Issue Areas

We have identified areas of opportunity – related to law, policy and practice – to make finding permanent, loving families for children who need them more ethical. This includes making placements in the best interest of children who are available for adoption as carefully and expeditiously as possible. At the same time, we are advancing reforms to ensure that the rights and interests of all members of first/birth and adoptive families are respected and addressed.

Access to Original Birth Certificates

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For The Records II: An Examination of the History and Impact of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates

This report reviews relevant judicial and legislative documents; of decades of research and other scholarly writing; and of the concrete experiences of states and countries that have either changed their laws to provide these documents or never sealed them at all.

Author: Jeanne Howard, Susan Smith and Georgia Deoudes

Published: July 2010

Adoption Registries and Intermediaries by State

This resource provides a state-by-state list of adoption registries and intermediaries for those who would like access to their information.

Author:

Published: January 2008

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For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees

This study examines one of the most controversial, emotional issues in the modern adoption world: whether adopted people, once they become adults, should have access to their original birth certificates (OBCs). This report suggests that all states change their laws so that adopted adults are provided access to their OBCs.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich

Published: November 2007

Adoption by Gays and Lesbians

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Expanding Resources for Children III: Research-Based Best Practices in Adoption by Gays and Lesbians

This national survey of gay/lesbian adoptive parents provides important new information about and insights into the perceptions, experiences and needs of non-heterosexual adoptive parents.

Author: David Brodzinsky

Published: October 2011

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Expanding Resources for Waiting Children II: Eliminating Legal & Practice Barriers to Gay & Lesbian Adoption from Foster Care

This report offers recommendations to increase the pool of prospective adoptive parents for children in foster care by changing state laws and agency practices so they become more welcoming of gay and lesbian applicants.

Author: Jeanne Howard and Madelyn Freundlich

Published: September 2008

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Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption By Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls Who Need Homes?

This report examines relevant issues, laws and practices relating to gay and lesbian adoption and parenting, and review of the available studies spanning the last several decades, finding no child-centered reason to prevent gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents, and recommending that gay and lesbian parents be utilized more extensively to provide permanent, loving homes for children living in state care.

Author: Jeanne Howard

Published: March 2006

Adoption-by-Lesbians-and-Gays-A-National-Survey-of-Adoption-Agency-Policies,-Practices,-and-Attitudes
Adoption by Lesbians and Gays: A National Survey of Adoption Agency Policies, Practices, and Attitudes

This report presents the findings of a national survey of adoption agencies, including that approximately 60 percent of agencies accept applications from lesbian and gay couples, and that nearly 40 percent have placed children with such adoptive parents. On a broad level, the study also how the willingness of agencies to accept gays and lesbians as parents means a growing number of children who need homes are moving into permanent families.

Author: David Brodzinsky

Published: October 2003

Adoption from Child Welfare/Foster Care

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A Family for Life: The Vital Need to Achieve Permanency for Children in Care

This Issue Brief is intended to provide a preview of and introduction to a book-length Compendium that the Donaldson Adoption Institute plans to publish in late 2013. It is based on extensive, years-long research throughout the United States, England and Canada on 22 specific practices that facilitate the adoption of children from foster care, and it provides a synthesis of knowledge related to these practices, research on outcomes and recommended resources.

Author: Susan Livingston Smith & Institute Staff

Published: April 2013

Never-Too-Old-Achieving-Permanency-and-Sustaining-Connections-for-Older-Youth-in-Foster-Care
Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care

This report explores initiatives, synthesizes research findings, and makes recommendations for better meeting the needs of the growing proportion of youth who "age out" of foster care each year – and face daunting challenges in their transition to adulthood.

Author: Jeanne Howard and Stephanie Berzin

Published: July 2011

Finding-Families-for-African-American-Children-The-Role-of-Race-&-Law-in-Adoption-from-Foster-Care
Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race & Law in Adoption from Foster Care

This Institute report, endorsed by a broad range of national child-welfare organizations, is the most thorough examination to date of the often-sensitive, controversial issues relating to transracial adoption and calls for major changes to better serve the needs of children of color and to improve their prospects of moving to permanent, loving homes.

