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EDITOR'S NOTE: The July and August issues of the Institute e-Newsletter will be combined and will be published on Friday, August 30, 2013.
SUPREME COURT, SAYING STATUS QUO HURT CHILDREN, BACKS MARRIAGE EQUALITY
The U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 decided
United States v. Windsor, challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and
Hollingsworth v. Perry, contesting California's Proposition 8. In Windsor, the Court held, 5-4, that "DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment," allowing same-sex couples' marriages to be recognized by the federal government and eligibility to receive the same benefits afforded to other married couples. The Court said that "DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal," and thus "humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family" and also "brings financial harm to children of same-sex couples." In Hollingsworth, the Court held that the petitioners, who were defending Proposition 8 –– which amended the state's constitution to bar same-sex marriage –– did not have standing to challenge the District Court's order holding Proposition 8 unconstitutional because they could not show they had suffered a "contrite and particularized injury."
In response to the rulings, the Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman, stated: "We know children derive significant benefits when their parents are married. So this is good news indeed for the girls and boys who can now live in families with the same social, economic and personal benefits as their peers who have married, heterosexual mothers and fathers." The Adoption Institute was an amicus organization on the
Brief of Adoption and Child Welfare Advocates as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents in Hollingsworth v. Perry. To learn more about the benefits of marriage to children with gay/lesbian parents, read the Institute's report,
Expanding Resources for Children III.
SUPREME COURT REVERSES, REMANDS 'BABY VERONICA' CASE TO STATE COURT
The U.S. Supreme Court on June 25 announced its
decision in Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl, reversing and remanding the ruling of the Supreme Court of South Carolina that had granted custody of "Baby Veronica" to her Indian biological father, rather than to prospective adoptive parents. The high court found, 5-4, that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was intended to prevent the government from removing native children from already established Indian families –– but the child was placed for adoption by her non-Indian biological mother: "Where the adoption of an Indian child is voluntarily and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent with sole custodial rights, the ICWA's primary goal of preventing the unwarranted removal of Indian children and the dissolution of Indian families is not implicated." The court majority also said it was motivated by a desire to avoid ruling ICWA unconstitutional. The big take-aways, said Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman, are: "All parties have to be at the table and all laws need to be respected from the start so that children's best interests are genuinely at the heart of decision-making; otherwise, as in this case, the risk is that they will bounce back and forth – and they will become the bottom-line victims." Read the responses of
Casey Family Programs, CWLA and Children's Defense Fund, the
Cherokee Nation, and
AAIA and NICWA. A coalition of child welfare organizations, including the Adoption Institute, filed an amicus brief in support of ICWA in the case.
The Institute also signed on to a National Indian Child Welfare Association letter of support for the Adoption Tax Credit Tribal Parity Act ( HR2332) that was introduced this month. The bill would allow Tribes to be treated as States for the purpose of determining "special needs" for the tax credit so that Native American parents who adopt special needs children do not have to document qualified adoption expenses to claim the credit.
SENATE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL INCLUDES FIX TO CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT
The Senate on June 18 passed a citizenship amendment (SA1222) to the immigration reform bill ( S744), that it then passed on June 27. Introduced by Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), the measure would "apply the amendments made by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactively to all individuals adopted by a citizen of the United States in an international adoption." The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which in general confers automatic U.S. citizenship to foreign-born adopted children, did not apply retroactively to those over the age of 18 on its effective date. The immigration reform debate now moves to the House, where there is greater uncertainty around passage.
AMONG PROPOSALS, MEASURE WOULD CREATE NATIONAL FATHER REGISTRY
On June 20, Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) introduced a bill "to promote permanent families for children, privacy and safety for unwed mothers, responsible fatherhood, and security for adoptive parents by establishing a National Responsible Father Registry and encouraging States to enter into agreements to contribute the information contained in the States Responsible Father Registry" (
S1203). The legislation was referred to the Finance Committee. A June 4 article in the Salt Lake Tribune,
"Adoption law provision discriminates against men, attorney claims" by Brooke Adams, reports that an unmarried father petitioned the state Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a law provision that requires filing a sworn affidavit, as well as court paternity action and paternity notice registration, on the grounds that it is duplicative, unnecessary and discriminatory. The Michigan House of Representatives, meanwhile, this month passed a bill (HB4646) that would establish a 24-hour waiting period before biological parents could consent to adoption and require revocation of consent within five days (there is no time limit in current law); the measure was sent to the Senate.
