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1. Law & Policy
- U.S. Appeals Court Recognizes Adoption Assistance as Federal Right
- U.S. Issues Annual Report on Children in Adversity, Including A Website

2. Education & Advocacy
- Incentives Program Reauthorization Would Raise Post-Adopt Funding
- Advocates Work for Legislation to Make Adoption Tax Credit Refundable

3. Research
- Institute Seeks Participants for Critical New Adoption-Internet Study
- Institute Report: Mental Health Professionals Need Training on Adoption
- Dave Thomas Foundation Releases U.S. and Canadian Adoption Surveys
- Maltreatment, Substance Exposure Linked To Poorer Adoptee Outcomes
- Study Finds Link Between Supportive Co-Parenting and Child Adjustment
- Researchers Identify Three Patterns of Bonding in Adoptive Parents
- Mothers' Experiences Seen To Influence Transracial Adoptive Parenting

4. News
- Amid Ongoing Controversy, Court Finalizes 'Baby Veronica' Adoption
- Same-Sex Parents Challenge State Laws Limiting Their Adoption Rights
- Prospective Parents Crowdfund to Pay for Adoption Expenses
- Russia Reportedly Remains Firm on Adoption Ban Imposed on Americans

5. Resources
- FY2012 Data Show Fewer Children in Foster Care, More Getting Adopted
- Report Shows Lag in Finding Permanency for Children with Special Needs
- Most Children in Care Found to Have Experienced Multiple Traumas
- Newsletter Focuses on Achieving Permanency for Older Youth in Care
- Policy Center Brief Discusses Protective Factors to Promote Resilience
- Coalition Offers Resources for National Adoption Day Activities

6. Institute Update
- Back-To-School is the Time to Remember the Adoption Institute
- In the Media: Internet Impact on Adoption, Birth Certificates, and More
- Upcoming Staff Appearances

7. From Our Partners
- Spence-Chapin Focuses Mission on Children with Special Needs
- ALP Webinar: '4 Keys To Help Your Adopted Child Strive At School'
- Adoption Today Focuses on the Experiences of Adoptees from China

 

Law & Policy

U.S. APPEALS COURT RECOGNIZES ADOPTION ASSISTANCE AS FEDERAL RIGHT
In Hensley v. Koller, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held on July 3 that 673(a)(3) of the 1980 Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act governing adoption assistance agreements and readjustments with parental approval, as well as barring adoption assistance from exceeding foster care maintenance payments, "does give rise to a limited privately enforceable federal right cognizable under 42 U.S.C. 1983." The Court found, however, that this right was not violated because the provision "establishes a right to parental concurrence in subsidy readjustment determinations except when the subsidy must be reduced due to reductions in foster care maintenance payments." In this case, not reducing the adoption assistance subsidy would have resulted in an amount that exceeded the foster care maintenance payment and thus the State "would have violated federal law."

U.S. ISSUES ANNUAL REPORT ON CHILDREN IN ADVERSITY, INCLUDING A WEBSITE
In Aug., the U.S. Government released its sixth annual Report to Congress on Public Law 109-95 ("The Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005,"), "From Strong Beginnings to Youth Resilience: Pathways Out of Adversity," which describes the U.S. Government Action Plan's objectives, actions and outcomes, as well as a new Children in Adversity website featuring federal agency-specific plans. The website also provides data illustrating a Global Profile of Children in Adversity, with a number of indicators around poverty, health and safety. The Action Plan, originally released in July 2012 and launched that December, seeks to ensure "all children grow up within protective family care and free from deprivation or danger" (among other goals) by incorporating the best interests of the child and internationally recognized evidence-based good practices. A number of nonprofits, including the Adoption Institute, support the initiative. Sens. Inhofe (R-OK) and Landrieu (D-LA) introduced a resolution (SRes 190) "expressing the sense of the Senate that foreign assistance for child welfare should adhere to the goals of the United States Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity."

 

Education & Advocacy


INCENTIVES PROGRAM REAUTHORIZATION WOULD RAISE POST-ADOPT FUNDING
The House Ways and Means Committee on Aug. 7 released a proposal "to extend and improve" the Adoption Incentives Program that it stated "was developed with the goal of producing bipartisan legislation based on testimony received at a Human Resources Subcommittee hearing earlier this year." The draft would make awards for improvements in adoption and permanent placement rates, create an award for guardian placements, mandate that states report on adoption assistance delink savings and allocate 20 percent of the savings for post-adoption services, in addition to extending authorization through FY16. The Committee expects the legislation will be considered in September; current law authorizes the program through Sept. 30. The Adoption Institute submitted testimony in February, a letter in June, and comments on the draft in August recommending improvements to increase and sustain adoptions from foster care.