Author: Susan Smith, Ruth McRoy, Madelyn Freundlich, Joe Kroll

Published: May 2008

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What’s Working for Children: A Policy Study of Adoption Stability and Termination

This study reports that the vast majority of adoptions from foster care are remaining intact over time and raises questions about the effectiveness of state data-collection systems on adoption disruption and dissolution. It offers recommendations for improving policies and practices in order to lower the number of terminations, increase the prospects of success for children currently waiting in foster care for permanent homes, and improve the daily lives of the adoptive families that remain intact but nevertheless encounter challenges.

Author: Georgia Deoudes and Adam Pertman

Published: November 2004

Adoption Support and Preservation Services

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Supporting and Preserving Adoptive Families: Profiles of Publicly Funded Post-Adoption Services

This publication, funded by The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, is part of the Institute’s national "Keeping the Promise" initiative. It provides the most extensive examination to date of what post-adoption services states are providing, who is eligible to receive them and how they are being funded.

DAI simultaneously has published a companion report, “Keeping the Promise: The Case for Adoption Support and Preservation (ASAP),” which synthesizes past knowledge and provides new DAI research from eight states and from national data on the extent of adopted children re-entering foster care, the circumstances involved in both foster care re-entry and adoption dissolutions, and the significant number of children adopted from foster care who require ongoing mental health services.

Author: Susan Livingston Smith

Published: April 2014

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Keeping the Promise: The Case for Adoption Support and Preservation

This publication, funded by The Freddie Mac Foundation, also is part of the Institute’s "Keeping the Promise" initiative. It synthesizes past knowledge and provides new DAI research from eight states and from national data on the extent of adopted children re-entering foster care, the circumstances involved in both foster care re-entry and adoption dissolutions, and the significant number of children adopted from foster care who require ongoing mental health services.

DAI has also published a related study, “Supporting and Preserving Adoptive Families: Profiles of Publicly Funded Adoption Initiatives,” as part of a nationwide initiative sponsored by The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. It provides the most extensive examination to date of what services states are providing, who is eligible to receive them and how they are being funded.

Author: Susan Livingston Smith. Contributing authors: Dr. Penelope Maza, Dr. Joseph Magruder, John Sciamanna and Dr. Jeanne Howard

Published: March 2014

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The Vital Role of Adoption Subsidies: Increasing Permanency and Improving Children’s Lives

This Issue Brief is part of the Institute’s "Keeping the Promise" initiative, is a nationwide effort – in partnership with the North American Council on Adoptable Children – to preserve state funding for adoption subsidies, which are an essential tool for enabling children and youth to move from foster care into permanent, loving, successful families.The Resources for Advocates include state data (as well as general legislative, budget and child welfare policy sources) to supplement the national information in the Issue Brief.

Author: Georgia Deoudes, NACAC

Published: September 2012

Congressional Briefing on Post-Adoption Services

DAI, along with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Voice for Adoption, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, Child Welfare League of America, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the Center for Adoption Support and Education, launched a national initiative calling for post-adoption services to help families succeed.

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Published: May 2011

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Keeping The Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed

This extensive examination of adoptive families in the United States, concludes that too many are not receiving the essential services they need, and calls for a reshaping of national priorities and resources to develop and provide such services.

Author: Susan Smith

Published: October 2010

Assisted Reproductive Technology

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Old Lessons for a New World: Applying Adoption Research and Experience to Assisted Reproductive Technology

This report suggests that the knowledge derived from adoption-related research and experience can be used to improve policy and practice in the world of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as sperm, egg and embryo "donations." It identifies several areas in which adoption's lessons could be applied, including secrecy and the withholding of information; a focus on the best interests of children; the impact of market forces; and legal and regulatory frameworks to inform standards and procedures.

