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HOUSE APPROVES INCENTIVES MEASURE TO INCREASE ADOPTIONS FROM CARE
On Oct. 22, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the
Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act (H.R.3205) to reauthorize the Adoption Incentives program through FY2016. The legislation would restructure awards to incentivize more adoptions of pre-adolescent (9-13 years) and older children, and establish a new award for increases in the rate of children leaving foster care for legal guardianship. It would also mandate that states report savings resulting from the adoption assistance-income eligibility de-link and reinvestments in child welfare, as well as spend at least 20 percent of savings on post-adoption services for children adopted from care. Read Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Camp's floor statement, in which he remarks that "this bill ensures states maintain their commitment to post-adoption and related services so children truly have a forever family" and read a
summary of the bill. House members will be in their Districts the weeks of Nov. 4 and Nov. 25, which are great opportunities during National Adoption Month to thank them for passing HR3205. Read the Institute's
"Keeping the Promise" publications on the need for post-adoption supports.
ILLINOIS FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST UNLICENSED, ONLINE ADOPTION PROVIDER
On Oct. 28, the Illinois Attorney General filed a Verified Complaint for Injunctive and Other Relief against the Adoption Network Law Center (ANLC), a for-profit adoption provider, for violations of Illinois' adoption statutes and regulations. The Complaint states that ANLC, headquartered in California, is not licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (or any other state), yet "provides adoption services in Illinois and markets to Illinois residents by causing to be published in Illinois online advertisements offering adoption services" and thus "unlawfully avoids" DCFS' adoption agency licensing and reporting requirements that "serve to protect the children and parents involved in adoptions and the integrity of the adoption process and to create a level playing field for all adoption agencies providing adoption services in Illinois."
In an Oct. 28 Chicago Tribune article by Bonnie Miller Rubin,
"Illinois files 'historic' lawsuit against for-profit adoption agency," Bruce Boyer –– an Adoption Institute Board member and director of the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic at Loyola University Chicago –– called the lawsuit "historic." An Oct. 29 NPR story,
"Illinois Files Suit Against Online Adoption Agency," by Jennifer Ludden, quotes Institute President Adam Pertman as expressing concern for pregnant women who are struggling with their options, saying it can be coercive for them to "see an ad on the Internet: Come fly to California, we'll give you free housing, a swimming pool, we'll take great care of you and we'll help you make that decision." Read the Institute's report,
"Untangling the Web," on the Internet and adoption.
LEGISLATION WOULD RESHAPE INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION POLICY, PROCEDURES
Rep. Granger (R-TX) on Oct. 24 introduced the
Children in Families First Act of 2013 (HR3323), which would make fundamental changes in U.S. policy and processes relating to intercountry adoption "so that seeking permanent families for children living without families receives more prominence, focus, and resources," among other goals. A new State Department Bureau of Vulnerable Children and Family Security would become the U.S. Central Authority (succeeding the department's Office of Children's Issues),
and the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would become responsible for many key responsibilities. USCIS also could "determine, on a case-by-case basis, that a specific intercountry adoption case may proceed as a non-Convention adoption" from countries that have ratified the Hague Convention; relax requirements for relative adoptions; and permit undefined "parole" status to transfer custody of some children. The bill would also significantly alter application of "subsidiarity," the principle that prioritizes placing children within their nations of origin, saying there should be concurrent planning for intercountry adoptions. HR3323 has 22 cosponsors and is with the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees. The
Senate CHIFF bill (S.1530), with 11 cosponsors, remains with the Foreign Relations Committee. Read the Institute's new report on intercountry adoption,
"A Changing World: Shaping Best Practices through Understanding of the New Realities of Intercountry Adoption."