ADVOCATES WORK FOR LEGISLATION TO MAKE ADOPTION TAX CREDIT REFUNDABLE
The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group (ATCWG) this summer distributed letters to Members of Congress asking them to include the adoption tax credit on their tax reform priority list for submission to the Senate Finance Committee, and to cosponsor the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013 (S1056). The bill currently has three cosponsors; the House companion bill (HR2144) has six. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240), enacted in January, included a permanent extension of the credit, but did not make it refundable. As a result, according to the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, most of the benefit of the credit goes to families making $100,000 or more per year. Ask your Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor S1056/HR2144. Call 202-225-3121 and ask for his/her office. Tell the child welfare/tax staffer that you are a constituent (provide your mailing address if leaving a message) and encourage your legislators to co-sponsor S1056/HR2144 (see if your lawmakers are already cosponsors). For a script, go to the Save the Adoption Tax Credit. The Adoption Institute is a member of the Save the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group Executive Committee.

 

Research

INSTITUTE SEEKS PARTICIPANTS FOR CRITICAL NEW ADOPTION-INTERNET STUDY
The Internet and social media are changing the way adoption occurs throughout the world, yet we know little about the way social media and other elements of this modern technology affect the millions of people for whom adoption is part of everyday life. The Donaldson Adoption Institute is launching a new study seeking information from adopted persons, adoptive parents, parents who have placed children for adoption, and adoption professionals about their adoption-related use of the Internet and social media. This research is a follow-up to our 2012 report, Untangling the Web: The Internet's Transformative Impact on Adoption. To participate in the survey, please go to the Institute's website starting Sept. 4.

INSTITUTE REPORT: MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS NEED TRAINING ON ADOPTION
Members of adoptive families and birth/first families who seek counseling often report difficulty finding professionals who understand the unique complexities of adoption. On Aug. 29, the Donaldson Adoption Institute released A Need to Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence among Mental Health Professionals to raise awareness among mental health professionals about the nature and importance of adoption clinical competence, to heighten their desire to receive such training, and to identify various means by which the relevant knowledge and skills can be obtained.

DAVE THOMAS FOUNDATION RELEASES U.S. AND CANADIAN ADOPTION SURVEYS
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption released the 2013 National and Canadian Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Surveys in July. According to the U.S. survey, almost one-quarter (24%) of Americans reported that they had considered or are considering adopting a child. Additionally, Americans' opinions of foster care adoption have improved since the 2007 survey: it is now higher than for international or private adoption. Misperceptions of the adoption process remain, however; for example, 39 percent of Americans believe foster care adoption is somewhat or very expensive, when in reality it costs little or nothing. The Adoption Institute conducted the Benchmark Adoption Survey on American attitudes toward adoption in 1997.

MALTREATMENT, SUBSTANCE EXPOSURE LINKED TO POORER ADOPTEE OUTCOMES
"Preadoption Adversities and Postadoption Mediators of Mental Health and School Outcomes among International, Foster, and Private Adoptees in the United States," by Robin Harwood, Xin Feng and Stella Yu, is in the summer issue of the Journal of Family Psychology (Volume 27, Issue 3). Using data from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, researchers found that age at placement, previous maltreatment and prenatal substance exposure directly impact mental health and school performance, and the quality of the parent-child relationships served as a mediator of the impact of pre-adoption adversities. Across all types of adoption, children with prior maltreatment and/or prenatal substance exposure were more likely to be diagnosed with special health care needs, to receive mental health services, and to have attachment disorders and lower school performance.

STUDY FINDS LINK BETWEEN SUPPORTIVE CO-PARENTING AND CHILD ADJUSTMENT
In a study of 104 adoptive families, researchers examined the link between three aspects of co-parenting (supportive, undermining and parent participation) and child adjustment at age 3, finding that aspects of both supportive and undermining coparenting, as well as greater satisfaction with division of child-care labor, were associated with the children's externalizing behaviors. "Coparenting among Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Couples: Associations with Adopted Children's Outcomes", by Rachel Farr and Charlotte Patterson, is in the July/August issue of Child Development (Volume 84, Issue 4). Overall, the adopted children were reported to have few behavioral adjustment problems, and co-parenting behaviors were more predictive of child adjustment than was family structure. Lesbian and gay parents more equally shared parenting than did heterosexual couples, and lesbian parents rated highest on supportive parenting.

