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U.S. APPEALS COURT RECOGNIZES ADOPTION ASSISTANCE AS FEDERAL RIGHT
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
120 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
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