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1. Law, Policy & Practice
- Obama's FY14 Budget Seeks Adoption Programs at about 2013 Levels
- Changes Suggested to Improve Adoption Incentives Reauthorization
- MN Supreme Court Affirms Adoption by Foster Parents over Grandparents

2. Education & Advocacy
- Institute Signs on to Amicus Brief Supporting Indian Child Welfare Act
- Institute Letter Points out Negative Impact of Proposed Subsidy Cuts

3. Research
- Institute Report Focuses on Key Practices for Adoption from Foster Care
- Transracially Adopted Teens, Parents View Their Families Differently
- Research Finds Racial Socialization Buffers Impact of Discrimination
- Ongoing Study Examines Impact of Environment, Genetics on Children
- Few Child Trauma-Focused Interventions Have Evidence of Impact

4. News
- Article Recounts Adoption Openness Progress; KS Strikes Waiting Period
- Article Notes Support for and Prevalence of Same-Sex Parenting

5. Resources
- Budget Office Issues Snapshot of Federal Child Welfare Spending
- Publications for Professionals, Parents Examine Openness and Siblings
- Boston University Provides State-By-State Chartbook on Foster Care
- American Pediatrics Academy Offers Resources on Coping with Trauma
- Psychoanalytic Journal Publishes Special Issue on Adoption

6. From Our Partners
- AQ: Adoptive Parents in Study Report Strong Outcomes on Many Measures
- Adoption Learning Partners: May 14 Webinar Features Adopted Adults
- Adoption Today Issue Covers Technology, Personal Stories and More
- Spence-Chapin: May Birth Mother Gathering, Meetings and Webinars

7. Institute Update
- Going Fast But It's Not Too Late To Get Your 'Taste Of Spring' Tickets!
- In the Media: Equal Rights, Untangling the Web and More
- Upcoming Staff Appearances

 

Law, Policy & Practice

OBAMA'S FY14 BUDGET SEEKS ADOPTION PROGRAMS AT ABOUT 2013 LEVELS
President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 Health and Human Services budget request, sent to Congress on April 10, basically funds adoption-related programs at 2013 levels. The funding request proposes a slight increase for Adoption Assistance ($2.4 to $2.5 billion), the same amount for the Social Services Block Grant ($1.7 billion) and relatively minor decreases for Promoting Safe and Stable Families programs ($423.4 to $423.1 million), Child Welfare Services ($282 to $281 million), Adoption Opportunities ($40 to $39 million) and Adoption Incentives ($40 to $39 million). The Administration for Children and Families published justifications for the budget request for program areas, including Children And Families Services Programs, Payments For Foster Care And Permanency and Promoting Safe and Stable Families, with information such as program descriptions and accomplishments, as well as outputs and outcomes. The Senate and House Appropriations subcommittees held hearings April 24 and April 25, with Secretary Sebelius testifying on the HHS budget.

CHANGES SUGGESTED TO IMPROVE ADOPTION INCENTIVES REAUTHORIZATION
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) published "Child Welfare: Structure and Funding of the Adoption Incentives Program along with Reauthorization Issues" on April 18, noting that the Administration proposes requiring states to spend Adoption Incentive funds on "trauma-informed services to improve social and emotional well-being of children waiting for adoption or those having achieved adoption." CRS suggests additional policy changes that Congress might consider in reauthorizing Adoption Incentives, such as incentives for exits from foster care to any kind of permanent families; adoptions of older youth, children or youth with multiple foster placements, or those with mental health challenges; and improved adoption rates, in addition to baseline adjustments and narrowing the purposes on which states might spend incentive funds for such programs as post-permanency-related supports.

MN SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS ADOPTION BY FOSTER PARENTS OVER GRANDPARENTS
A March 27 Minnesota Supreme Court decision affirmed the trial and appeals courts' decisions granting the adoption petition of white foster parents over that of the grandparents of two African American girls, who tested positive for cocaine at birth. On appeal, the grandparents argued that the trial court erred in not according them preference in adopting the children. The Minnesota Supreme Court found that the adoption statute does not require such a preference, and that the ruling should stand. The Court reasoned that the language of the statute does not require courts to prefer relatives to non-relatives, rather, it instructs officials to "consider" relatives first, indicating that a relative placement should be contemplated first, but there should be no preference.