RESEARCHERS IDENTIFY THREE PATTERNS OF BONDING IN ADOPTIVE PARENTS
"Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Adoptive Parents' Perceptions of Parental Bonding during Early Parenthood," by Abbie Goldberg (an Adoption Institute Senior Fellow), April Moyer and Lori Kinkler, is in the current issue of Couple and Family Psychology (Volume 2, Issue 2). Based on interviews with 45 adoptive couples two years after placement (60% adopted newborns), researchers concluded that practitioners and parents need to be aware of diversity in bonding experiences after adoption, although they did not vary much based on gender and sexual orientation. They identified three overall patterns: more than half described a strong and immediate bond to their child that remained stable; 40 percent described a slow early bonding followed by gradual strengthening; and a small percentage described waning bonds due to their children's developmental status. Patterns were very similar for both partners within couples.

MOTHERS' EXPERIENCES SEEN TO INFLUENCE TRANSRACIAL ADOPTIVE PARENTING
A qualitative study based on interviews with 15 White mothers adopting transracially identified three key perspectives that shaped their approach to racial/ethnic socialization (RES): humanitarianism (de-emphasized race/ethnicity), ambivalence (uncertainty and indecision about race) and transculturalism (active recognition of race/ethnicity). Ravinder Barn's study, "'Doing the Right Thing': Transracial Adoption in the USA," is in the August issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies (Volume 36, Issue 8). The author concludes that the ways in which White mothers understand and experience diversity influence their approach to RES, which also is shaped by "family and community networks and societal discourses on race, power and hierarchy."

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

 

News

AMID ONGOING CONTROVERSY, COURT FINALIZES 'BABY VERONICA' ADOPTION
After the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision in Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl, reversing and remanding the Supreme Court of South Carolina's ruling granting custody of "Baby Veronica" to her Indian biological father (over her prospective adoptive parents), the state Supreme Court ordered a family court to approve Veronica's adoption, which was finalized July 31. The biological father, however, is not complying with the order, according to a Aug. 13 New York Times article, "Custody Battle Continues Despite Ruling by Justices," by Dan Frosch. Veronica is in Oklahoma, where the Cherokee County court is asserting jurisdiction, gag orders are in place, the judge recused herself, and the adoptive parents have been permitted to visit the child, reports ABC News 4 Charleston in "Capobiancos meet Veronica, but future meetings in jeopardy" on Aug. 26. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was intended to prevent the government from removing native children from already established Indian families, but Veronica was placed for adoption by her non-Indian biological mother. For background on ICWA and a recent timeline of the case, see Michael Overall's Aug. 25 "Baby Veronica case turning into battle over Indian Child Welfare Act" in Tulsa World.

SAME-SEX PARENTS CHALLENGE STATE LAWS LIMITING THEIR ADOPTION RIGHTS
A July 10 Associated Press article, "Federal judge will hear arguments on Michigan gay marriage ban, adoption in October," provides a procedural update on a challenge to Michigan's ban on gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples brought by two Detroit-area lesbians who have three adopted children. Meanwhile, according to a July 29 WRAL story, "Six families challenge NC gay marriage ban," by Mark Binker, several same-sex families are amending their original complaint in federal court regarding North Carolina's ban on same-sex partners both adopting a child. The couples are now including a challenge to the state's constitutional prohibition on gay marriage, arguing it harms their children in addition to violating their rights. Read the Adoption Institute's latest report on adoption by gays and lesbians, " Expanding Resources for Children III."

PROSPECTIVE PARENTS CROWDFUND TO PAY FOR ADOPTION EXPENSES
A July 9 CNNMoney story, "Crowdfunding for adoptions, fertility treatments," by Melanie Hicken, examines the phenomenon of couples utilizing crowdfunding to finance adoptions. To offset costs ranging from $2,500 to $40,000, families have used sites such as the non-profit AdoptTogether, which reportedly has raised $1 million for 300 adoptive families since January 2012. Because the organization has tax-exempt status, all donations are tax deductible, and contributions pay its expenses, unlike other platforms for which donations are not tax deductible and that charge transaction fees. Read the Adoption Institute publication on the Internet's historic impact on adoption, "Untangling the Web."

RUSSIA REPORTEDLY REMAINS FIRM ON ADOPTION BAN IMPOSED ON AMERICANS
"US releases list of 60,000 Russian adoptees," in the Aug. 12 Voice of Russia, relates that the U.S. State Department recently provided to Russian authorities a list of the 61,625 Russian children adopted by American parents. Regarding the list of 259 Russian orphans the U.S. asked in June to be exempt from the ban on adoptions by Americans, Russia's children's rights commissioner stated: "We have agreed that there will be no more such lists" and added that there will be no exceptions. A July 23 Russian Legal Information Agency article, "116 orphans adopted in Russia after US adoption ban – ombudsman," reports that of the 259 children on the June list, 116 "have long been living in other families." According to "State Duma won't amend adoption ban, deputy says," in the July 16 Moscow Times, the Russian legislature will not amend the ban to exempt "mixed-nationality couples living in the United States" in which one spouse is a Russian citizen.

