Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
AUGUST 2005 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
CALIFORNIA COURT GIVES UNPRECEDENTED RIGHTS TO SAME-SEX PARENTS |
The California Supreme Court, in unprecedented rulings in three separate cases, on Aug. 22 applied full legal parental rights and obligations on former partners from same-sex couples, regardless of whether a child had been formally adopted by or was biologically connected to the second partner. Although at least nine states officially allow second-parent adoption (often used by gay couples to adopt their partner's children) and several have ordered child support from the non-biological or non-adoptive parent, the California opinions clearly extend child support laws and custody rights to estranged gay and lesbian partners. The rulings recognize that the intent to parent and raise a child as one's own confers parental rights and responsibilities, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, biology, adoption or marriage. The three separate rulings apply to couples who never registered as domestic partners and clearly favor the protection of children regardless of the circumstances of their birth or entry into a family. For the three cases and links to opinions, go to: Elisa B. v. Superior Court http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S125912.PDF; Kristine H. v. Lisa R http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S126945.PDF; and K.M. v. E.G. http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S125643.PDF
NEW ILLINOIS LAW SETS STANDARDS FOR ADOPTION PRACTITIONERS
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois signed a bill (HB3628) on Aug. 14 that provides sweeping reforms intended to protect families involved in adoption and give the state better regulation of private adoption agencies. The Adoption Reform Act (Public Act 094-0586), which immediately went into effect, provides a "bill of rights" for adoptive and birth parents; requires all private agencies to become non-profit organizations within two years and be licensed by the state; establishes a statewide adoption complaint registry; and bans unlicensed companies from advertising adoption services and establishes penalties for deceptive advertising. To read the new law, go to: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/94/PDF/094-0586.pdf
STATE DEPARTMENT CITES RESUMPTION OF ADOPTIONS FROM AZERBAIJAN
The U.S. State Department announced this month that adoptions have resumed from Azerbaijan, which issued a moratorium in April 2004 in order to investigate practices and implement new procedures; Azerbaijan authorities confirmed the American notice, which was issued Aug. 2 and said that the Azerbaijani Embassy in this country is now "accepting dossiers and registering adoption applications." According to the 2004 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 26 children from Azerbaijan were adopted in fiscal 2004. To read the State Department notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/notices/notices_2488.html
SUIT SEEKS TO HALT MO. LAW CUTTING FOSTER CARE ADOPTION SUBSIDIES
A class-action lawsuit was filed on Aug. 15 against Missouri Governor Matt Blunt and Director of Social Services Gary Sherman, on the grounds that the state failed to protect abused and neglected children when it passed a law slashing subsides to parents who adopt from foster care. The law (SB539), which was signed in May and would have taken effect Aug. 28, would impose an income "means test" on prospective adoptive parents and would end existing subsidies for the adoptive parents of former foster children if they earn more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level - about $48,375 for a family of four. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 16 children, charges that the law violates federal statutes that prohibit states from unilaterally modifying or terminating adoption subsidies. Implementation of the cuts was temporarily blocked Aug. 18 by Kansas City U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright until a Sept. 8 hearing, at which time it will be determined if the state will be barred from implementing the law. To read Children's Rights press release on the lawsuit, go to: http://www.childrensrights.org/PDF/08-15-05.pdf; to read the Adoption Institute April press release criticizing Missouri's law, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/pressrelease/20050414_missouri.html
SCHOOL-BASED SERVICES SHOWN TO IMPROVE CARE PROVIDED BY KIN |
Kin caregivers participating in an innovative school program showed improvements over the course of 18 weeks of services, especially in decreased caregiver burden and in dealing with their children's school needs. "Kinship Care Connection: A School-Based Intervention for Kinship Caregivers and the Children in their Care," by Strozier, McGrew, Krisman and Smith, advocates for school-based services to reach kin caregivers, most of whom are not involved in the child welfare system. This article, published in the September 2005 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 27, Issue 9), also reports that children participating in this program had improved self esteem. To access this study, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=
RESEARCH SUPPORTS PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN WITH GAY PARENTS
