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UT LEGISLATURE APPROVES ADOPTION REFORMS, BUT NOT FOR 'SECOND PARENTS'
Five bills to reform adoption policy passed the Utah legislature this month;
HB214, which would have permitted second-parent adoption, did not.
SB232 provides that "implied consent" is not prior consent and thus grounds for a person to be excused from providing notice of an adoption proceeding, stipulates "consent to an adoption may be implied by: a father failing to provide a birth mother with financial or emotional support" for six months prior to birth, and allows adoption petitions to be filed before a child's birth.
SB282 requires the biological mother or child to have resided in the state for at least 30 consecutive days for an unmarried father to have notice that Utah law applies to him.
SB183 "requires the Office of Licensing to implement ethical rules prohibiting an adoption agency or an agency employee from misrepresenting facts or information."
SB155 allows post-adoption contact agreements among prospective adoptive parents, birth parents or birth relatives of prospective adoptive children in state foster care.
SB31 provides a refundable adoption tax credit of $1,000 for families adopting a child (since Jan. 1, 2013) over 5 years of age, "has a physical, emotional, or mental disability," or is a member of a sibling group placed together.
Meanwhile, a March 22 Russia Beyond the Headlines article,
"Russia insists on monitoring the life of Russian children adopted by American families," reports that despite the ban, Russia maintains that monitoring requirements will remain in effect. A March 4 article by Alexei Bausin,
"Adoption made easier for Russian citizens," in the same publication reports that the government plans to raise monetary allowances for Russians who adopt, specifically for children who are older or have special needs, as well as to eliminate the age requirement for unmarried prospective adopters. According to government statistics, Russians adopted 7,434 children in 2011, of whom 38 were disabled and 466 were older than 7. Read a commentary on the issue by the Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman.
CONGRESSIONAL GROUPS CONSIDER 2013 ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE PRIORITIES
On March 20, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth hosted a roundtable discussion on Foster Care and Adoption Legislative Priorities for the 113th Congress. Among the members of Congress who participated were: Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Topics presented and discussed included: child-specific recruitment and family-finding efforts, post-adoption service needs and resolving the issue of adoptions from Russia. Watch
"Bringing About Change for Foster Youth."
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 recently held a
hearing on "increasing adoptions from foster care, including through the Adoption Incentives program," which expires Sept. 2013 (as do Family Connections grants). 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 hearing's expert witnesses were Rita Soronen, President of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and Nicole Dobbins, Executive Director of Voice for Adoption; their
testimony is available, as is the archived webcast. Witnesses presented themes such as the need for states to report how savings from Title IV-E adoption assistance were reinvested, with an emphasis on allocating a percentage of the savings to post-adoption services; achieving older youth permanency; continued adoption incentives; and investments in adoption programs with proven success.
IN SUPREME COURT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CASE, INSTITUTE FOCUSES ON CHILDREN
The Adoption Institute is an amicus organization on the
Brief of Adoption and Child Welfare Advocates as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, filed Feb. 28, 2013, with the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging California's Proposition 8 that amended the state's constitution to bar same-sex marriage. Proposition 8's sponsors justify the denial of marriage rights on the basis "that marriage exists only to promote 'responsible procreation and childrearing,' so that children can be 'raised in stable and enduring family units by' their biological parents." The amicus brief counters that "adoption law and practice have recognized a public interest in child welfare served by placing children with non-biological parents," "[m]any types of families, including those led by same-sex couples, can provide a stable, permanent home for children" and "[t]he benefits of adoption are shared equally by those children raised in a same-sex two-parent family and those raised in an opposite-sex two-parent family." Oral argument was held on March 26 and experts anticipate a decision by the end of June. Read "Expanding Resources for Children" I, II and III.
INSTITUTE PROVIDES RESEARCH, TESTIMONY ON STATE BIRTH CERTIFICATE BILLS
The Institute continues to educate state legislators nationwide about the need to restore adult adoptees' access to their original birth certificates (OBCs). Executive Director Adam Pertman
testified in Ohio in Feb. on
HB61, which would allow adults who were adopted from 1964 to 1996 access to their OBCs and birthparents to file contact preference forms and updated medical histories. According to
"Ohio bill would open adoption files and untangle confusing law," by Diane Suchetka on March 21 on Cleveland.com, the Judiciary Committee unanimously approved HB61 and the full House is likely to vote on the bill after its return April 8; after that, the Senate will consider it. The Catholic Conference of Ohio, Ohio Right to Life, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Ohio Birthparent Group and many birthmothers supported and/or
testified for the bill. The Institute submitted testimony to the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee on March 20 regarding
SB384. The Institute also submitted
testimony in Washington state on bills that are progressing, SB5118/
HB1525, and which would remove the limitation for OBC access of applying to adoptions only after Oct. 1, 1993, and also would remove a birthparent nondisclosure affidavit provision. The Institute's advocacy on this issue is based on its research for its "For the Records" publications.
