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SOUTH KOREA SIGNS HAGUE CONVENTION; NO DATE YET ON IMPLEMENTATION
According to a May 28 U.S. State Department
"Adoption Notice," South Korea signed the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption on May 24, the first step for that country to become a Convention partner. According to South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare, which will be designated as its Central Authority, it does not know when Seoul will deliver its instrument of ratification or when the Convention will enter into force. In the meantime, adoptions between the United States and South Korea are not subject to the requirements of the Convention and relevant laws. Americans adopted 736 children from South Korea in 2011, down from 1,994 in 1999.
MEASURE WOULD PROTECT IMMIGRANT CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS ARE DETAINED
The Senate Judiciary Committee this month passed an amendment sponsored by Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA),
the "Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act" (HELP Separated Children Act), to the immigration reform bill (S744). The Act seeks to protect children whose parents are involved in immigration enforcement actions and keep them out of the child welfare system when it is not necessary to ensure their safety. HELP allows parents to make calls to arrange for their children's care and ensures that children can call or visit their detained parents; permits parents to participate in child welfare and family court proceedings; ensures that parents can coordinate their departures with their children's; and requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement to consider children's best interests in their parents' detention, release and transfer. Speaker John Boehner (OH-R) reportedly said the House will draft its own legislation.
There reportedly are 600,000 Russian "orphans," though 70-90 percent have living parents; 10,000 such children are "returned to orphanages every year by frustrated adoptive parents;" and "as many as 25 percent of American parents who have adopted Russians report 10 to 15 years later that they don't believe their children will be able to live independently because of developmental disabilities," according to Laurie Miller, a Donaldson Adoption Institute Senior Fellow
("Russia's orphans: Government takes custody of children when parents can't cope," Washington Post, May 3, Will Englund). Foreign adoption applications ruled upon by Russian courts in 2012 (2,426 cases heard) were 21 percent lower than in 2011, while Russians filed 14,380 adoption applications (
"Number of foreign adoption applicants in Russia falls," Russian Legal Information Agency, May 23, 2013).
STATE DEPARTMENT REPORTS PROGRESS ON PENDING GUATEMALAN ADOPTIONS
A May 28 U.S. State Department
"Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala" reports on joint USCIS-State meetings with Guatemalan government officials. According to the update, the U.S. officials "emphasize[d] that the timely and transparent resolution of all the remaining pending transition adoption cases in the best interests of the children remains a top priority for the United States." In the last several months, Guatemala "has accelerated its completion of cases, and fewer than 100 pending transition adoption cases are awaiting resolution," with 52 cases in various stages of investigation. Of cases that have concluded since Jan. 2012, nine resulted in the immigration of the adopted children to the U.S. and 14 in the child's reunification with a biological family member in Guatemala.
INSTITUTE BACKS MISSOURI BILL PROVIDING POST-PERMANENCY SUPPORTS
The Adoption Institute submitted a
letter to Missouri Governor Nixon in May relating to a bill before him for signature (
SB47) that would provide subsidies to children's qualified, unrelated legal guardians (including foster parents). Currently, subsidies are only available for related legal guardians. The letter noted that in many cases, guardianship is a more achievable and acceptable permanency alternative than adoption, particularly for older children/youth and if there is a provision for financial support. It also pointed out that research shows the likelihood of adoption decreases significantly for children over age 9, and that there are substantial financial, social and personal costs to allowing youth to age out of care. As of May 29, Governor Nixon had not yet signed the legislation, which was sent to him on May 22. The letter is part of the Institute's
"Keeping the Promise" initiative to enhance Adoption Support and Preservation Services.
SENATE HOLDS HEARING ON FUNDING TARGETED FOR 'CHILDREN IN ADVERSITY'
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee held a May 21
hearing on "Review of U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity" about funding the
United States Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity. Among the witnesses were Dr. Susan Bissell, Associate Director, Programs and Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF; and Dr. Neil Boothby, Special Advisor for Children in Adversity, U.S. Agency for International Development. The plan was released in December 2012 and provides the first U.S. strategic guidance for children affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, trafficked, exploited for child labor, in disasters, recruited as soldiers, neglected, or in other vulnerable states. Seven 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. The Adoption Institute is a member of a coalition –– Children in Adversity Policy Partnership –– of U.S. children's NGOs that issued a letter in support of the plan.
