From the Desk of April DinwoodieWelcome to The Donaldson Adoption Institute’s Spring 2016 Newsletter. In this issue, we highlight the last two stops of our four-city Let’s Adopt Reform National Town Hall Tour and the need for more education and modern conversation about adoption and foster care adoption today. Throughout the tour, we tackled some challenges and opportunities including access to original birth certificates, openness in adoption, pre- and post-adoption services, market forces, differences of race, class and culture, perceptions and stigma, and the need for more uniform national standards. Please click the video below for a message from Chief Executive April Dinwoodie.
DAI UPDATEON THE ROAD WITH DAI
- As part of our Let’s Adopt Reform initiative, we have recently wrapped up our national Town Hall tour with inspiring conversations on adoption and foster care adoption in the 21st century in New York, Dallas, San Francisco and Chicago since November 2015. We’re extremely grateful to our inspiring participants (Cami Anderson, Dr. Amanda Baden, Gabriel Blau, Dr. Christopher Harris, Leslie Pate Mackinnon, Steven Kalb, Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao and Nathan Ross) and to all of you who joined us as part of our live and virtual audiences.
- If you missed any of our Town Halls, visit www.letsadoptreform.org to watch the full webcasts or recap videos. To sponsor a Town Hall in your hometown, please contact us at email@example.com or 212-925-4089.
- Each year, The Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI) hosts Taste of Spring—our signature food and wine benefit—which is not only our most important annual fundraising event but is also a meaningful and fun evening that features boutique wines and food tastings from some of New York’s top chefs. The 13th annual event will be held on Thursday, May 5th, 2016, at the Metropolitan Pavilion and will honor Michaela Pereira, adopted person and anchor of “CNN New Day,” and the family of Wayne S. DeVeydt, EVP and CFO of Anthem Healthcare. We expect a crowd of 300 influential people from the metropolitan area to attend.
- Taste of Spring is a fun and meaningful evening that features celebrity chefs from top New York restaurants, as well as fine wines from around the world and specialty cocktails. Featured chefs and purveyors this year include Marc Murphy, Zarela Martinez, Laughing Man, Lucy’s Whey and students in Graham Windham’s Culinary Arts Program. It also includes a silent auction and online Charitybuzz auction which is open until May 19th. Please join us as our guest. For more information, click here.
2016 Taste of Spring Honorees
Family of Wayne S. DeVeydt, EVP and CFO of Anthem Healthcare Michaela Pereira, CNN New Day Anchor
AROUND THE COMMUNITY
- In March, the Judiciary Committee in the Connecticut legislature heard testimony on a bill that would give birth parents access to the papers they signed terminating their parental rights. Access Connecticut, a reform organization that has worked on legislation related to adopted persons obtaining their original birth certificate, is at the forefront of this advocacy campaign. An outcome is still pending from the committee hearing.
- On March 4th, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed a bill into law that allows adopted persons from Indiana’s closed records period to access their original birth certificates. Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records (Indiana HEAR) led the advocacy campaign that restored this right to Indiana adoptees.
- In March, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed an Alabama Supreme Court decision that declined to recognize a second-parent adoption granted by a Georgia court to a lesbian mother who had raised her partner’s three biological children from birth. The March 7, 2016 opinion in V.L. v. E.L. (No. 15-648) “restores V.L. full rights as an adoptive parent.” DAI was lead amicus on a brief filed in December 2015 in support of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ petition for U.S. Supreme Court review of the Alabama decision. The brief, joined by other leading child welfare organizations, highlighted the grave psychological and emotional impact on adopted children of undoing completed adoptions and noted a particular class of adoptive children who were placed at risk: those who have gained an additional parent through second-parent adoptions which many states have interpreted their statutes to permit.
- In Foster Care to Kinship Adoption: The Road Less Traveled (Adoption Quarterly, February 2016), Rebecca L. Hegar and Maria Scannapieco review recent research that investigates outcomes for children in foster care who are adopted by relatives. Outcomes are discussed as well as strengths and challenges for these families.
- In Global Commercial Surrogacy and International Adoption: Parallels and Differences (Adoption & Fostering, March 2016, 40(1), 20-35), Rhoda Scherman provides an overview of the rapidly increasing practice of global surrogacy and compares this with trends and experiences in adoption. The article provides information surrounding areas where adoption can inform this particular type of assisted reproduction technology.
- In Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health (Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, April 2016, 37(3), 179-187), Henny M. Bos et al. compares family relationships and child outcomes in households headed by female same-sex couples with households headed by different-sex partners using the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health data set. Results indicate no differences between household types on family relationships or any child outcomes. Female same-sex parents did report higher levels of parenting stress.