INSTITUTE: RESEARCH BACKS INCLUSION OF ALL QUALIFIED PROSPECTIVE PARENTS
The Institute submitted written testimony to the Nebraska Senate Judiciary Committee on LB385, the Foster Care Fairness Act. The testimony notes that it appears the bill – which would prohibit discrimination in placement and foster care licensing based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status or national origin – comports with the findings and recommendations in its research, including that lesbian and gay parents are important family resources for foster children nationwide. The Institute also noted that several studies have documented that lesbian and gay adults are willing to foster and adopt the very children most in need of homes &ndash those who are older and have special needs – and that they adopt such children at a higher rate than do heterosexual adults. The testimony is based on research from "Expanding Resources for Children" I, II and III.
MN PLAN AIMS FOR PARITY IN SUBSIDIES FOR OUT-OF-HOME CARE PLACEMENTS
The Minnesota governor's budget proposal includes
"Northstar Care for Children," which "consolidates and simplifies administration of three existing programs -- Adoption Assistance, Relative Custody Assistance and family foster care -- into a single program to support permanency for children for new placements, effective Jan. 1, 2015" and "levels rates to create equality across the programs." A March 12 Minnesota Public Radio article,
"Minn. adoption bill up for Senate hearing" by Sasha Aslanian, reports that while Minnesota has one of the highest rates of foster care payments, it has one of the lowest for adoption assistance, but a state pilot project equalizing the payments resulted in a 20 percent rise in adoption rates. The article notes there are 355 children in the state waiting in temporary care for permanent families, but the North American Council on Adoptable Children says 1,073 children in Minnesota were waiting to be adopted in 2010. Northstar Care for Children is incorporated in Senate Bill
SF1159; the Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing approved the bill and referred it to the Finance Committee. The proposal is included in
SF 1034 as well, which are also in committee. The Institute is submitting a letter of support based on the research in its adoption subsidies issue brief.
STUDY FINDS 20 YEARS LATER, PARENTS ENDORSE OPENNESS IN THEIR ADOPTIONS "Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents' Reactions Two Decades Later," by Deborah Siegel in the January issue of Social Work (Volume 58, Issue 1), reported on the open adoption experiences of 22 parents when their children (adopted domestically as infants) were young adults. This longitudinal, qualitative study found that the level of openness fluctuated over time, and at the last wave of data collection, all but one parent reported unambivalent, positive feelings about openness, saying that it had not been a major issue in their lives. Benefits reported included: their children's ability to access information about themselves, knowing about genetic vulnerabilities, comfort of knowing about the birthparents' well-being, and ability to answer child's questions about their birthparents. Parents also described challenges they had faced, how they handled them, and advice they would offer others embarking on open adoption. Read the Institute's "Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections."
DELINQUENCY IN ADOPTED TEENS LINKED TO TEMPERAMENT, MATERNAL SENSITIVITY "Delinquent and Aggressive Behaviors in Early-Adopted Adolescents: Longitudinal Predictions from Child Temperament and Maternal Sensitivity," by Anja van der Voort, Marielle Linting, et al., is in the March issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 35, Issue 3). Dutch researchers investigated the association between mothers' parental style, children's temperament, and delinquent and aggressive behaviors in a longitudinal study of 160 adopted adolescents (all internationally adopted; mean age=10.8 weeks), finding that lower levels of "effortful control" in the child predicted higher levels of delinquency and aggression. (Effortful control is a dimension of temperament reflecting the person's ability to control behavior and attention.) When controlling for other factors, higher maternal sensitivity during adolescence predicted lower delinquency rates in the teen, but not lower aggression. The study concluded that at least some externalizing behavior problems result from temperamental characteristics of children, but maternal sensitivity can serve as a buffer to some extent.
RESEARCH: YOUTH ADOPTED AFTER AGE 2 SHOW GREATER ATTACHMENT INSECURITY
Researchers in Chile compared the attachment styles of 25 adopted and 25 non-adopted adolescents, finding that those who were adopted had a higher rate of insecure attachment (68% vs. 28%), particularly the "insecure-avoidant" style (generally unresponsive to the parent).
