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A NEW YEAR, A NEW NAME –– AND NEW WAYS TO HEAR FROM YOU
We are updating our name to the Donaldson Adoption Institute to honor the devotion and generosity of the entire family of William Donaldson. In addition, to make our work as relevant as possible to the lives of the people we serve, we have set up an email account –
[email protected] – for you to send us suggestions to improve our effectiveness. We've also created a
survey that you can fill out to help us better understand and respond to the needs of the adoption community, so we can better tailor our work for you, our stakeholders. To learn more, please see our newest publication,
Inside the Institute.
Law, Policy & Practice
RUSSIA HALTS ADOPTIONS BY AMERICANS, BUT ALLOWS SOME CASES TO PROCEED
Responding to Russia's ban on adoptions by Americans, which went into force Jan. 1, the U.S. State Department on Jan. 24 issued an Alert,
"Russian Supreme Court Letter on Implementation of Federal Law No. 272-FZ," which stated "that for adoption cases in which court decisions involving U.S. citizen parents were made before Jan. 1, 2013, (including those that entered into force after Jan. 1, 2013, following the 30-day waiting period), the children should be transferred to the custody of their adoptive parents." Federal Law No. 272-FZ prohibits the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens and adoption service providers from assisting U.S. citizens in such adoptions, as well as mandating the termination of the
U.S.-Russia Adoption Agreement. The State Department "continues to strongly encourage U.S. families, in cooperation with their adoption service providers, to seek confirmation from Russian authorities that their adoptions will be processed to conclusion, prior to traveling to Russia…[and] The United States continues to urge the Russian government to allow all U.S. families who were in the process of adopting a child from Russia prior to January 1 to complete their adoptions so that these children may join permanent, loving families." The U.S.-Russia Agreement had entered into force on Nov. 1, 2012. There were 748 U.S. adoptions from Russia in 2012, down from a high of 5,862 in 2004. Read a
commentary on the issue by the Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman.
2012 REPORT SHOWS NUMBER OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS CONTINUES TO DROP
The Department of State on Jan. 24 published its
FY 2012 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoption, reporting a total of 8,668 incoming adoptions in 2012, down from 9,319 in 2011 and from a high of 22,991 in 2004. The median that adoption service providers reported as charging for all adoption services was $28,425. While the providers reported no disrupted placements in adoptions from countries that have ratified the Hague Convention, the Department of Health and Human Services reported 71 cases of disruptions and dissolutions involving 76 children who were adopted internationally. Ninety-nine U.S. children were adopted by parents in other countries. Read the
New York Times article on the report.
U.S. SAYS CAMBODIA DOES NOT COMPLY WITH HAGUE, RETAINS BAN ON ADOPTIONS
A Jan. 2 State Department Notice,
Update on Status of Intercountry Adoptions between the United States and Cambodia, reports that the U.S. "will not be able to process intercountry adoptions in Cambodia at this time, under the Hague Convention," finding it “does not yet have a fully functional Convention process in place.” While Cambodia had maintained that new regulations bring its international adoption system into compliance with the 1993 Hague Convention, one provision allows the adoption of children in orphanages, raising concerns that some whose parents are still living will be included, according to a Sept. 19 GlobalPost.com article in the Alaska Dispatch,
"Cambodia's baby-stealing problem, can it be solved?" Cambodia had reportedly planned to start accepting applications for international adoption on Jan. 1, lifting the prohibition it imposed in 2009 in response to accusations of fraud and corruption; the U.S. instituted a ban on adoptions from Cambodia in 2001.
KOREAN LAW GIVES PREFERENCE TO DOMESTIC OVER INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
In a Jan. 25 Notice,
"Korea Begins Implementing Special Adoption Act, the State Department notes that the Republic of Korea's Special Adoption Act, which gives priority to domestic adoptions and aims to decrease intercountry adoption, is likely to result in "significant changes from previous intercountry adoption procedures and requirements," though the government has not provided details. Family Courts must approve each intercountry adoption; the Ministry of Health and Welfare stated that "adoptions that were in process but not completed by August 5, 2012, will be processed under the new law." While the government is accepting new applications, "prospective adoptive parents should not expect rapid processing of these cases" until new processes are established.
