Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
MARCH 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
NEW JERSEY LAW WILL RECOGNIZE FOREIGN ADOPTION DECREES|
The New Jersey state Senate unanimously passed a bill (S285/A1992) on March 21 to explicitly recognize foreign adoptions of children born abroad, providing the same force and effect that exists for any child adopted from another state. The bill had already been passed unanimously by the House last October, and now awaits signature by the Governor. It eliminates the need for adoptive parents to petition a court for adoption in the state if the foreign adoption can be verified as final and complete by the federal government – through the issuance of an IR-3 immigrant visa or a successor immigrant visa – and the adoptive parents are residents of New Jersey. To read the text and history of the bill, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=S285
BELARUS SUSPENDS ADOPTIONS, NEW MOLDOVA RULES MAY CAUSE DELAYS
The U.S. State Department reported on March 30 that intercountry adoptions from Belarus appear to have been suspended, with little information about the reason and duration or about provisions for adoptions already in progress. Last October, President Aleksander Lukashenko announced his cabinet would impose strict restrictions on adoptions, but nothing has been formally set out. A March 10 report on Radio Free Europe, “Belarus Slaps Checks on Travel, Marriage, Adoption,” said that in order to reduce human trafficking, Lukashenko signed a decree in March to toughen regulations on travel abroad and imposed restrictions on marriage and adoption agencies. To read the State Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2196.html. To read the article, go to: http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/03/4c267d3e-d3c3-4479-a888-1b3db395573a.html
In a separate notice in March, the State Department said Moldova has revised its adoption process, with the Moldovan Adoption Committee (MAC) replacing the National Committee for Adoptions. This new committee, which will report directly to the prime minister, will be responsible for approving all adoptions, including matching orphans with adoptive parents. These changes are likely to cause delays in adoptions. To read the State Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2195.html
VERMONT TO CONSIDER `SAFE HAVEN’ LAW, ILLINOIS PUSHES EXTENSION
At the request of Vermont Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, the state Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to introduce infant abandonment legislation to the full Senate for consideration within two weeks, according to a March 23 article in the Times Argus, “Leaders Seek ‘Baby Safe-Haven’ Law.” The article said babies are rarely abandoned in Vermont, possibly one every few years. To read the article, go to: http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050323/NEWS/503230315/1002/NEWS01
In Illinois, the state Senate on March 9 unanimously approved and sent to the House the “Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act” (SB200), which repeals the sunset clause, set for July 1, 2007, in the original 2001 legislation. To read the bill, go to: http://www.ilga.gov/and search for SB200 in the number field. To read the Adoption Institute’s study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
ILLINOIS BILL SEEKS MANDATORY LICENSING OF ADOPTION PRACTITIONERS
Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill intended to protect prospective adoptive families by requiring all adoption service providers to be federally registered as 501(C)(3) organizations and licensed by the state Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The “Adoption Reform Act” (HB3628) was introduced in the House in February by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and was referred to the Rules Committee. The legislation would amend the Child Care Act of 1969 by providing a definition of “adoption services.” It would also require DCFS to create a complaint registry on its website and a toll-free number; would ban unlicensed companies from advertising adoption services and establish penalties for deceptive advertising; and would prohibit businesses from profiting by mandating that fees and compensation be reasonable and related to the adoption services provided. To read the bill, go to: http://www.ilga.gov/ and search for HB3628 in the number field.