 

Education & Advocacy

INSTITUTE SIGNS ON TO AMICUS BRIEF SUPPORTING INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT
A coalition of child welfare organizations, including the Adoption Institute, filed an amicus brief in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, or "Baby Veronica" case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prospective adoptive parents had petitioned to adopt a child, the Indian biological father opposed the adoption, and the trial court denied the adoption. On appeal, the question presented is who is considered an Indian child's parent under the meaning of the Act, and whether the Act governs state proceedings. Amici argue that ICWA embodies best practices in child welfare, such as the maintenance and continuing ties of a child to her fit and willing parents, in the context of adopting a child with Native American ancestry. Oral argument was held April 16; the audio is available, as is a transcript.

INSTITUTE LETTER POINTS OUT NEGATIVE IMPACT OF PROPOSED SUBSIDY CUTS
The Adoption Institute submitted a letter to the Washington State Senate Ways and Means Committee this month in response to the Proposed Senate Operating Budget 2013-2015, which would "control adoption costs by capping adoption support payments at 50 percent of the foster care maintenance payments for children with no special needs." The Institute suggested such a policy could decrease adoptions from foster care and impair families' abilities to meet their children's basic needs because such foster care versus adoption payment discrepancies provide a financial disincentive to adoption from the very pool of parents who are most likely to adopt. The effort is part of the Institute's nationwide "Keeping the Promise" initiative advocating for post-adoption support services, including its 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. The Institute also sent a follow-up letter regarding subsidies in Maine, this time to the Joint Committee on Judiciary, regarding LD1068, An Act to Prevent the Reduction in Adoption Subsidy after an Agreement Has Been Signed by the Prospective Adoptive Parents and The Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Research

INSTITUTE REPORT FOCUSES ON KEY PRACTICES FOR ADOPTION FROM FOSTER CARE
Later this year, the Donaldson Adoption Institute and the British Association of Adoption & Fostering will publish a book-length Compendium, "A Family for Life: The Vital Need to Achieve Permanency for Children in Care", focused on international practices (in the U.S., England, and Canada) facilitating adoptions and guardianships for children in foster care who cannot return to their original families. This week the Institute released a Policy Perspective previewing the 22 specific practices covered in this compendium and summarizing key findings of the Institute's study. The Compendium provides a synthesis of knowledge related to these practices, research on outcomes and recommended resources.

TRANSRACIALLY ADOPTED TEENS, PARENTS VIEW THEIR FAMILIES DIFFERENTLY
Based on self-reports of 30 teens adopted from South Korea and their parents, as well as videotaped family conversations addressing specific tasks and questions, researchers found that parents reported significantly greater engagement in cultural socialization than the youth reported about their parents. The teens' reports were more in agreement with qualitative coding of family conversations. "Cultural Socialization in Families With Adopted Korean Adolescents: A Mixed-Method, Multi-Informant Study," by Oh Kim, Reed Reichwald and Richard Lee, is in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Research (Volume 28, Issue 1). Researchers assessed whether family members believed that race/ethnicity had an effect on their families: 15 families did not agree on this; 9 agreed that it did have an effect on their families, and 6 believed it had no effect. Teens who believed race had no effect on their families rated parents' engagement in cultural socialization lower than other teens.

RESEARCH FINDS RACIAL SOCIALIZATION BUFFERS IMPACT OF DISCRIMINATION
A study of 59 dyads involving White parents and transracially adopted teens found that for teens experiencing high levels of discrimination, those who received high levels of racial socialization by adoptive parents had lower stress scores. "Racial Socialization in Transracial Adoptive Families: Does It Help Adolescents Deal With Discrimination Stress?," by Leigh Leslie, Jocelyn Smith, et al., is in the February issue of Family Relations (Volume 62, Issue 1). The authors discuss the need for transracial adoptive parents to not only facilitate their children's pride in their racial or ethnic group, but also to teach them strategies for managing racism. Read the Institute's "Beyond Culture Camp" study for more on cultural and racial socialization of transracially adopted youth.

