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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- Utah Legislature Considering Several Adoption-Reform Measures
- Nebraska Supreme Court Finds for Father Not Informed of Child's Birth

2. Education & Advocacy
- Institute Offers Testimony for House Hearing on Adoptions from Care
- Institute Provides Research, Testimony on State Birth Certificate Bills

3. Research
- Institutionalization Found to Impair Ability to Sustain Attention
- Study: Neurochemical Impact of Deprivation Continues after Adoption
- Interviews Show Benefits, Issues of Post-Adoption Sibling Contact

4. News
- Two Intercountry Adoption Agencies Reportedly Shut Down Suddenly
- Puerto Rico Court Upholds Law Prohibiting Gay Couples from Adopting
- Ethiopian Court, for First Time, Revokes an Intercountry Adoption
- Irish Government Apologizes for Magdalene Laundries 'National Shame'
- Judge Rules Montana Ranch for 'Troubled' Children Must Be Licensed

5. Resources
- Chart Examines Impact of 'Fiscal Cliff' on Social Service Programs
- Report Focuses on 'What Works' to Serve Pregnant and Parenting Teens
- Resource Center Offers Archived Webcast on Trauma-Informed Practice
- Article Describes Tennessee's Adoption Support, Preservation Services

6. From Our Partners
- Adoption Quarterly: Most Intercountry Adoptees Recover Rapidly
- Adoption Learning Partners: Attachment Webinar March 12
- Adoption Today Issues Focus on Support Teams and Summer Programs
- Spence-Chapin: Informational Meetings, Workshops in NY and NJ

7. Institute Update
- Join us on May 9 for 'Taste of Spring,' a Fun Event to Support Critical Work
- In the Media: Russian Adoption Ban, 'Safe Havens,' Social Media and More
- Upcoming Staff Appearances

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 – input@adoptioninstitute.org – 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

UTAH LEGISLATURE CONSIDERING SEVERAL ADOPTION-REFORM MEASURES
A number of bills that would reform adoption policy currently are pending in the Utah legislature. SB155 would allow “post-adoption contact agreements between prospective adoptive parents and birth parents or other birth relatives of a prospective adoptive child” in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services; the original bill permitted such agreements in all types of adoption, not just of children from state care. SB31 would provide a refundable adoption tax credit of $1,000 for families adopting a child (since Jan. 1, 2013) who is over 5 years of age, “has a physical, emotional, or mental disability,” or is a member of a sibling group placed together. HB214 would permit second-parent adoption; currently, the state prohibits gays and lesbians from adopting their partners’ children. Read the Institute’s most recent report on adoption by gays and lesbians.

NEBRASKA SUPREME COURT FINDS FOR FATHER NOT INFORMED OF CHILD'S BIRTH
In a Feb. 8 decision in Jeremiah J. v. Dakota D. (No. S-12-517), the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed and remanded a lower court ruling that found a biological father did not meet the legal requirements for contesting the adoption of his child. State law mandates that men file petitions within five business days of a baby's birth, but the evidence in this case showed the biological mother intentionally did not inform the father of the delivery, so he could not know to contest the adoption. A concurring opinion asserted that the "Due Process Clause requires the State to adequately protect a putative father's opportunity to form a relationship with his child. And the notice provisions of Nebraska's adoption statutes will frequently not protect a putative father's opportunity interest if the biological mother withholds or misrepresents the fact of the child's birth." Read the Institute's "Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process."

 

Education & Advocacy

INSTITUTE OFFERS TESTIMONY FOR HOUSE HEARING ON ADOPTIONS FROM CARE
The Committee on Ways and Means' Subcommittee on Human Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on "increasing adoptions from foster care, including through the Adoption Incentives program" the afternoon of Feb. 27. The subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Reichert (R-WA) noted, "While tens of thousands of children are adopted from foster care each year, twice as many foster children are still waiting for a permanent home." The Adoption Institute submitted written testimony based on its "Keeping the Promise" initiative demonstrating the effectiveness of adoption support and preservation services and adoption subsidies. Among the in-person expert witnesses were Rita Soronen, President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and Nicole Dobbins, Executive Director of Voice for Adoption.

