDS MOST INTERNATIONAL ADOPTEES INTERESTED IN SEARCH
A longitudinal study in the Netherlands examined factors related to search interest and activity among 1,417 international adoptees, ages 24-30, and classified them into four groups: uninterested non-searchers (36%), interested non-searchers (32%), searchers (18%), and reunited searchers (14%). "Young Adult International Adoptees' Search for Birth Parents," by Wendy Tieman, Jan van der Ende and Frank Verhulst, was published in the October issue of the Journal of Family Psychology (Volume 22, Issue 5). Overall, those who searched in their 20s had expressed more curiosity about their origins as adolescents, but researchers also concluded searching was affected by external factors as well, including a higher divorce rate among adoptive parents. To access an abstract, go to: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/fam/22/5/

REVIEW CALLS FOR BALANCE IN CULTURAL SOCIALIZATION OF ADOPTEES
"A Theoretical Framework for Understanding Ethnic Socialization Among International Adoptees," by Jayashree Mohanty and Christina Newhill, offers a review of theoretical models that provide guidance for understanding ethnic socialization of children adopted across race and culture, and integrates research findings within these models. The report, which is in the December issue of Families in Society (Volume 89, Issue 4), reviews Erikson's overarching model and two other theoretical models (Boykin & Toms and Rojewski & Rojewski). The authors emphasize the need to balance socialization to the child's birth culture/ethnic group with socialization to the mainstream culture, and call for the development of specific recommendations as a roadmap for adoptive parents. To access a summary, go to: http://www.familiesinsociety.org/ShowSummary.asp?docid=3817

 

News

RUSSIAN LAWMAKERS PLANNING TO TIGHTEN ADOPTION RULES FOR AMERICANS
Lawmakers in Russia reportedly are in the process of working out new, tougher regulations for Americans seeking to adopt children from that country after a court acquitted a father in Virginia of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the 21-month-old son he adopted from Russia. According to a Dec. 19 article in the Moscow Times by Svetlana Osadchuk, "Tough New Rules for Adoptive U.S. Parents," Russian legislators were outraged by the verdict and had prepared an official demand to the U.S. State Department regarding adoptions of Russian children; some also promised to make domestic adoption by Russian families more attractive. To read the article, go to: http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/600/42/373282.htm

KANSAS TO EXAMINE RACIAL DISPARITY IN ITS CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will launch a new sub-Cabinet-level examination into the disproportionate numbers of minority youth in the state's child welfare and juvenile justice systems, according to a Dec. 28 Wichita Eagle article by Christina M. Woods, "Child Services See Racial Gap." According to the story, a 2008 report found that although African American children made up only about 6 percent of the Kansas population, they accounted for 22 percent of children in state child welfare and 28 percent of youths in juvenile justice custody. The goal of the working group will be to examine the causes of the disparity, identify counties in the state that experience large racial inequalities, and develop solutions and recommendations for the governor by fall 2009. To read the article, go to: http://www.kansas.com/news/local/story/644459.html; to read the Adoption Institute report on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2008_05_mepa.php

BRAZIL STATE GIVES ADOPTED ADULTS ACCESS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE
The Brazilian state of Brasilia passed legislation in August that will give adopted adults the right to obtain an original copy of their birth certificates, the first state in the nation to pass such a law. According to the website UnsealedInitiativeNewYork, the law will go into effect in the New Year. Birth certificates were sealed from adopted people in Brazil over 50 years ago. To read the article, go to: http://unsealedinitiativenewyork.vox.com/library/post/brazil-has-joined-the-list-of-countries-unsealing-birth-certificates-for-adult-adoptees-upon-request.html; to read the Adoption Institute paper on adopted adults' access to original birth certificates in the U.S., go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2007_11_for_records.php

 

Resources

MANUAL OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR CREATING, RUNNING RESPITE CARE PROGRAMS
A manual containing guidance for developing and running respite programs, Taking a Break: Creating Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Respite in Your Community, was released recently by the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids. This 119-page manual was developed in collaboration with the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the National Foster Parent Association; it can be accessed at: http://www.adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/publications/respiteManual.aspx

WEBCAST PROVIDES OVERVIEW OF `FOSTERING CONNECTIONS TO SUCCESS' ACT
An archived webcast, "The Fostering Connections Act: State Choices and Challenges," held on Nov. 24, 2008, and sponsored by the National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices in partnership with Casey Family Programs, provides an overview of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and discussion of important aspects for implementation of this law, especially the kinship guardianship assistance program. Links are included to the Act itself and other guidance. To access the webcast, go to: http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.9123e83a1f6786440ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=98fcd1c54d24c110VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD&vgnextchannel=4b18f074f0d9ff00VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD

HHS PUBLISHES BRIEF ON ADOPTIONS OF CHILDREN MALTREATED AS INFANTS
A research brief, "Need for Adoption Among Infants Investigated for Child Maltreatment and Adoption Status 5 to 6 Years Later," based on the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, was published this month on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It examines adoption among infants involved in maltreatment investigations, and finds that of those eligible for adoption, 61 percent had been adopted at the 5-6 year follow-up, 30 percent were in kin care, and 9 percent were in foster care. The brief also gives data on how the children were functioning at the follow-up points on a range of developmental measures. It can be downloaded at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/nscaw/reports/need_adoption/need_for_adoption.pdf

RESOURCE CENTER PUBLISHES ADOPTION COMPETENCY CURRICULUM ONLINE
The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption has published its Adoption Competency Curriculum online. This curriculum is for training practitioners on issues relevant to the adoption of children and youth from the child welfare system. The Trainer's Guide and the Participant's Handbook can be downloaded at: http://www.nrcadoption.org/acc/index.html

 

Institute Updates

`NO BASIS IN REALITY' TO ARGUMENTS AGAINST ACCESS TO BIRTH CERTIFICATES
In a Dec. 16 article by Anna Clark published on the website RH Reality Check, "Adoption Consensus," Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman comments that one of the most heated debates in adoption is about the right for adopted adults to obtain their original birth certificates. Citing findings from an Institute report on the topic, Pertman said that permitting access these records would help make adoption a more compassionate and sensible system - while not negatively impacting adoption placements. He also said that research and experience show that there is "no basis in reality" to assertions - made by opponents of allowing adoptee access to original birth certificates - that doing so would cause more pregnant women to choose abortion over adoption. To read the article, go to: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/12/15/the-adoption-consensus; to read the Adoption Institute paper on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2007_11_for_records.php

STATE LAW RESULTS IN BIRTHFATHER FAILING TO GAIN CUSTODY OF SON
In a Dec. 13 article by Jesse Fruhwirth, "Syracuse Father Loses Fight: Court Ruling in Four-Year-Old Adoption Case Urges Legislature to Clarify Law," published on the website StandardNet, Institute Executive Director Pertman comments on a court case in Utah in which a biological father lost his fight to gain custody of his son; the boy was adopted without the birthfather's consent. Stressing he was not commenting on the merits of the case itself, Pertman said that men are often treated unfairly in adoption law and that custody cases often take so long that the best interests of the children involved are not sufficiently taken into account. The father lost this case as a result of state law stipulating that for an unmarried biological father to claim parental rights, he must file within at least one business day of the child's birth a sworn affidavit that "set(s) forth his plans for care of the child." Although there is no legal definition for a "plan for care," the court ruled the father's affidavit did not contain such a plan. To read the article, go to: http://www.standard.net/live/news/158734/; to read the Adoption Institute paper on safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of birthparents, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/research/2006_11_birthparent_wellbeing.php

TRAINING FOR ADOPTION PROFESSIONALS AND FAMILIES NOW AVAILABLE
The Adoption Institute, which is a nationally recognized leader in research and policy development, is now extending its efforts to implement systemic change through an education program aimed at adoption professionals and families. Detailed information about the courses and dates are now available on our website at: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/education/training.php

READ OUR NEW ANNUAL REPORT - AND SAVE THE DATE FOR OUR '09 EVENT!
The Institute released its Annual Report 2008 this month. To read about our accomplishments during the past year and to contribute to our unique, important work, please go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/about/yearendappeal.php

In addition, please save the date for our annual Taste of Spring event in New York, scheduled for Thursday, May 14, 2009. More details to come, but mark your new calendars now so you don't miss out on this always-fabulous food-and-wine party. To learn more, or to attend or support this event, contact Laura James at ljames@adoptioninstitute.org.

PLEASE SUPPORT THE ADOPTION INSTITUTE AS YEAR DRAWS TO AN END
Our deepest thanks to all of our subscribers who made a year-end donation to support the Institute. For those of you who haven't contributed yet, we hope you will consider making a donation to support the e-newsletter and all the important work of the Adoption Institute. Checks dated December 31, or on-line donations made before midnight on December 31, are fully tax-deductible for 2008. We know that this has been a tough year economically for almost everyone. That is why it is especially important that you, who care about adoption ethics and equity - and understand the importance of evidence-based, enlightened practice and policies - step forward to support our work. Be assured that every gift we receive goes a long way, as the Institute maintains a small paid staff and is able to call on a network of volunteers, leading practitioners and scholars to conduct its groundbreaking projects.

We cannot do any of this work without your support. The Institute does not have an endowment, so your donation now will make a real difference in what we can do to improve adoption for millions of children and families in the year ahead. Some of our current projects available for support include:

•    RESTORING RIGHTS TO ACCESS BIRTH RECORDS
•    ADOPTIVE PARENT PREPARATION PROJECT
•    SAFE HAVENS: ARE THE LAWS WORKING?
•    TRANSCULTURAL ADOPTION & IDENTITY
•    ADOPTION AGENCY PRACTICES WITH GAYS AND LESBIANS
•    RIGHTS & WELL-BEING OF BIRTHPARENTS
•    EXPANDING RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
•    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 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:

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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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