ONGOING STUDY EXAMINES IMPACT OF ENVIRONMENT, GENETICS ON CHILDREN
"The Early Growth and Development Study: A Prospective Adoption Study From Birth Through Middle Childhood", by Leslie Leve, Jenae Neiderhiser, et al., in the February issue of Twin Research and Human Genetics (Volume 16, Issue 1) provides an overview of this longitudinal study of 561 adoption triads – birthparent(s), adoptive parents and adopted children – and its primary findings. The study's main objective is to examine the influence of genetics, environment and the interaction between the two on children's development. The primary results to date indicate that aspects of parenting (overreactive parenting style, responsiveness, structured guidance and parenting efficacy), marital hostility, and adoptive parent depression or anxiety have main effects on child temperament and behaviors, manifesting by 9 months of age. Also, several child behaviors are shaped by genetic-environment interaction, including toddler externalizing, attention, fussiness and anger, and inhibition behaviors.

FEW CHILD TRAUMA-FOCUSED INTERVENTIONS HAVE EVIDENCE OF IMPACT
On April 15, the Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released a study on the efficacy of interventions for treating maltreatment-related trauma in children, "Child Exposure to Trauma: Comparative Effectiveness of Interventions Addressing Maltreatment," by Jenifer Fraser Goldman, Stacey Lloyd, et al. Over 6,000 studies were screened for rigor, yielding effectiveness trials on 15 interventions, three of which were assessed as evidencing greater benefits: ABC (Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up), Incredible Years adapted for foster-bio parent pairs; and KEEP (Keeping Foster and Kinship Parents Trained and Supported). An article on the study, "A Comparative Effectiveness Review of Parenting and Trauma-Focused Interventions for Children Exposed to Maltreatment," will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The authors concluded that maltreatment intervention research is still in the very early stages, and only a few of the many promising treatment approaches have received empirical study with high-quality trials.

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

 

News

ARTICLE RECOUNTS ADOPTION OPENNESS PROGRESS; KS STRIKES WAITING PERIOD
An April 14 Sacramento Bee article, "Pain of giving up children for adoption endures through decades," by Anita Creamer, describes the secrecy and shame society imposed on birthmothers during several decades of the 20th Century, as well as the more recent trend of open adoptions. According to the article, experts estimate about 120,000 children were adopted each year during the 1950's and 1960's, with a high of 175,000 in 1970. Leslie Mackinnon, a spokeswoman for Concerned United Birthparents and an Adoption Institute Board member, explains that previously closed adoptions were the norm to "protect" birthmothers, adoptees and adoptive parents, but now "We're finally educating the public that with open adoption, it's better for the child and everybody else." In a related development, an April 19 Topeka Capital Journal article, "Kansas eliminates 30-day wait on adoptions," by Caitlin Doornbos, reports that a law recently enacted in Kansas removes the monthlong waiting period prior to court proceedings on adoption petitions and permits the hearing within 60 days of a petition being filed. Read the Adoption Institute's report on birthparents, "Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process."

ARTICLE NOTES SUPPORT FOR AND PREVALENCE OF SAME-SEX PARENTING
"Same-sex marriage cases before Supreme Court put the spotlight on children raised by gays," an AP article by David Crary in the April 20 Washington Post, reports on the "broad consensus among major medical, psychological and child-welfare organizations that children raised by gay and lesbian parents fare just as well as those raised by straight parents." Dr. Benjamin Siegel, co-author of the recent American Academy of Pediatrics' report finding that secure parental relationships contribute to children's health and well-being, states: "There should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children." The article also cites UCLA School of Law Williams Institute research showing there were about 30,000 adopted children being raised by same-sex couples in 2009, three times the number in 2000. Read the Adoption Institute's latest report on adoption by gays and lesbians, "Expanding Resources For Children III: Research-Based Best Practices in Adoption by Gays and Lesbians."

 

Resources

BUDGET OFFICE ISSUES SNAPSHOT OF FEDERAL CHILD WELFARE SPENDING
On April 18, the Congressional Budget Office released a "Snapshot of Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Guardianship Assistance," graphing federal expenditures on these three services from 2003, with projections up to 2023. While federal spending for 2013 is estimated at $7 billion, it is projected to reach $8.5 billion by 2023. The number of children in foster care has declined steadily as the numbers receiving adoption assistance have increased. A table, Federal Costs for Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Guardianship, projects federal expenditures from 2013 to 2023.

