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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- Virginia Rule Permits Discrimination against Some Would-be Adopters
- Utah Supreme Court Rules for Biological Father in Adoption Case
- White House Celebrates Adoption Month with Leaders in the Field
- Summit Promotes Evidence-Based Practices for Vulnerable Children

2. Research
- Study Finds Placement Moves and Stress Impact Children's Attachment
- Researchers Report Benefits to Families of Second-Parent Adoptions
- Behavior Problems Linked to Family Stress and Parenting Style
- Evaluation Gives High Marks to Marriage Education Program
- Adults Cite Range of Reasons in Relinquishing Embryos for 'Adoption'

3. News
- Article Chronicles Corruption in Ethiopian Adoption Process
- Report Focuses on Searches by Internationally Adopted Teens
- Media Examine How DNA Tests Expand Options to Find Birth Relatives
- Interest Climbs in Origins of Children Sent on 'Orphan Trains'

4. Resources
- Report Estimates 136,000 U.S. Adoptions per Year in 2007 and 2008
- New Data Include Number of Teens Adopted from Foster Care
- Pediatrics Offers Guide for Evaluating Newly Adopted Children
- Child Trends Publishes Second Research Brief on Family Finding Model

5. From Our Partners
- Current AQ Issue: Secure Attachment Takes Longer for Some Adoptees
- Adoption Today Covers Challenging and Timely Topics in New Issues

6. Institute Update
- Have Fun and Support the Institute at our 9th 'Taste of Spring' Gala on May 10
- Institute Extends Special Thanks to Gill Foundation for Major Gift
- Our Sincere Gratitude to All Who Donated to the Institute in 2011
- In The Media: Presidential Race, Internet Revolution and Much More
- Upcoming Staff Appearances

 

Law, Policy & Practice

VIRGINIA RULE PERMITS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SOME WOULD-BE ADOPTERS
The Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS) removed bans on discrimination based on gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, family status or political belief that "delay or deny a child's placement" or "deny an individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent." A Jan. 20 Associated Press article in the Washington Post reports that over 1,500 foster children are waiting to be adopted in the state. The amended Standards for Licensed Child-Placing Agencies were published this month, while competing bills were introduced in the state Senate. Sen. Ebbin (D) offered SB 569 to keep DSS from contracting with agencies that "discriminate in providing placement services to children or prospective parents" and Sen. McWaters (R) introduced SB349 to ensure "no private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption if such placement would conflict with the religious tenets of the agency's sponsor." The Adoption Institute had submitted comments in favor of a proposal to expand the pool of adults qualified to adopt children from state care. To read the new regulations, go to: http://bit.ly/y7SAot; to read and find out the bills' status, go to: http://bit.ly/yrio3v and http://bit.ly/wkuRYI ; to read the news article, go to: http://wapo.st/A8J3bk; to read the Adoption Institute's comments, go to: http://bit.ly/teUGJS. To read the Institute's report, "Expanding Resources for Children III," go to http://bit.ly/uWHMyF.

UTAH SUPREME COURT RULES FOR BIOLOGICAL FATHER IN ADOPTION CASE
On Jan. 27, the Utah Supreme Court reversed a district court's order that had permitted the termination of an unwed Colorado father's parental rights to his biological infant daughter, whom the mother had placed for adoption in Utah without his consent. The high court found there was no basis to conclude that the father knew or reasonably could have known that the mother gave birth and placed the newborn for adoption in Utah. The court also clarified the standard of a mother's providing notice of an adoption proceeding to a father, distinguishing between whether he "knew or reasonably could have known" and had a "sense of suspicion sufficient to trigger a further inquiry." The case, In the Matter of the Adoption of Baby B, was remanded to the district court for determinations about the father's fulfillment of Colorado statutory obligations to establish his parental rights and commit to those responsibilities. To read the decision, go to: http://1.usa.gov/xpccda. to read a Jan. 27 article about the case in The Salt Lake Tribune, go to: http://bit.ly/yEYW7k.