INSTITUTE PROVIDES RESEARCH, TESTIMONY ON STATE BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILLS
The Institute continues to educate legislators across the country about the importance of restoring adult adoptees' access to their original birth certificates (OBCs). Executive Director Adam Pertman will testify in Ohio next week on SB23/ HB61 and has been working with advocates and policymakers to advance OBC bills in Connecticut, New York and Montana, among other states. The Institute also submitted testimony in Washington state on SB5118, which would remove the limitation for OBC access of applying to adoptions only after Oct. 1, 1993, and also now removes a birthparent nondisclosure affidavit provision. Another access bill, HB252, is pending in Missouri. The Institute's advocacy on this issue is based on its research for its "For the Records" publications.

 

Research

INSTITUTIONALIZATION FOUND TO IMPAIR ABILITY TO SUSTAIN ATTENTION
"The Effect of Early Deprivation on Executive Attention in Middle Childhood," by Michelle Loman, Anna Johnson, et al., in the January issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Volume 54, Issue 1) examines the impact of institutionalization on executive attention abilities of 11-year-old children. By comparing the task performance of three groups of children – 24 adopted internationally from institutions, 31 adopted internationally from foster care prior to age 6 months, and 27 non-adopted children – researchers discovered that post-institutionalized children primarily had difficulties sustaining attention, rather than difficulties specific to response inhibition or selective attention, as previously thought. (There were more omission errors among post-institutionalized children but no group differences in commission errors.)

STUDY: NEUROCHEMICAL IMPACT OF DEPRIVATION CONTINUES AFTER ADOPTION
Researchers at the University of Minnesota followed 76 children adopted from Eastern European orphanages (mean age at adoption=17 months), finding that dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis at six-months after adoption was associated with more behavioral and emotional problems. (HPA is the body's stress regulatory system, and prolonged stress such as that experienced in institutional care can lead to chronic stress dysregulation.) "Adoption As An Intervention for Institutionally Reared Children: HPA Functioning and Developmental Status," by Maria Kroupina, Anita Fuglestad, et al., is in the December 2012 issue of Infant Behavior and Development (Volume 35, Issue 4). The study failed to find an association between HPA functioning at baseline or follow-up and children's general developmental level.

INTERVIEWS SHOW BENEFITS, ISSUES OF POST-ADOPTION SIBLING CONTACT
"Making Sense of Siblings: Connections and Severances in Post-Adoption Contact," by Jeanette Cossar and Elsbeth Neil, is in the February issue of Child and Family Social Work (Volume 18, Issue 1). Based on interviews with 51 adoptive parents, 4 foster parents (parenting siblings of adopted children) and 39 birth relatives, researchers in England investigated the complexity of sibling relationships as shaped by contact or severance of contact after adoption. Overall, 93 percent of adopted children had siblings living elsewhere, and about half had direct contact with them, typically only once or twice a year. Some adoptive parents had concerns about how sibling representations of birth family would coincide with the adoptive family narrative – with some seeing this as an opportunity for the child. For children, infrequent contact had both benefits and challenges; researchers recommended that contact plans be renegotiated as children grow older and their needs change, such as when they develop close sibling relationships and want more contact.

"Constrained Adoptive Parenthood and Family Transition: Adopters' Experience of Unplanned Birth Family Contact in Adolescence," by Mandi MacDonald and Dominic McSherry, also in the February issue of Child and Family Social Work (Volume 18, Issue 1), focused on five families where an older birth sibling had initiated unplanned contact with the adopted child, typically through social media. This qualitative study conducted by researchers in Northern Ireland is a subset of 17 families who adopted children from care, currently aged 11-15. Adoptive parents went along with contact, but expressed concerns that their children were vulnerable due to immaturity or lack of accurate information about their birth families, and believed their families were thrust into a transition they had not anticipated until their children were 18. Recommendations included preparing adopters for this reality and initial development of sibling contact plans, separately from birth family contact plans. Read the Adoption Institute's recent report, "Untangling the Web: The Internet's Transformative Impact on Adoption".

