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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- House Bill Eliminates Block Grant with Child Welfare, Adoption Funding
- Russia Defers Ratification of Bilateral Adoption Agreement with U.S.
- Report Recommends Reductions, Major Reforms in Adoption from Africa
- Haiti Suspends Adoption Cases to Deal with Backlog, Raise Standards
- Guatemala Expresses Hope of Resolving Pending Adoptions within a Year
- U.K. Data Indicate Many Areas Not Meeting Targets for Timely Adoptions

2. Research
- Children’s Adoption Prospects Linked to Fewer Behavior Problems
- Law Review: International Family Finding Essential for Foster Youth
- Study Finds Language Delays for Adoptees from China Disappear by Age 3
- Moving Beyond a Legal Standard of Care for Home Studies
- Analysis Criticizes 'Cultural Tourism' Approach to Identity Formation

3. News
- Adoption Official Resigns, Citing 'Unethical, Illegal' Practices in Utah
- Domestic Adoptions on the Rise in India, Across Castes and Religions

4. Resources
- New Publications on Adoption Data, Concurrent Planning, Transitions
- Coalition Forms to Advocate to Preserve Federal Adoption Tax Credit
- Families' Digital Stories Stress Importance of Post-Adoption Services
- Casey Foundation Report Calls for Addressing Needs of Kin Caregivers
- Resource Centers Jointly Issue Report on Recruiting LGBT Parents

5. From Our Partners
- AQ: Study Finds More Openness in Private than Foster Care Adoptions
- Attachment and Trauma Issue Available Free from Adoption Today
- Adoption Learning Partners Webinar: Brothers and Sisters in Adoption
- Spence-Chapin Celebration Marks 20 Years of Adoption from China

6. Institute Update
- 'Taste Of Spring' Honors Nicholas Scoppetta and Bank of America
- In the Media: Adoptee Deportations, Birth Certificates . . . and More
- Upcoming Staff Appearances


Law, Policy & Practice

On May 10, the House passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (SRRA) of 2012 (HR 5652), the Republican counterpart to the August 2011 Budget Control Act of spending cuts and a temporary debt ceiling increase. SRRA would repeal the Social Services Block Grant, which funds various state child and family services, including those to assist in the adoption of children from foster care. While the House and Senate have taken up consideration of various appropriations bills in recent weeks, they have yet to deliberate on the Labor/HHS/Education bill that provides most child welfare and adoption funding. House passage of SRRA sets up contentious spending negotiations with the Senate, where the reconciliation legislation faces dim prospects. To read the bill and see its status, go to: http://1.usa.gov/iZaESp and search by bill number.

The Russian parliament deferred to a later, unspecified date its ratification of the bilateral agreement with Washington to strengthen adoption safeguards (Bill No. 45441-6). The U.S. Secretary of State and Russia's Foreign Minister signed the Agreement last July, and news reports had indicated ratification was expected May 25. Among the changes in the Agreement, only Russian-authorized agencies would be allowed to provide services, and post-adoption monitoring and reporting would be strengthened. Russia has signed, but not ratified, the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. There were 962 U.S. adoptions from Russia in 2011, down from a high of 5,862 in 2004. A May 24 Christian Science Monitor article, "Death of Russian-born boy in US reignites adoption debate," reports on the recent death of a 9-year-old adoptee in Nebraska that has prompted a renewed discussion on U.S. adoptions from Russia. A March 1 U.S. State Department Notice said some local Russian authorities "have instituted a de facto freeze on adoptions to the United States." To read the Agreement and learn the bill's status, go to: http://bit.ly/KTF9Vf; to read the State Department’s FAQs on the Agreement, go to: http://1.usa.gov/p9tQEv; to read the news article, go to: http://bit.ly/LtZKSy

The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) this month released "Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption," which argues for increased safeguards and removal of financial incentives. The report was issued as part of ACPF's 5th International Policy Conference, which was entitled "Intercountry Adoption: Alternatives and Controversies." Citing research showing 33,434 African children have been adopted internationally from 2004-2010, the report states that "if a socially and legally sound, child-centred, intercountry adoption regime is to be formed on the continent, then the views of Africa ... must be taken into account." A May 30 CNN article by Hilary Whiteman, "African adoption should be discouraged 'at all costs,' group says," quotes David Mugawe, ACPF’s Executive Director, as saying intercountry adoption from Africa "should be a last resort and an exception rather than the normal recourse to solving the situation of children in difficult circumstances, as it seems to have now become." To read the report, go to: http://bit.ly/JRTnVp; to read conference presentations and other ACPF publications, go to: http://bit.ly/IyLGlt; to read the CNN article, go to: http://bit.ly/LFDs0Y.