WHITE HOUSE CELEBRATES ADOPTION MONTH WITH LEADERS IN THE FIELD
For National Adoption Month, Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman joined other child welfare and adoption experts as a presenter at a special White House event sponsored by the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on Nov. 28. Senior officials of the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of State, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Ambassador Susan Jacobs, as well as Congressional leaders like Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Karen Bass, spoke about their offices' efforts to improve adoption processes and outcomes. Topics included intercountry adoption public/private partnerships, infant adoption awareness and child welfare initiatives to improve adoption prospects for teens and children with "special needs." To read about the event, go to: http://1.usa.gov/AAZZfV.

SUMMIT PROMOTES EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICES FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN
The U.S. held an Evidence Summit on Protecting Children Outside of Family Care on Dec. 12-13, "recognizing that all governments need evidence to inform efficacious, effective, and sustainable policies, strategies, and programs to care for vulnerable children." Under the ''Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005," seven federal agencies – Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, State, Peace Corps, and USAID – provide funding to assist children and their families in 107 countries. The conference hosted researchers and technical experts, and its objectives included informing lower- and middle-income countries' policies and programs for children outside of family care and highlighting research gaps. To read about the summit, go to: http://bit.ly/Aqn3dV.

 

Research

STUDY FINDS PLACEMENT MOVES AND STRESS IMPACT CHILDREN'S ATTACHMENT
"Factors Affecting Attachment in International Adoptees at 6 Months Post Adoption," by Sandra Niemann and Sandra Weiss, assessed the influence of a range of factors on attachment security in 22 young children (mean age at adoption=13 months). The researchers found that the number of pre-adoption placements and the child's stress level (measured by salivary cortisol) predicted attachment status in infant-mother dyads six months after adoption. The study, in the January issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 34, Issue 1), found that other factors examined – age at adoption, child's developmental status, length and quality of pre-adoption care and mother's attachment style – were not significantly related to the child's attachment security. (A second article about this study is summarized below, under From Our Partners.) To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/zgADd7.

RESEARCHERS REPORT BENEFITS TO FAMILIES OF SECOND-PARENT ADOPTIONS
An investigation of parent-teen relationships for 40 separated lesbian couples and their 17-year-old children found that shared custody was more common when the co-mother had legally adopted the teen through a second-parent adoption. "Family Characteristics, Custody Arrangements, and Adolescent Psychological Well-being After Lesbian Mothers Break Up," by Nanette Gartrell, Henny Bos, et al., is in the December issue of Family Relations (Volume 60, Issue 5). While there was no difference in the incidence of behavioral/emotional problems of youth between the groups, couples with co-parent adoption remained intact longer and their offspring were more likely to report closeness to both mothers. To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/xLy31S. To read the Adoption Institute's report on best practices for adoption by gays and lesbians, go to: http://bit.ly/tsVKxd.

BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS LINKED TO FAMILY STRESS AND PARENTING STYLE
Researchers sought to determine whether the associations between family stress, parenting styles and child behavior problems found in biological families were found in adoptive families. Evaluating these constructs among 133 U.S. families with preschool adopted Chinese daughters, they found that family stress was associated with child behavior problems; authoritarian and permissive parenting styles with more behavior problems; and both authoritarian parenting and family stress with the highest level of child behavior problems. "Family Stress, Parenting Styles, and Behavioral Adjustment in Preschool-Age Adopted Chinese Girls," by Tony Tan, Linda Camras, et al., is in the current issue of the Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Volume 27, Issue 1). Overall, these findings were similar to previous research with biological families. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/zfHeJ5.