"Attachment in Adopted Adolescents: National Adoption in Chile," by Maria Escobar and Maria Santelices, is in the March issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 35, Issue 3). Youth adopted after 24 months of age showed greater insecurity than those adopted prior to age 2. The authors recommended public policies that allow longer periods of follow-up and more time and support for adoptive parents and children after adoption.
Please go to the "From Our Partners" section to read the latest research from Adoption Quarterly.
AUSTRALIA ISSUES APOLOGY FOR 'FORCED ADOPTIONS' BY UNWED MOTHERS
A March 21 Associated Press article by Rod McGuirk,
"Australian PM apologizes for forced adoptions," reports that Prime Minister Julia Gillard had asserted that "Parliament on behalf of the Australian people takes responsibility and apologizes for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering." A Senate Committee report revealed that thousands of unwed mothers were forced to relinquish their babies for adoption from World War II until the early 1970s. There were approximately 10,000 adoptions annually at the highest point, in 1972, and for unmarried mothers, adoption rates were as high as 60 percent in the late 1960s. In the apology, the Prime Minister also stated, "We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children."
187 LEGAL INFANT ABANDONMENTS REPORTED IN FLORIDA UNDER 'SAFE HAVENS'
According to a source in the March 5 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel,
"Babies Left Behind By Parents Travel Different Routes to Adoption," by Wayne K. Roustan, Florida has had 187 "safe haven" infant abandonments since the law legalizing abandonment was passed in 2000. A Broward County Judge was quoted in the story as saying, "I would hesitate to use the words 'hot commodity,' but certainly because of publicity I would say the public is more aware of the availability of the child that doesn't have parents and maybe people would think [they] don't have to go through that much red tape." According to the DCF Tallahassee office, "There are 750 children awaiting adoptions in Florida; most are in elementary and high school or are groups of siblings." The North American Council on Adoptable Children reports that "In 2010, 5,011 foster children in Florida were waiting to be adopted." Read the
Institute's report on infant abandonment, "Unintended Consequences."
NEW ISSUE OF 'ROUNDTABLE' EXAMINES ADOPTION SUPPORT AND PRESERVATION
The National Resource Center for Adoption published a new issue of
The Roundtable this week (Volume 26, Issue 1), devoted to post-adoption services. Articles include: "Adoption Support and Preservation Services: The Sequel" by Adoption Institute Program & Project Director Susan Smith, "Partnering with Others to Improve Adoption Outcomes" by John Johnson, "Illinois Adoption Preservation Programs" by Christine Feldman, "Community Champions Network: Youth, Parents & Professionals" by Kim Stevens, and "Adoption Support and Preservation Services Tip Sheet," by Janice King. Read the Adoption Institute's report on post-adoption services, "Keeping the Promise."
ADOPTION QUARTERLY: ETHNIC EXPLORATION IN CHINESE ADOPTED TEENS "Ethnic Exploration and Consciousness of Difference: Chinese Adoptees in Early Adolescence," by Richard Tessler and Gail Gamache, in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 15, Issue 4), tests seven propositions about the relationship among the transracially adopted girls' consciousness of difference, parents' cultural socialization, children's ethnic exploration (EE), social stigma and adjustment. This is the third wave of a longitudinal study, with data collected in 1996, 2002 and 2008 from over 300 families nationwide (average age at adoption=8.7 months). Some findings include: family bicultural socialization in middle childhood predicted a higher level of EE in adolescence; girls higher in EE were more likely to feel positively about adoption and school; girls high in EE perceived more racial discrimination and negative stereotyping, yet experienced less discrimination distress at school; and EE was more a sign of personal strength than of vulnerability. Read the Institute's "Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption."
ADOPTION TODAY ISSUE FOCUSES ON OLDER/SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD ADOPTION
Today, more and more older children and children with special needs are being adopted both domestically and internationally. How do you prepare yourself and your family for some of the challenges you may face? How will adopting an older child or a child with special needs impact your family?
Adoption Today's April issue is dedicated to helping families who are considering adopting such children. It provides some issues for potential parents to consider, as well as heartwarming stories about families created through these adoptions. The issue provides helpful tips and insight for adoptive families, and includes stories from birthparents, adoptive parents and others. 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: APRIL INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS ... AND SEEKING MENTORS
Spence-Chapin will present a variety of April educational events, including an International Adoption Information Meeting for Singles; Children's Groups for 2nd-3rd grades, 4th-5th grades, and 6th-7th grades; several Parenting Series, including Building Attachment; webinars on adopting domestically and internationally; and a Transracial Adoption workshop. Spence-Chapin also is seeking adult adoptee volunteers for its 2013-2014 group mentoring program for domestically and internationally adopted youth, 12-18 years old. Events are one Saturday per month from September-May. Mentors must be 21 or older, complete an in-person interview, a background check, and attend a mandatory training. For more information, please contact Dana Stallard at 212-360 0213 or [email protected].