A May 4 U.S. State Department Alert said Haiti's adoption authority, l'Institut du Bien Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), temporarily suspended processing of new adoption cases on May 7 so it can "expedite processing on its backlog of pending cases and begin internal restructuring to bring it closer to international standards." IBESR will continue to process all cases filed before May 7. The State Department advises families with questions about their cases' status to consult with their agencies or facilitators. Haiti has worked to ensure children available for adoption after the January 2010 earthquake are legal orphans. Americans adopted 33 Haitian children in 2011, down from 355 in 2004. Haiti has not ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. To read the Alert, go to: http://1.usa.gov/KnAyPW; to read the Institute's statement on the earthquake and adoption from Haiti, go to: http://bit.ly/dcnxyZ.

According to a May 14 U.S. State Department update, Guatemalan President Otto Perez-Molina "expressed his hope" during April meetings with an American congressional delegation that pending adoption cases "will be resolved within the next 6 to 12 months." American officials had provided a "Universal List" of all known U.S. pending adoption cases in March, with "all Guatemalan agencies agreeing to work from this list." Guatemala's National Adoption Council, meanwhile, is reportedly behind schedule, having processed only five of 22 pending cases under its Dec. 2011 plan. The Procuraduría General de la Nación told the U.S. Embassy that from June 2011 to April 2012, about 40 children were either reunited with their biological families or placed in domestic adoptions and were therefore no longer available for adoption elsewhere. Guatemala suspended intercountry adoptions in 2007 after allegations of fraud and baby theft. State Department statistics show that Americans adopted a high of 4,726 children from Guatemala in 2007, and a low of 32 in 2011. To read the Notice, go to: http://1.usa.gov/Me6QwD.

The United Kingdom's Department for Education released Children in Care and Adoption Performance data for 15 child welfare and adoption indicators from 2008-2010. National results for the three adoption indicators are: 12 percent of children who ceased to be looked after were adopted, 6 percent ceased to be looked after because of a special guardianship order, and 74 percent of looked-after children adopted during the year were placed for adoption within 12 months of the decision. A May 11 Telegraph article by John Bingham, "Half of councils failing adoption targets, controversial 'scorecards' show," highlights the time in care and time to adoption discrepancies among neighborhoods, noting 72 of 152 areas (called councils) "failed to meet the key targets to place children in adoptive families within 21 months overall and within seven months of being cleared for adoption by the courts." The Department's March 2012 "Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay" seeks to facilitate timely adoption for children waiting in temporary care; Black children wait about a year longer to be adopted than do their White and Asian counterparts. To view the data and related information, go to: http://bit.ly/rqLc96; to read the article, go to: http://tgr.ph/J2GFt3; to read the plan, go to: http://bit.ly/H0J9oj.



Researchers analyzed factors predicting the adoption of 31 children with behavior problems by their foster parents and found that fewer externalizing behavior problems and greater foster home integration predicted greater likelihood of adoption. Provision of a parenting intervention, however, did not increase adoption chances or integration, despite lower behavior problems. "Behavior Problems, Foster Home Integration, and Evidence-Based Behavioral Interventions: What Predicts Adoption of Foster Children?" by Sonya Leathers, Jill Spielfogel, et al. is in the May issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 34, Issue 5). This sample of children had been in care for 2.6 years on average and in their current foster homes for 1.5 years. Findings suggest addressing behavior problems early in placement is important for improving children's chances of achieving permanency. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/Js2LFt.

Consideration of all possible permanency options for children in care requires a global view of finding families, according to "Family Finding and Engagement Beyond the Bench: Across International Borders" by Felicity Northcott and Wendy Jeffries in the current issue of Juvenile & Family Court Journal (Volume 63, Issue 1). Many children entering foster care or in need of adoptive families have relatives who live outside the U.S., given that at least 1 in 5 U.S. children have a foreign-born parent. Currently 40,704 children of immigrants are in care, and the number of foster children with relatives outside the U.S. is much larger still. Legal scholars recommend that policies and training reflect best practices in international family finding and that states use international family finding resources at ISS-USA in order to explore relative resources for foster or adoptive placements. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/LbePWg.

