THE EVAN B. DONALDSON ADOPTION INSTITUTE
November 2003 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
4. About the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
APPROVES INCENTIVE TO INCREASE ADOPTIONS OF OLDER
The Senate this month passed legislation (HR3182)
reauthorizing and amending the Adoption Incentive program,
adding a provision to reward states for increased adoptions
of children nine or older by granting $4,000 for each
additional one over its baseline. The Adoption Promotion
Act was crafted to address the problem that children older
than nine are more likely to stay in foster care than be
placed in an adoptive home.
The legislation authorizes $43 million for the
program for Fiscal Year 2004, a slight increase over the
prior year. The House of Representatives passed the
Adoption Promotion Act last month and the legislation
awaits the President’s signature.
To read the legislation, go to: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:h3182enr.txt.pdf.
DEADLINE ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION REGULATIONS EXTENDED
The State Department extended the deadline for public
comment, to December 15, 2003, on the proposed
regulations to implement the Intercountry Adoption Act
and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and
Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.
Organizations interested in applying to become an
Accrediting Entity submitted statements of interest on
November 16, 2003. From the Statements of Interest,
the State Department "will select potential
candidates and negotiate and enter into Memoranda of
Agreement with one or more qualified accrediting
entities." The State Department reportedly does
not intend to publish the Memoranda of Agreement. To
read the extension notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/extension22cfr.html;
to read the request for Statements of Interest, go to:
http://travel.state.gov/rsi.html. To read the proposed
regulations, follow the instructions at: http://travel.state.gov/accessing22cfr.html.
LEGISLATION PLANNED TO CREATE OFFICE OF
Landrieu (D-LA) and Nickles (R-OK) are reportedly
planning to introduce an Intercountry Adoption Reform
Act (ICARE) to create an Office of Intercountry
Adoptions (OIA) in the State Department and to make
modifications to existing law. The OIA would be
charged with performing six functions, including
approving families to adopt internationally and
determining that children are legally free for
adoption. ICARE would also confer U.S. citizenship on
children upon entry of the final adoption decree, not
upon entry into the U.S.
The bill also reiterates the IAA definition of
adoptable child and transfers immigration functions
from the Department of Homeland Security to OIA.
GUATEMALAN COURT REFUSES TO SUSPEND INTERNATIONAL
The Guatemalan Constitutional Court denied a request
from the Solicitor General of Human Rights to suspend
all international adoptions and authority for adopted
children to leave the country, according to the U.S.
State Department. Its November 5, 2003, notice still
advises that there are case-processing delays and
warns prospective adoptive parents to confirm with
their service provider that their case has been filed
with the Solicitor General's office and is still under
active consideration. A November 2, 2003, Newsday
article reports that prosecutors and advocates allege
that between one-third and one-half of international
adoptions from Guatemala in recent years were illegal.
According to the article, "Robbing the Cradle
Adoptions under fire in Guatemala," 85% of the
adoptions from Guatemala last year were by American
families. The U.S. has instituted safeguards, such as
DNA testing and random interviews with biological
mothers, to ensure that children are legally free for
adoption. To read the State Department's notice, go
to read the Newsday article, go to: http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/ny-woguat193521703nov02,0,985473.story
NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY CELEBRATES MORE THAN 3,100
The fourth annual National Adoption Day on
November 22, 2003, resulted in more than 3,100
adoptions of children from foster care in more than
of National Adoption Day are to “Finalize more than one thousand
adoptions from foster care nationwide as a result of
the day, celebrate and honor families that adopt,
raise awareness and encourage others to adopt, build
collaboration among local adoption agencies and
organizations and communicate availability and need
for post-adoptive services.” National Adoption Day is sponsored by The
Alliance for Children's Rights, Casey Family Services,
Children's Action Network, Congressional Coalition on
Adoption Institute, Dave Thomas Foundation for
Adoption, Freddie Mac Foundation and Target
learn more about National Adoption Day, go to: http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/index.asp
CONGRESS HEARS TESTIMONY ON CHILD SAFETY
The Subcommittee on Human Resources of the House
Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on November
6, 2003, on the New Jersey abuse case in which a
couple is charged with starving their four adopted
of Congress, state officials and child advocates were
among those who testified. Marcia Robinson Lowry, Executive Director of
Children's Rights, in urging Congress to set
enforceable state standards to ensure the safety of
children in foster care, cautioned that “It would
indeed be a mistake if instead of focusing our energy
and efforts on critical safety issues, we instead
began to question the viability of adoption as a
permanency option for children in foster care; to
question the vital role of adoption subsidies in
making possible the adoptions of thousands of children
in foster care each year . . . or to question the
commitment and love with which tens of thousands of
adoptive families have embraced children in foster
care, giving them the nurturing, stability and hope
that they otherwise would not have had.”
