Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
MAY 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Laws, Policy & Practice
AZERBAIJAN SUSPENDS ADOPTIONS UNTIL APPROVAL OF `NEW PROCEDURES’|
Azerbaijan has suspended all of its intercountry adoptions “pending implementation of new procedures,” according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of State. The revised adoption procedures will not be considered for approval by that nation’s parliament until its next session convenes in late November, the April 29 State Department announcement added. It said the Azerbaijani Embassy in the United States will not accept “new case files” until that time. To read the State Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2488.html
VA. HIGH COURT ORDERS SAME-SEX PARENTS’ NAMES ON BIRTH CERTIFICATES
The Virginia Supreme Court has ordered the state to issue revised birth certificates for children who were born in Virginia and adopted by same-sex couples in other states. By a 5-3 vote, the court in late April overturned a lower court ruling that said the state was not required to issue new birth certificates with the names of both the children’s adoptive parents, stating it conflicted with Virginia’s policy prohibiting joint adoption by unmarried couples. The case involved two families from Washington, D.C., and one from New York. To read the court opinion, go to: http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1041180.pdf
FLA. LEGISLATORS VOTE TO EXTEND BENEFITS TO FOSTER YOUTHS UNTIL AGE 19
Florida legislators in both houses in May unanimously approved a bill (S1314) introduced by state Sen. Nan Rich that extends eligibility for housing, education and health-care benefits for foster youths until age 19, if the child requests it. In addition, the measure extends eligibility to receive KidCare, Florida’s subsidized health-insurance program, to age 19 for foster youth living with relatives. Florida used to provide benefits to foster youth until age 23, if they needed it, but lowered it to age 18 in 2002 with the Road to Independence Act, which was intended to motivate foster teens to complete their educations and learn skills to live independently. To read the bill, go to: http://www.flsenate.gov/Welcome/index.cfm and search for S1314 in the Jump to Bill field.
MINN. STATUTE ENCOURAGES ADOPTION AND PARENTING OVER ABORTION
Minnesota lawmakers passed and the governor signed into law legislation on May 23 that allocates $4 million over two years in grants to non-profit organizations that “assist women in carrying their pregnancies to term,” including adoption agencies and programs that assist women in parenting their children by providing health care, nutrition, employment and housing. The legislation, which goes into effect July 1 of this year, explicitly prohibits any organization that provides, promotes or directly refers a woman for abortions from receiving grant funding; however, organizations may mention abortion as an option so long as they do not encourage it or arrange for abortion services. In addition, the bill allocates $1 million to establish a statewide “positive alternatives” public education campaign on fetal development and alternatives to having an abortion, including adoption. To read the bill, go to: http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/bldbill.php?bill=S0917.5&session=ls84
CONGRESSIONAL PANEL EXAMINES FOSTER CHILDREN’S USE IN MEDICAL TRIALS
The U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing to examine current protections for children in foster care involved in medical trials. The May 14 hearing was held in response to an Associated Press report that in the 1980s and 1990s, children in the foster care system had participated in clinical research testing of new treatments for AIDS, and that many of the children were not appointed independent advocates for their protection, as required by law. The research was conducted in at least seven states – Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Colorado and Texas – at a time when many children were suffering and dying from HIV/AIDS. The hearing included discussion on the role of the Independent Review Board, and the importance of ensuring that children in the foster care system have access to adequate health care. To read the transcript of the congressional hearing, go to: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=detail&hearing=409; To read the AP story, go to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7736157/
SUIT CHALLENGES MISSOURI’S ‘UNWRITTEN’ BAN ON GAY FOSTER PARENTS
A Missouri woman is suing the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) for implementing an “unwritten” policy denying openly gay or lesbian people from becoming licensed foster parents. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a petition in April with the Jackson County Circuit Court on behalf of the plaintiff, Lisa Johnston, after an administrative judge – who found her “exceptionally” qualified to be a foster parent – nevertheless denied her application because of her sexual orientation. The ACLU charges the DSS decision is illegal and is asking the court to review the order. To read the petition filed by the ACLU, go to: http://www.aclu.org/Files/OpenFile.cfm?id=18165
FEDERAL BILL SEEKS TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN U.S., FOREIGN INSTITUTIONS
Rep. George Miller of California introduced a bill (HR1738) in the U.S. House that would provide “protections for the safety and welfare of children in foreign-based or domestic residential treatment facilities or institutions.” The “End Institutionalized Abuse Against Children Act of 2005” was introduced in April and referred to the House Committee on International Relations and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. It would permit periodic investigations of institutions abroad that are “owned, operated, or managed by a United States citizen or other private entity,” and would provide rules, civil penalties, and protections for any U.S. citizen or national kept in such institutions. The measure would amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 by requiring countries to include in human rights reports any violations against children at foreign-based institutions. In addition, it would amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make grants to states to support inspections of child residential treatment facilities. To read the bill, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for HR1738 in the bill number field.