PA HOUSE PASSES BILL RESTORING ADOPTEE ACCESS TO BIRTH CERTIFICATES
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Oct. 23 unanimously passed
HB162, which would allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates (OBCs) and remove birth parent consent to identifying information. The bill has been referred to the Senate. An Oct. 17 Reading Eagle article by Beth Anne Heesen,
"State House panel passes bill to open birth records to adoptees," reporting on the House Children and Youth Committee earlier passage of the legislation, cites Pertman as explaining that there is no evidence that birth parents were guaranteed anonymity when placing children for adoption and abortion rates have not increased in states that have allowed access to OBCs. Read the Institute's research reports,
"For the Records," supporting adult adoptee access to OBCs.
CASEY ORGANIZATIONS OFFER CHILD WELFARE FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS
The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative held a congressional briefing on Oct. 24 presenting their report,
When Child Welfare Works: A Proposal to Finance Best Practices. The publication asserts that the existing federal child welfare financing system does not promote best practices to support vulnerable children and families, thus impeding states' efforts to improve outcomes for this population. The organizations recommend a "strategic realignment" of Title IV-E and other funding to support permanence and well-being; quality family foster care; a capable, supported child welfare workforce; and better access to services.
Education & Advocacy
INSTITUTE PRESIDENT TESTIFIES AT HEARING IN ILLINOIS ON 'RE-HOMING'
Adoption Institute President Adam Pertman testified at an Illinois House Adoption Reform Committee hearing on "re-homing" on Oct. 29. There currently is no legislation associated with the issue in that state legislature. At the federal level, Rep. Langevin (D-RI) circulated a
"Dear Colleague" letter in the House of Representatives regarding "re-homing," calling on the Chair and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee "to hold oversight hearings and direct investigations of these disturbing practices."
An Oct. 12 New York Post article about "re-homing" quotes Pertman as saying, "Adoption is more than child placement –– the training, education and support for adoptive families is just not there." An Oct. 6 Associated Press story by David Crary,
"Failed Adoptions Stir Outrage; Reforms Are Elusive," cites 15 cases of severe abuse and neglect of adopted children in Washington State and quotes Pertman on state cuts to post-adoption funding: "Policymakers and politicians are great at paying lip service – always saying children are our most important resource. Where are the actions to support the words?" Read the Institute's
"Keeping the Promise" publications on the need for post-adoption supports and its Sept. 10
media advisory calling on law enforcement officials, policymakers and adoption professionals nationwide to investigate and put a stop to "re-homing."
INSTITUTE OFFERS COMMENTS, RECOMMENDATIONS ON INCENTIVES PROPOSAL
On October 7, the Institute
submitted comments, largely supporting and also offering recommendations, on Sen. Baucus' (D-MT)
Strengthening and Finding Families for Children Act discussion draft that would reauthorize the Adoption Incentives program, among other provisions. As of Oct. 29, the bill had not yet been introduced. The Institute offered its support for provisions reauthorizing the Adoption Incentives program, including an award for guardianships; adjusting state payments to reward adoption and guardianship rate improvements; and mandating that states report on adoption assistance/AFDC eligibility delink savings and spending on child welfare and adoption, as well as allocating a percentage of the savings and Incentive awards for post-adoption/post-guardianship services. The Institute also echoed some of
Voice for Adoption's recommendations for the SAFF-Children Act, including an incentive for permanency for the oldest youth in foster care, with greater awards for adoption or guardianship for youth 14 and older; ruling out adoption before making awards for guardianships; and minimum percentages of adoption assistance delink savings (30%) and Adoption Incentives awards (25%) for post-adoption/post-guardianship services.