MORATORIUM SEEN LIKELY FOR ADOPTION OF YOUNG CHILDREN FROM COLOMBIA
According to a June 3 Alert,
"A temporary moratorium on the acceptance of new intercountry adoption applications is expected from Colombia," the U.S. State Department expects that nation to announce "a temporary moratorium on the acceptance of new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens interested in adopting a child aged 0–6 years old, unless that child has been characterized as 'difficult to adopt.'" Currently, the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare (ICBF) maintains a five- to seven-year waiting list of over 3,000 foreign families wanting to adopt children up to 6 years old. ICBF wants to encourage prospective parents to consider adopting some of the 8,000 waiting children older than 6, in a sibling group of three or more, or who have chronic health or developmental needs. The State Department anticipates that adoption processing for families who have already applied "will continue to operate normally." In 2012, Americans adopted 194 children from Colombia (which ratified the Hague Convention in 1998), down from 344 in 2006.
ETHIOPIA TO REQUIRE PRE-ADOPTION IMMIGRATION REVIEW STARTING SEPT. 1
A June 3 U.S. State Department Notice,
"Implementation of Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) Program in Ethiopia," reports that effective Sept. 1, 2013, Ethiopia's Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs will require all adoption cases filed on behalf of U.S. prospective adoptive parents with Ethiopian courts to include Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) letters issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as one criterion for best-interest determination. (The new requirement will not apply to pending cases filed with Ethiopian courts before that date.) USCIS issued a
policy memorandum, effective immediately, that allows prospective adoptive parents to initiate PAIR and file a Form I-600 before Ethiopian courts finalize an adoption. Americans adopted 1,567 children in 2012 from Ethiopia, which has not ratified the Hague Convention, down from 2,511 in 2010.
SENATE BILL WOULD STRENGTHEN CHILD WELFARE RESPONSE TO TRAFFICKING
This month, Sen. Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act of 2013 (
S1118) "to better enable State child welfare agencies to prevent sex trafficking of children and serve the needs of children who are victims of sex trafficking." The bill has 11 cosponsors and was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Education & Advocacy
NOTE: The Senate and House will not be in session the week of July 1 and most of August, providing an opportunity for advocates to schedule meetings with them in their district offices.
INSTITUTE RECOMMENDS DEDICATED FUNDING FOR POST-ADOPTION SERVICES>
This month, the Institute submitted a
letter to the House Ways and Means Committee
Human Resources Subcommittee recommending increased funding for adoption support and preservation services (ASAP) in order to increase and sustain adoptions from foster care. The Institute proposed, as part of Adoption Incentives reauthorization legislation, that the subcommittee mandate that states reinvest in ASAP a minimum of 20 percent of the total state savings from the Title IV-E adoption assistance 1996 AFDC eligibility de-link. The letter is part of the Institute's
"Keeping the Promise" initiative to enhance Adoption Support and Preservation Services nationally.
NACAC reports that Minnesota added language to its budget bill to appropriate Title IV-E savings from the de-link and any 2014 and 2015 Adoption Incentives awards to post-adoption services. Virginia also passed a bill that requires adoption bonuses be spent on post-adoption services.
NEW JERSEY SENATE PASSES ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE ACCESS BILL
The Institute continues to educate state legislators nationwide about the need to restore adult adoptees' access to their original birth certificates (OBCs), this time by submitting a
letter to New Jersey's Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens on
S2814 that would allow adult adoptees to request their OBCs, as well as receive birthparents' contact preference and family history information. This month, the Senate passed the legislation and the Assembly bill (
A4253) was referred to the Human Services Committee. In 2011, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have restored the right of adult adoptees to access their OBCs. The Institute's advocacy on this issue is based on research for its
"For the Records" publications.
INSTITUTE SEEKS ADOPTIVE PARENTS FOR NEW STUDY ON FAMILY DIVERSITY
The Donaldson Adoption Institute is seeking parents in every type of adoption to explore different types of adoptive families (e.g., heterosexual versus sexual minority families; inracial versus transracial families; single-parent versus two-parent families; families involved in varying levels of openness, etc.) for a new study on family diversity issues. Participants (one per family) are asked to fill out a 30-minute questionnaire on their experiences, beliefs and needs. By increasing our knowledge about adoptive family diversity, we hope to enhance training of adoption professionals and improve services for children and their parents.
Fill out the survey online, or email
David Brodzinsky, Ph.D. for a hard copy of the survey.