NEVADA CONSIDERS ENFORCING OPEN ADOPTIONS, OPENING RECORDS
The Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee approved several amendments in March to a bill (AB51) that would establish a process for creating legally binding contracts between birth and adoptive parents involved in an open adoption arrangement, and a procedure to modify such contracts under specific circumstances. Current agreements, typically facilitated through adoption agencies, are not legally binding. Failure to comply with the contract, however, could not overturn an adoption. To read the bill, go to: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/73rd/bills/AB/AB51.pdf
Separate legislation (SB446), introduced March 29 in the Nevada Senate, would give adopted people 18 and older “access to the files and records concerning their adoption,” and “certain records relating to their birth.” In addition, the bill would repeal section NRS 127.007, thereby eliminating the State Register for Adoptions. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. To read bill, go to: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/73rd/bills/SB/SB446.pdf
ONTARIO LEGISLATION WOULD LET ADOPTEES ACCESS BIRTH RECORDS
Ontario legislators introduced a bill on March 29 that would enable adoptees over the age of 18 to obtain copies of their original birth records, and would allow birth parents to obtain information about the adopted people once they reached the age of 19. According to an article in the Canadian Press, both adopted adults and birth parents would be allowed to put a “no contact” notice in their files; if that preference is violated, individuals may be fined up to $50,000. To read the article, go to: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1112134199777_10/?hub=Ca
PENNSYLVANIA ADOPTION REGISTRY BILL INCLUDES COUNSELING PROVISION
A bill that would establish a voluntary adoption registry for adoptees 18 and older and birth parents was introduced in the Pennsylvania House by Rep. Linda Bebko-Jones in February. The “Adoption Registry Act” (HB304) was referred to the Committee on Children and Youth. The legislation would allow adult adoptees and birth parents to register their willingness to disclose identifying information to each other, and to share non-identifying “health and social and genetic” information. To register, individuals would have to complete a signed affidavit and submit it to the Department of Health, whereby a match in the registry of the adult adoptee and birth parent would be attempted before identifying information could be disclosed; at the discretion of the Department, registrants could be required to receive counseling. In addition, the measure would allow adult adoptees and birth parents to ask the Department of Health to search for a person who may not be registered. To read the bill, go to: http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2005/0/HB0304P0325.pdf
TENNESSEE PANEL REJECTS GAY ADOPTION BAN, ALABAMA INTRODUCES BILL
A Tennessee House committee rejected a bill on March 16 that would have prohibited gays and lesbians from adopting, and would have barred biological parents from consenting to an adoption for their children by anyone they knew to be homosexual. The Children and Family Affairs Committee voted, 11-9, for legislation that replaced the gay and lesbian ban with a preference for heterosexual married couples over single parents. Another proposal (HB2234/SB1930), which would not only forbid gays and lesbians from adopting children in state custody, but also from becoming foster parents, was moved to the Domestic Relations Committee. To read the text of the bills, go to: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/ and click on Legislation to search for bills HB2234/SB1930, and HB0775/ SB1615.
In Alabama, a bill (SB57) introduced in February would amend Section 26-10A-5 of the Code of Alabama (1975) by inserting that “No adult person may adopt a minor if the adult person is a homosexual.” To read the bill, go to: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/searchableinstruments/2005rs/bills/sb57.htm To read the Adoption Institute’s study on adoptions by gay and lesbians, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/
MAJOR STUDY FINDS SYSTEMIC BARRIERS TO ADOPTION OF FOSTER CHILDREN|
The overwhelming majority of adults who call to inquire about adopting waiting foster children drop out before completing the process, largely due to barriers encountered in the child welfare adoption system, according to the largest study of its kind ever conducted. The research, by Adoption Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Katz along with colleagues at Harvard University and the Urban League – “Listening to Parents: Overcoming Barriers to the Adoption of Children from Foster Care” – found that even more than increased recruitment initiatives, critical changes were needed to make the foster care adoption process more responsive to the needs of interested prospective adopters. Among the study’s recommendations for addressing systemic barriers were: being more responsive to callers during initial inquiries, emphasizing outreach and retention over the weeding out of applicants early in the process, and presenting a more balanced and less problem-focused perspective during training sessions. To access the study, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/2005_jeffkatz_report.html
REPORTS SHOW BIAS IN FEDERAL CHILD WELFARE PERFORMANCE MEASURES
Two new studies found problems with federal standards used in Child and Family Service Reviews. “Unintended Consequences of the Push for Accountability: The Case of National Child Welfare Performance Standards,” by Mark Courtney, Barbara Needell, and Fred Wulczyn – published in the December 2004 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 26, Issue 12) – discussed the problems with the current use of outcome measures and recommended alternative approaches. The researchers analyzed data on 1.2 million children from 12 states over 10 years and illustrated how the use of the current indicators might have unintended negative consequences for states attempting to improve their performance To access the study for a fee, go to: http://www.childwelfare.com/kids/cysr.htm