The Subcommittee also held a hearing on
November 19, 2003, to review state collection and use of data on
children in the child welfare system. The General
Accounting Office reported that while 47
states were developing or operating statewide
automated child welfare information systems (SACWIS),
states continue to struggle with collecting and
reporting reliable data.
Moreover, Fred Wulczyn, Research Fellow at the
Chapin Hall Center for Children, explained “progress
today is limited by our ability to transform data into
information and knowledge.”
For more information on the November 6, 2003
hearing, go to: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=detail&hearing=113&comm=2;
for more information on the November 19 hearing, go
FLORIDA LAUNCHES PROGRAM TO INCREASE ADOPTIONS
FROM FOSTER CARE
Florida’s Department of Children & Families
announced a new initiative this month, “No Place
Like Home,” to place more waiting children in
The campaign seeks to raise public awareness
about the need for adoptive parents, shorten the
adoption-approval process for foster and relative
families, train staff to develop personalized
recruitment plans for children with special needs, and
match parents and children at week-long camps.
Currently there are more than 4,600 children in
foster care available for adoption in Florida: homes
have been identified for 2,500, but nearly 2,100
others have not been matched. According to news
reports, Governor Bush indicated that he does not
support changing the state’s law prohibiting
adoption by homosexuals so they can be included as
To read the release, go to: www.state.fl.us/cf_web/news/nplh.html.
MASSACHUSETTS COURT CITES CHILDREN’S NEEDS IN
GAY MARRIAGE RULING
In a decision ruling that same sex couples have
the right to marry under the state’s Constitution,
the Massachusetts Supreme Court rejected the rationale
of lawyers for the state, who had argued that marriage
should be limited to heterosexuals to ensure “that children are raised in the
The Court stated that the prohibition on
same-sex marriage denied children of homosexual
couples “the immeasurable advantages that flow from
the assurance of `a stable family structure.’ ”
The Court further held that it “cannot be
rational under our laws, and indeed it is not
permitted, to penalize children by depriving them of
State benefits because the State disapproves of their
parents’ sexual orientation.”
To read the decision, go to: http://www.state.ma.us/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/supremejudicialcourt/goodridge.html.
ABANDONMENT BILL DOES NOT GET VOTE IN MASSACHUSETTS
new bill legalizing infant abandonment (H4325) did not
come to a vote by the Massachusetts House of
Representatives before it adjourned.
The text of the legislation is not available on
the legislature’s website, but it reportedly offered
an affirmative defense instead of immunity from
prosecution for those who abandoned infants at a
Massachusetts is one of five states that have
not enacted such a law.
To read the bill’s history, go to: http://www.state.ma.us/legis/history/h04325.htm.
REPORT SHOWS DECLINE IN BIRTH RATE FOR WOMEN 40-44
U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 44% of women of
childbearing age (15-44 years old) were “childless,”
defined as never having given birth, as of June 2002.
While the October 2003 report did not consider
trends over time for most indicators, it reported that
for women age 40-44, “who were nearing the completion
of their child-bearing years,” 18 percent as of 2002,
compared to 10 percent in 1976, did not have children.