EVALUATION GIVES HIGH MARKS TO MARRIAGE EDUCATION PROGRAM
An evaluation of a federally funded marriage education program in Wisconsin, which was provided to couples with adopted children with special needs, found that the 112 parents receiving this 36-hour intervention made significant gains on measures of forgiveness, marital satisfaction and depression. "Supporting Special-Needs Adoptive Couples: Assessing an Intervention to Enhance Forgiveness, Increase Marital Satisfaction, and Prevent Depression," by Thomas Baskin, Margaret Rhody, et al., is in the October issue of The Counseling Psychologist (Volume 39, Issue 7). This evaluation used a comparison group with wait-listed couples and also evaluated them when they went through the intervention. The total group maintained significant gains at the 3.5 month follow-up period. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/AAugRS.

ADULTS CITE RANGE OF REASONS IN RELINQUISHING EMBRYOS FOR 'ADOPTION'
A qualitative U.S. study of the decision-making considerations of 43 adults who conditionally relinquished their embryos for "adoption" (meaning they could choose the recipients and negotiate openness) found a range of beliefs, needs and feelings that contributed to their decisions. "Conditional Embryo Relinquishment: Choosing to Relinquish Embryos for Family-Building through a Christian Embryo 'Adoption' Programme," by Lucy Frith, Eric Blyth, et al., is in the December issue of Human Reproduction (Volume 26, Issue 12). Clients came from a range of faiths, with some reporting no religion, so that there were a wide range of views on an embryo's moral status and their level of parental responsibility to it. Many clients were attracted by their ability to help choose the recipient family and know what became of their biological offspring. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/yxRG7g.


Please go to the "From Our Partners" section to read the latest research from Adoption Quarterly.
 

News

ARTICLE CHRONICLES CORRUPTION IN ETHIOPIAN ADOPTION PROCESS
There has been a growth in searchers for birth families in Ethiopia in response to the increase in adoptions from that country, as well as media and government findings of abuses, according to a Dec. 21 article by Kathryn Joyce on atlantic.com, "How Ethiopia's Adoption Industry Dupes Families and Bullies Activists." According to the article, fraud and corruption, such as recruiting children with living parents, typically occur at the local level by agencies and officials. The federal government reportedly is beginning to tackle the problems, while searchers face intimidation. An international adoption expert, Karen Smith-Rotabi, is quoted as saying, "The fundamental issue in Ethiopia is extreme poverty, and that the birth family's idea of adoption" doesn't include the finality of the arrangement, with some expecting their children will be educated and returned to them. To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/y1QoRQ.

REPORT FOCUSES ON SEARCHES BY INTERNATIONALLY ADOPTED TEENS
Tara Bahrampour reports a range of interest among adolescents adopted from other countries in researching their origins and meeting their birth families in "Born abroad, adopted teens find home in multiple lands," a Jan. 21 Washington Post article. One organization, The Ties Program, annually coordinates trips for about 500 families to 16 countries where adoptees were born. Anna James, founder of International Adoption Search – which operates primarily in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine – said birth mothers "are usually happy to be contacted." In a case featured in the story, however, one birth mother from Kazakhstan is reported as having said that doctors told her that her newborn had died. To read the article, go to: http://wapo.st/xfRYVQ.

MEDIA EXAMINE HOW DNA TESTS EXPAND OPTIONS TO FIND BIRTH RELATIVES
A Jan. 23 New York Times article, "With DNA Testing, Suddenly They Are Family," reports on the interest among some adopted people in DNA testing to locate biological relatives, a trend Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet said "highlights the need for broader access to adoption records." According to the article by Rachel L. Swarns, firms that offer genetic testing and matching state that although 9,000 customers have noted they are adoptees, the number is likely larger because some do not offer the reasons for using the service and they "caution that it is much more common to find second and third cousins than birth parents or siblings." The Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio followed up on the topic with a segment titled "Adoptees Using DNA to Find Family" on Jan. 26. To read the New York Times article, go to: http://nyti.ms/AD4tRQ; to read the Diane Rehm Show transcript, go to: http://bit.ly/yiodAa. To read the Institute's report, "For the Records II," go to: http://bit.ly/9CICPT.