PUBLICATIONS FOR PROFESSIONALS, PARENTS EXAMINE OPENNESS AND SIBLINGS
The Child Welfare Information Gateway released three new or updated bulletins for adoption professionals and parents. "Working with Birth and Adoptive Families to Support Open Adoption" (for professionals) and "Openness in Adoption: Building Relationships Between Adoptive and Birth Families" (for parents) both address building and strengthening open adoption relationships. "Sibling Issues in Foster Care and Adoption" is a bulletin for professionals focused on knowledge, practice strategies and resources to assist in preserving sibling connections for foster and adopted children.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY PROVIDES STATE-BY-STATE CHARTBOOK ON FOSTER CARE
The School of Social Work at Boston University offers The 50 State CHARTBOOK on Foster Care, funded by The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation. It contains state profiles with a range of information, including background about state child welfare agencies, statistics on children in foster care and their permanency outcomes, federal funding for foster care and adoption, state scores on specific CFSR measures and key practice initiatives.

AMERICAN PEDIATRICS ACADEMY OFFERS RESOURCES ON COPING WITH TRAUMA
The American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Foster Care America project, funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Jockey Being Family, released materials for pediatricians and parents focused on Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope With Trauma. Resources include: "Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope with Trauma: A Guide for Pediatricians," "Coding Tips," "Visit Discharge and Referral Summary for Family" and "Parenting After Trauma: Understanding Your Child's Needs."

PSYCHOANALYTIC JOURNAL PUBLISHES SPECIAL ISSUE ON ADOPTION
The current special issue of Psychoanalytic Perspectives: Adoption (Volume 10, Issue 1) focuses entirely on adoption and contains three papers, a roundtable, and many other commentaries, including "Loss, Insecurity, and Uncertainty: The Impact of Adoption on the Developing Selves of a Birthmother," by Sharon Horowitz; "Loss and Resilience Form a Family: An Adoption Story From a Relational Point of View," by Barbara Freedgood; and "Being Borne: Contextualizing Loss in Adoption," by Billie Pivnick.

 

From Our Partners

AQ: ADOPTIVE PARENTS IN STUDY REPORT STRONG OUTCOMES ON MANY MEASURES
An Italian study comparing both parents' perceptions of family and social relationships between 163 international adoptive and 195 non-adoptive families found that adoptive parents reported higher marital relationship quality, more social support, higher self-esteem and less parental stress than non-adoptive families. (Adopted children were on average 4 years old at placement, and those with mental and physical disabilities were excluded from the study.)
"Family and Social Relationships and Psychosocial Well-Being in Italian Families With Internationally Adopted and Non-Adopted Children", by Rosa Rosnati, Sophia Ranieri and Daniela Barni, is in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 16, Issue 1). The study also found no differences in any variables between transracial and same-race placements and no difference in child-rearing satisfaction between adoptive and non-adoptive couples.

ADOPTION LEARNING PARTNERS: MAY 14 WEBINAR FEATURES ADOPTED ADULTS
Join Adoption Learning Partners on Tuesday, May 14, as a panel of adult adopted people, including author Sherrie Eldridge, discuss the "Top 10 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew." Issues include what they wish their parents had known, their feelings about loss, shame and anger and their love for their parents and what kept them from talking to their parents when they were younger and why.

ADOPTION TODAY ISSUE COVERS TECHNOLOGY, PERSONAL STORIES AND MORE
Technology has an increasing impact on society that spills over into adoption as well, the subject of the April edition of Adoption Today. From birth searches using new DNA testing technology, to families connecting pre-adoption with children in other countries, people are using technology in the adoption community more and more. In addition, Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Moceanu for the first time shares her experience of learning about her sister, who was relinquished for adoption at birth. Other highlights include articles on psychotropic medications, surviving the stressors of adoption and embryo adoptions. Remember that a portion of every new subscription goes to support the Donaldson Adoption Institute's vital work; subscribe today for $12 for the year (12 issues).