ADOPTION INSTITUTE PUBLISHES MAJOR STUDY ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
On Oct. 30, the Adoption Institute released a report on its multi-faceted study of intercountry adoption (ICA) –
"A Changing World: Shaping Best Practices through Understanding of the New Realities of Intercountry Adoption," by Ellen Pinderhughes, an Institute Senior Fellow; Jessica Matthews; Georgia Deoudes; and Adam Pertman. The research included surveys of 1,500 adoptive parents and adoption professionals in "receiving" countries and "countries of origin," as well as interviews with professionals at adoption authorities in 19 nations. Key findings include that fewer children are being adopted and those who are remain in institutions longer; there is greater transparency and consistency in the adoption process and more protections for children due to the Hague Convention; and openness in intercountry adoptions is a growing trend. Pertman was quoted in an Oct. 29 LA Times article,
"International adoptions' shift to special-needs kids tests adopters," by Emily Alpert Reyes about the Institute's report, saying "The world of international adoption is radically different than people realize, they think they're getting little girls from China, not older children with more challenging needs." An Oct. 30 USA Today article by Sharon Jayson,
"International adoptions: Kids older, have special needs," covering the report also quoted Pertman: "The more recent adopters are increasingly adopting children with special needs - they learn about the special needs once they get back to this country or it develops later."
ANALYSIS SHOWS SUBSIDY PROMOTES ADOPTIONS, PRIMARILY BY FOSTER PARENTS
"Adoption Subsidies and Placement Outcomes for Children in Foster Care," by Kasey Buckles, is in the current issue of The Journal of Human Resources (Volume 48, Issue 3). This analysis of AFCARS data for adoptions from 2000-2006 found that subsidy eligibility increases the number of adoptions, primarily by foster parents, and decreases time children spend in care. The average foster care payment for children who were eventually adopted was $670 per month, compared to $572 for adoption subsidies. The results indicate that some foster parents will adopt if they receive an adoption subsidy
that is somewhat less than their foster care payment, but won't make this decision as readily if they receive no subsidy. The author concludes that lowering age eligibility requirements could yield states money by getting children adopted sooner and reducing costs for their care. Read the Adoption Institute's report on this topic,
"The Vital Role of Adoption Subsidies."
RESEARCH FINDS ELEVATED RISK OF SUICIDE ATTEMPTS IN ADOPTED YOUTH
A longitudinal study found that over a three-year period, the odds of a reported suicide attempt were 4.2 times greater in adopted adolescents (mean age at placement=4.7 months) than in their non-adopted adolescent siblings.
"Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Nonadopted Offspring" is in the October issue of Pediatrics (Volume 132, Issue 4). For adopted teens, age at placement, minority status, or type of adoption (intercountry or domestic) were not predictors of a suicide attempt. Some of the difference in odds between adopted and non-adopted teens could be explained by other risk factors, including externalizing behavior disorders, negative mood, family discord and academic disengagement; however, even after adjusting for these factors, the odds ratio of reporting a suicide attempt was 3.7 for adopted youth. Overall attempted suicide was reported for 7.2 percent of adopted and 1.8 percent of non-adopted adolescents during this three-year period.
MISSOURI COURT AFFIRMS ADOPTION OF GUATEMALAN BIRTH MOTHER'S CHILD
An Oct. 8 Joplin Globe article by Susan Redden,
"Appeals court decision upholds child's adoption by local couple," reports that the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a trial court decision that terminated a Guatemalan woman's parental rights on the basis of "abandonment, neglect and parental unfitness," and authorized the child's adoption by a couple who have raised the boy since he was 1 year old. According to the article, the child was 11 months old when the mother was arrested in 2007 in an immigration raid. She left her child with her brother, but the child was subsequently left in a series of homes. The article says the court agreed the child had been abandoned because the mother made no attempt to maintain contact with or provide for the boy during her incarceration, though she had the means to do so. The case may still go before the Missouri Supreme Court.
MARYLAND COURTS REPORTEDLY APPROVING MORE SAME-SEX COUPLE ADOPTIONS
In an Oct 14 WTOP Capital News Service article,
"Maryland Jurisdictions Becoming More Open to Same-sex Adoptions," Zainab Mudallal reports the state's growing trend in acceptance and legalization of adoptions by same-sex couples. "It was rare for judges to approve same-sex adoptions anywhere in Maryland
but Baltimore city," said the article. "But courts in other jurisdictions have recently become more open to approving adoptions for same sex couples." According to the report, the major factor leading to the policy change was Maryland's lack of an explicit prohibition on same-sex couple adoptions, leading courts in the state to interpret their legality differently. Read the Adoption Institute's reports, "Expanding Resources for Children," on adoption by gays and lesbians.
