Press Release

CHILDREN MUST RECEIVE PRIORITY IN HURRICANE KATRINA’S AFTERMATH

MEDIA ADVISORY: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Adam Pertman, Executive Director
apertman@adoptioninstitute.org
617-332-8944 or 617-763-0134

Hollee McGinnis, Policy Director
hmcginnis@adoptioninstitute.org
212-925-4089 or 646-263-9236

NEW YORK, September 6, 2005 – The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute offers its deep condolences to the millions of people whose lives have been lost, devastated or irrevocably altered by Hurricane Katrina, and strongly urges that priority be given to the protection and care of the children who are most vulnerable during this time of crisis.

In addition to causing untold deaths and wreaking enormous physical destruction, Katrina’s assault has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, sparked lawlessness, and destroyed elements of basic infrastructure such as health, education, water and sanitation. As a consequence, it has greatly heightened the risks to children by robbing them of the protective environments of family, community and government.

“All of our hearts are aching and we all are doing whatever we can by opening our homes and our wallets to those whose lives have been ravaged,” said Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman. “Those are essential first steps, but we now have to focus clearly and learn from our past experiences. And that means we have to pay special attention to the boys and girls who are most vulnerable – emotionally, academically and in every other way.”

Although the full extent of this historic tragedy has yet to be realized, the Adoption Institute urges that lessons from prior emergencies – in particular, the December tsunami in Southeast Asia – help to guide current relief efforts as they relate to the welfare of children.

In April 2005, the Institute issued a Policy Brief outlining some of the unique threats posed to children as the result of major disasters. “Intercountry Adoptions in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans” suggests best practices for both the immediate and long-term needs of children during times of complex human crisis, including: priority to the safety and security of children and families; comprehensive efforts to unite and trace family members; concurrent planning for children without identified caregivers; and the need to address the widespread trauma caused by witnessing and directly experiencing brutal events.

To read or download the complete Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Policy Brief, “Intercountry Adoptions in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans,” please visit our website at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/policybriefs.html.

The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent policy, research and education organization in its field. It provides information and leadership that improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption – especially children – through better laws, policies, practices and attitudes.