The South Korean government, meanwhile, filed a motion on Jan. 24 to intervene in the adoption proceedings of prospective parents in Illinois who allegedly skirted that country's adoption rules. A Jan. 27 Chicago Tribune article,
"South Korea files motion in Cook County to stop adoption" by Lisa Black, reports that the couple, who lost guardianship rights over the child in another court, are moving on two legal fronts to keep the 7-month-old girl, with a petition to a federal court and a request to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2012(P.L. 112-264), meanwhile, was signed by the President on Jan. 14; it directs the Secretary of State "to designate a representative to regularly brief Congress on U.S. efforts to advocate for the best interests of North Korean children and children of one North Korean parent, including efforts to address the adoption of such children living outside North Korea without parental care."
NEW LAW MAKES ADOPTION TAX CREDIT PERMANENT –– BUT NOT REFUNDABLE
Congress passed and the President signed the
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240) in early January. It included a permanent extension of the adoption tax credit and income exclusion for employer-paid or -reimbursed adoption expenses. The IRS has not yet released official numbers, but the projected maximum amount of the adoption credit for 2013 is expected to be $12,770. The law does not make the credit refundable, so it will only benefit families who have federal income tax liability. The credit is still "flat" for special needs adoptions, so those families do not need to document qualifying expenses. Save the Adoption Tax Credit has
FAQs and the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center and North American Council on Adoptable Children offer
Adoption Tax Credit: A Guide for State Advocates.
INSTITUTE LETTER POINTS OUT NEGATIVE IMPACT OF PROPOSED SUBSIDY CUTS
The Adoption Institute submitted a
letter to Maine officials this month in response to a proposed $1.4 million cut in adoption subsidies for 900 Maine families who have adopted children from foster care. The effort is part of the Institute's nationwide "Keeping the Promise" initiative advocating for post-adoption support services. The letter stresses key points from the Institute's recent
Issue Brief – in partnership with the North American Council on Adoptable Children – illustrating that state funding for adoption subsidies is an essential tool for enabling children and youth to move from foster care into permanent, loving, successful families.
INSTITUTE PROVIDES TESTIMONY ON RECORDS BILLS IN MARYLAND, WASHINGTON
The Adoption Institute on Jan. 17 provided written and in-person testimony by Executive Director Adam Pertman in Maryland on
SB0165, explaining the state of professional knowledge on the availability (or lack thereof) of original birth certificates (OBCs) to adopted persons once they reach the age of majority. The bills would repeal the current law's requirement allowing disclosure of OBCs and adoption records only for adoptions in 2000 or later and decrease the age adopted persons may apply for their documents from 21 to 18, and also include a disclosure veto. The bills currently are in committees; a Senate hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12. The Institute also submitted testimony in Washington state on
SB 5118 which would remove the limitation applying to adoptions only after Oct. 1, 1993 for adopted adults seeking their OBCs. The Institute's advocacy on this issue is based on its research for
two of its publications, entitled "For the Records".
COALITION SUPPORTS U.S. GOVERNMENT ACTION PLAN ON VULNERABLE CHILDREN
The Children in Adversity Policy Partnership (CAPP), a coalition of U.S. children's NGOs that includes the Adoption Institute, issued a letter in support of the official launch of the
United States Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity on Dec. 19. The 2012-2017 Framework for U.S. Government International Assistance is the first U.S. strategic guidance for children who are affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, trafficked, exploited for child labor, in disasters, recruited as soldiers, neglected, or in other vulnerable states. Seven U.S. federal agencies and departments plan to align funding that addresses the needs of vulnerable children toward building strong beginnings, putting family care first and protecting children.
INSTITUTE 'UNTANGLING THE WEB' REPORT: INTERNET IS TRANSFORMING ADOPTION
The Donaldson Adoption Institute in mid-December issued the first-ever extensive examination of the positive and negative impacts of the Internet and social media on adoption practice, policy and the lives of those involved,
"Untangling the Web: The Internet's Transformative Impact on Adoption," by Policy and Research Director Jeanne Howard. The growing "commodification" of adoption, increasing ease of searching, probable end of secrecy in adoption, and use of the web to support those involved in adoptions are some of the historic changes noted in the report, the first in a series on the topic. Some of the recommendations include the need for policy and law enforcement officials to review adoption websites for fraudulent, illegal and unethical practices, and for preparation of those involved to address the realities of social media.