REVIEW IDENTIFIES PROMISING PRACTICES TO ACHIEVE TIMELY ADOPTIONS "Achieving Timely Adoption", by Sarah Carnochan, Megan Moore and Michael Austin, reviews scholarly literature and identifies factors related to the risk of adoption delay and disruption, as well as promising practices to achieve timely adoptions. The article is in the current issue of the Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work (Volume 10, Issue 3). Some of the promising practices identified are: filing adoption petitions as soon as parental rights are terminated; addressing transracial adoption concerns for potential families; pre- and post-adoption services; addressing negative beliefs of caseworkers about children's adoptability; concurrent planning; court activities to shorten timelines; and recruitment and support of diverse adoptive families.
STUDY FINDS BIRTHPARENT IQ INFLUENCES EXECUTIVE FUNCTION OF TODDLERS "Using an Adoption Design to Separate Genetic, Prenatal, and Temperament Influences on Toddler Executive Function", by Leslie Leve, David Degarmo, et al., is in the June issue of Developmental Psychology (Volume 49, Issue 6). The Early Growth and Development Study used data from 361 2-year olds adopted at birth, their birthmothers, adoptive parents and 121 birthfathers to assess the impact of genetic factors, child temperament (negative emotionality) and prenatal influences on the toddlers' executive functioning –– which encompasses skills in controlling one's thoughts, actions and emotions. The study found genetic influences (birthmother and birthfather verbal IQ) were more powerful than prenatal risk in influencing children's effortful attention (one aspect of executive functioning studied); however, neither prenatal nor genetic factors significantly influenced the toddlers' ability to delay gratification. Girls scored higher than boys on both of these skills.
Please go to the "From Our Partners" section to read the latest research from Adoption Quarterly.
MILESTONE FOR ADOPTUSKIDS SITE: 20,000 CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM CARE
A June 20 HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) press release,
"20,000th child adopted through website," reports that 20,000 foster children have been adopted after being listed on AdoptUSKids.org, a website funded by ACF and the Adoption Exchange Association, connecting prospective adoptive parents with children in need of permanent families. Of these children and youth who were adopted, 75 percent were 8 or older, 61 percent are racial minorities, 33 percent were teenagers, and about half have at least one disability. The website photolisting enables prospective parents "to see past the category of child and become interested in the individual."
PRACTICE OF ADOPTION FEES BASED ON CHILD'S RACE REPORTEDLY CHANGING
A June 27 NPR The Race Card Project conversation on contributors' thoughts on race and cultural identity featured
"Six words: 'Black babies cost less to adopt'." After speaking with social workers, adoption agencies and adoptive parents, The Project found that the subject of adoption costs based on ethnicity "is not widely talked about, but it is common." Because practitioners find that Black children are harder to place with prospective adoptive parents, lower costs are thought to provide an incentive to families who might not be able to afford higher costs or who hadn't considered adopting a child of a different race. There appears to be a trend, however, of agencies using a sliding scale fee structure based on income, or standardized fees. One couple of White prospective parents was quoted costs of $35,000 to adopt a White child, $24,000-26,000 a biracial child, and $18,000 an African-American child.
RUSSIAN OFFICIAL: IN-PROCESS ADOPTIONS BY AMERICANS WILL NOT ADVANCE
A June 27 article,
"No More Russian Adoptees to US – Kremlin Ombudsman," in RIA Novosti reports that Russia's children's rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, announced after two days of discussions with U.S. officials that prospective American parents' adoptions of 250 Russian children who were in process will not be finalized. Russia's ban on adoption by Americans went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. Astakhov said many adoptions approved prior to the ban continued through early February, but of the in-process cases, about half of the children had been placed in Russia with adoptive families, biological parents, or in foster homes. A U.S. State Department official noted that Washington will continue "to encourage the resolution of all adoptions that were in process prior to Jan. 1 in the spirit of our bilateral agreement and based on humanitarian grounds." A June 25 State Department Alert,
"Post-Placement reports" urges compliance with Russia's requirements after children go into new homes.
ADOPTION QUARTERLY: ANALYSIS OF ADOPTEES' SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT
Using data from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents for 1,661 school-age children, researchers found only 19 to 24 percent of adoptive parents reported their children's reading and math performance as good, very good or excellent, with the remainder rated as fair or poor.
"Parental Perceptions of Adopted Children's Educational Outcomes", by Caprice Knapp, Lindsey Woodworth and Mehda Ranka, is in the current issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 16, Issue 2). Two other educational outcomes evaluated were skipping school (12%) and having been suspended (15%). The type of adoption was not significantly related to the odds of being given lower ratings on reading and math performance or skipping school; however, children adopted from foster care had higher odds of suspension. Among the factors associated with lower reading or math performance were being in their teens, from a lower-income family, and speaking English as a second language. The authors recommend that adopted children be screened early and often to ensure they receive needed resources.
