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SENATE TO CONSIDER BILL WITH BILLIONS IN ADOPTION-RELATED FUNDING
On Aug. 4, the Senate version of the FY10 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill (Report 111-66) was placed on the Senate Legislative calendar, after it passed its Appropriations Committee. The House has already passed its version of the bill (HR3293). According to the Child Welfare League of America, both bills fund the adoption assistance program at $2.46 billion, adoption awareness at $12.9 million, adoption opportunities at $26.3 million, adoption incentive payments at $39.5 million and kinship guardianship at $49 million. Additionally, both include the President’s request for program grants to reduce long-term foster care placements. Congress re-convenes on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and the 2009 federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30. To read the bill and report, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search by bill number HR3293; to see a comparison of the bill's appropriations and FY09 appropriations, see CWLA's budget chart at: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/FY2010_Budget.pdf.
STATES SUBMITTING PLANS TO USE FEDERAL FUNDS FOR KINSHIP PLACEMENTS
The U.S. Children's Bureau has approved Rhode Island's amended plan allowing the state to use Title IV-E funds for the new kinship-guardianship option provided in the Fostering Connections Act (P.L. 110-351), according to CWLA's Aug. 3 Children's Monitor Online. The District of Columbia, Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have also submitted plans to use Title IV-E funding for kinship placements; there is no deadline for exercising the option, so additional states are likely to follow suit. Two other provisions of the Act take effect on Oct. 1: states can use Title IV-E funds for all adopted children 16 and older with special needs and those who have been in foster care for five consecutive years (instead of the current AFDC look-back) and tribal governments can apply to HHS to provide Title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance and kinship programs. To read the Act, go to: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ351.110.pdf; to read CWLA's Children's Monitor Online article, go to: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline-issueHL.asp?ISSUEID=245#HL_1576.
THERAPEUTIC FOSTER CARE INCLUDED IN HEALTHCARE REFORM LEGISLATION
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offered an amendment on therapeutic foster care (TFC) to the healthcare reform legislation (HR3200) that was accepted by voice vote on July 30. Baldwin's amendment protects Medicaid reimbursement for treatment costs. TFC is defined in the amendment as "a foster care program that provides to the child structured daily activities that develop, improve, monitor, and reinforce age-appropriate social, communications, and behavioral skills; crisis intervention and crisis support services; medication monitoring; counseling; case management services; and specialized training for the foster parent and consultation with the foster parent on the maintenance of children with mental illnesses and related health and developmental conditions." CWLA reports that TFC is "an evidence-informed placement that has produced positive outcomes...The U.S. Surgeon General's 1999 report on mental health recommended TFC as a promising, effective intervention for children with serious emotional disorders." To read the amendment, go to:
http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090730/hr3200_baldwin_1.pdf; to read CWLA's Children's Monitor Online article on the subject, go to: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline-issueHL.asp?ISSUEID=245#HL_1575.
NC COURT RULING MAY VALIDATE 'DIRECT PLACEMENT' WAIVER ADOPTION
A North Carolina Court of Appeals this month upheld a child's adoption by a lesbian partner through a "direct placement" waiver. The woman, a state senator, had adopted her partner's child (born through artificial insemination) in a "direct placement" adoption, but with a waiver that exempted her partner from having to surrender her parental rights (usually a requirement with direct placement adoptions). While North Carolina law does not specifically address adoption by gays or lesbians, judges in two counties have granted such waivers, according to an Aug. 20 article in the Raleigh News & Observer, "Court order may boost gay adoption" by Benjamin Niolet. The ruling equivocated somewhat, stating, "We conclude that the adoption court acted within its authority in granting the direct placement adoption decree, and that the grant of waiver of certain provisions was, at most, erroneous and contrary to law." To read the article, go to:
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1654706.html. To read the Adoption Institute's reports on adoption by gays and lesbians, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/publications/#gaylesbianadoption.