Researchers investigating the expressive language development of girls adopted from China found no developmental differences by 30-35 months old, compared to a normative sample of U.S. born girls of the same age. The girls in the study were between 18 and 35 months old, and researchers considered factors such as age at adoption, chronological age, length of exposure to English and developmental risk status at time of adoption in relation to their language development. "Second-first Language Acquisition: Analysis of Expressive Language Skills in a Sample of Girls Adopted from China" by Tony Tan, Troy Loker, et al. is in the current issue of the Journal of Child Language (Volume 39, Issue 2). The findings suggest that as children get older and have more exposure to English, their language acquisition is comparable to U.S.-born children of the same age. Fewer than one-fifth of the girls adopted from China had identified language development delays; of those who did, 25-33 percent had a speech/language intervention in place. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/KWxFUd.

A new law review article argues that a closer alignment of both legal standards of care and best practices for the home study process for foster care, kin and adoption placements is critical to ensure children's safety, health and well-being. "The Need for a Consensus Standard of Care in Screening Prospective Adoptive, Foster and Kinship Placements," by Daniel Pollack, is in the Spring issue of Capital University Law Review (Volume 40, Issue 2). Pollack outlines the need for an accepted professional standard practice for home studies, as is seen in other clinical settings, to better support clinicians and courts in reducing the risks associated with inappropriate placements of children. To subscribe to the journal, go to: http://bit.ly/JpNdgN.

An analysis of the discussions of parents who adopted transnationally, in two online forums and workshops, suggests that efforts at preserving children's birth culture would be better characterized as cultural tourism, rather than cultural keeping, as it has been described previously. "Cultural Tourism in Transnational Adoption: 'Staged Authenticity' and Its Implications for Adopted Children," by Pamela Quiroz, is in the current issue of Journal of Family Issues (Volume 33, Issue 4). Quiroz discusses how parents' selective appropriation and use of cultural symbols, artifacts and events impacts children's cultural identity development and may partially explain research showing people who are transnationally adopted do not develop a blended birth and adoptive cultural identity. The article suggests that for adoptive parents to provide authentic birth culture experiences, they must be willing and able to acknowledge the role of power and privilege in their lives and its relevance to adopting a child internationally. To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/JyPf1W; to read the Adoption Institute’s study on positive identity formation, “Beyond Culture Camp,” go to: http://bit.ly/wLi92b.

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


According to a May 9 Salt Lake Tribune article by Brooke Adams, "Rift in Utah Adoption Council leads president to resign," attorney Wes Hutchins resigned from the president's post because he was concerned that some Utah adoption agencies do not respect birthfathers' rights. He wrote that "many agencies continue to engage in unethical and unlawful practices including post-placement cash bonuses paid directly to birth moms, and coaching birth moms to lie and even defraud birth fathers regarding the birth mother's true intentions." Utah enacted a law (SB55) in March that provides a voluntary procedure for women to give notice to biological fathers of their plan to place a child for adoption; the men would then have 30 days to waive or assert their rights. A similar bill (HB308) would have made such notice to fathers mandatory; it was defeated. Fathers' rights in Utah are also the subject of two court cases. To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/JQkuQw; to read the law, go to: http://1.usa.gov/H0IYJD; to read about the court cases, go to: http://bit.ly/Hfrl8F and http://bit.ly/GWMNMl; to read an Adoption Institute letter concerning mothers' voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and fathers' rights and responsibilities, go to: http://bit.ly/L8yPty.

A May 16 Washington Post article, "As adoption demands grow, Indian families look beyond castes and religion," by Benjamin Gottlieb and Emily Frost, reports on changing family norms in India. Some parents who are unable to care for their children place them in institutional care without relinquishing their parental rights which would enable adoption, and at the same time, urban, upper-middle-class childless couples are now overlooking class and religion in seeking children available for adoption. In 2010, about 5,700 children were legally adopted in India, an enormous increase over 2009. There are an estimated 20 million orphans, however, and the government has reportedly been slow to facilitate formalized domestic adoption. To read the article, go to: http://wapo.st/K6oAWt.



Over the past month, the Department of Health and Human Services' Child Welfare Information Gateway released three adoption-related publications. "How Many Children Were Adopted in 2007 and 2008?" analyzes the challenges of determining accurate total counts and gives estimated numbers of court-reported adoptions by state, totaling about 136,000 each for 2007 and 2008 (a 6 percent increase over 2000). "Concurrent Planning: What the Evidence Shows" includes evidence from the most recent Child and Family Services Reviews, indicating that at least 21 states have linked concurrent planning to positive results. "Helping Your Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child" offers guidelines for foster adoptive parents to help children understand past losses, cope with trauma and transition to adoption. To read the briefs, go to: http://1.usa.gov/KXZkV4, http://1.usa.gov/Mc7iZF and http://1.usa.gov/JKNehQ.

