Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
DECEMBER 2004 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
N.J. SENATE PASSES BILL GIVING ADOPTEES ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS|
The New Jersey Senate approved a bill (S1093) that would allow adopted people 18 and older access to their original birth certificates, upon written request. A companion bill in the Assembly (A3237) was introduced in September and is currently awaiting action. The legislation passed by the Senate on Dec. 6 permits birth parents to file contact preference forms, and requires agencies and attorneys to provide such forms to all birth parents in the future. The measure amends the current law, which allows courts to substitute the place of birth on an adopted child’s birth certificate with the adoptive parents’ residence. To read the full text and status of the bill, go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and search for Senate Bill S1093 or Assembly Bill A3237 in the bill number field.
U.S. SENATORS INTRODUCE REVISED INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION ACT
Senators Nickles (R-OK) and Landrieu (D-LA) introduced a revised version of the Intercountry Adoption Reform Act of 2004 (ICARE) on Dec. 7. The measure would establish an Office of Intercountry Adoptions (OIA) in the State Department, and confer automatic citizenship to children upon entry of the final adoption decree, and not upon entry into the U.S. The revised bill (S3031) adds provisions that would allow the OIA to enforce civil and criminal penalties for violations of the law in order to protect children, birth families and adoptive families from fraud and abuse. The new bill also clarifies the transition process, stipulating adoption cases filed prior to the opening of the OIA would be processed under current regulations. The original bill (S1934) was introduced in November 2003 and a companion bill (HR3896) is in the House. The revised bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. To read the full text and status of the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query and search for S3031 in the bill number field.
UTAH COURT RULES INTERSTATE COMPACT DOES NOT APPLY TO FETUSES
The Utah Court of Appeals ruled on Dec. 30 that the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), meant to protect children moved across state lines for adoption, does not apply to the fetuses of expectant mothers who travel to Utah to place their children for adoption. The Department of Human Services in Utah had used an interpretation of the ICPC law, which was drafted in the 1960s and is currently being revised, to apply to the adoption arrangements of expectant mothers from out-of-state. Three child placement agencies challenged this interpretation, with the ruling affirming that ICPC does not apply to the regulation of expectant mothers. To read the court opinion, go to: http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/appopin/altern123004.htm
ARKANSAS JUDGE STRIKES DOWN PROHIBITION ON GAY FOSTER PARENTS
An Arkansas Circuit Court struck down a state regulation that banned gay people or any family with a gay member from becoming foster parents. In 1999, Arkansas’ Child Welfare Agency Review Board established the policy that "no person may serve as a foster parent if any adult member of that person’s household is a homosexual," which was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three prospective foster parents. The Pulaski County judge’s decision on Dec. 29 concluded the rule discriminates against gays; it cited research affirming that children raised by gay parents are well adjusted, and that the blanket exclusion of gay parents may hurt children by excluding a pool of effective foster parents. To read the decision, go to: http://www.aclu.org/LesbianGayRights/LesbianGayRights.cfm?ID=17242&c=104
STUDY CONCLUDES POST-ADOPTION SERVICES LEAD TO BETTER OUTCOMES|
A study of post-adoptive service needs found that positive adoption outcomes (parental satisfaction and quality of parent-child relationship) are associated with receiving post-adoption supports and fewer unmet service needs. The study by Thom Reilly and Laurie Platz, “Post-Adoption Service Needs of Families with Special Needs Children: Use, Helpfulness, and Unmet Needs,” published in the Journal of Social Service Research (Volume 30, Issue 4), encompassed 249 Nevada families with 373 special needs adopted children. Parents rated financial subsidies and medical/dental care as the services they needed the most, and they rated counseling services (50%) and in-home services (49%) as the service needs most likely to be unmet. The article, unlike most previous research, found no differences in adoption outcomes between former foster parents and new parents to the adopted child. To access this article for a fee, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/web/JSSR
REPORT SEES GAPS IN INDEPENDENT LIVING SERVICES FOR FOSTER YOUTHS
A Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, entitled “HHS Actions Could Improve Coordination of Services and Monitoring of States’ Independent Living Programs, GAO-05-25,” is the first comprehensive review of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999. The Act increased the allocation of federal funds for independent living programs for youth in foster care from $70 million to $140 million. The report analyzed how states’ funding allocations have changed and how services have expanded to serve foster youth since the passage of FCIA, as well as the extent to which federal and state programs have coordinated the delivery of services to those affected. Since the passage of FCIA, the November report found, states expanded independent living services, but gaps remained in the availability of critical services such as mental health care, mentoring and housing. To obtain a full copy of the report, go to: http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-05-25
RECOMMENDATIONS ISSUED TO HELP FOSTER CHILDREN IN SCHOOL
Chapin Hall released an issue brief, “The Educational Status of Foster Children,” in December that found children often enter the system significantly behind their peers educationally and cannot catch up due to factors such as school mobility, unnecessary special education placements, and insufficient educational supports. For example, a study of foster children in the Chicago Public Schools reported that almost 66% of third- through eighth-grade students were either old for their grade or in the bottom quartile in reading when they entered foster care, and the following year they faced a greater likelihood of being retained. Mark Courtney and his co-authors offer seven specific recommendations for enhancing the educational achievement of foster children. The issue brief was based on data from two recent studies by Chapin Hall. To obtain a copy of the issue brief register (for free), at: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract_new.asp?ar=1377&L2=61&L3=130. For an abstract and the full text of the Chapin Hall study on Chicago foster children’s educational performance, complete the free registration at: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract_new.asp?ar=1372&L2=61&L3=130
STUDY ANALYZES INCREASES IN STATE SPENDING ON CHILD WELFARE
The Urban Institute released a study in December that looked at state spending on child welfare activities in fiscal year 2002, analyzed funding sources and how funds were used, and examined changes since 1996’s implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The study, "The Cost of Protecting Vulnerable Children IV: How Child Welfare Funding Fared during the Recession," by Cynthia Andrews Scarcella, Roseana Bess, Erica Hecht Zielewski, Lindsay Warner and Rob Geen, is the fourth in a series and profiles all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Although funding varied greatly among states, overall they spent $22.2 billion in federal, state, and local funds in 2002 on child welfare, an 8% increase from 2000's $20.8 billion. Spending on adoption increased the most between 2000 and 2002, rising by $708 million. This growth reflected the mandates of ASFA and the movement of children from foster care to adoption or subsidized guardianship. The most money in 2002, $10 billion, was spent on out-of-home services such as foster care and kinship care. To read the full report, go to: http://www.urban.org/Template.cfm?NavMenuID=24&template=/TaggedContent/ViewPublication.cfm&PublicationID=9128
PROPOSAL IN RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT WOULD INCREASE DOMESTIC ADOPTIONS|
The Russian parliament introduced amendments to the Family Code of the Russian Federation that would greatly increase the opportunity for Russian citizens to adopt, according to the article in Novosti, “Deputies Concerned about Adoption Problems,” published on Dec. 15. According to the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) review, the new amendment would increase the length of time a child is on the federal databank registry from three to six months, which would increase the waiting time for overseas families interested in adopting Russian children. To read the full article, go to: http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm?prd_id=160&msg_id=5214656&startrow=1&date=2004-12-15&do_alert=0 ; to read the JCICS update on Russian adoptions, go to: http://www.jcics.org/Russia.htm
TAIWAN CONSIDERS CENTRALIZING ADOPTION DATA FOR REUNIONS
Taiwan’s Children’s Bureau, under the Ministry of Interior (MOI), took a first step toward implementing a proposed regulation that would centralize adoption information in order to assist adopted people, including those now overseas, who want to search for their biological parents. According to the article, “MOI Wants to Centralize Adoption Data” by Cody Yiu, published in the Taipei Times on Dec. 21, the information centralization would begin in October 2005 and would be managed by a non-government child welfare agency. To read the full article, go to: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2004/12/21/2003216060
MORE WOMEN FROM ABROAD REPORTEDLY SEEK DONOR EGGS IN U.S.