INTEREST CLIMBS IN ORIGINS OF CHILDREN SENT ON 'ORPHAN TRAINS'
A Jan. 24 USA Today article by Judy Keen, "Orphan train riders, offspring seek answers about heritage" describes the increased interest in researching the origins of orphaned or abandoned children sent from New York and other cities on trains to the Midwest and West from 1850 to 1929. According to Lukas Weinstein of the Children's Aid Society in New York, about 200,000 children were put on the trains and he has "seen a steady increase (in interest) in the past year," with up to 20 requests for information per week. Muriel Anderson, of the National Orphan Train Complex, a research center and museum in Kansas, has experienced a similar trend, reporting, "We're getting a lot more requests from great-grandchildren and grandchildren." To read the article, go to: http://usat.ly/xgtWQv.

 

Resources

REPORT ESTIMATES 136,000 U.S. ADOPTIONS PER YEAR IN 2007 AND 2008
The Child Welfare Information Gateway recently issued a report, "How Many Children Were Adopted in 2007 and 2008?" that provides estimates of the number of adoptions by U.S. families and analyzes recent trends. The annual estimate of approximately 136,000 adoptions each year processed in U.S. courts does not include intercountry adoptions of children who were not readopted in the U.S., but it represents a 6 percent increase in court-reported adoptions since 2000. To read the report, go to: http://1.usa.gov/A3Z65L.

NEW DATA INCLUDE NUMBER OF TEENS ADOPTED FROM FOSTER CARE
The U.S. Children's Bureau recently released state data on selected child welfare outcomes prior to submitting its 2007-2010 full report to Congress. Among these statistics are data on the percentage of children 13-18 years of age discharged from foster care to a finalized adoption, with Tennessee having the highest percentage, at 20.2. To view the data, go to: http://bit.ly/z3rV2D. To read the Institute's publication, "Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care," go to: http://bit.ly/rPVGP5.

PEDIATRICS OFFERS GUIDE FOR EVALUATING NEWLY ADOPTED CHILDREN
"Comprehensive Health Evaluation of the Newly Adopted Child," in the Jan. issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal Pediatrics (Volume 129, Issue 1), describes the initial medical and developmental evaluation components needed in order to fully address all health and developmental needs of newly adopted children. To read the article by Veronnie F. Jones and the Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care, go to: http://bit.ly/z8H9WW.

CHILD TRENDS PUBLISHES SECOND RESEARCH BRIEF ON FAMILY FINDING MODEL
In December, Child Trends published the second in a series of research briefs on the family finding model. "Piecing Together the Puzzle: Tips and Techniques for Effective Discovery in Family Finding," by Tiffany Allen, Karin Malm, et al., summarizes the steps and techniques of the model, challenges and solutions, evaluation findings and additional resources. To read the brief, go to: http://bit.ly/zfvJFM.

 

From Our Partners

CURRENT AQ ISSUE: SECURE ATTACHMENT TAKES LONGER FOR SOME ADOPTEES
"Attachment Behavior of Children Adopted Internationally at Six Months Post Adoption" compares attachment styles of children rated as having higher (top half of scores) and lower (bottom half) attachment security, finding that infants who had lived in a foster home vs. an orphanage were more likely to seek contact with their adoptive mothers when under stress, but they did not have significantly higher scores on attachment security. This study by Sandra Niemann and Sandra Weiss is in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 14, Issue 4). The authors describe children with lower attachment security as having formed an attachment, but as exhibiting more ambivalent and passive behaviors when under stress. They conclude that after six months in their adoptive homes, some children are still in the process of forming an attachment and some behaviors traditionally viewed as indicating secure or insecure attachment styles have a different meaning when the child's pre-adoption care is taken into account. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/zROIpI.

