Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
JANUARY 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
U.S. SUPREME COURT LETS FLORIDA GAY ADOPTION BAN STAND|
On Jan. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a case challenging the Florida law barring gays and lesbians from adopting, the only such explicit prohibition in the country. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the appeal in October 2004, after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 6-6 ruling, declined to reconsider the decision by a three-member panel of the appeals court upholding the law in 2003. Although gays and lesbians are excluded from adopting, the state permits them to be foster parents; the case involves four gay men who are raising six foster children. The title of the case is Lofton v. Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, Supreme Court Docket Number 04-478. To read the Supreme Court docket, go to: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/docket/docket.html and type in the docket number in the search field. To read the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, go to: http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200116723.pdf
OPEN RECORDS LAW GOES INTO EFFECT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
In January, New Hampshire became one of only five states to allow adopted people 18 years and older access to their original birth certificates. The New Hampshire bill (SB335) became law in May 2004 and went into effect on January 1, 2005. In addition to allowing adoptees to obtain a copy of their original birth certificates, the law allows parents who gave birth in New Hampshire and relinquished a child for adoption to indicate whether they wish to be contacted. To read and learn more about the statute, go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/ie/billstatus/quickbill.html and search for SB335 in the bill number field.
ROMANIA PLACES TIGHT RESTRICTIONS ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
A new law that severely restricts international adoptions from Romania took effect on Jan. 1. Approved by the Romanian Parliament in June 2004, the new law establishes an Office for Adoptions to coordinate all adoptions within the country, restricts international adoptions to biological grandparents, prohibits the international adoption of children under the age of 2, and allows foreigners to adopt only after domestic placements have failed. According to a notice by the U.S. State Department published on Jan. 14, an international commission has yet to be created to review pending adoption cases that were registered prior to the implementation of the law. To read the U.S. State department notice on the matter, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2064.html; to read an article on the new law, go to: http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2005/01/04/feature-01
RUSSIA INCREASES TIME ORPHANS MUST BE LISTED BEFORE ADOPTION
A new Russian law took effect Jan. 10 that extends, from three to six months, the time orphans must be on the federal data bank before they are eligible for international adoption. According to a U.S. State Department notice released on Jan. 27, prospective adoptive parents who have made their first trip to Russia prior to Jan. 10 should wait until they receive a letter of release from the Russian Ministry of Education before scheduling a trip to Russia to finalize the adoption. For more information, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2011.html
BELARUS, REVISING ADOPTION PROCEDURES, IMPOSES MORATORIUM
According to a Jan. 15 notice by the U.S. State Department, the Belarusian government approved a new law on Jan. 4 that changes the process used to identify orphans eligible for international adoption. Adoptions by U.S. citizens that had been suspended last year will be finalized; however, no new adoptions will be initiated in 2005 until the new adoption procedures are implemented. The new law will abolish the National Orphans Database, and gives the National Adoption Committee responsibility for preparing adoption cases. For more information, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2083.html
LAWMAKER SEEKS U.S. TASK FORCE ON INFANT ABANDONMENT
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee introduced a bill (HR 254) on Jan. 6 entitled "Baby Abandonment Prevention Act of 2005," which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The bill would provide for the "establishment of a task force within the Bureau of Justice Statistics to gather information about, study, and report to the Congress regarding incidents of abandonment of infant children." Specifically, this task force would gather information on the prevalence, demographic information about children and parents, factors that influence the decision of parents to abandon infants, and outcomes for children and parents after abandonment. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type in bill number HR254 in the search bill field.
MARYLAND GOVERNOR PROPOSES MORE FUNDING FOR CHILD WELFARE
On Jan. 24, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. proposed more than $65 million in new funding for child welfare and juvenile justice, with $43 million allocated to fund foster care and adoption programs as part of his "Children First" initiative. In submitting the state budget, the governor proposed spending $1 million to recruit new foster parents, and $10 million to create a new database to track children in the welfare system, as well as additional funding to hire new child welfare caseworkers. To read more about the proposed budget, go to: http://www.gov.state.md.us/ ; to read an article in the Baltimore Sun on this topic, go to: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-ehrlich0124,1,2692929.story?coll=bal-local-headlines&ctrack=1&cset=true
PROPOSED VIRGINIA BILL WOULD PROHIBIT GAYS FROM ADOPTING
Virginia lawmakers will consider a bill (HB2921), introduced by Richard H. Black on Jan. 21, that would amend the state's adoption law by adding a phrase that states: "No person under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual." The bill is similar to and borrows language from the Florida law that bars gays and lesbians from adopting children. Currently, Virginia laws permits any person or married couple residing in the state to adopt. The legislation is pending in the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. To read the proposed bill, go to: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?051+ful+HB2921 and type in bill number HB2921.