ANALYSIS COMPARES BEHAVIOR OF INTERCOUNTRY AND DOMESTIC ADOPTEES|
A recent meta-analysis of 98 articles on mental health referrals and behavior problems of adopted versus non-adopted persons found that adoptees (25,281 cases) had a higher rate of such issues than non-adopted individuals (80,260 controls); however, intercountry adoptees were reported to have fewer behavior issues than those adopted domestically within the United States. The research encompassed children placed in infancy as well as those adopted at older ages, although the large majority of these studies investigated children adopted before 2 years of age. “Behavior Problems and Mental Health Referrals of International Adoptees: A Meta-analysis,” by Femmie Juffer and Marinus van IJzendoorn, was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 293, Issue 20). The differences between adoptive and comparison groups were larger for mental health referrals than for behavior problems. Internationally adopted children with backgrounds of extreme deprivation or abuse had a much higher problem rate than those without such experiences. The researchers suggest the differences between intercountry and domestic adoptees may be attributable to the characteristics of the adoptive families. To obtain a free abstract of this article, go to: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/293/20/2501
MORE ISSUES FOUND FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTEES THAN NON-ADOPTED PEERS
A Dutch longitudinal study of more than 1,400 intercountry adoptees found that, as young adults, they had a higher prevalence of diagnosed mental health disorders compared to non-adopted peers. The study, “Psychiatric Disorders in Young Adult Intercountry Adoptees: An Epidemiological Study,” by Wendy Tieman, Jan van der Ende, and Frank Verhulst, published in the March 2005 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry (Volume 162, Issue 3), found risks for mental health problems varied by gender, type of disorder, and socioeconomic status. For example, adopted men in this study were 3.8 times as likely to have a mood disorder as non-adopted men, although there was no higher risk for adopted women. Adoptees from a higher socioeconomic status were 2.2 times more likely to have a mental health disorder than non-adopted peers; however, adoptees from lower- and middle- socioeconomic groups were not at higher risk. While this sample of adoptees had a higher rate of disruptive disorders (ADHD, antisocial, oppositional, etc.) during adolescence, there was no difference on this dimension as young adults. For a free abstract of this study, go to: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/162/3/592
SEARCHES BY ADULT ADOPTEES TAKE EMOTIONAL TOLL ON THEIR PARENTS
Adoptive parents whose adult sons or daughters were involved in a search or reunion were overwhelmed by feelings of competition with birth parents, fear of losing their children, and resurfacing of other adoption issues such as infertility, according to newly published research in Australia. The qualitative study of 21 adoptive parents faced with an adult child’s search or reunion was conducted by Gabrielle Petta and Lyndall Steed. “The Experience of Adoptive Parents in Adoption Reunion Relationships: A Qualitative Study,” was published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Volume, 75, Issue 2). The research addresses a gap in the literature about search and reunion, which focuses almost exclusively on the experiences of adopted people and birth parents. Every participant interviewed reported struggling with fears of loss – of their children and the parent-child relationship as it had been, and of their identity and entitlement in their parental roles. Parents felt isolated and could not acknowledge their powerful feelings even in counseling, as the focus was almost exclusively on supporting their adult children. To access this article for a fee, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/ort/75/2/230.html
CANADA STUDY REPORTS COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR OPENNESS IN ADOPTIONS
Charlene Miall and Karen March assessed community attitudes toward varying levels of openness in adoption and found that the majority of the 706 respondents to a phone survey approved of ongoing personal contact between the parties to an adoption. Their study of attitudes among a random sample of Canadians, “Open Adoption as a Family Form: Community Assessments and Social Support,” published in the April 2005 issue of the Journal of Family Issues (Volume 26, Issue 3), is the first to explore attitudes toward different levels of openness (closed, two types of mediated, and fully disclosed adoptions) in the general community. Despite the overall acceptance of openness, more than 80% thought that confidential adoption should be continued in instances where adoptive parents did not want contact. In addition to the survey, a qualitative study of the advantages and disadvantages of openness for all parties was included in this research. To access this article for a fee, go to: http://jfi.sagepub.com/ and click on Select an Issue from the Archive.