ADOPTION TODAY: COVERS CHALLENGING AND TIMELY TOPICS IN NEW ISSUES
The January issue of Adoption Today tackled tough topics, including disruption and dissolution and ways families can find support if they are struggling with identity, race and adoption, reactive attachment disorder and other challenges. It also contains articles from the Institute's Susan Smith, foster/adopt parent Denise Kendrick, language specialist Tatyana Elleseff and others. The February issue offers an opportunity to get the latest information on intercountry adoption, with articles on topics like journalists tracing corruption in Guatemala. Also included in this issue is Adam Pertman's latest commentary. Remember, for every subscription to Adoption Today, a donation will be made to the Adoption Institute. To subscribe ($12 for an annual subscription of 12 issues), go to: www.adoptinfo.net.

 

Institute Update

HAVE FUN AND SUPPORT THE INSTITUTE AT OUR 9TH 'TASTE OF SPRING' GALA ON MAY 10
Mark your calendars for the Adoption Institute's annual Taste of Spring benefit; it will take place this year on Thursday, May 10. We are delighted to announce that Bank of America will be our corporate honoree and Nicholas Scoppetta will receive our "Spotlight Award" for his contributions to children in New York City's foster care system. The event's Honorary Chairs are Jurate Kazickas & Roger Altman, Jane & Bill Donaldson and Mimi & Jim Stevens. The benefit will be held again at the lovely Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. We hope you will be able to join us for an evening of good food and wine, a tempting silent auction and great fun, all in support of our unique, important work. To join the Benefit Committee, become an event sponsor, place a tribute in the program or purchase tickets, please contact Development Director William Boltz at 212-925-4089 or [email protected].

INSTITUTE EXTENDS SPECIAL THANKS TO GILL FOUNDATION FOR MAJOR GIFT
The Adoption Institute offers its deep appreciation to the Gill Foundation – one of our major, longtime philanthropic supporters – for its recent $50,000 grant. It is through the generous backing of organizations and individuals who believe in our unique mission that the Institute has been able to have such significant, life-enhancing impact for the last 15 years. We are sincerely grateful to all our contributors, large and small. Today, we give special thanks to Gill for its leadership and, in particular, for its generous unrestricted grant to the Institute, which will permit us to best direct the funding to enable our cutting-edge research, best practice efforts and vital advocacy initiatives.

OUR SINCERE GRATITUDE TO ALL WHO DONATED TO THE INSTITUTE IN 2011
On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, thank you to everyone who generously supported our work last year. Your gifts made it possible for us to successfully undertake our wide-ranging research, publications, presentations, trainings and other activities – including producing this e-newsletter. In the year ahead, Institute staff will work on such diverse projects as Adoption on the Internet, Best Practices in International Adoption, next phases in our path breaking work on Post-Adoption Services, building coalitions to institutionalize equal treatment for LGBT families, creating a summer camp curriculum for adopted children, and much more. Your gifts make our work possible, and we are truly grateful.

IN THE MEDIA: PRESIDENTIAL RACE, INTERNET REVOLUTION, AND MUCH MORE
The Huffington Post, on Jan. 10, ran the latest commentary by the Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman, entitled "Are Children's Issues Only Important in Attack Videos?" In it, Pertman asks why "do so few of our elected officials offer specific plans – as they routinely do for budget cuts, military spending and an array of other matters – for how they would provide children with better medical care, enhanced educational opportunities or increased prospects for success." To read the commentary, go to: http://huff.to/xz5Dxk. The commentary is also available on Pertman's blog, www.adampertman.com.

Pertman was quoted in a Jan. 5 Slate article, "Marci and Me," in which the author discusses his reunion with a sister whom he found – thanks to the Internet – 34 years after she was placed for adoption. Pertman states that "the Internet is revolutionizing adoption in every way." To read the article, go to: http://slate.me/wD2Irn.

The Institute's research and resources were included in a Jan. 24 article in Elle magazine by Nina Burleigh entitled "I'm Not What's Best for My Baby." The story follows a woman's decision to relinquish her baby for adoption. Among its other references to information from the Institute, when discussing the drop in the number of infant adoptions in the U.S., Burleigh writes that "a Donaldson study revealed that between 1989 and 1995, 1.7 percent of children born to never-married white women were placed for adoption, compared with 19.3 percent before 1973." To read the story, go to: http://bit.ly/xXIdYm.