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

 

News

TWO INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION AGENCIES REPORTEDLY SHUT DOWN SUDDENLY
A Feb. 12 Associated Press article, "2 US Adoption Agencies Closing, Citing Woes Abroad," reports that two non-profit adoption agencies, Christian World Adoption and Adoption ARK, recently closed abruptly. Christian World Adoption, the only US agency accredited in Kyrgyzstan, informed its clients without warning that is was ceasing to operate "effective immediately" and separately referred to delays, bans and disruptions as causing increased costs and decreased revenue. Adoption ARK attributed its closure to the Russian ban on adoption by Americans. The article cites Chuck Johnson, CEO, National Council for Adoption, as saying that he expected many more agencies to close. Read a commentary on the Russian ban by Pertman.

PUERTO RICO COURT UPHOLDS LAW PROHIBITING GAY COUPLES FROM ADOPTING
A Feb. 20 Associated Press article, "Puerto Rico's Supreme Court narrowly upholds law that bars gay couples from adopting children," reports that the 5-4 decision "upheld the constitutionality of a law that states a person cannot adopt a single-parent child if the would-be adopter is of the same sex as the child's mother or father without that parent losing their legal rights." The decision precedes the legislature's consideration of "several bills that would extend more rights to gays and lesbians, setting off a heated debate in recent weeks." The case concerns a woman trying to adopt the 12-year-old daughter (conceived through in vitro fertilization) of her partner of 20 some years. The majority opinion also held that second-parent adoptions do not apply in Puerto Rico. In a dissenting opinion, the Chief Justice stated the law is unconstitutional and "the plaintiff's lawyers proved the proposed adoption would benefit the child."

ETHIOPIAN COURT, FOR FIRST TIME, REVOKES AN INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
For the first time, an Ethiopian court revoked an intercountry adoption – that of a now 14-year-old girl, Betty Lub, by a family who reportedly abused her in the Netherlands, according to a Feb. 11 Voice of America report by Marthe Van Der Wolf, "Ethiopian Adoptee Wins Legal Case to Revoke Adoption." The report said that Lub's adoption records had incorrectly stated her biological parents had died, and that Ethiopia's adoption authority decreased adoptions by 90 percent in 2011 because of fraud. In reviewing documents of Ethiopian children adopted by families in the Netherlands, Against Child Trafficking (an NGO) "found that the adoption process is riddled by fraud and other clear-cut criminal activities," Van Der Wolf wrote. "But most important, the demand-driven inter-country adoption process is breaking up families who could be helped in building up their lives with a fraction of the money." The article also said many Ethiopian parents "do not understand the Western concept of adoption" and believe their children will return home after being educated abroad.

IRISH GOVERNMENT APOLOGIZES FOR MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES 'NATIONAL SHAME'
A Feb. 5 story in Irish Central, "2,000 Irish children were illegally adopted in US from Magdalene Laundries," reports that hundreds of "children were taken away from their mothers who worked under near slave conditions in the Magdalene Laundry system set up by the state and religious orders" and "illegally exported" to adoptive families in the U.S. during the 20th Century. A Feb. 20 Time article, "Irish Prime Minister Apologizes for Forced Labor in Magdalene Laundries" by Sorcha Pollak, said Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Feb. 19 made a speech to the Parliament stating: "this is a national shame for which I say again I am deeply sorry and offer my full and heartfelt apologies." A Feb. 5 government report found state involvement, which had been previously denied, and described conditions in the Laundries. It said that "thousands of unmarried mothers, women who had been sexually abused and young girls who had grown up in the care of the state lived and worked in the Irish Magdalene Laundries operated by four orders of Catholic nuns," without pay.

JUDGE RULES MONTANA RANCH FOR 'TROUBLED' CHILDREN MUST BE LICENSED
A state judge has held that The Ranch For Kids, a facility in Eureka, MT, for "troubled" children adopted internationally, is not an exempt church and must be licensed by the state Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Programs board, as reported in a Feb. 6 Associated Press article, "Judge rules against troubled adopted kids' ranch." The Department of Labor and Industry's attorney said, "It's not our intention to shut them down. However, they haven't been operating with a license the last 2 ˝ years. At this juncture, we will work with them if they work with us." Over 20 children adopted internationally live at the ranch; the AP article said that many of them have "troubles that make it difficult for them to live at home due to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or behavior issues that stem from trauma or difficult conditions in orphanages."