BIRTH RELATIVES SEARCH FOR ADOPTED SIBLINGS, CITE EMOTIONAL BONDS
A study in the United Kingdom of adult birth relatives searching for siblings who were adopted found they felt emotionally connected to their adopted siblings despite having had no contact with them. “Searching for Siblings: The Motivations and Experiences of Adults Seeking Contact with Adopted Siblings,” by Anna Ludvigsen and Jo Parnham, was published in the Winter 2004 issue of Adoption & Fostering (Volume 28, Issue 4), and was based on the experiences of a large agency serving several countries and its assistance to birth relatives seeking contact. Of the 200-plus inquiries from birth relatives, 55% were from birth mothers and 39% from adult birth siblings. The survey study of birth siblings found it was much more common to search for a brother (77%) than a sister (23%); most were searching for themselves and not on behalf of their mother; and 79% felt they had lost out on a special relationship. To access a free abstract of this article, go to: http://www.baaf.org.uk/res/pubs/aandf/abstracts/04_4.shtml#v
RUSSIA DISCUSSES TIGHTER RULES AFTER AN ADOPTEE’S DEATH IN CHICAGO|
Some legislators in Russia’s parliament, the Duma, are calling for reforms in international adoption practice that could further hamper or halt intercountry adoptions, according to an online ABC article published on May 17. “Boy's Death May Halt U.S. Adoptions From Russia,” by Charlotte Sector, reports that a day after the May 5 sentencing of a Chicago woman for involuntary manslaughter in the December 2003 death of her 6 year-old son who was adopted from Russia, Russian prosecutor Gen. Vladimir Ustinov proposed reforms in the process. They would include mandatory bilateral agreements with countries whose citizens seek to adopt Russian orphans, and for the Russian government to be more involved in tracking the outcomes of children adopted overseas. Russia has signed but not ratified the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, an international treaty designed to protect children involved in international adoptions, and already requires post-adoption reports on children adopted abroad by accredited adoption agencies. The Russian government has yet to take action on the proposals. To read the article, go to: http://abcnews.go.com/International/US/story?id=755137&page=1
GANG IN INDIA ALLEGEDLY `SOLD’ CHILDREN TO ADOPTION SERVICE
Police in the city of Chennai (formerly known as Madras), in southeast India, arrested eight members of a gang who allegedly kidnapped street children and sold them to an adoption center. According to the May 15 article by S. Murari, “An Adoption Racket in Chennai Backfires on Parents,” published in the Deccan Herald, police also arrested the director of the Malaysian Social Service, his wife and son; the family allegedly “bought” the kidnapped children and sent them overseas for adoption between 1991 and 2002. More than 300 children from the adoption center were placed for adoption, about 125 of whom were sent abroad to Australia, Netherlands and Norway. Indian officials have suggested imposing more stringent adoption regulations, which could restrict the number of children legitimately available for adoption. To read the article, go to: http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/may152005/spotlight924592005514.asp
KOREA MAY EASE ADOPTION RULES, EXPAND CONNECTIONS TO ADOPTEES
The Korean government will conduct studies this year to determine whether to ratify the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, an international treaty intended to protect children involved in intercountry adoptions. According to a May 3 article in the Korea Times, “Counseling Mandatory for Abusive Parents,” by Bae Keun-min, the government will also consider allowing ethnic Koreans with non-Korean citizenship (living overseas) to adopt as though they were domestic citizens. In addition, according to a May 25 article, “More Aid Available for Overseas Adoptees,” also published in the Korea Times, the Minister of Health and Welfare has proposed a set of measures to help Korean adoptees living in other countries to stay connected with their heritage. The draft proposal includes building Korean language schools abroad, organizing a global network of such adoptees, and encouraging Korean companies to hire them. To read the May 3 article, go to: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200505/kt2005050316383810160.htm; To read the May 25 article, go to: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200505/kt2005052520493111990.htm
SPAIN SECOND TO U.S. IN WORLD TOTAL OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
The number of intercountry adoptions to Spain reached 6,000 in 2004, a 40% increase from the previous year, according to a news report published on May 4 on IslamOnline.net. According to the article, “Spanish Adoption Rates Hit All-Time High,” by Al-Amin Andalusi, Spain currently adopts more children from other countries than any other European nation, and is second only to the United States globally. The increase in the number of intercountry adoptions is attributed to the decline in marriage and birth rates in Spain. To read the article, go to: http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2005-05/04/article05.shtml
MASSACHUSETTS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FOSTER YOUTHS AGING OUT OF CARE|
Youths aging out of foster care need a wide range of supports to transition to healthy, functioning adults and to avoid the high risks that exist for homelessness, unemployment and mental health problems. A recent policy paper released by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, “18 and Out: Life after Foster Care in Massachusetts,” is the culmination of a collaborative effort between the MSPCC and many other state organizations in searching for solutions for foster youth in their state. Some recommendations offered are: find permanent, lifelong family connections for the affected youths; increase their involvement in all aspects of planning and decision-making; allow them to remain in care until age 21, or longer if in school; extend health coverage to age 21 and grandfather youth into eligibility for mental health services; provide financial assistance for education; offer transitional housing and employment assistance. To access this paper, go to: http://www.mspcc.org/_uploads/documents/live/18andOut.pdf
WEBSITE LISTS STATE-BY-STATE INFORMATION ON ADOPTION ASSISTANCE
A state-by-state database of adoption assistance benefits is now available on the web site of the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC). This information, provided by the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, offers answers to 13 specific questions for each state’s adoption assistance program – ranging from the types of services covered by subsidies to fair hearing procedures and post-adoption services available to families. The amount of monthly benefits in each state is not included, however. Links to state websites also are provided. To access this site go to: http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/parents/prospective/funding/adopt_assistance/
MODEL OFFERS WAYS TO DEAL WITH FOSTER CHILDREN’S ATTACHMENT ISSUES
A model for addressing attachment issues in older children in foster care, based on a longitudinal study of 52 children in long-term foster care in the United Kingdom, focuses on the care-giving dimensions of developmental attachment theory. “Providing a Secure Base: Parenting Children in Long-Term Foster Family Care,” by Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek, was published in the March, 2005 issue of Attachment & Human Development (Volume 7, Issue 1). The model advances five key care-giving dimensions focused on promoting five desired outcomes: trust in availability, reflective function, self-esteem, autonomy and family membership. The researchers suggest that, by focusing on these outcomes in a variety of therapeutic ways, foster parents can offer a secure base and promote resilience in children. To access a free abstract of this article, go to: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/14616734.asp and click on Table of Contents.