NEW INSTRUMENT ASSESSES EMOTIONAL READINESS TO ADOPT|
Researchers applied a five-stage model of behavioral change to the adoption decision-making process in order to develop an instrument that assesses adoption readiness. Janice and James Prochaska and five other researchers report their findings in "Assessing Emotional Readiness for Adoption Using the Transtheoretical Model," in the February 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 27, Issue 2). This measure was tested with 217 prospective adoptive parents and provides a framework for understanding individuals' readiness to adopt, which can facilitate appropriate counseling interventions and can be used as a self-assessment tool by prospective adoptive parents. To obtain a copy of this research for a fee, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01907409
DIFFERENCES FOUND IN FOSTER, BIRTH CHILDREN'S RESPONSES TO CONFLICT
An in-depth study of children's inner logic in responding to conflicts with parents in disciplinary situations found differences in common patterns of response used by foster and birth children. Through individual interviews with 45 foster and 48 birth children, five profiles of inner logic and response to disciplinary conflict were identified among both types of children. The study by Elly Singer, Jeannette Doornenbal and Krista Okma, "Why Do Children Resist or Obey Their Foster Parents? The Inner Logic of Children's Behavior During Discipline," published in the November/December issue of Child Welfare, found the most common pattern among foster children (49%) was minimal resistance motivated by fear and defeatism. Fierce resistance to get one's own way based on a confidence in the child's ability to influence the parent was more common in birth children (34%), whereas fierce resistance related to inner conflicts and confusion (15%) was found more in foster children. To subscribe to this journal, go to: http://www.cwla.org/pubs/periodicals.htm
RESEARCHERS EXAMINE KEY ISSUES RELATING TO BIRTH PARENTS
A comprehensive review of clinical literature and empirical research on birth parents in adoption conducted by Mary Wiley and Amanda Baden, "Birth Parents in Adoption: Research, Practice, and Counseling Psychology," published in the January 2005 issue of The Counseling Psychologist (Volume 33, Issue 1), integrates the existing knowledge base with clinical practice at three stages of the adoption process: the pre-relinquishment period, the early post-relinquishment period, and the long-term post-relinquishment period. Existing research is critiqued and guidelines for future research are suggested. In addition, the authors suggest criteria for adoption-sensitive counseling with birth parents. To obtain this article for a fee, go to: http://tcp.sagepub.com/content/vol33/issue1/
TREND IN EUROPE SUGGESTS MORE OPENNESS IN IDENTIFYING SPERM DONORS
Two studies in the January 2005 issue of Human Reproduction (Volume 20, Issue 2) indicate a trend toward more openness in the identification of sperm donors. A Dutch study by A. Brewaeys, J.K. de Bruyn, et al., "Anonymous or Identity-Registered Sperm Donors? A Study of Dutch Recipients' Choices," reports that 63% of heterosexual and 98% of lesbian couples receiving donor sperm chose identified rather than anonymous donors, reflecting a "growing public conviction that donor children, just like adopted people, have the right to know their genetic origins." This past summer, the Netherlands made identification of sperm donors compulsory, with identifying information available for release to donor offspring at age 16. A United Kingdom study of 46 families with children conceived through donor insemination, by E. Lycett, K. Daniels, et al., "School-Aged Children of Donor Insemination: A Study of Parents' Disclosure Patterns," indicated that 39% had decided to tell their children the truth about their origins and 17% were uncertain whether to do so. To obtain these studies, go to: http://www3.oup.co.uk/eshre/press-release/freepdf/Brewaeys708.pdf and http://www3.oup.co.uk/eshre/press-release/freepdf/Lycett703.pdf
GOVERNMENT RELEASES PRELIMINARY ADOPTION/FOSTER CARE DATA FOR FY02
The U.S. Children's Bureau has published the preliminary Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) estimates of data submitted for FY 2002, as of August 2004, on children in foster care. The number of children in foster care continues to decline somewhat and the number of children adopted (53,000) increased slightly over the previous year. To obtain this report, go to: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report9.pdf
FEDERAL ADOPTION LAW REPORTEDLY INCREASES LEGAL ORPHANS|
According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) has been successful in increasing the number of children adopted from foster care, in part by speeding up the termination of parental rights, but it has also resulted in an increase in the number of children who are legal orphans. The story by Barbara White Stack, "Federal Adoption Law Spurs Rise in Legal Orphans," published on Dec. 26, 2004, found that in the years after ASFA was implemented, more children had their mothers' and/or fathers' parental rights terminated than were adopted. While the average annual increase in adoptions of foster children in the past six years has been 54%, the average annual increase in the number of terminations has been 82%. As a result, there are now an estimated 117,395 children who are legally severed from their parents, but who have not been placed in an adoptive home and continue to live in foster care or group homes. To read the full article, go to: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04361/432140.stm
ETHIOPIA RESPONDS TO AIDS ORPHAN CRISIS WITH MORE ADOPTIONS