ACCEPTANCE OF ETHNIC IDENTITY EXPLORATION SEEN TO PROMOTE WELL-BEING "Experiential Acceptance and Psychological Well-Being in Korean-Born Adoptees," by Alix Sarubbi, Jennifer Block-Lerner, et al., in the final 2012 issue of The Family Journal (Volume 20, Issue 4), investigated the associations between experiential acceptance of ethnic identity exploration (rather than avoidance), ethnic identity, and psychological well-being among 91 Korean-born adopted adults. A regression analysis found that experiential acceptance of adoption-related thoughts and feelings contributed positively to three indicators of psychological well-being (purpose in life, self-acceptance, and personal growth) over and above the contribution of other variables (current age, gender, age at adoption, ethnic identity, cultural socialization, and emotional reaction to adoption). Experiential acceptance also predicted higher levels of ethnic identity. Read the Adoption Institute's study on positive identity formation in adoption,
"Beyond Culture Camp."
SCORES OF PENDING ADOPTIONS REPORTEDLY STILL UNRESOLVED IN GUATEMALA
A Dec. 8 New York Times article by Rachel L. Swarns,
"A Family, for a Few Days a Year," describes the situation of pending adoptions in Guatemala since the country ceased intercountry adoptions in 2008 due to corruption and trafficking concerns. Currently, 150 children are in orphanages and foster homes as Guatemalan authorities consider whether to approve their adoptions; just five adoptions were finalized in 2012 and over 100 cases are pending. The president of the board of directors of the National Adoption Council, which handles adoptions after the child welfare investigative branch processes them, explains: "These are very vulnerable people, who can be easily taken advantage of. At times, they have not had the opportunity to make a complaint or to seek solutions." U.S. officials, on the other hand, say Guatemala has taken adequate precautions to allow adoptions to proceed.
HAITI WORKING TO DECREASE NUMBER OF ORPHANAGES AND IMPROVE ADOPTION
"Trying to close orphanages where many aren't orphans at all," in the Dec. 4 edition of the New York Times, reports that the Haitian government estimates that of the 30,000 children in institutions and those adopted internationally, 80 percent have at least one living parent. The article says many parents place their children into orphanages as a result of extreme poverty. The government is implementing rules to follow the 1993 Hague Convention and "intends to meet with the birth parents at the beginning of the process to obtain their consent and offer assistance like job training if they want their children to stay with them." It is also trying to decrease the number of orphanages through inspections; of the more than 725 orphanages, just 112 are accredited.
SPECIAL FAMILY JOURNAL FOCUSES ON COUNSELING IN ADOPTION, FOSTER CARE
The final 2012 issue of
The Family Journal (Volume 20, Issue 4), published by the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, focuses on counseling children and adults affected by adoption or foster care. Two articles are described in the Research section above and many others address interventions including: helping children grieve the loss of birthparents; reactive attachment disorder; counseling transracial adoptive families; child-parent relationship therapy; group work to support youth and parents through the adoption process; adult adoptee identity development; and counseling adult adoptees.
"'When You're Sitting on the Fence, Hope's the Hardest Part': Challenges and Experiences of Heterosexual and Same-Sex Couples Adopting through the Child Welfare System," by Abbie Goldberg (an Institute Senior Research Fellow), April Moyer, et al., examines the challenges and positive aspects of 84 foster-to-adopt parent experiences (42 lesbian or gay and 42 heterosexual couples) in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 15, Issue 4). The study is based on interviews with parents three to four months after a child was placed with them whom they intended to adopt in a foster-to-adopt (legal-risk) arrangement. It found that insufficient support or services (35%) and legal insecurity (31%) were the most commonly reported challenges; the types of challenges experienced by lesbian, gay and heterosexual couples were very similar overall. The most commonly reported benefit related to positive qualities of specific social workers (29%) who helped offset parents' stress.
ADOPTION TODAY WINTER ISSUES EXAMINE CHRISTIAN ORPHAN CARE, MUCH MORE Adoption Today's January issue has an in-depth focus on the Christian Orphan Care Movement, including an article from the Christian Alliance for Orphans, as well as information on in-home therapeutic parent assistants, attachment and trauma. The February issue focuses on Building an Adoption Support Network; adoptive families discuss the importance of connection and support before, during and after adoption. Don't miss the Donaldson Adoption Institute's column on the Internet's impact on the adoption community –– and remember that a portion of every new subscription goes to support the Institute's vital work;
subscribe today for $12 for the year (12 issues).