RESEARCH FINDS 'SAFE' HOME STUDY MORE BENEFICIAL THAN USUAL METHODS
A survey of child welfare professionals in four states with 145 respondents who used the Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) home study method found that the majority of workers perceived it as more beneficial than conventional methods on almost all dimensions evaluated. "Structured Home Study Evaluations: Perceived Benefits of SAFE Versus Conventional Home Studies," by Thomas Crea, Richard Barth (an Institute Senior Fellow), Laura Chintapalli and Rachel Buchanan, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 12, Issue 2). The benefits recognized by the greatest percentage of workers were minimizing cross-jurisdictional barriers and promoting professionalism. Also, more experienced workers were less likely than newer ones to prefer SAFE. To access an abstract, go to:
ANALYSIS LINKS ADOPTION RATES TO AGE AND RACE OF FOSTER PARENTS
An analysis of over 22,000 foster family placements in Illinois identified foster parent characteristics linked with higher rates of adoption: foster parent age (between 38-45 years had highest rate) and foster parent race for non-kinship families (Whites had a higher adoption rate). "Foster Family Characteristics, Kinship, and Permanence" by Andrew Zinn was published in the current issue of Social Service Review (Volume 83, Issue 2). Unlike other studies, this one did not find a significant link between kin care and a lower adoption rate after controlling for foster parent age, race/ethnicity, and foster family wage income. (Higher family income was linked with a higher adoption rate for non-kin placements but not for kin placements. To access an abstract, go to:
AUSTRALIAN STUDY IDENTIFIES FACTORS FACILITATING ADOPTION REUNIONS
An Australian study of the experiences of 18 adoptees reuniting with both birthmothers and birthfathers identified positive birthparent characteristics (loving and open), perceived similarities to the birthparent and support from others as key factors for facilitating reunions with both parents. "Reunions of Adoptees Who Have Met Both Birth Parents: Post-Reunion Relationships and Factors that Facilitate and Hinder the Reunion Process," by Nola Passmore and Judith Feeney, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 12, Issue 2). The study did not find significant differences between adoptees' satisfaction with reunions with birthmothers and birthfathers or in ratings of closeness to them; however adoptees were more likely to identify ongoing relationships with birthmothers as "personal" more often than with birthfathers. To access an abstract, go to:
SOME CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS REPORTEDLY PRESSURE PREGNANT WOMEN
"Shotgun Adoption" by Kathryn Joyce, posted on Aug. 26 on the website of The Nation, reports on practices at some of the country's 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). According to the article, CPCs "seek not only to induce women to 'choose life' but to choose adoption," and "far more than other adoption agencies, conservative Christian agencies demonstrate a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children." The article reports that between 1983 and 1996, there have been 19 lawsuits against CPCs. A recent Family Research Council report on CPC barriers to more women choosing adoption suggests that "CPCs might persuade reluctant women by casting adoption as redemption for unwed mothers' 'past failures' and a triumph over 'selfishness, an "evil" within themselves.'" To read the article, go to:
VIETNAM BILL WOULD PROMOTE DOMESTIC ADOPTIONS OVER INTERNATIONAL
According to an Aug. 22 article in Viet Nam News "Draft bill favors local adoption for children," the National Assembly will consider a bill in October that would mandate an in-country search for adoptive families for 90 days at the communal, provincial and central levels (as opposed to the current 30-day search at the provincial level) before international adoptive placement is permitted. The bill would also shift jurisdiction of international adoption to the Ministry of Justice from nursing establishments, which receive aid from foreign organizations. The U.S. State Department reports that Americans adopted 751 children from Vietnam in FY2008, making it the sixth most-popular sending country. In October 2008, both nations announced that new adoptions could not be processed before a new bilateral agreement was reached or Vietnam acceded to the Hague Convention. To read the news article, go to:
to read the State Department notice go to: http://adoption.state.gov/news/vietnam.html.
NEW CDC RULE ON TUBERCULOSIS TESTING SLOWS INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
An Aug. 24 National Public Radio report, "CDC Tuberculosis Rule Slows International Adoption," by Brenda Wilson, focused on a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement that children over age 2 who are being adopted from other countries be tested for tuberculosis in the country of origin before the United States can issue a visa. The rule previously applied only to children older than 15 because, with younger children, "the vast majority of infected children are not contagious and highly unlikely to transmit the disease." The story on NPR's "All Things Considered" noted, however, that many developing countries do not have testing capabilities. Dr. Jane Aronson, CEO of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, pointed out that the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (S1359) would render children citizens when they are adopted in their country of origin and the current requirement moot. Senate bill 1376, which was introduced in June, would change the Immigration and Nationality Act to include in the definition of children those adopted or emigrating from a Hague Treaty country, and thus exempt them from required admissions vaccination documentation. To read the story, go to:
http://www.wbur.org/news/npr/112176363; to read the bills, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search by bill number for S1359 and S1376.
AD CAMPAIGN SAID TO INCREASE NUMBER OF ADOPTIONS FROM FOSTER CARE
An advertising campaign encouraging Americans to adopt children from foster care has yielded positive results, according to an Aug. 19 article, "When PSA Campaigns Work" by Peggy Conlon in Advertising Age. The story reports that six years after the campaign began, over 13,000 families have initiated the adoption process and more than 11,000 children have been adopted through AdoptUSKids. The campaign, by Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, is a collaboration among the Ad Council, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Collaboration to AdoptUSKids, and has resulted in $216 million in donated media. Research showing that prospective parents’ greatest fear was "Can I do this?" resulted in the campaign’s theme: "You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." To read the article, go to:
RECESSION IS TIED TO AN INCREASE IN PUBLIC ADOPTIONS IN COLORADO
A CBS4 story, "Adoption Exchange Sees Surprises During Recession," by Brooke Wagner,
reported that while the recession caused the Adoption Exchange, which links prospective adoptive families to agencies and children, to cut its budget, founder Dixie van de Flier Davis said that in Colorado, "more children were adopted this year than before – 494 adoptions we counted last year, and that's well over a 20 percent increase from a year before." Davis attributes the uptick in child welfare adoptions in part to the decline in international adoptions due to cost and the recession's impact on people's values. Despite the positive results, 550 Colorado foster children are waiting to be adopted. To read the article, go to:
MOTHER RECLAIMS FIRST BABY ABANDONED UNDER NEBRASKA SAFE HAVEN LAW
According to an Aug. 1 article in the Omaha World-Herald, "Mom didn't know she was pregnant" by Martha Stoddard, a mother gave birth after not realizing she was pregnant and asked her sister to take the newborn to the hospital, reportedly resulting in "the first infant dropped off under Nebraska's year-old safe haven law." Within two days, the mother went to the hospital to ask for the baby. An affidavit filed by the infant's guardian ad litem states that the mother utilized the law because she was "'scared and didn't know what to do next.'" Because the state’s "safe haven" law does not provide for a placement process after the abandonment, the state will follow regular child welfare procedures. In the meantime, the state's Department of Health and Human Services court-approved plan placed the baby with his mother, and the grandmother moved into the mother's house to assist. To read the article, go to:
http://www.omaha.com/article/20090801/NEWS01/708019943/-1/FRONTPAGE; to read the Institute's report on "safe havens," go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/whowe/Last%20report.pdf.
ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS STRATEGIES TO INCREASE CHILD WELFARE ADOPTIONS Good Customer Service: What Public Welfare Workers Should Know About International Adoptions is a recent article in the Roundtable newsletter published by the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption. The author, Victor Groza (an Institute Senior Fellow), points out that "Currently, many families hold the perception that adoption from a third-world country is more predictable and easier than adopting from the public child welfare system." Among other recommendations, Groza identifies three strategies that agencies can implement to increase adoption from the public child welfare system by families that might otherwise explore international adoption: "friendly and responsive customer service, predictability about the adoption process and support during the waiting period from home study to placement." To read the article, go to:
REPORT EXAMINES REALITIES OF PREGNANT AND PARENTING FOSTER YOUTH
A report by Amy Dworsky and Jan DeCoursey, "Pregnant and Parenting Foster Youth: Their Needs, Their Experiences," was published this month by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services commissioned the study of data records for the 4,590 pregnant and parenting foster youth whom the Teen Parenting Service Network served from June 1998 to October 2006 in Cook and surrounding counties. One finding indicates "at least 30 percent of the female foster youth who have been pregnant will experience a second pregnancy." The report contains both quantitative results, such as demographics and outcomes, and interviews with service providers about prevention and services. To read the report, go to:
FL APPEALS COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON STATE'S BAN ON ADOPTION BY GAYS
An Aug. 29 Miami Herald article, "Case is a serious challenge to Florida's gay-adoption ban," by Carol Marbin Miller, reports that one judge (on the three-judge Third District Court of Appeal panel) hearing arguments appealing the decision that struck down the state's law prohibiting adoption by gays and lesbians seemed to indicate the state agency was supporting a law with which it did not agree. "Florida's ban on gay adoption goes before appeals court," by Carol Marbin Miller and Gabriela Gonzalez, in the Aug. 27 Miami Herald reports that the court is considering whether Florida has a "rational basis" for the ban and experts expect the case will reach the state Supreme Court. The Aug. 29 article quotes Executive Director Pertman as saying, "In the overwhelming number of states, it happens every single day that a professional on the ground will think that it serves the best interests of kids to be adopted by a gay man or lesbian -- and there is no harm whatsoever." John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, on the other hand, asserts that "research showed it was 'always' better for children to be raised in a family with both a mother and father." An Orlando Sentinel poll published Aug. 14, asking "Should Florida allow gay individuals to adopt children?" showed that over two-thirds of respondents replied yes (68.6%) and less than one-third said no (31.4%). To read the articles, go to:
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/1208925.html; http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/1204022.html; and http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/lake/orl-edpbacktalk-gay-adoption-081409081409aug14,0,2720129.story. To read the Institute's reports on adoption by gays and lesbians, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/publications/#gaylesbianadoption.
RECESSION REPORTEDLY IMPACTING BIRTH AND ADOPTIVE PARENT DECISIONS
Amy Flowers Umble's Aug. 31 article, "Economy impacts adoption numbers," in the The Free Lance-Star reports on a recent FindLaw survey showing that due to the recession, 6 percent of respondents have put off adoption. At the same time, one Bethany Christian Services adoption agency reports that more women are placing children for adoption, due to financial concerns. According to Pertman, "'Unfortunate' doesn't even begin to describe it. It's heartbreaking to think that people could be placing their children because they lost jobs." To read the article, go to: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2009/082009/08312009/490196.
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:
• IMPROVING THE RIGHTS AND WELL-BEING OF BIRTHPARENTS
• EXPANDING PARENTING RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
• IMPROVING ADOPTION AGENCY PRACTICES WITH GAYS AND LESBIANS
• RESTORING ADOPTEE RIGHTS TO ACCESS BIRTH CERTIFICATES
• ADOPTION IN THE SCHOOLS AND ADOPTION IN THE MEDIA
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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