 

Resources

CHART EXAMINES IMPACT OF 'FISCAL CLIFF' ON SOCIAL SERVICE PROGRAMS
The National Human Services Assembly recently released a chart, "The Potential Impact of the Sequester on Selected Youth, Family, Aging and Disability Programs," detailing how the likely 7.6–8.2 percent sequestration automatic budget cuts to take effect March 1 would impact social service programs. The table includes amounts for FY08-FY12 appropriations, FY13 President's budget, sequestration, and changes in funding levels for programs including Adoption Assistance, Awareness, Opportunities and Incentives.

REPORT FOCUSES ON 'WHAT WORKS' TO SERVE PREGNANT AND PARENTING TEENS
"Promising Strategies and Existing Gaps in Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Teens Summary of Expert Panel Workgroup Meetings – January and July 2012," published by the Office of Adolescent Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presents findings of workgroups of national experts focused on "what works" to reach pregnant and parenting teens and their families.

RESOURCE CENTER OFFERS ARCHIVED WEBCAST ON TRAUMA-INFORMED PRACTICE
"Trauma-Informed Practice with Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System", a Feb. 6 webcast, has been archived by the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections. Speakers included Dr. Glenn Saxe and Erika Tullberg from the NYU Child Study Center, and an overview of Trauma Systems Therapy was provided.

ARTICLE DESCRIBES TENNESSEE'S ADOPTION SUPPORT, PRESERVATION SERVICES
"Supporting the Promise of Permanency: Post-Adoption Services for Children and Families," by Michael Yates and Kristi Kulesz, is in the February Adoption Advocate, published by the National Council for Adoption. This article describes the Adoption Support and Preservation program in Tennessee delivered collaboratively by Harmony Adoption Services, Catholic Charities, and AGAPE Child and Family Services. It includes pre- as well as post-adopt services to support and preserve adoptive families. Read the Institute's report on post-adoption services, "Keeping the Promise".

 

From Our Partners

ADOPTION QUARTERLY: MOST INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTEES RECOVER RAPIDLY
"Developmental Outcomes of Internationally Adopted Children," by Janet Welsh and Andres Viana, in the final 2012 issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 15, Issue 4), followed 106 internationally adopted children for two years after adoption. They found impressive recovery across five developmental domains for most, but those with the greatest initial delays continued to lag behind the others. Communication skills was the domain with the most significant initial delays, but while 34 percent scored in the clinical range in communication initially, only 4 percent did so at the 24-month follow-up. Fine motor skills was the area showing the least improvement overall. There were significant differences by birth country, with those adopted from Eastern European countries scoring the lowest in most domains.

ADOPTION LEARNING PARTNERS: ATTACHMENT WEBINAR MARCH 12
A guest speaker, adoption therapist Deborah Gray, will provide practical advice to help adoptive parents build trusting relationships and secure attachments with their children in a new webinar, "Building Bonds of Attachment: Practical, Expert Advice," on March 12. Parents will learn how to recognize behaviors that indicate experience with trauma, bonding activities for healthy relationships in the short term and throughout childhood, and advice to maintain relationships with children already in the home.

ADOPTION TODAY ISSUES FOCUS ON SUPPORT TEAMS AND SUMMER PROGRAMS
The February issue of Adoption Today discusses the importance of establishing an adoption support team and having someone to lean on when you need it most. It also has a piece by Donaldson Adoption Institute's Adam Pertman about understanding the impact of institutionalization on children, while in the March issue, he discusses "safe havens." The March issue features an adoptive parent's guide to summer culture camp opportunities, as well as summer heritage tour programs. 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). subscribe today for $12 for the year (12 issues).