- The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) provides a variety of webinars on issues and areas that are relevant to the adoption and foster care adoption experiences. Check out these great learning opportunities and consider becoming a member of NACAC!
- May is National Foster Care Month! This year’s theme is “Honoring, Uniting and Celebrating Families.” Learn more about National Foster Care Month activities and educational resources here.
FOSTER CARE ADOPTION
- BROKEN FOSTER CARE SYSTEM MAY BE CONTRIBUTING TO HOMELESSNESS CRISIS
- DAI shares insights about the connection between homelessness and a broken foster care system: “Critical changes are necessary so no young person is left alone at a time in their life when guidance is needed the most. Ultimately, if we are going to alleviate the challenges that occur when strengthening family is not prioritized, we must engage in a new dialogue about adoption, foster care adoption and what it means to be family.”
- CAN AN INNOVATIVE PITTSBURGH PROGRAM HELP REPAIR THE BROKEN LIVES OF FOSTER KIDS?
- Innovative programs and dedicated professionals create opportunities for foster alum: “Creating Youth Support Partners for foster youth is just one of the many changes Cherna [Marc Cherna, Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services Director] has made in his 20 years with the county in an effort to improve lives and outcomes for children in the system. He also created Educational Liaisons, which makes sure that foster youth are not only staying in school, but succeeding by getting them tutoring or other supports when needed. They also help with credit recovery, scholarships, university applications and take high school seniors to visit college campuses.”
- ADOPTION NEEDS
- DAI outlines the need for pre- and post-adoption support services for all types of adoption: “When we consider permanency in adoption, we must reflect on this with the understanding that permanency is not achieved simply through a court decree that says ‘finalized.’ The impact of adoption is lifelong, with different needs and issues that may arise at various points. Each individual and family will live their adoption experience uniquely; but one shared aspect is that every family can benefit from a connection to quality supports.”
- OP-ED: PUTTING HETEROSEXUAL COUPLES FIRST WOULD HURT UTAH CHILDREN
- DAI Chief Executive April Dinwoodie advocates for equality in adoption and foster care adoption for members of the LGBT community: “Given the ever growing need for qualified foster homes, all states should be creating pathways to increase their pool of qualified parents, not limit them. Foster and adoptive parent applicants must be judged based on their qualifications, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
- U.S. JUDGE LIFTS BAN ON ADOPTION BY SAME-SEX COUPLES IN MISSISSIPPI
- At last, a discriminatory law that bans adoption by same-sex couples in Mississippi is overturned by a federal judge: “A federal judge struck down a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples in Mississippi, describing the 16-year-old law as unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction Thursday [March 31]. In his ruling, he cited the Supreme Court’s decision last year that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide. Based on that decision, the Mississippi ban violates the ‘equal protection clause’ of the constitution, according to the judge.”
- BITTERSWEET ANNIVERSARIES
- A mother, Lakshmi Iyer, shares the complex journey of becoming a parent through adoption: “Adoption in itself should be child centered. Is it? They asked. I looked back on my journey to becoming a mother. It had centered mostly on me. The path to getting there had involved birth mother expenses. It had involved pre-birth matching. It had involved rushing through things that in hindsight should have taken its time. I had checked off boxes that listed things I needed to do in order to make sure my children would be bonded to me. But did I step back and understand the bond they had with their family was broken?”
- MIXED-RACE KOREAN ADOPTEES USE DNA TO SEARCH FOR ROOTS
- Adopted persons from South Korea take advantage of enhanced DNA testing services to learn more about their roots though a non-profit organization called 325Kamra: “The idea for 325Kamra was conceived in September on the sidelines of a conference on Korean camptowns held at the University of California, Berkeley. Having seen mixed-race adoptees find American birth relatives, the core members believed all adoptees would stand a better chance of locating relatives in Korea if DNA-based methods were applied.”
DAI is thrilled to profile one of our outstanding panelists from our Let’s Adopt Reform National Tour. As a change agent and former foster youth, Nathan Ross has selflessly devoted the last eight years of his life to help parents and child welfare professionals treat and support young people who suffered from trauma. Nathan currently works as the youth programs supervisor at FosterAdopt Connect where he diligently works with former and current foster youth on crafting their stories and advocating for positive systemic changes within the child welfare system. In his Adoption Experience video, Nathan shares his frustration related to redacted and missing information in his birth file and the importance of the union of birth and adoptive families.Nathan: “I think there’s still this tug between if ‘I let my kid go back to birth family, reconnect with any birth family,’ ‘they’ll leave me’ or ‘it means that they don’t love me.’ And I don’t think that’s the case. Whatever you do, we as your family, adoptive or first family are going to be there for you.” Click here to read profiles of the other panelists from the Let’s Adopt Reform tour.