GUIDEBOOK PROVIDES SUGGESTIONS TO HELP FOSTER YOUTHS FIND JOBS
Casey Family Programs has developed a guide for professionals assisting foster or other youth in making the transition to young adulthood and work. “It’s My Life: Employment” provides practical suggestions for guiding youths to develop life skills that can assist them in exploring career possibilities and in cultivating the community connections that can help them find jobs. The guide also contains ideas for developing employability from middle childhood forward, such as links to self-assessment tools that youths can access on their own. To obtain this handbook, go to: http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/ItsMyLifeEmployment.htm
5. Institute Update||
EMBRYO TRANSFERS RAISE ISSUES ABOUT WHEN LIFE BEGINS, ADOPTIONS |
In a May 26 article in the Boston Herald, “’Embryo Adoptions’ Give Life to Controversial Debates,” by Stephanie Schorow, Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman comments on some of the complex aspects of this emerging reproductive technology. Pertman says an agency that carries out such programs, in which the frozen embryos from infertility treatments are “adopted” and implanted into prospective parents, “defines where life starts in particular, not just rhetorically.'' In addition, Pertman raises concerns about the impact of “embryo transfers” on children who already are born and need permanent homes. To read the article, go to: http://theedge.bostonherald.com/healthNews/view.bg?articleid=84768
ADOPTED ADULTS OFTEN FIND SEARCH FOR BIRTH RELATIVES CHALLENGING
In a May 8 article in the York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record, “Finding a Mom in the Paper,” by Jennifer Gish, Adoption Institute Policy & Operations Director Hollee McGinnis comments on the challenges adult adopted people face when searching for biological relatives. To read the article, go to: http://ydr.com/story/main/68585/
MEASUREMENT OF SUCCESS AND FOCUS OF ‘SAFE HAVEN’ LAWS ARE QUESTIONED
In a May 24 article in the (Virginia) Daily Press, “An Option for Mothers,” by Lisa Finneran, Executive Director Adam Pertman challenges the notion that ‘safe haven’ laws, which allow a mother to abandon her unwanted newborn at designated locations without facing criminal charges, can be deemed as successful based on the number of babies legally abandoned. Pertman say there is no evidence those children would otherwise have been unsafely abandoned, and he criticizes the laws for not providing any help to mothers in crisis. To read the article, go to: http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-19869sy0may24,0,5929972.story?coll=dp-headlines-topnews; To read the Adoption Institute study on the issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
UPCOMING ADOPTION INSTITUTE EVENTS AND APPEARANCES
The Adoption Institute will hold its third annual Iron Man Triathlon fundraising appeal next month. Matt Donaldson, son of the Institute’s namesake and a member of our board, will participate in the Triathlon, which takes place on July 24 in Lake Placid, N.Y. Supporters of our work will be able to donate to the Institute by sponsoring Matt’s miles. Please check our website (www.adoptioninstitute.org) in a couple of weeks to learn more about the event and how you can help.
Executive Director Adam Pertman will be the keynote speaker at the Florida Adoption Council’s 6th Annual Adoption Law and Practice Conference in Tampa on Friday, June 3. To learn more about the event, please go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/pertman2005.html#june. For a list of Pertman’s speaking engagements, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/pertman2005.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.
Our award-winning web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org, is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information. Read past e-Newsletters at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/newsletter/archive.html.
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