 

Resources

FY2012 DATA SHOW FEWER CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE, MORE GETTING ADOPTED
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released updated Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) data in July, showing that the number of children in foster care has decreased over the past decade from over 500,000 to around 400,000, and the number of adoptions remains above 50,000. There were 52,039 adoptions from care in FY2012, comprising 21.6 percent of exits from care, an increase from the past several years. Ten percent of youth (23,439) exited through emancipation, a decrease from 11 percent in the previous three years. ACF also issued summary reports on Trends in Foster Care and Adoption, State Specific Foster Care Statistics and others.

REPORT SHOWS LAG IN FINDING PERMANENCY FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
On Aug. 16, the U.S. Children's Bureau published its 12th report on national and state child welfare performance, Child Welfare Outcomes 20082011: Report to Congress and created a website, Child Welfare Outcomes Report Data. While overall permanent homes were found for 95 percent (median of all states) of children who were legally free for adoption at the time of discharge from care, this was not the case for children with a diagnosed disability or those who entered care at age 12 or older.

MOST CHILDREN IN CARE FOUND TO HAVE EXPERIENCED MULTIPLE TRAUMAS
On Aug. 8, the Administration for Children and Families released a research brief, National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), No. 20: Adverse Child Experiences in NSCAW, which analyzes the prevalence of 10 adverse childhood experiences among children involved with the foster care system. The study found that over half of the children had experienced four or more adverse experiences, as did two-thirds of youth ages 11-17.

NEWSLETTER FOCUSES ON ACHIEVING PERMANENCY FOR OLDER YOUTH IN CARE
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections released its summer/fall issue of Permanency Planning Today, focusing on permanency for older youth. It includes articles such as "Unpacking the 'No' of Permanency," "An Emerging Path to Permanency: Oklahoma's Approach to Reinstating Parental Rights" and "Facilitating an Adult Adoption as a Pathway to Permanency for Older Youth." Read the Adoption Institute's report on permanency for older youth, "Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care."

POLICY CENTER BRIEF DISCUSSES PROTECTIVE FACTORS TO PROMOTE RESILIENCE
The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) published a brief on strengthening families, Parental Resilience: Protective and Promotive Factors, discussing the protective factors that can be enhanced in both parents and youth facing stress and adversity: resilience, social connections, knowledge, concrete support and social-emotional competence. A companion piece, "Core Meanings of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors," outlines these factors and their definitions.

COALITION OFFERS RESOURCES FOR NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY ACTIVITIES
Nov. 23 is National Adoption Day, dedicated to raising awareness of and celebrating the adoption of children from foster care. The website contains a wealth of materials for hosting events, fact sheets, family stories, public service announcements and other resources. National Adoption Day is sponsored by the Freddie Mac Foundation, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and three other partnering organizations. In 2012, more than 4,500 children were adopted during celebrations in cities across the United States.

 

Institute Update

BACK-TO-SCHOOL IS THE TIME TO REMEMBER THE ADOPTION INSTITUTE
Summer is traditionally a sluggish time of year for giving to favorite causes (including the Institute!) and this year was no exception. Even as donations slowed down, our staff members were busy on numerous projects in such critical areas as international adoption, the impact of the Internet, post-adoption services, birth/first parent issues and positive identity development. We think you will be amazed at the quality and volume of work we will be releasing in the coming weeks and months. That is why we are asking you to help us move into fall with a special "Back-to-School" contribution. Doing so will provide invaluable support for our research, education and advocacy efforts. Donating is easy; you will find information on our Support Our Work webpage on the different ways to give: online, by mail or by phone.

IN THE MEDIA: INTERNET IMPACT ON ADOPTION, BIRTH CERTIFICATES, AND MORE
A USA Today article on Aug. 13, "Adoption Numbers Rising for Kids in Foster Care," focused on new Department of Health and Human Services' data showing that 13.1 percent of children in foster care were adopted last year, a 12.6 percent increase from 2011. Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman is quoted as saying there has been progress but "we're nowhere near done." He added that we need to increase permanency for older children and "we have to support the families as well as placing the kids."