The Chapin Hall Center for Children issued a second critique of the federal performance indicators utilized in state child and family service reviews, “Improving Public Child Welfare Agency Performance in the Context of the Federal Child and Family Service Reviews.” The report by Britany Orlebeke, Fred Wulczyn, and Susan Mitchell-Herzfield, released in February, utilized historical baseline data from New York’s child welfare system to show how a system could show deterioration with current performance indicators when its performance actually was improving. To access the study, go to: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract_new.asp?ar=1382&L2=61&L3=130
CHILD WORKERS’ HIGH TURNOVER LAID TO HEAVY WORKLOADS, LOW WAGES
High staff turnover continues to be a problem for state child welfare agencies and for their clients, according to research by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) in collaboration with Fostering Results and the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work. “Report from 2004 Child Welfare Workforce Study: State Agency Findings,” released in February, found 50 percent to 70 percent of turnover in various job categories studied in 2003 were preventable (not due to retirement, death, marriage, return to school, or spousal job move). The average pay reported for foster care/adoption workers was $35,911, which was lower than salaries for nurses, teachers, police officers, or firefighters in responding states. Heavy workloads and low salaries were deemed the most common causes of staff turnover. Most states had implemented a variety of strategies for addressing this problem, with the most effective strategies being increased in-service training and educational opportunities. To access the report, go to: http://www.aphsa.org/home/news.asp
CHINESE ADOPTEES FOUND TO PROGRESS RAPIDLY IN LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
A study of 186 girls adopted from China found that it took about 16 months for them to catch up to American-born children in their expressive language development. The study, by Tony Xing Tan and Yi Yang, “Language Development of Chinese Adoptees 18-35 Months Old,” was published in the 2005 first-quarter issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Volume 20, Issue 1). These girls, who were adopted on average at 11 months of age, lagged behind age norms on language development at 18 to 23 months, but they outperformed age norms for vocabulary size and phrase length by the time they reached 30 to 35 months. To access this study, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/
OLDER AGE, RECENT PLACEMENT MOVES CITED AS FACTORS FOR RUNAWAYS
A comprehensive study by Chapin Hall Center for Children found that recent placement, being in a residential treatment center, not being placed with siblings, older age, and previous history of running away were factors associated with increased probability of youths running away from foster or residential care in Illinois. The researchers of “Youth Who Run Away from Out-of-Home Care” – Mark Courtney, Ada Skyles, Gina Miranda, Andrew Zinn, Eboni Howard, and Robert Goerge – examined more than 14,000 youths who fled foster or residential care from 1993 to 2003. The study, released in March, utilized quantitative data as well as interviews with 46 youths and 16 key informants to explore the factors associated with the increased probability of running away and the internal motivations for doing so, such as the urge to connect to original families or to maintain relationships with significant others. To access the study, go to: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract_new.asp?ar=1384&L2=61&L3=130 . To access an issues brief that summarizes key findings and specific areas where interventions may be targeted, go to: http://www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract_new.asp?ar=1385&L2=61&L3=130
RESEARCHERS AFFIRM BENEFITS OF ADOPTION OVER LONG-TERM FOSTER CARE
A longitudinal study of 130 children in England found greater stability and higher levels of parent-child closeness and openness in communication in adoptive homes over long-term foster placements. “Stability, Permanence, Outcomes and Support: Foster Care and Adoption Compared,” by Julie Selwyn and David Quinton, was published in the Winter 2004 issue of Adoption & Fostering (Volume 28, Issue 4). Seventy-four percent of the children were placed for adoption in the early to mid 1990s; of those, 83 percent were still with their families by 2002-2003. Of the children who were intended to be in long-term foster placements, nearly half (46 percent) disrupted. To access an abstract of this study and obtain a copy for a fee, go to: http://www.baaf.org.uk/res/pubs/aandf/abstracts/04_4.shtml#i
ANALYSIS SHOWS HIGHER RATE OF DRUG USE FOR YOUTHS FROM FOSTER CARE
Many children in foster care come from substance-abusing families and are at high risk for substance abuse themselves. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), youths who have ever been in foster care report higher rates of illicit drug use than do other youths (33.6 percent vs. 21.7 percent). An article in the February 18 issue of The NSDUH Report analyzes rates of illicit drug use and the need for drug treatment among youths who have ever been in foster care. To access this report, go to: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k5/FosterCare/FosterCare.cfm
RUSSIA MOVES TO ACCREDIT AGENCIES, RESUME ADOPTIONS|
The Russian Ministry of Education will resume its oversight of international adoptions after a confusing year of government-wide reorganization efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since the accreditation of adoption agencies was not assigned to any ministry, most adoptions from Russia could not be processed in the past year. According to a March 22 notice by the U.S. State Department, the Ministry of Education has been designated the principal authority responsible for intercountry adoptions and the re-accreditation of adoption agencies. According to an article in the Washington Times, “Foreign Adoptions of Russians to Resume,” one ministry official said efforts to restart adoptions will begin by the end of March, and the State Department indicated there already has been a modest increase in approved adoption cases. To read the U.S. State department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2011.html. To read the article, go to: http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20050322-054311-3277r.htm
SOUTH KOREA ADDRESSES SOCIAL STIGMAS, LOW DOMESTIC ADOPTION RATES