Twelve adoption organizations, including the Adoption Institute, have organized the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group to advocate for preserving the federal adoption tax credit. To learn more about the credit's history and status, as well as the group's efforts, go to the "Save the Adoption Tax Credit" website: http://bit.ly/K1B4ld.

Voice for Adoption, the National Resource Center for Permanency & Family Connections and the Oregon Post-Adoption Resource Center collaborated with adoptive families and professionals to create digital stories that address the needs of families adopting from foster care and the importance of post-adoption services and supports to sustain them. A different story was featured each week in May, and they are being added to the website's digital stories library. To watch the stories of Joan, Cliff, Laura and Kendra, go to: http://bit.ly/LCIriX.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation issued a report, "Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families," that recognizes the benefits of kin care for children in the child welfare system and makes recommendations for more effectively addressing kin caregivers' needs. While 26 percent of foster children nationally are with kin caregivers, states vary tremendously in their reliance on kinship care (from 6 to 46 percent). The report recommends that all states opt into the federal government's Guardianship Assistance Program to make subsidized guardianship a permanency option; 21 states have not yet done so. To read the report, go to: http://bit.ly/LDilyo.

The National Resource Center for Adoption, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, and the National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids released Strategies for Recruiting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families. The report offers a range of recruiting strategies and recommends important practices for welcoming prospective applicants. To read the report, go to: http://bit.ly/KDyOM7; to read the Institute's most recent study of LGBT adoptive families and recommendations for serving them, go to: http://bit.ly/MwaOye.


From Our Partners

Using data from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, researchers examined openness in unrelated private domestic and foster care adoptions, finding that post-adoption contact between adoptive and birth families had occurred in 68 percent of private and 39 percent of foster care adoptions. The percentage of children having contact with birthparents, however, is lower: 37 percent for private and 22 percent for foster adoptions. "Open Adoption and Post-Adoption Birth Family Contact: A Comparison of Non-Relative Foster and Private Adoptions," by Monica Faulkner and Elissa Madden, is in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 15, Issue 1). The study also found that there were high rates of prenatal drug exposure in both groups (63 percent of foster care and 37 percent of private adoptions). To read an abstract, go to: http://bit.ly/JA1wDo; to read the Adoption Institute's recent report on openness in private infant adoptions, go to: http://bit.ly/LvCMND.

Separation from a biological parent can be a traumatic experience for a child. For parents raising children who have come to their families through adoption, learning how to help their child attach can be critical. Because of the importance of trauma and attachment, the June issue of Adoption Today focuses solely on these topics, throughout the coming month, visitors to www.adoptinfo.net can view the 72-page issue at no cost. For every subscription to Adoption Today, a donation is made to the Adoption Institute; to subscribe, go to: www.adoptinfo.net.

Adoption Learning Partners is offering a lunch-and-learn discussion on Tuesday, June 19, at noon (Central Time) on helping children navigate relationships when new siblings join the family. Arleta James, MS and PCC, author of Brothers and Sisters in Adoption, will share transition tips and strategies for welcoming a toddler or school-aged child home, focusing on preparing brothers and sisters prior to adoption and the first year after adoption. Judy Stigger, LCSW, will join Arleta for Q&A. To learn more and to register, go to: http://bit.ly/Jym53O.

On Saturday, June 2, Spence-Chapin will host "China20" –– a celebration of 20 years of adoption from China. The festivities will include an afternoon of activities at the Museum of Chinese in America, followed by a family dinner and an awards reception. To learn more and to purchase tickets, go to: http://bit.ly/JF1hWX.


Institute Update

Institute supporters came together for our 9th Annual Taste of Spring on May 10 in Manhattan to salute Bank of America for its strong support of the adoption community and to celebrate the achievements of our Spotlight Award recipient, Nicholas Scoppetta. We were proud to recognize Nick for his commitment to children in foster care, most notably as New York City's Commissioner for the Administration for Children's Services (ACS). We were honored that many of Nick's fellow civic leaders joined us at the Metropolitan Pavilion to celebrate his work, including ACS Commissioner Ron Richter and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Taste of Spring 2012 raised record contributions, which will enable us to advance our vital work. The Institute thanks our sponsors, attendees and auction donors who made the evening such a great success. We extend our special gratitude to event Co-Chairs Kim Donaldson, Hollis Forbes, Sandy McManus, Holly Heston Rochell and Lisa Selz, as well as our Honorary Chairs Jurate Kazickas and Roger Altman, Jane and Bill Donaldson, and Mimi and Jim Stevens. We are also deeply grateful to Honorary Co-Chairs Katie Brown and William Corbin, Kristin Chenoweth, Deborra-lee Furness and Hugh Jackman, and Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann. To view pictures from Taste of Spring, go to: http://bit.ly/KIhv2S. If you could not join us to celebrate, but would like to make a contribution, please go to: http://bit.ly/9bIvkV.