ENJOY EXCEPTIONAL FOOD AND WINE –– WHILE SUPPORTING THE INSTITUTE
On May 9, the Adoption Institute will hold its 10th Annual
Taste of Spring benefit, our major annual fundraiser. The event, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York, features master chefs and boutique wines from around the world. We have a terrific lineup of restaurants and food purveyors. Alison 18 and Landmarc are returning from last year, and new participants include Butter & Scotch, Fresco by Scotto, Lucy's Whey, The Mercer Kitchen and Sfoglia. For the first time, we will feature cocktails (by 67 Orange Street) and coffee (from Laughing Man Coffee & Tea). Our event Co-Chairs – Kim Donaldson, Hollis Forbes, Annie Lansing, Cathy Lorenz, Sandy McManus, Holly Heston Rochell and Lisa Selz – encourage you to buy tickets soon, because they will go fast and they'd hate to see you left out. They also urge you to consider an individual or corporate sponsorship, and there will be another way to support our important work while saluting our honoree, Jack Sussman of CBS. A Tribute Book will serve as both the evening's program and a keepsake; ad space is available in full-, half- and quarter-page sizes. For more information about ads, sponsorships or other questions, please contact Development Director William Boltz, at
[email protected] or (212) 925-4089.
Buy your tickets today!
DOUBLE –– OR EVEN TRIPLE –– YOUR DONATION WITH EMPLOYER MATCHING GIFTS
The contribution you make to the Adoption Institute can have double the impact! As part of their corporate social responsibility efforts, many companies sponsor matching gift programs. The matches are usually dollar-for-dollar, but some firms do even more. When you make a donation to the Institute, please check with your HR department to see if your company matches employee gifts. Last year, we received such support from leading corporations including Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, New York Life and Pfizer. The Institute's Development Department staff will be happy to help you with any paperwork. Please contact Bill Boltz at
[email protected] or (212) 925-4089 if you have any questions.
IN THE MEDIA: 'MY FAMILY IS NOT A SECOND-BEST OPTION,' TRENDS AND MORE
On March 15, the Huffington Post ran Executive Director Adam Pertman's latest commentary,
"My Family Is Not a 'Second Best Option'," in which he responds to negative comments about families formed by adoption made by John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, during an interview with the Associated Press. Pertman states "I'd like to take off my research/policy/professional hat for a moment to directly address Eastman's 'second best' comment. Is adoption sometimes a second choice? Of course, but that doesn't mean for a second that it is second best, and perpetuating that contention does nothing more or less than stigmatize, undermine and insult the tens of millions of Americans (that's right, tens of millions) who have adoption in their immediate families." Also read the post on his blog.
On March 6, Keen News Service ran a story citing a Williams Institute study finding that as many as six million adults and children in the United States have an LGBT parent, and an estimated three million LGBT Americans have had a child at some point in their lives. In the article, Pertman is quoted as saying, "We know from research and experience that [LGBT] families function well and that the outcomes for their children are good—and now we know just how significant the numbers have become. All that says to me that it's time—past time—to bring policy and practice into alignment with reality on the ground."
On March 19, Pertman was featured by Bethany Christian Services on their weekly
"Every Child Podcast." The lively and informative conversation touched on a wide variety of topics, including the work of the Adoption Institute and the recent trend of adopted people using social media to locate their parents and families of origin.
Pertman was interviewed by host Doug Fabrizio on National Public Radio's
RadioWest on March 20, with the focus largely on Pertman's book "Adoption Nation." He talked about the Adoption Institute's finding that six out of ten Americans have a connection to adoption and also discussed recent trends in the field, including the decrease of children adopted internationally and the increase adopted from foster care. In addition, Pertman touched on the various stages of understanding that adoptees go through, why they want to seek out their biological families, and the surge in numbers of people doing so via the Internet.
April 5 – David Brodzinsky, Research & Project Director, will present a workshop, "Adoption disruption and dissolution: Issues and interventions," at the Santa Clara County Child Abuse Symposium in Santa Clara, CA.
April 12 – Pertman will deliver a keynote address, "Untangling the Web: The Internet's Transformative Impact on Adoption," at the 5th Annual New Worlds of Adoption Conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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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