Both Pertman and the Institute's Program & Project Director, Susan Smith, were quoted in a Jan. 9 article in The Columbus Dispatch entitled "Clinic offers adoption as viable choice for women seeking abortion." Choice Network adoption agency works with clients to educate them on their options. In discussing the number of voluntary adoptive placements in the U.S. annually, Smith states that they are "the only area of adoption that's not tracked at all." Pertman argues that "Women should be making informed decisions – period." To read more, go to: http://bit.ly/ymit3h.

On Dec. 20, the Puerto Rico Sun ran an article by Hope Rurik of Scripps Howard News Service, "Racial identity important in transracial adoptions," that cites the Institute's report, "Beyond Culture Camp" as "offer[ing] the first quantitative look at racial issues inter-country and trans-racial children face." To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/zHnmU7. The article also appeared on Dec. 26 as "A question of identity" in reporternews, http://bit.ly/wyWG5B. To read "Beyond Culture Camp," go to: http://bit.ly/xollnY.

In a Dec. 13 Psychology Today Adoption Stories blog post, "Adoption by Gay and Lesbian Couples: Politics & Parenting," Pertman discussed the myth "that gay parents are somehow inferior or that the children they raise are somehow at risk." He added that "the research (and experience) belies those notions, and many Americans simply don't know that." To read the post, go to: http://bit.ly/xiIulh. To read the Institute's latest report on adoption by lesbians and gays, go to: http://bit.ly/uWHMyF.

On Nov. 30, Pertman appeared on BroadSide with Jim Braude on the New England Cable Network to discuss his new book, "Adoption Nation," and recent changes in the field. For example, he said: "International adoption is plummeting, adoptions from foster care soaring, openness in adoption (is) really growing in a big way, more transracial adoptions, gay and lesbian adoptions – the world is changing because of adoption." To see the interview, go to: http://bit.ly/xayJSx. To learn more about his book, go to: www.adampertman.com; to order a copy, go to: http://amzn.to/yZXJ5Y.

On Dec. 19, Pertman and Institute Research Director David Brodzinsky were recognized by Mombian, a site for lesbian moms and other LGBT parents, for their new book, Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension in Family Diversity. The posting listed the book as one of the "Top Lesbian and Gay Parenting Books of 2011," and said that it "summarizes our knowledge of lesbian and gay adoptive families, contributes to it, and points out directions for future research, education, and policy changes." To read more, go to: http://bit.ly/zQzNsG/a>.

UPCOMING STAFF APPEARANCES
The following is a partial listing of upcoming appearances and/or presentations by Pertman and Institute senior staff. For a complete list, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/old/events/appearances.php. To inquire about Institute staff availability for speaking engagements, call 212-925-4089 or email [email protected].

  • February 3 – Executive Director Adam Pertman will present "Keeping the Promise: Adoption in the 21st Century" to members of The My TreeHouse community in Dallas. For more information and to register, go to: http://bit.ly/yKsidI.
  • March 8 – Pertman will give the opening address, on the subject of adoption on the internet, at the Seventh Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law at Capital University Law School in Columbus, OH. For more information and to register go to: http://bit.ly/wJc7ic.
  • March 11– Pertman will discuss "Adoption Through the Generations" in his keynote presentation at the 18th Annual Ametz Adoption and the Family Conference in New York at the Conference Center on 130 E. 59th Street. For more information and to register, go to: http://bit.ly/x1QzCU.
  • March 30– The Institute, in collaboration with The Rudd Adoption Research Program at the University of Massachusetts, will host a conference on the UMass campus entitled "New Worlds of Adoption: Navigating the Teen Years." For more information and to RSVP, go to: http://bit.ly/zvT3eW.

 

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.

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