Executive Director Pertman, in a May 29 Huffington Post column, "An Unnerving Reality: We're Deporting Adoptees," discusses the recent case of a 30-year-old woman who was convicted of a felony in 2004 and is now being deported to India, from where she was adopted when she was 3 months old. "What may be most unnerving," Pertman writes, "is the fact that this is not an aberration; while it is hardly commonplace, it has happened again and again. And there has been virtually no media attention, or public outrage, or embarrassment on the part of immigration officials, or concerted effort to reform law and policy so that people who were adopted into their families are placed on a level playing field with their biological counterparts." To read the column, go to the Huffington Post site at http://huff.to/K9NYiR or to Pertman’s blog at www.adampertman.com.

On May 30, The Baltimore Sun posted a story about a father who was killed by his son, whom he had adopted from foster care at age 8. The victim’s family stressed that this was “an isolated incident,” and his sister said: "We don't want people to think it has anything to do with adoption or kids in the foster care system. That's not the case." Institute Executive Director Pertman was quoted as saying: "The problems the kids experience ... stem from what happened before the adoption, and that's what the new family is trying to cope with and help resolve. It doesn't mean people shouldn't give homes and family to these kids; it means you have to prepare yourself for a different kind of parenting." To read more, go to: http://bsun.md/JZ7PuI.

Institute Board Member Leslie Pate Mackinnon appeared in a story on Dan Rather Reports on HDNet entitled "Adopted or Abducted?" The segment focused on the past practice of so-called "forced adoptions," and its intent was to expose the truth and recognize the trauma and anguish caused to thousands of unwed mothers. To learn more, and to read the statements and responses of maternity homes of the era, go to: http://bit.ly/LHS6Xz.

On May 15, the Albany, NY Times Union ran a story headlined "Pressing to unseal adoption records," which discussed advocates' efforts to persuade legislators to allow adopted adults access to their original birth certificates. Pertman was quoted as saying, "There are so many misconceptions floating around. We're here to provide a grounding in the research and the reality . . . not only is there no evident harm, there are very large benefits to a lot of people." To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/JzNLWa.

The May 21 “Morning Show” on New England Cable News contained a segment that focused on the increase in same-sex couples adopting children. Pertman, appearing on the show, said such adoptions are now "commonplace in almost every state." He also noted that, as more qualified adults are being enabled to adopt, the chief beneficiaries are children who are getting "new parents, permanency, [and] love in a way that they weren't before." To see the interview, go to: http://bit.ly/KShGUn.

The San Antonio Express News interviewed Pertman for "Siblings reunite amid laughter, questions," a May 6 article about three siblings who recently reunited after being separated for adoption as children. Pertman characterized the situation as unique, because the parents were married at the time, while most adoptions were of children born to unwed mothers during that period in U.S. history. To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/H2oqlY.

A May 14 Philadelphia Inquirer story, "Daunting problems, undaunted parents," follows a family who adopted their daughter –– who has Down syndrome and had suffered from extreme malnutrition –– from an orphanage in Bulgaria. Pertman pointed out that children who are adopted from other countries today are usually older and/or have some level of special need. To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/JzO0QT.

A May 11 article on OMG! Yahoo, "Inside the celebrity adoption trend," quotes Pertman as saying that adoption outside of foster care "has come to be quite expensive, and that lock[s] a lot of people out." He also said celebrity adoptions, for all their controversy, have the "distinct positive aspect" of "normalizing all sorts of families, including adoptive ones." To read the article, go to: http://bit.ly/JffSUt.

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 info@adoptioninstitute.org.

  • June 28 – Susan Smith, the Institute’s Program & Project Director, is presenting the keynote at a Massachusetts statewide summit on post-adoption services at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA.

  • July 5 – David Brodzinsky, the Institute’s Research & Project Director, is presenting the keynote address, "Adoption and the life cycle: Growing up as an adoptee,” at an adoption conference in Madrid, Spain, that is sponsored by Comillas Pontifical University. For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/Ltt4sh.

  • July 17– Pertman will be the keynote presenter for the Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency program, SWAN; its mission is to find permanent homes for children in the child welfare system. The meeting is geared toward permanency workers and will take place in Lancaster, PA. For more information, go to: http://bit.ly/JfgzNw.


About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

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