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). The Institute submitted
testimony in Washington state on an OBC access bill (
HB1525) that recently passed and was signed by the Governor, removing the limitation of applying to adoptions only after Oct. 1, 1993, but including birth parent non-disclosure affidavit (though with medical history information) and contact preference provisions. The Institute provided
written testimony to the New York State Senate Leadership Committee on
S2490a "bill of adoptee rights clarifying language and procedures for obtaining birth certificates and medical histories for adoptees" and the Maine House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary on
LD1401/HP997, "An Act To Amend the Laws Governing the Issuance of and Access to Birth Certificates and Certain Medical Information;" the bill died in the Senate. Separately, the Oregon legislature passed
SB623 allowing adult adoptees access to their court adoption file upon request, though they must petition to access the home study conducted on the adoptive parents. The Institute's advocacy on this issue is based on its research for its
"For the Records" publications.
FASD RESEARCHERS RECOMMEND BETTER TRAINING AND MORE SUPPORTS "The Impact of Raising a Child with FASD upon Carers: Findings from a Mixed Methodology Study in the UK", by Raja Mukherjee, Elizabeth Wray, et al., in the April issue of Adoption & Fostering (Volume 37, Issue 1), explored parents' stresses in parenting children with fetal alcohol syndrome. Based on data from over 60 adoptive and foster parents attending educational sessions, researchers used focus groups and analyses of Parenting Stress Index (PSI) responses to identify eight themes: this parenting was different; lack of adequate information; lack of knowledge among professionals; having to fight for things; feeling misunderstood and blamed; family stress and benefits of one-on-one interaction with child; isolation; and concerns about the future. Recommendations include better training for professionals and parents and greater access to ongoing supports.
STUDY PROVIDES INSIGHTS BASED ON NURSES' EXPERIENCES WITH ADOPTION
A qualitative study of nurses' experiences in working with members of the adoption triad, based on Internet interviews with 17 nurses (14 were triad members), identified four themes: viewing experiences from both personal and professional perspectives; the emotional rollercoaster of paradoxical reactions; the unique context of each adoption experience; and insights regarding ways to enhance care.
"The Personal and Professional: Nurses' Lived Experiences of Adoption," by Karen Foli, Roberta Schweitzer and Courtenay Wells, is in the March/April issue of the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing (Volume 38, Issue 2). Nurses recommended incorporating information on adoption and adoption-friendly terminology in nursing training, identifying adoption-competent experts within organizations, becoming familiar with referral resources, and other steps to enhance care.
DEPRESSION IN BIRTH, ADOPTIVE PARENTS NEGATIVELY IMPACT CHILDREN "Effects of Prenatal and Postnatal Parent Depressive Symptoms on Adopted Child HPA Regulation: Independent and Moderated Influences," by Heidemarie Laurent, Leslie Leve, et al., is in the May issue of Developmental Psychology (Volume 49, Issue 5). Based on the Early Growth and Development Adoption Study –– a longitudinal investigation of genetic and environmental influences on child development –– researchers found that higher internalizing behaviors (affective and anxiety problems) and lower cortisol levels in 192 adopted children at age 4½ years were associated both with their birth mothers' prenatal depressive symptoms and lower cortisol levels, and with adoptive parents' depressive symptoms. (Lower cortisol levels are indicative of neuroendocrine dysregulation and associated with internalizing symptoms.) There was a compounding of effect for children who were at high risk due to birth mothers' prenatal depression, adoptive mothers' depressive symptoms at 9 months post-adoption, and adoptive fathers' depressive symptoms at 27 months post-adoption.
WOMAN POSES AS EXPECTANT MOTHER, DEFRAUDS PROSPECTIVE PARENTS
A May 7 UPI article,
"Woman headed to prison for posing as expectant mom in adoption scam," reports that an Oklahoma woman posed as an expectant mother looking to place her unborn child for adoption. The 40-year-old woman reportedly "defrauded at least five adoption agencies and adoption law firms, as well as prospective adoptive parents in Florida, Kansas, and Oklahoma." Over the course of five months, the woman received more than $50,000 for "rent, utilities and other personal items" from the prospective adoptive parents. A District Judge ordered her to repay the money and sentenced her to five years in federal prison.
SOUTH DAKOTA MOVES TO DISMISS NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES' ADOPTION SUIT
According to a May 21 Associated Press report,
"SD Social Services Wants Tribes' Lawsuit Tossed," the head of the Department of Social Services of South Dakota asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Oglala Sioux tribe, Rosebud Sioux tribe and three Native American parents for lack of standing and failure to state a claim. The tribes are suing the Director and an employee of South Dakota's DSS, a county state's attorney, and the 7th Judicial Circuit Court Presiding Judge, alleging the State does not comply with federal adoption and foster care laws. The suit claims "the state is violating the Indian Child Welfare Act by holding improper hearings after children are removed from homes."