INDIAN AGENCIES SAID TO FRAUDULENTLY PROMOTE INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
An Oct. 14 The Times of India article,
"Adoption agencies serve Indian couples bitter pill," by Neha Madaan, reported that officials in India discovered almost 70 percent of adoption cases labeled "special needs" were falsely written to dissuade Indian couples from adopting. According to the article, agencies try to place children with international couples for higher profit. Many Indian parents have complained about the unlawful practice, claiming they were placed on long waiting lists while agencies altered children's medical status. The agencies deny any malpractice and the investigation continues.
INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION STATISTICS SHOW STEEP DECLINES SINCE 2003
In October, Dr. Peter Selman of Newcastle University in Great Britain released
"Key Tables for Intercountry Adoption" providing 2012 statistics on intercountry adoptions into 23 "receiving countries" and 2011 data from the 15 major "countries of origin." The top five countries of origin, in order of their counts, are: China, Ethiopia, Russia, Columbia and the Ukraine. The total number of intercountry adoptions has dropped from 41,536 in 2003 (52% into U.S. families) to 19,540 in 2012 (44% into U.S.).
SPECIAL ISSUE FOCUSES ON TRAUMA-INFORMED CHILD WELFARE PRACTICE
The University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare's journal – CW360 – published a special Winter 2013 issue,
"Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice." It contains 24 short articles covering a range of research, practice and policy-related issues on the impact of traumatic stress on children and adolescents, working with foster and adoptive parents to help children heal, and trauma screening within the child welfare system.
CELEBRATE NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH WITH A GIFT TO THE INSTITUTE
The Adoption Institute works very hard everyday to improve laws, policies and practices that affect all those touched by adoption –– to remove lingering stigmas and negative stereotypes, to level the playing field so every child and family gets equal treatment, and most pointedly, to help the thousands of boys and girls for whom loving, permanent families remain a dream. But we cannot maintain the quality and impact of our work without your support. In honor of National Adoption Month in November, please celebrate it by donating to the Adoption Institute –– through
our website, or if you prefer, mail your check to: Donaldson Adoption Institute, 120 E. 38th Street, New York, NY 10016.
IN THE MEDIA: CHRISTIAN ADOPTION MOVEMENT, AND MORE
An Oct. 28 Associated Press article,
"Challenging Time for Christian Adoption Movement," reports on growing criticism of the Christian evangelical movement known as "Orphan Sunday," a coalition of Christian organizations promoting international adoption. Critics claim that some evangelicals are so enamored of international adoption as a mission of spiritual salvation – for the child and the adoptive parents – that they have closed their eyes to adoption-related fraud and trafficking, and have not fully embraced alternatives that would help orphans find loving families in their home countries. Pertman was quoted as commending the efforts of some Christian adoption agencies that assist children within their home countries.
On Oct. 13, Pertman was quoted on ABC News Radio in a story titled
"Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs: Both Estranged From Dads and Tech Successes," saying that "Adoption can affect you in a million different ways." He added: "You've got nature and nurture, so if you're lucky enough to be born with the good stuff in you and the ability to be successful, and you have a family that nurtures you, then you're onto success."
On Oct. 2, Chicago Tribune ran
"Help available to adopt special needs kids," about the various financial assistance available for adoption. The Adoption Institute was cited in reference to adoption costs sometimes being as high as $50,000.
From Our Partners
ADOPTION TODAY: ISSUE CELEBRATES FAMILIES DURING ADOPTION MONTH
Families around the country celebrate adoption during the month of November and Adoption Today has dedicated its November issue to celebrating those families. In addition, the issue features an exclusive interview with the State Department's Ambassador Susan Jacobs, who gives an update on the current status of intercountry adoption.
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.
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