The stigma against unwed motherhood in South Korea is the biggest reason for the placement of children for adoption, apart from financial pressures, according to a March 1 article by Kim Rahn in the Korea Times, “Single Mothers Face Discrimination.” Ministry of Health statistics showed 90 percent of the children relinquished for adoption in 2004 (3,507 of 3,899) were born to single mothers. The article said the government has provided more financial support for centers to help single mothers and their children since 2003, but it remained inadequate and did not mitigate the stigma for those involved. To read the article, go to: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200503/kt2005030118042110230.htm
The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, addressing the reluctance of Koreans to adopt and to decrease the number of abandoned children adopted overseas, designated May 11 as “Adoption Day” and the following week as “Adoption Week.” A March 22 article by Bae Keun-min in the Korea Times, “May 11 Designated as Adoption Day,” said domestic adoptions grew from 1,564 in 2003 to 1,641 in 2004, while 2,258 Korean-born children were adopted internationally last year. The government has also been identifying other ways of lowering barriers to domestic adoption. To read the article, go to: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200503/kt2005032215342910220.htm
INDIA’S HIGH COURT CLEARS WAY FOR ADOPTIONS TO BE PROCESSED
Nearly 200 adoption cases that had been stuck in limbo for a year in India’s capital, Delhi, will be cleared and processed within the next 21 days as the result of a Delhi High Court order, according to an article by Kavita Chowdhury, “HC Orders Clearance of Adoption Cases,” published March 3 in Delhi Newsline. The cases affect adoptive parents both in India and abroad. The situation arose when a district court ordered all adoption cases under the Guardians and Wards Act – which enables non-Hindus and foreigners to become guardians – to be transferred to the Juvenile Justice Board. The High Court order determined that the Juvenile Justice Board had no jurisdiction over adoption cases, and directed all adoption cases back to the district court to be cleared. To read the article, go to: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=119919
PAPER SUGGESTS WAYS TO FORGE RELATIONSHIPS THAT BENEFIT CHILDREN|
“Relationship Between Child Welfare Workers, Resource Families and Birth Families: Preventing the Triangulation of the Triangle of Support,” provides information on forging effective relationships among foster families, birth families, and social workers that promote positive outcomes for children. The paper, by Lorrie Lutz, explores the perspectives of each member of the “triangle of support” and describes a model for “facilitated dialogue” among the parties. Many of the ideas are based on Lutz’s interviews and analysis of programs in 11 states. The document, released in March, was prepared for the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning. To access the paper, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/recruitment-and-retention.html
5. Institute Update||
INFANT ABANDONMENT LAWS DESCRIBED AS `MISGUIDED POLICIES’|
In a March 8 article in the Boston Globe, “Officials Tout 'Safe Haven' Success,” by Madison Park and David Abel, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman commented that “safe haven” laws have created “misguided public policies” and may encourage women who had not previously considered abandoning their children to do so. Pertman’ remarks reflected research conducted by the Adoption Institute on infant abandonment and “safe haven” laws that have now been implemented in most states. To read the article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/03/08/officials_tout_safe_haven_success/. To read the Adoption Institute study on the issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
ISSUES RELATING TO BIRTH CULTURE, RACIAL PREJUDICE ADDRESSED
In a March 27 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “For Chinese Adoptees, A Cross-Cultural Embrace,” by Jeff Gammage, Adoption Institute Policy Director Hollee McGinnis explained that learning about the ancient culture of an adopted person’s country of origin does not address the immediate challenges and sting of racial prejudice. To read the article, go to: http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/living/people/women/11238480.htm
ADOPTION’S IMPACT ON JEWISH COMMUNITY IS EXAMINED
In a March 27 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Jewish America’s Changing Faces,” by Leslie A. Pappas, Pertman commented on how transracial and intercountry adoptions have expanded the definition of what it means to look Jewish, the challenges these adoptees may face as a result, and the racial and religious issues faced by the Jewish community. To read the article, go to: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/nation/11238496.htm
BARRIERS TO FOSTER ADOPTION SPARK WIDE ATTENTION TO PROBLEM
The Adoption Institute’s most recently released study, which draws attention to the systemic barriers that prevent children in foster care from finding permanent homes, “Listening to Parents: Overcoming Barriers to the Adoption of Children from Foster Care,” was cited in numerous national and international media. It drew wide attention to the needs of the 126,000 children available for adoption from foster care, and the specific problems experienced by prospective adoptive parents. For examples of the articles about this study, go to http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-adopt13.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4858832,00.html
UPCOMING ADOPTION INSTITUTE EVENTS AND APPEARANCES
The Adoption Institute will host a food-and-wine fundraiser, “A Taste of Spring,” at Christie’s Auction House in New York City on April 14. For more information about the event or to download an invitation, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/invitation_spring_2005.html
Executive Director Adam Pertman will be the special guest at a dinner reception and discussion of adoption issues April 27 at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, Washington, D.C. To learn more about the event or download an invitation, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/invitation_dc_april_2005.html. For a list of Pertman’s speaking engagements, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/pertman2005.html
The Adoption Institute will co-sponsor a conference May 20 at New York University Law School, “Gay and Lesbian Adoption: Past, Present and Future.” For more information about the event, held in conjunction with the Center for Adoption Policy and the Law School, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/2005_05_conference.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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