Author: Naomi Cahn 

Published: February 2009

Education for Media, Mental Health and School Professionals

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A Need to Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence Among Mental Health Professionals

This report describes one of the most frequent complaints from members of adoptive and first/birth families: the inability to find psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other practitioners who understand the unique adoption issues that can affect identities and relationships, recommending that mental health professionals receive more and better training to address the need for adoption clinical competence.

Author: David Brodzinsky

Published: August 2013

Adoptive Parent Preparation Project Phase I: Meeting the Mental Health and Developmental Needs of Adopted Children


Author: David Brodzinsky

Published: February 2008

Adoption in the Schools: A Lot to Learn

This report points out that more and more adoptive families are confronting challenges when their children attend school - and it offers recommendations for how educators can better meet those challenges.

Author: Susan Smith, Debbie Riley

Published: September 2006

Ethics and Best Practices

Safeguarding Interstate Adoptions: The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

This brief outlines issues related to reforming the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), the primary safeguard regulating the adoption of boys and girls from one state to another, and which affects a large number of foster children, who are placed with relatives or other families outside their own states. For these children, accomplishing permanency is a more complicated process, requiring the cooperation of child welfare agencies and judicial systems in two jurisdictions.

Author: Susan Smith

Published: April 2005

Adoption and Ethics, Volumes 1- 4

Published with the Child Welfare Leagues of America, these volumes provide syntheses of research, literature, and law around transracial/transcultural adoption, market forces in adoption, adoption's impact on those touched by it, and adoption's lessons for assisted reproduction.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich

Published: December 2000

Adoption and Ethics, Volume 4: Adoption and Assisted Reproduction

The growing use of assisted reproduction, including sperm donation, gamete donation, and surrogate motherhood, has raised a number of ethical issues in common with adoption, including parties' legal and social roles, anonymity, and concerns related to the growing role of money and power of market forces.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich

Published: December 2000

Adoption and Ethics, Volume 3: The Impact of Adoption on Members of the Triad

This volume, published with the Child Welfare League of America, considers how adoption practice and policy impact those who are the "clients" of adoption services – adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. It explores the psychological, social, and cultural aspects of adoption for all members of the triad, and assesses the extent to which current policy and practice meet the needs of those whom adoption is designed to serve.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich

Published: December 2000

Adoption and Ethics, Volume 2: The Market Forces in Adoption

Published with the Child Welfare League of America, this volume examines the role of money, power and accountability in three arenas: the adoption of infants in the United States, the adoption of children in foster care, and international adoption.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich

Published: December 2000

Adoption and Ethics, Volume 1: The Role of Race, Culture, and National Origin in Adoption

Published with the Child Welfare Leagues of America, this volume provides a synthesis of research, literature, and legislation around transracial adoptions, adoptions of American Indian children and international adoptions.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich

Published: December 2000

First/Birth Parent Rights

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Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process

This study represents the most thorough, intensive and sophisticated effort to date to understand contemporary infant adoption, particularly as it relates to the least-understood and most-stigmatized participants in the process: the women and men usually termed "birthparents."

Author: Susan Smith

Published: November 2006

Identity

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Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption

This study is the broadest, most extensive examination of adult adoptive identity to date, based on input from the primary experts on the subject: adults who were adopted as children.

Author: Hollee McGinnis, Susan Smith, Scott. Ryan and Jeanne Howard

Published: November 2009

The Gathering of the First Generation of Adult Korean Adoptees: Adoptees’ Perceptions of International Adoption

This report contains an historical overview of the international adoption of Korean children; the results of an Adoption Institute survey conducted prior to historical Gathering conference of the first generation of Korean adoptees, and synopsis of the adoptee discussion groups.

Author: Madelyn Freundlich, Joy Kim Lieberthal

Published: June 2000

Infant Abandonment

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Unintended Consequences: ‘Safe Haven’ Laws Are Causing Problems, Not Solving Them

This report examines the effectiveness and consequences of the so-called "safe haven" laws, finding that safe haven laws appear to not solve the problem of unsafe infant abandonment, and actually may encourage women to conceal pregnancies and then abandon infants who otherwise would have been placed for adoption through established legal procedures or been raised by relatives.