According to a Reuters AlertNet article, the rising number of orphans in Ethiopia resulting from HIV/AIDS and poverty has led to an increase in the number of children being placed abroad for adoption. The story, "Ethiopia: Coping with Increasing Orphan Numbers through Adoption," published on Jan. 10, states that the number of Ethiopian children adopted internationally doubled from the previous year, to 1,400, with most children going to France, Australia, the United States and Ireland. In addition, the number of adoption agencies in the capital city of Addis Ababa has doubled, to 30. Although the U.S. government has announced a $20 million project to help the 530,000 HIV/AIDS orphans and to curb the growing orphan crisis, an Ethiopian official is quoted as saying: "We can't afford to look after every orphan," making some overseas adoptions the only option. To read the full article, to go: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/c56315b445f3e953745548112f00a1c7.htm
U.S. AND NATIONS HIT BY TSUNAMI BAR ADOPTIONS IN NEAR FUTURE
The U.S. State Department, in a Jan. 3 notice, said that Americans will not be permitted to adopt children from countries hit by the December tsunami (India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand) for the foreseeable future and that will change "only if and when these countries decide to make these orphans available for international adoption." The governments of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand - citing concerns about possible kidnapping for the sex trade - have forbidden the short-term removal of children under age 16 from areas hardest hit by the tsunami. In addition, Indonesia and Sri Lanka have issued special regulations intended to prevent the wrongful adoption of children orphaned by the tsunami. For more information, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2017.html
BOOKLET OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVOCACY|
"A Guide to Special Education Advocacy for Resource Families," developed by Casey Family Programs for foster and adoptive parents and kinship caregivers, is a 20-page booklet intended to assist parents in advocating for students with special educational needs. The guide includes basic information about legal protections, practical tips for educational advocacy, processes for dispute resolution, and website links for additional resources. To download this guide, go to: http://www.casey.org/Resources/Archive/Publications/SpecialEducationAdvocacy.htm
NEW JOURNAL TO FOCUS ON CHILD WELFARE RESEARCH
Haworth Press will publish a new professional journal focusing on theory-based and applied research in child welfare. The Journal of Public Child Welfare will be published four times a year, with the inaugural issue due out by April 15. The goal of the journal is to "provide a scholarly forum to inform researchers, practitioners, policy makers, the profession, and the larger public about important issues and findings in public child welfare research and practice." To obtain a free sample of the journal, go to: http://www.haworthpressinc.com/and under QuickSearch type the title of the journal.
5. Institute Update||
FAULTY STEREOTYPES CITED AS ONE REASON RECORDS STAY CLOSED |
In a Jan. 4 article in the Boston Globe, "For N.H. Adoptees, a Glimpse into the Past" by Mac Daniel, the Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman, explained that the unsealing of adoption records is ''often framed solely as a search issue, and for most people, it isn't. … It's the stereotype we have in our heads and not the facts that we have on the ground." Pertman also said research shows that the vast majority of birth mothers eventually want contact with or knowledge about their children who were adopted. To read the full article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2005/01/04/for_nh_adoptees_a_glimpse_into_the_past/
CONCERNED RAISED ABOUT ADOPTIONS ABROAD FOR TSUNAMI ORPHANS
In a Jan. 6 article by Leslie Brody in The Record newspaper in New Jersey, "Americans Look to Open Homes, Adopt Orphans," Pertman said children in the countries devastated by the tsunami may have relatives who will be found, and he pointed out that these children could be further traumatized if they were to be moved quickly from their home countries. To read the full article, which requires a free registration, go to: http://www.northjersey.com/
COLUMNIST CALLS FLORIDA'S PROHIBITION ON GAY PARENTS `HYPOCRISY'
In a commentary on Florida's ban on gay adoption, "Our Hypocrisy Deprives Kids of Real Homes," published on Jan. 13 in the Orlando Sentinel, columnist Mike Thomas quotes Pertman as saying that "gays and lesbians are adopting tough-to-adopt kids in high numbers" across the country, and that the Adoption Institute's study on adoption disruption found "nontraditional parents" have contributed to an increase in the successful placement of children from foster care. To read the full article, go to: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/orl-locmiket13011305jan13,1,3767851,print.column?coll=orl-news-headlines&ctrack=3&cset=true
QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT OVERSIGHT OF SURROGACY AGENCIES
In an article published on Jan. 25 in the Salt Lake Tribune, "Baby? How about Two?" by Kirsten Stewart, Pertman raised questions about the level of oversight of surrogacy agencies. He compared the issue to that of adoption agencies, which are required to report to state licensing bureaus and seek accreditation from professional organizations. To read the full article, go to: http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2535251
ADOPTION INSTITUTE HIRES NEW EXTERNAL RELATIONS DIRECTOR
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute announced that Joellen Gavin, a respected development professional with extensive background in the field, has joined the Institute's staff as Director of External Relations. For more information on Gavin and the full announcement, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/20050126_joellenhire.html
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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