ADOPTION QUARTERLY: PROJECT EXAMINES MIX OF HEREDITY AND ENVIRONMENT "Design, Utility, and History of the Colorado Adoption Project: Examples Involving Adjustment Interactions," by Sally Rhea, Josh Bricker, et al., in the previous issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 16, Issue 1), describes the Colorado Adoption Project (CAP) and many of its primary findings related to the importance of heredity, environment and their interaction in behavioral development. CAP began in 1977 and has followed about 245 adoptive families, biological parents, and matched "control" families up to the present. Many aspects of adjustment have been found to be influenced by an interaction of genetics and the rearing environment; for example, adopted youth at age 12 whose birth mothers scored high on negative emotions (genetic risk) and whose adoptive parents had divorced, had higher behavior problem scores than adoptees with the same genetic risk but no divorce in the family.
ADOPTION TODAY: JUNE ISSUE, FOCUSING ON ATTACHMENT, AVAILABLE FOR FREE
Separation from a biological parent, even at infancy, can be a traumatic experience for a child. For parents raising children who have come to them through adoption, learning how to help their children attach can be critical. Because of the importance of attachment for all children and families, the
June issue of Adoption Today focuses solely on the topic of attachment and trauma and will be offered at no cost on the website during June. 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).
TASTE OF SPRING 2013 – THANKS FOR MAKING IT A SUCCESS IN EVERY WAY
Adoption Institute friends and supporters enjoyed outstanding food, beverages and company at the 10th Taste of Spring at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York on May 9. The evening celebrated the Institute's achievements and honored Jack Sussman and CBS Entertainment for their annual broadcast of the acclaimed Home for the Holidays. We are deeply indebted to Jack for both his commitment to children who need homes and for all he did to make this event so wonderful. Special thanks go to
Deborra-lee Furness and Hugh Jackman for presenting our award to their good friend. The Institute also extends its thanks to our fantastic restaurants and food purveyors: Alison 18, Butter & Scotch, Corner Social, Fresco by Scotto, Landmarc, Lucy's Whey, The Mercer Kitchen and Sfoglia. We also offer a bow of appreciation to the generous beverage companies: 67 Orange Street, Cognac One, Laughing Man Coffee & Tea, Kobrand, Opici Wines, Shea Vineyards and Sherry-Lehmann.
We would also like to thank our event leadership, Honorary Chairs Jane & Bill Donaldson, Jurate Kazickas & Roger Altman and Mimi & Jim Stevens; Honorary Co-Chairs Mario Batali, Katie Brown & William Corbin, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole & Bill Moloney, and Deborra-lee Furness & Hugh Jackman; and Co-Chairs Kim Donaldson, Hollis Forbes, Annie Lansing, Cathy Lorenz, Sandy McManus, Holly Heston Rochell and Lisa Selz. The overwhelming success of the 10th Annual Taste of Spring was the direct result of your support and hard work. Thanks to you all! And remember it's not too late to
On May 30, Pertman was featured on NBC Nightly News for the segment
"Road to Retirement," which told the story of a couple entering into their retirement years who decided to adopt a 17-year-old boy who on his next birthday would have aged out of foster care. There are currently over 104,000 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted. Touching on the trend of people waiting until they are older to adopt children, Pertman stated, "The reality is that there is a big gap between parents' age and children's age in a lot of families today."
On May 14, the New York Times ran
"Filling up an Empty Nest" which touches on a growing trend where many adults entering their retirement years adopt children. Generally these children are older, ages 6 – 21. Pertman is quoted as saying "most of these kids have special needs at some level. They were placed into foster care for some reason. You don't suffer abuse or neglect without some repercussions." Pertman agrees that older parents may not have as much energy as younger ones, but says "on the other hand, you may have more wisdom to bring to the table."
June 6 – Adam Pertman, Executive Director, and David Brodzinsky, Research & Project Director, will discuss their book, "Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension in Family Diversity," at an event in San Francisco sponsored by the On Your Feet Foundation and the Our Family Coalition. Reservations are required:
[email protected] or 415-513-5010.
June 20 & 21 – Pertman will present during a two-day workshop in Montreal that will address "Donor Conception: Lessons for Clinicians, Families, Policy Makers and Researchers," hosted by the University of Montreal.
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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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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