ADOPTION LEARNING PARTNERS: TWO SUMMER EXPERT WEBINARS
Join Adoption Learning Partners on Thursday, July 18, for a webinar,
"Can We talk? When Kids Start Asking About Adoption." No matter how much you've prepared, when your kids start asking questions, it can be tough to provide answers. Pat Johnston, author and adoptive mom, will cover common adoption questions kids start asking, as well as advice on how to share the tough stuff and answer questions with limited information. ALP also just added a new webinar,
"Is It An Adoption Thing?" on Wednesday, August 7, with Dr. Greg Keck discussing if challenging behaviors are adoption-related –– and what to do about them.
ADOPTION TODAY: SUMMER ISSUES FOCUS ON ADOPTEE TEEN YEARS, SCHOOL
The teen years are often defined as a time of exploration of self and a journey of self-discovery. For children who have been adopted, these years can be even more tumultuous as teens work to discover who they are within their adoption stories. The
July issue of Adoption Today tackles the journey to adulthood and the experience of being more than a child of adoption. The
August issue focuses on preparing for school as families address education for children with special needs, issues of bullying, and talk with teachers about how adoption may impact a child's educational experience. Also, don't miss the Adoption Institute's columns in both issues and remember that a portion of every new subscription goes to support the Institute's vital work;
subscribe today for $12 for the year (12 issues).
SUPPORT BIRTH/FIRST PARENTS BY CONTRIBUTING TO THE LYNN FRANKLIN FUND
The Lynn Franklin Fund, a new Institute initiative, was created to ensure that the views, opinions and needs of first/birthparents are central to the evolution of adoption policy by providing dedicated resources for the Institute to undertake targeted research, education and advocacy. The Fund is named in honor of Lynn Franklin -- long-time Institute Board member, author, literary agent and first mother. The Institute's 2006
"Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birth Parents in the Adoption Process" is the most comprehensive research-based report in this critical area; help us update and expand this initiative in the coming year. Learn more about the
Lynn Franklin Fund and
donate online, or mail a check (with "Lynn Franklin Fund" in the memo field) to the Donaldson Adoption Institute, 120 E. 38th Street, New York, NY 10016.
HELP US COMPLETE PHASE TWO OF GROUND-BREAKING INTERNET STUDY
Adoption Institute researchers are hard at work on the second phase of our ground-breaking project examining how the Internet is dramatically reshaping the world of adoption. While we have already received generous contributions from concerned individuals and organizations, to truly leverage this project – extensive in scope and potential impact – requires more support. If you believe in the value of this work as much as we do, please send your check to the Donaldson Adoption Institute, 120 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016, and write "Internet Project" on the memo line, or make your contribution on
On June 15, The Washington Post ran
"Two dads turn to social media to seek adoption," which recapped the experience of a gay couple who placed an ad on Facebook in their efforts to adopt. In regard to more people using social media to adopt, Pertman stated: "This is a big, growing trend that is unlikely to stop anytime in the future; it's accelerating and it's changing families and it's changing adoption. People are forming families more quickly and more efficiently, but it's threatening ethical adoption practice as we know it."
Pertman was a guest on the
"Midday Show" on National Public Radio on June 11, discussing the decline in international adoption. "There's all sorts of mythology about adoption in other countries, all sorts of misunderstandings about adoptions from other countries and one consequence is that those countries aren't comfortable sending their children," said Pertman.
On June 12,
everymothercounts hosted a Q&A with Pertman in which they discussed subjects such as the differences and similarities between birth families and adoptive families, some of the unique issues surrounding adoption and how the media often present adoption of foster children as negative. On the latter, Pertman said that "most foster families include loving couples and children who adapt well." He added that "families get services and kids grow healthier. Anyone who adopts from foster care knows that going in."
On June 26, David Brodzinsky, Research & Project Director, was a guest on the Creating a Family radio show, discussing
"Disrupting Birth Order Through Adoption." In addressing the hesitancy many agencies have in disrupting birth order, Brodzinsky states that it is really a "case by case situation, that you have to look at the family, understand what their dynamics are, look at the issues of the children and what the children's experiences are and then move forward accordingly." He adds that in the "vast majority of cases I think it can work."
July 7-11 – Two staff members – – Executive Director Adam Pertman and Research & Project Director David Brodzinsky – – will present at
ICAR4, the 4th International Conference on Adoption Research in Bilbao, Spain. Several
Institute Senior Research Fellows, including Harold Grotevant, Ruth McRoy, Laurie Miller and Ellen Pinderhughes, will also be among the presenters.
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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