Author: Georgia Deoudes

Published: March 2003

Intercountry Adoption

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A Changing World: Shaping Best Practices through Understanding of the New Realities of Intercountry Adoption

This study shows that a growing number of the girls and boys being adopted internationally today are not the infants of adoption’s recent past but, instead, are older children with sometimes-serious special needs

Author: Ellen Pinderhughes, Jessica Matthews, Georgia Deoudes and Adam Pertman

Published: October 2013

Intercountry Adoption in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans

This brief examines the role of intercountry adoption in natural disasters, armed conflicts, and other complex human emergencies, such as the one caused by the 2004 tsunami. After outlining some of the unique threats posed to children during emergencies, and examining international conventions and legal frameworks for intercountry adoption, this brief articulates best practices that incorporate both immediate and long-term needs of children left without parental care – including protection, family reunification, community and family solutions, permanency, and respect for culture.

Author: Hollee McGinnis

Published: April 2005

Media, the Internet & Adoption

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Untangling the Web II: A Research-Based Roadmap for Reform

A groundbreaking study by the Adoption Institute examines the historic impact of the Internet on adoption, finding that it's being widely used in an array of positive ways – but also is increasing commodification of children and commercialization by for-profit brokers, while enabling greater exploitation of pregnant women considering adoption for their babies and of adults seeking to adopt.

Author: Amy Whitesel, Ph.D. & Jeanne A. Howard, Ph.D.

Published: December 2013

Untangling-the-Web-The-Internet's-Transformative-Impact-on-Adoption
Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Transformative Impact on Adoption

This examination of the Internet’s impact on adoption concludes that social media and other elements of this modern technology are having "transformative" effects – positive and negative – on adoption policy, practice and millions of people’s lives, while raising serious legal, ethical and procedural concerns that have yet to be addressed.

Author: Jeanne Howard

Published: December 2012

Openness in Adoption

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Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections

This report depicts how extensively adoption in the U.S. has changed over the last several decades – from a time when it was shrouded in so much secrecy that birth and adoptive families knew nothing about each other, to a new reality today in which the vast majority of infant adoptions are "open," meaning the two families have some level of ongoing relationship.

Author: Deborah Siegel and Susan Smith

Published: March 2012

Opinion Surveys on Adoption

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2002 National Adoption Attitudes Survey

This national survey showed overall that adoption has a better reputation than ever, and that people are connecting with the idea of adoption as good for their families and for society

Author: Conducted by Harris Interactive for the Adoption Institute and Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Published: June 2002

Benchmark Adoption Survey: Report on the Findings

This national survey reveals that while most Americans view adoption very favorably or somewhat favorably (90%), many Americans (64%) have never considered adopting a child and about half (49%) believe that adoption is not quite as good as raising one's own biological child.

Author: Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Adoption Institute. Washington, D.C.: Princeton Survey Research Associates

Published: October 1997

Transracial/Transcultural Adoption

Never-Too-Old-Achieving-Permanency-and-Sustaining-Connections-for-Older-Youth-in-Foster-Care
Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care

This report explores initiatives, synthesizes research findings, and makes recommendations for better meeting the needs of the growing proportion of youth who "age out" of foster care each year – and face daunting challenges in their transition to adulthood.

Author: Jeanne Howard and Stephanie Berzin

Published: July 2011

Finding-Families-for-African-American-Children-The-Role-of-Race-&-Law-in-Adoption-from-Foster-Care
Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race & Law in Adoption from Foster Care

This Institute report, endorsed by a broad range of national child-welfare organizations, is the most thorough examination to date of the often-sensitive, controversial issues relating to transracial adoption and calls for major changes to better serve the needs of children of color and to improve their prospects of moving to permanent, loving homes.

Author: Susan Smith, Ruth McRoy, Madelyn Freundlich, Joe Kroll

Published: May 2008