SPENCE-CHAPIN: MAY BIRTH MOTHER GATHERING, MEETINGS AND WEBINARS
Spence-Chapin will hold its Annual Birth Mothers Gathering on May 7 for an opportunity to gather with others who share your experience. It will also present a variety of May meetings and workshops, including: Adopting in Your 40's & 50's; Medical Issues in International Adopted Children; Parenting Series: Effective Discipline; Day of Beauty; and Single Parent Workshop Series: Single Parenting in the Media. Spence-Chapin is also hosting webinars on International Adoption Information and Special Needs International in May.

 

Institute Update

GOING FAST BUT IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR 'TASTE OF SPRING' TICKETS!
Tickets will soon be gone for the Adoption Institute's 10th Annual Taste of Spring benefit on May 9th. Please claim your spot soon! Our guest of honor will be Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President of Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS Entertainment. We are thrilled to have Mario Batali, Katie Brown and William Corbin, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole and Bill Moloney, and Deborra-lee Furness and Hugh Jackman, as Honorary Co-Chairs. We will feature a powerhouse lineup of exciting New York restaurants and food purveyors, including Alison 18, Butter & Scotch, Corner Social, Fresco by Scotto, Landmarc, Lucy's Whey, The Mercer Kitchen and Sfoglia. We will also feature great new beverages, such as cocktails by 67 Orange Street and coffee from Laughing Man Coffee & Tea, in addition to stellar wines from Cognac One, Kobrand, Opici Wines, Shea Vineyards and Sherry-Lehmann.

If you cannot be with us, you can still support the Institute's vital work by contributing to Taste of Spring. Our friends at CharityBuzz are once again hosting an online auction. Among the great items up for bidding are: rounds of golf at some of the Hamptons' most exclusive courses, an impossible-to-get reservation at New York's legendary Rao's restaurant, a chance to meet Kristin Chenoweth, and a visit to the set of Law and Order SVU to meet series star Mariska Hargitay. Place your bids, and good luck!

IN THE MEDIA: EQUAL RIGHTS, UNTANGLING THE WEB AND MORE
On April 1, Huffington Post ran a new commentary by Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman, Equal Rights for All: It's Finally Time for Adopted People, Too, in which he advocates for adult adoptees' access to their original birth certificate and supports his arguments with Institute reports including on Positive Identity Formation and Openness in Adoption. Pertman asks: "In the face of so much evidence that unsealing OBC's would do a lot of good for millions of people in our country -- with little or no indication of resulting harm -- why have so many lawmakers in so many states refused to change the status quo for so many decades?" You can also read the commentary on Pertman's blog.

On April 2, the Chicago Tribune ran "Foreign adoption comes with obstacles, but parents advised to 'stay the course'," in which Executive Director Pertman offers a historical perspective on Russia's recent ban on adoptions by Americans. He points out that other nations have taken similar steps in the past due to "international dynamics, wars, economics, politics, changing children's needs, new rules."

On April 18, the online magazine internet evolution published an article, The Web Radically Reshapes Adoption that was based largely on the Institute's recent report, "Untangling the Web: The Internet's Transformative Impact on Adoption, which examines the impact that the Internet –– including social media –– has had on all aspects of adoption. Pertman is quoted in the story on several issues, including that it is probably now unethical "to tell any expectant parent –– adoptive or biological –– that they can take part in a closed adoption, because with the Web, you can't know that."

"Collegeville family ensnared in Russian adoption controversy," an article in philly.com on April 23, told the story of a family that adopted two boys, both teenagers, from Russia. One boy decided to return to Russia, where he was featured on the news criticizing his parents and his experience in the U.S. Pertman is quoted as saying that one reason cases like this receive so much attention is that Russia focuses a spotlight on them while other nations may not. "If it happens to a Russian adoptee," he says, "we know it."

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 [email protected].

  • May 21 – Pertman will present "Best Practices in Intercountry Adoption: Improving Children's Prospects for Living in Families" at Joint Council's 37th International Child Welfare Symposium at The Conference Center in New York.

  • June 20, 21 & 28 – David Brodzinsky, Research & Project Director, will discuss "Identity and loss in adopted adolescence: Helping parents help their children" at a June 20 workshop in Clovis, CA sponsored by Aspiranet and the Fresno County Department of Children and Family Services. He will present "Preparing and supporting the adoption of older and special needs children" the next day in Madera, CA. On the 28th, he will discuss the "Inner world of adopted children: Professional and parenting implications" at a workshop in Visalia, CA.

 

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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