An Associated Press story on July 29, "Unsealed birth records give adoptees peek at past," reported on how a lack of access to original birth certificates has created challenges for many adult adoptees. "Opponents contend birth mothers were promised privacy in perpetuity, which research has not been able to substantiate," Adoption Institute Executive Director Pertman was quoted as saying. The trend is "toward greater honesty, greater openness," added Pertman, who described progress on the issue of access to original birth certificates as "way too slow."

A June 28 Christian Science Monitor story, "Supreme Court DOMA and Proposition 8 rulings good for kids, by accident?" noted that recent rulings relating to gay/lesbian rights have received mixed reactions from the public. Executive Director Pertman discussed the implications of the decisions, stating that politicians and policymakers like to say that "children are the future, children are our most valuable resource, children are this, children are that, but the truth is when push comes to shove, it's the adults and adult concerns that take priority."

USA Today ran an article on June 26, "How will same-sex marriage rulings affect children?" that examined the cultural and legal implications of recent same-sex family Supreme Court decisions. "We know children derive significant benefits when their parents are married," said Pertman. "So this is good news indeed for the girls and boys who can now live in families with the same social, economic and personal advantages as their peers who have married, heterosexual mothers and fathers."

A June 30 Boston Globe article, "Social media altering the way adoptions happen in US," described the ethical issues raised by the Internet relating to adoption laws, practices and search and reunion. ''It's unmonitored, unregulated," he said of the Internet, providing information based on a groundbreaking Adoption Institute publication on the subject, " Untangling the Web." On July 18, Motherboard Beta ran an article, "For Better or Worse, the Internet Is Making Adoptions Less Secret," that also discussed the Internet's impact on adoption. Pertman said the trend toward greater openness is a positive one, but he cautioned that insufficient safeguards are in place to ensure best practices and child safety.

On Aug. 13, The Christian Post Every Child Blog ran a piece, "Cheaper by the Color?" regarding the varying costs sometimes associated with adopting children based on their race. "To imply that any child is worth less than another is unethical and unnerving," said Pertman. "And it's not just about adoption; it's also about keeping families intact, tackling issues of discrimination and income inequality and on and on." He said the goal is to ensure "every child – of every age and color – can live in safe, loving, permanent, and successful families."

UPCOMING STAFF APPEARANCES
The following is a partial listing of upcoming appearances and/or presentations by Pertman and Institute senior staff; view a complete list. To inquire about Institute staff availability for speaking engagements, call 212-925-4089 or email [email protected]

  • September 22 – Executive Director Pertman will be the guest speaker for The Ethical Society of Boston as part of their Sunday Lecture series. He will discuss the changes adoption has undergone and their impact on the nation. The meeting is free, open to the public and will take place at 10:30 AM at 395 Concord Ave. in Belmont, MA (the signage on the building is for the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research).

  • October 22 – Pertman will be the keynote presenter and will also participate in a panel discussion at a conference sponsored by Adoptions From The Heart. The conference will take place at Wesleyan Excley Science Center on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

 

From Our Partners

SPENCE-CHAPIN FOCUSES MISSION ON CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
In keeping with its 100-year history of serving the needs of vulnerable children, Spence-Chapin is shifting its mission to focus exclusively on finding homes for school-age children, those with special needs and in sibling groups, domestically in foster care and internationally from Colombia, Bulgaria and South Africa. Our goal is to reduce barriers by eliminating fees for adopting; providing education about adopting children who are older, are in sibling groups or have special needs; and expanding our services such as workshops, parent coaching, adolescent and family counseling, and other supports for families on their lifelong journey. Learn more or call 212-400-8150.

ALP WEBINAR: '4 KEYS TO HELP YOUR ADOPTED CHILD STRIVE AT SCHOOL'
Join Adoption Learning Partners on September 17 for a webinar, " School's in Session! 4 Keys to Help Your Adopted Child Strive at School." Judy Stigger, LCSW, Adoption Therapist and adoptive mom, and Carmen Knight, teacher and adopted person, share professional advice and personal experience and will help families understand what questions, concerns and capabilities children have at different ages/stages and how to respond when classroom discussions and assignments trigger adoption related questions.

ADOPTION TODAY FOCUSES ON THE EXPERIENCES OF ADOPTEES FROM CHINA
As a much newer country of origin for intercountry adoption, China's oldest adoptees are just now reaching adulthood and the latest issue of Adoption Today gets their perspective on growing up in America. Read stories from two adoptive moms as they prepare their daughters for the world and several articles from adoptees who share their journeys to adulthood. Other topics covered include attachment, education, and connecting to your child. Plus, don't miss the Donaldson Adoption Institute's column.

 

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.


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 online or print and complete this form with your credit card information and fax it to 775-796-6592, or mail it with your check or credit card information to:

The Donaldson Adoption Institute
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