The survey findings do not reflect women who have
adopted but do not have biological children. “Fertility of American Women: June 2002” reported that
just over 6 percent of women of childbearing age – 3.8
million of 61.4 million – gave birth in the 12 months
preceding June 2002.
About 1.3 million unmarried women gave birth in
that time, accounting for one-third of all births.
To read the report, go to: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-548.pdf.
BIRTH AND ABORTION RATES REPORTED TO DECLINE
October 31, 2003, Centers for Disease Control report,
“Revised Pregnancy Rates, 1990-97, and New Rates for
1998-99: United States,” reported 6,277,000 pregnancies
in 1999, a 7 percent decrease from 1990. Of the over six million pregnancies, almost 4 million
resulted in live births, 1.3 million in abortions and 1
million in fetal death.
The pregnancy rate was the second-lowest in the
last 25 years. Overall
birth and abortion rates were down 10 percent and 22
percent, respectively, from 1990.
Teen pregnancy rates decreased 25 percent from
1990 to 1999, while teen birth rates were down 19 percent
and teen abortion rates dropped almost 40 percent.
For unmarried women, the pregnancy rate fell 13
percent in the 10-year period, the birth rate was steady
and the abortion rate was down 26 percent.
To read the report, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_07.pdf.
PRACTICES ALLEGED FOR ADOPTIONS FROM MARSHALL ISLANDS
Pregnant women in the Marshall Islands are
recruited to place their children for adoption by
facilitators working for American adoption agencies and
attorneys, according to a November 2, 2003, article in
the Baltimore Sun, “Island Adoption Market Delivers
Pain and Profit.” The article cites a University of
Hawaii study finding that per capita, the number of
Marshallese children adopted is the highest of any
country, and that the price of those adoptions has
news article by Walter Roche Jr. reports that recruiters
induce pregnant women to fly to Hawaii, give birth and
place their children with American adoptive parents,
despite a recent Marshallese law prohibiting the
the Marshall Islands is a former U.S. trust territory,
the women do not need visas to enter Hawaii, and agencies
enroll them in Medicaid to pay for medical expenses.
Reportedly, the mothers often do not understand
they are permanently relinquishing their children, while
prospective parents pay about $25,000 to adopt. U.S.
officials state they cannot curb the practice without
restricting travel to and from the Marshall Islands.
Hawaii Senator Baker sponsored a bill to require adoption
agencies to be responsible for the hospital bills.
To read the article, go to: http://www.sunspot.net/news/nationworld/bal-te.adopt02nov02,1,3469084.story.
AGENCIES CITE CONCERNS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL
A November 14, 2003, article in the Los Angeles
Times reported that some adoption agencies assert that
the proposed regulations to implement the Intercountry
Adoption Act and the Hague Convention will increase
the cost of international adoption and cause smaller
agencies to go out of business.
According to “U.S. Proposals on Adoptions
Abroad Get Mixed Reviews” by Ann Simmons, agencies
are most concerned about proposed rules requiring them
to be responsible for facilitators in other countries
and preventing them from seeking waivers of liability
from prospective adoptive parents.
To read the article, go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adopt14nov14,1,7245734.story.
PRENATAL ALCOHOL EXPOSURE RESEARCH SUGGESTS
medical imaging technologies have enabled scientists
to better understand exactly how prenatal alcohol
exposure affects the developing brain. "Fetal
Brains Suffer Badly from Alcohol," a November 4,
2003, New York Times article by Linda Carroll, reviews
several recent studies examining alcohol’s effects
on the development of the corpus callosum, which links
the brain's two hemispheres. One recent study
reportedly showed that alcohol interferes with brain
and nervous system cells adhering to one another as
they develop, indicating that the administration of a
specific protein to pregnant women might mitigate
damage to fetal brains.
To purchase the article, go to: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30F1FFE35540C778CDDA80994DB404482
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
its establishment in 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption
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policies and laws.
web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org,
is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption
information. Read past e-Newsletters at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/nl_archives.html.
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