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LEGISLATION WOULD CREATE U.S. OFFICE FOR ORPHAN POLICY DIPLOMACY
On July 16, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the Families for Orphans Act of 2009 (S1458) "to encourage the development and implementation of a comprehensive, global strategy for the preservation and reunification of families and the provision of permanent parental care for orphans." The Act, which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, would establish an Office for Orphan Policy Diplomacy and Development within the Department of State. The bill sets "minimum standards for the provision of permanent parental care" and eligibility criteria for financial assistance to countries, while authorizing assistance to countries to enable them to meet the standards or to countries that already meet the standards. The legislation also requires the State Department to initiate a study to identify global best practices for family preservation and permanent parental care. Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) and Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) introduced a related bill (HR3070) in the House on June 26 that was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. To read S1458, go to: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s1458is.txt.pdf; to read HR3070, go to: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3070ih.txt.pdf.
BILL SEEKS TO CUT UNINTENDED PREGNANCIES, EDUCATE PUBLIC ON ADOPTION
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion, and Supporting Parents Act (HR3312) on July 23. Among its provisions are grants for a national information campaign to educate the public by "promot[ing] accurate positive information and messages on adoption, including foster care adoption" and an expansion of the adoption tax credit from $10,000 to $15,000. The bill also seeks to reduce teen pregnancies and expand maternal and reproductive health coverage for low-income women, while supporting pregnant women and new parents through expanded health programs. The legislation has 12 cosponsors and was referred to multiple committees; there appears to be no companion bill in the Senate. To read the bill, go to: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3312ih.txt.pdf.
VIRGINIA PERMITS 'COOPERATIVE ADOPTION' AGREEMENTS FROM FOSTER CARE
A new Virginia state law (Chapter 260) took effect on July 1 that allows a foster child's birthparent(s) and pre-adoptive parent(s) to enter into a written post-adoption contact and communication agreement. The court may approve an agreement if it finds that it is in the child's best interests, both sets of parents have consented, the agency and guardian ad litem recommend approval and, if the child is 14 years or older, he/she has consented. The law provides birthparents the right to seek to enforce these "cooperative adoption" agreements. In an opinion article in the Newport News Daily Press on July 12, "New law allows cooperative adoptions," the bill's sponsor, state Sen. John Miller (D-1st), explained that he was motivated partly by the fact that "Virginia leads the nation with the highest percentage [20%] of foster children to age out of the system without having found a permanent family."
To read the Act, go to: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?091+ful+CHAP0260;
to read the article, go to: http://www.dailypress.com/news/opinion/dp-op_miller_0712jul12,0,2982593.story.
GUATEMALAN FOSTER PARENTS REVEAL MIXED VIEWS RELATING TO ADOPTION
A qualitative study based on interviews with 16 Guatemalan foster parents, who had cared for more than 160 children, explored their views about the adoption process. While most expressed positive attitudes about adoption, 63 percent viewed birthmothers as having been recruited by "Jaladoras" (finders of babies) and poverty as the primary reason for the birthmothers' decisions. "Foster Parents as a Critical Link and Resource in International Adoptions from Guatemala," by Judith Gibbons, Samantha Wilson and Alicia Schnell, was published in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 12, Issue 2). Those interviewed also reported being stigmatized for being a foster parent and recommended more supports for domestic adoption. Most also made negative comments about birthparents, describing them as having deceived their families about their adoption decisions.
To access an abstract, go to: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a912432771;
to read the Institute’s report on birthparents in the United States, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/publications/2006BirthparentStudyrevised07.pdf.
STUDIES SHOW NEGATIVE IMPACT OF DEPRIVATION, ABUSE ON ADOPTEES
A pilot study investigating the impact of early deprivation on brain development through the use of MRIs found Romanian adoptees had significant differences in their brain structures compared to non-adopted adolescents. The primary difference was in the amygdala, which plays a role in basic emotional processing and guiding social behaviors. "Amygdala, Hippocampal and Corpus Callosum Size following Severe Early Institutional Deprivation: The English and Romanian Adoptees Study Pilot," by Mitul Mehta, Nicole Golembo, Chiara Nosarti, Emma Colvert, Ashley Mota, Steven William, Michael Rutter and Edmund Sonuga-Barke, will be published in the August issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Volume 50, Issue 8). Children with longer periods of institutionalization had smaller left amygdala volumes, supporting the researchers’ conclusion that early deprivation harms brain development.
To access an abstract, go to: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122328841/abstract.
LESBIANS SEEN MORE LIKELY TO ADOPT BLACK CHILDREN FROM FOSTER CARE
Researchers investigated the factors predicting openness to adopting an African American child among couples seeking to adopt their first child. Significant factors included younger age, being White (rather than a non-Black minority), being lesbian rather than heterosexual, pursuing public vs. private domestic adoption, and perceiving their neighborhood as diverse. "Predicting Non-African American Lesbian and Heterosexual Preadoptive Couples' Openness to Adopting an African American Child," by Abbie Goldberg and Julianna Smith, was published in the July issue of Family Relations (Volume 58, Issue 3). Other findings included that lesbians: were more likely to pursue public adoption, perceived less support from their social networks for adopting, and lived in more diverse neighborhoods than did heterosexual adopters.
To access an abstract, go to: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122463798/abstract
RECESSION CAUSES DROP IN EMPLOYERS OFFERING ADOPTION BENEFITS
A July 16 Wall Street Journal article by Sue Shellenbarger, "Targeting 'Feel-Good' Benefits," reports that the number of employers offering adoption assistance had fallen from a high of 22 percent in 2006 to 10 percent in 2009, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey. Rita Soronen, Executive Director of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, is quoted as saying that reimbursements and paid leave "can be 'a critical piece in families' making a decision to move forward.'" The article notes that despite the recession, a few companies are starting to include adoption assistance among their employee benefits. Hewitt Associates finds that only 0.1 percent of employees take advantage of such benefits annually, so they are not typically expensive to implement.