SPENCE-CHAPIN: INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS, WORKSHOPS IN NY AND NJ
Spence-Chapin will present a variety of educational resources in March, including an International Adoption Information Meeting, Foster-to-Adopt Kids' Groups, Understanding Open Adoption, Learning Issues and Adoption, and Single Parent Workshop Series. It will also host Mini-Conferences in Westchester and on Long Island.

 

Institute Update

JOIN US MAY 9 FOR 'TASTE OF SPRING,' A FUN EVENT TO SUPPORT CRITICAL WORK
The Adoption Institute's 10th Annual Taste of Spring benefit returns to the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan on Thursday, May 9, for another evening of delicious food, fine wine and good friends. Some of the best restaurants and purveyors of fine food in New York –– such as Landmarc and Lucy's Whey –– will offer tasty samples of their culinary creations. Please join our Honorary Co-Chairs –– Mario Batali, Katie Brown and William Corbin, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole and Bill Moloney, and Deborra-lee Furness and Hugh Jackman –– in supporting this critical part of our fundraising efforts. There is still a small window to join the Benefit Committee and have your name included on the invitation. For more information, please contact Development Director William Boltz at wboltz@adoptioninstitute.org or (212) 925-4089.

Our guest of honor this year will be Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President for Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS Entertainment. Under Jack's leadership, CBS has broadcast the acclaimed Home for the Holidays for the last 14 years. This annual special not only shines a much-needed light on children waiting in foster care, but also leads to the adoption of girls and boys across the country into loving, permanent families.

If you would like to offer a public "Thank You" to our honoree or to acknowledge the work of the Institute, we invite you to place an ad in the evening's Tribute Book. It will serve as both the event's program and a nice keepsake; space is available in full-, half- and quarter-page sizes. For more information, to become a sponsor or to purchase tickets, please contact William Boltz.

IN THE MEDIA: RUSSIAN ADOPTION BAN, 'SAFE HAVENS,' SOCIAL MEDIA AND MORE
In a new Huffington Post commentary on Feb. 27, "Legalized Infant Abandonment: Alarm in Europe, Barely a Peep in the U.S.," Executive Director Adam Pertman discusses the controversy in Europe over so-called "Baby Boxes" –– including a call by the United Nations to halt their use –– and asks why the U.S. equivalent, "safe haven" laws, have not stirred similar debate. Pertman raises questions about the wisdom and effectiveness of either approach, based on the Adoption Institute's report on the subject, "Unintended Consequences."The Institute is planning a second research project on unsafe infant abandonment. The commentary is also posted on Pertman's blog.

Pertman was interviewed by media in the U.S. and from around the world about the Russian ban on adoptions by Americans in general and, specifically, about the recent death of a boy in Texas who was adopted from Russia. On Feb. 6, Pertman was a guest on National Public Radio's On Point with Tom Ashbrook discussing the future of both international and domestic adoption; among his comments, Pertman said that "only in the realm of international adoption do we question why and how people form their families," and added there also "should have policies to get homes for as many kids in this country as humanly possible." On Feb. 5, SunSentinel.com ran a story about a Fort Lauderdale couple who should have been welcoming home a little boy from Russia but instead were left with "broken hearts." Pertman was quoted as saying that while his heart breaks for the would-be parents, the greater loss is for "the sons and daughters who have had an escape route from institutional care taken away from them." During a Feb. 19 appearance on CNN, Pertman said Russia's ban is more of "a political game … than it is a legal one." And in an Associated Press story on Feb. 20, "Russian adoption ban hits families agencies." Pertman is quoted as saying: "It's not a complete shock" that Russia acted in retaliation for a human rights bill in the U.S. "It's quite a surprise that they chose to make children pawns in the game."

The Salt Lake Tribune on Feb. 1 ran a story about a woman who, through social media, located her birthmother within two days, and cited the Institute's report on the Internet and adoption. The report, "Untangling the Web," concludes that the era of closed adoptions may be coming to an end as a result of the Internet, in particular because of social media, and that this technology also raises important legal and ethical issues.

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://bit.ly/bPNVDc. To inquire about Institute staff availability for speaking engagements, call 212-925-4089 or email info@adoptioninstitute.org.

 

About the Donaldson Adoption Institute

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.


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