An increasing number of women are coming to the U.S. from other countries for assisted reproductive procedures, many to obtain “donor” eggs for in vitro fertilization, according to an article by Gabrielle Glaser, “U.S. Draws Foreigners in Search of Human Eggs,” published in The Oregonian on Dec. 21. The number of women traveling to this country for assisted reproductive procedures rose to 1,700 in 2001 from 1,000 in 2000. Demand for donor eggs with “ethnic backgrounds,” such as Japanese or Jewish, are also reportedly in high demand. Although most U.S. clinics make matches between patients and donors, the article said that some have started posting online profiles of donors. To read the full article, go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1103633768274570.xml
SOUTH AFRICA TO PROBE WHETHER FOREIGN ADOPTERS ARE FINESSING RULES
The South African parliamentary committee on social development reportedly will investigate intercountry adoption practices that have enabled some foreign couples to adopt without following protocols. The article by Christelle Terreblanche, “Loophole Lets Foreigners 'Buy' SA Children,” published in the Dec. 19 issue of The Sunday Independent, describes how couples from other countries bypass South African regulations by applying for guardian applications in the high court, and then finalizing adoptions when the children are taken overseas. The article highlights a recent court case in which the guardianship of an American couple was overturned because the biological mother had never been notified or consulted, a requirement for any adoption. To read the full article, go to: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20041219104731297C197200
ANALYSIS QUESTIONS ASFA EFFECTIVENESS, SUGGESTS NEW STANDARDS|
Marcia Lowry’s article, “Putting Teeth into ASFA: The Need for Statutory Minimum Standards”, published in the November Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 25, Issue 11), presents an analysis of ASFA’s primary goals and the body of research pertaining to child welfare outcomes since 1997. She concludes that expected improvements have not been realized in many areas. For example, while the median length of time children spend in foster care has declined (by 6 months), 17% of children in care have been there for five years or more, only a 1% reduction from 1996. Moreover, although the number of adoptions has increased, many children legally freed are not being adopted. Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights Inc. of New York, calls for minimum standards for child welfare systems related to their workforce, information systems, and other operations. To access this article, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01907409
CHILDREN’S BUREAU RELEASES CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICE REVIEWS
The U.S. Children’s Bureau has released the results of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) conducted between 2001 and 2004. The findings reflect participation by all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The CFSR is a comprehensive monitoring review system developed and implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a result of mandates of the Social Security Amendments of 1994 to “promulgate regulations for reviews of States’ child and family services.” The CFSR is designed to assist states in “improving outcomes for children and families” involved in the child welfare systems. The results include presentations of the findings, as well as summaries of the results. To obtain a copy, go to: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwrp/results.htm
RESOURCE CENTER OFFERS INFORMATION ON GAY, LESBIAN ADOPTION
The National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice and Permanency Planning provides an information packet on its website that contains a variety of resources on gay and lesbian adoption, including fact sheets, statistics on gay and lesbian parenting, a bibliography, practice tips for advocacy on this issue, and links to websites and resources. Also contained in this packet is a policy and law review of state laws regarding the rights of partners of adoptive or biological parents to adopt without terminating the existing partner’s rights. To access this information packet and others on related issues, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/lgbtq-issues-and-child-welfare.html
5. Institute Update||
ADOPTION INSTITUTE CRITICIZES FOX REALITY SHOW ‘WHO’S YOUR DADDY’|
In December, Fox television announced the release of a new reality television show, “Who’s Your Daddy,” in which an adult adoptee interviews eight men to determine which of them is her biological father. If she guesses right, she wins $100,000; if she fails, the contestant who fooled her gets the cash. The Adoption Institute quickly issued a press release calling the show “insensitive and offensive.” Executive Director Adam Pertman and Policy Director Hollee McGinnis wrote commentaries on the controversial program, published in the Christian Science Monitor and Los Angeles Times. In addition, Pertman commented on the show in scores of television, radio and print stories including Reuters, the Chicago Sun Times and the Seattle Times, as well as in international newspapers in Australia, Ireland, Pakistan and the U.K. To read the Adoption Institute’s two press releases on the subject, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/200412_foxrelease.html and http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/20041229_foxrelease.html ; to read the commentary in the Christian Science Monitor, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/commentary/20041220_csmon_oped.html ; to read the commentary in the Los Angeles Times, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/commentary/20041221_latimes_oped.html
ADOPTIONS FROM FOSTER CARE FOUND TO INCREASE, REMAIN STABLE
In an article published on Dec. 27 in the Washington Times, “Fewer Foster-Care Youths Await Adoption,” by Cheryl Wetzstein, Executive Director Adam Pertman comments that foster adoptions tend to be successful, even in the toughest situations. The article reports the number of children being adopted from foster care has increased since 1996 and cites research conducted by the Adoption Institute on adoption stability and the low incidence of disruptions in adoptions of children from foster care. To read the full article, go to: http://washingtontimes.com/national/20041226-114857-9122r.htm
STIGMA OF SINGLE MOTHERHOOD CONTRIBUTES TO SOUTH KOREAN ADOPTIONS
In an article published in the December issue of KoreAm Journal, “Motherhood: Being Single and a Mom in the Korean American Community,” by Corina Knoll, Adoption Institute Policy Director Hollee McGinnis states that part of the reason children are placed for adoption in South Korea is because of the stigma associated with out-of-wedlock births and the lack of social support for single mothers. The magazine is available in bookstores and by subscription at: http://www.koreamjournal.com/
6. About the Evan D. Donaldson Adoption Institute||
Since its establishment in 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson 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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