SPENCE-CHAPIN: HOSTS INFORMATIONAL GROUPS, WORKSHOPS AND WEBINAR
Spence-Chapin will present a variety of
educational resources in February, including LGBT Parenting 101 on Feb. 13 that will focus on the particular issues gay and lesbian adoptive parents have to navigate and an International Adoption Information Webinar on Feb. 20 presented live by international adoption specialists and including a Q&A session. On the 23rd, the Global Gathering Celebration will celebrate the rich heritages and diverse cultures that make children unique. Other opportunities include: Children's Group: 2nd and 3rd Grades and 4th and 5th Grades on Feb. 2; Foster-to-Adopt Lifebook Workshop on Feb. 9 and Single Parent Workshop Series: Waiting and Dating on Feb. 21.
OUR SINCERE GRATITUDE TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED TO THE INSTITUTE IN 2012
On behalf of the Board and staff of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, thank you to everyone who supported our work last year. Your gifts enabled us to successfully undertake our wide-ranging research, education and advocacy activities – including producing this e-newsletter and our acclaimed "Untangling the Web: The Internet's Transformative Impact on Adoption." Your generosity makes our work possible, and we are truly grateful.
SAVE THE DATE: 10TH ANNUAL 'TASTE OF SPRING' GALA IS SET FOR MAY 9
Mark your calendars for the Adoption Institute's annual Taste of Spring benefit; it will take place this year on Thursday, May 9. We are delighted to announce that Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President for Specials, Music and Live Events at CBS Entertainment will be this year's honoree. Under his leadership, CBS for the last 14 years has broadcast Home for the Holidays, a special that shines much-needed light on foster children waiting for permanent, loving families. We hope you will be able to join us for an evening of fine 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
IN THE MEDIA: THE INTERNET'S ROLE, CHRISTIAN ADOPTIONS, A WEBINAR AND MORE
On January 23, the Huffington Post ran Executive Director Adam Pertman's latest commentary,
“Before it's Too Late: Understanding the Impact of Institutionalization on Children.” Among the consequences, Pertman writes, are “emotional and social disorders; loss of IQ points and intellectual capacity; stunted growth and other physical ailments.” He outlines crucial steps that politicians as well as the public should take to improve these children's lives and adds: “Perhaps it is because the puzzle has so many pieces that so few countries, including our own, have been able to see the big picture, the one that shows millions of children languishing in temporary care while the adults who control their lives engage in genuinely important deliberations.” Read the commentary on
The Adoption Institute's “Untangling the Web” report received considerable attention in the media, including a featured segment on National Public Radio's “Talk of the Nation” on Dec. 19 entitled
"How The Internet Is Revolutionizing The Adoption Process." Pertman was also quoted in a Jan. 15 Reuters article that discussed the trend of potential parents bypassing traditional agencies and turning to the internet instead. "The obvious temptation is to choose the quicker route,” he said. “But there is no way to do an adoption ethically and thoughtfully in a hurry."
On Dec. 13, CNN Living ran a story about a man who, just before his 21st birthday, discovered by email that he had been adopted as a young child by an aunt and uncle. In that story, Pertman referred to the Institute's report about the
impact of the Internet on adoption and discussed the need to “shape policies and practices that harness the new technology while protecting vulnerable children and parents.” He went on to say that “we have a maze in front of us and we have to learn to navigate it and provide people with resources, or they're going to get lost in it." And a Dec. 23 story in the Chicago Tribune,
“Online adoption: Avoiding a web of lies,” examined fraud and exploitation on the Internet, quoting the Institute's report as saying, "This is particularly the case in domestic infant adoption, where a scarcity of babies available to be adopted heightens competition."
On Dec. 5, Pertman appeared on Good Morning America to discuss a case in which a
birthfather is battling for custody of his daughter who was adopted without his knowledge or consent. The birthmother flew to Utah to have the baby and relinquished her parental rights; Pertman noted that “Utah laws appeal to people who want to get it done quick rather than people that want to get it done right."
February 21 – Pertman will conduct a day-long Adoption Competency training session for the Hillside Children's Center in Syracuse, NY. The focus will be on Transracial/Transcultural Adoptions.
March 9 – Research & Project Director David Brodzinsky will conduct a workshop entitled
"Talking with children about adoption" at a multi-agency-sponsored conference, “Adoption: A Lifelong Journey,” in Oakland, CA.
Since its establishment in 1996, the 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 website is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information. Re-read our past e-Newsletters.
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
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