To read the article, go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203577304574274041938307248.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.
SOUTH KOREA REPORTEDLY FALLING SHORT FOR SEARCHING ADOPTEES
A July 17 opinion piece by Jennifer Kwon Dobbs and Jane Jeong Trenka asserts that South Korea's Central Adoption Information Service Center, its version of a Central Authority to comply with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, falls short in its provision of services to adoptees searching for their birth families. One reason is because its website is in Korean. According to "Korea Continues to Deny Overseas Adoptees Access," the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family states that 78,000 adoptees went to South Korea to search for their birth families from 1995-2005, but only 2.7 percent were reunited. The article reports that the Ministry may hold another public hearing to solicit adoptee and birthmother concerns before submitting adoption law recommendations to the National Assembly.
To read the opinion piece, go to: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2009/07/137_48629.html.
NUMBER OF ADOPTEES RETURNED TO CARE INCREASES IN UNITED KINGDOM
According to a July 10 article in The Times by Rosemary Bennett, a survey of local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales revealed that the number of children returning to care from adoptive families increased from 26 in 2004-2005, to 57 in 2008-2009. The article, "Number of adopted children returned to care has doubled in five years," reports that extrapolating from the survey group means that a total of 250 children re-entered care. At the same time, the total number of adoptions has decreased to 4,637 in 2007, the smallest number since 1999; over 75 percent of children who are adopted were removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. A charity, Adoption UK, notes that the statistics underscore the "lack of support for adoptive families."
To read the article, go to: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article6675966.ece.
CAMPAIGN TARGETS HIGH RATE OF PREGNANCIES AMONG FOSTER YOUTH
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy issued a brief in July on pregnancy prevention for youth in foster care, "Opportunities to Help Youth in Foster Care: Addressing Pregnancy Prevention in the Implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008." Among statistics reported are that by age 17, 33 percent of girls in foster care have been pregnant at least once, increasing to 48 percent by age 19 and 71 percent by age 21. Opportunities to address this problem with foster youth and those aging out of care in the Fostering Connections Act of 2008 are highlighted.
To download the brief, go to: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/Briefly_Youth_Foster_Care.pdf.
ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION RELEASES 2009 KIDS COUNT DATA BOOK
On July 28, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2009 KIDS COUNT Data Book – "Counting What Counts: Taking Results Seriously for Vulnerable Children and Families." This is the 20th annual volume in this series, and it provides state-based data on 10 indicators of child well-being. Based on these measures, the report ranks all 50 states in relation to child well-being, with New Hampshire, Minnesota and Utah leading the roster.
To access the report, go to: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/databook/.
WORLD VISION REPORTS ON ILLEGAL ADOPTION AND CHILD TRAFFICKING
World Vision has issued a report, "10 Things You Need to Know about Human Trafficking," which highlights a link between illegal adoptions – which circumvent systems that are set up to protect children’s rights in adoption – and conditions that contribute to child trafficking. Cases in several countries in which traffickers buy and sell babies for adoption are reported, and recommendations for promoting ethical adoption are suggested. These include promoting universal birth registration, ensuring full transparency of birthparents' permission, assessing compliance with Hague protocols, and improving monitoring of transit homes and orphanages.
To access the report, go to: http://www.worldvision.org.uk/upload/pdf/10Things.pdf.
VOICE FOR ADOPTION ISSUES BRIEF STRESSING POST-ADOPTION SERVICES
In conjunction with a July legislative briefing on the need for post-adoption services, the umbrella organization Voice for Adoption released a six-page paper highlighting the need for such services and making the following recommendations: 1) enhance federal funding; 2) promote the development of adoption-competent services through training mental health providers; 3) increase outcome-based research on post-adoption service models; and 4) provide federal encouragement to states to re-invest Adoption Incentive funds in these services, as well as increase Adoption Opportunities funding.
To access the brief, go to: http://voice-for-adoption.org/downloads/VFA%20post-adopt%20paper%20FINAL%207.9.09.pdf.
CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA AND INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP
On July 8, the Child Welfare League of America and the Adoption Institute announced "a strategic partnership to enhance the efficacy of their current work, to forge important new projects together, and to increase the overall impact of two of the nation's leading organizations dedicated to helping children and families." Areas of collaboration include: an initiative to increase the number of children, especially those of color, adopted from foster care and a major White House Conference on Children and Youth in 2010.
To read the press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/media/20090708_press_cwla.php.
WEST-COAST SUPPORTERS, SAVE THE DATE: INSTITUTE L.A. BENEFIT IS NOV. 10
Those of you who live in Southern California – or plan to travel there! – please mark Nov. 10, 2009 on your calendars for the next Adoption Institute Benefit in Los Angeles. This is always a fun party, full of movie and television stars, and movers and shakers in the entertainment industry, all devoted to supporting the work of the Institute to make adoption fairer and more beneficial for everyone it touches. The event will be at a private home, so please contact Laura James at
[email protected] or 212-925-4089 for information on sponsorship opportunities and on how to attend.
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:
• RIGHTS & WELL-BEING OF BIRTHPARENTS
• EXPANDING RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
• IMPROVING ADOPTION AGENCY PRACTICES WITH GAYS AND LESBIANS
• RESTORING RIGHTS TO ACCESS BIRTH RECORDS
• ADOPTION IN THE SCHOOLS AND ADOPTION IN 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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