A study of three types of adoptive families - headed by heterosexual individuals and couples, by homosexual individuals and couples, and by adults who were not identified as straight or gay and whose children had special needs - found no negative effect on family functioning associated with the sexual orientation of the adoptive parents. Moreover, family functioning scores were higher among families with gay or lesbian adoptive parents who adopted older children. "A Comparison of Family Functioning in Gay/Lesbian, Heterosexual and Special Needs Adoptions," by Patrick Leung, Stephen Erich and Heather Kanenberg, is in the September 2005 edition of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 27, Issue 9). Some factors were associated with lower family functioning that were not congruent with previous research (sibling group, fewer previous placements, non-special needs adoptions), perhaps due to the fact that the special-needs adoptive parents were not typical of those adopting these children generally, i.e. only 8 percent were previous foster parents. The authors conclude that the practice of placing children for adoption with gay and lesbian adults and couples, especially of older children, is supported by this research. To access this research, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=IssueURL&_tockey=%23TOC%235892%232005%
SURVEY FINDS MOST CHINESE ADOPTEES ARE EXPOSED TO NATIVE CULTURE
A web-based survey of 79 adoptive parents of Chinese children (mean age=4 years) found the vast majority of respondents addressed Chinese cultural heritage in their families, using a range of strategies. Only 15 percent of parents with children aged 4 or older responded that they seldom or never discussed Chinese heritage with their children. "A Typical American Family? How Adoptive Families Acknowledge and Incorporate Chinese Cultural Heritage in their Lives," by Jay Rojewski, was published in the April 2005 issue of Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal (Volume 22, Issue 2). Despite a strong commitment to acknowledging Chinese heritage, parents' knowledge of China and its culture did not grow as children aged, and about 30 percent of the children did not have contact with other Chinese children. To access this article, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/klu/casw/2005/00000022/00000002;
STUDY IDENTIFIES FACTORS THAT ENHANCE POST-ADOPTION CONTACT
An in-depth British study of contact within 11 "triangles" (adoptive parents, birth relatives, and children) involving adoptions from the public system reported that nine of the arrangements were working well, with the remaining two proceeding with tensions between the adults and consequent tensions for the children. "Face-to-Face Contact Post Adoption: Views from the Triangle," by Janette Logan and Carole Smith, was published in the January 2005 issue of the British Journal of Social Work (Volume 35, Issue 1). Almost all the adoptive parents were satisfied with the frequency of contact, while half of the children wanted more frequent contact with birth relatives. The factors that contributed to successful arrangements included: adults have positive relationships and open communication; high levels of permission to parent from birth relatives to adoptive parents; congruence regarding frequency of contact; and mutual concern for the child's well-being. To access a free abstract of this study, go to: http://bjsw.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/35/1/?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=
RUSSIAN OFFICIAL PROPOSES ADOPTION MORATORIUM AMID PUBLIC CONCERN|
Yekaterina Lakhova - chairwoman of the Committee for Motherhood, Children's and Family Issues, which oversees adoption legislation in the Duma (parliament) - has proposed a moratorium on the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. She was quoted in an Aug. 9 article published in the Moscow Times as stating, "Thirteen Russian children were killed in the United States. ... Nothing of that kind has happened in European countries. It is necessary to place a moratorium on the country." According to the article, "New Call to Suspend Adoptions," by Francesca Mereau, Lakhova's view was reinforced in early August by a government committee that urged the Prosecutor General's Office to set a moratorium on foreign adoptions. Action on the proposals could come as early as September.
A new poll, meanwhile, shows the majority of Russians (62 percent) favor stricter regulations on the foreign adoption of Russian children and a sizable minority (39 percent) believe the practice should be prohibited. "Russians for Stricter Adoption Procedures for Foreigners - Poll," published in RIA Novosti on Aug. 5, reported that most respondents (52 percent) think orphans would be better off in Russian families than in families in other countries, with 40 percent stating that children adopted overseas were treated cruelly. However, most Russians (54 percent) agreed it is difficult for Russians to adopt, and 59 percent called for simplified procedures. The survey was conducted at the end of July, after U.S. couples in several states had been charged with killing their adopted Russian children. The survey included 1,500 people from 100 settlements in 44 regions, territories and republics. To read the poll, go to: http://en.rian.ru/society/20050805/41097871.html ; to read the Moscow Times article on the suspension of Russian adoptions, go to: http://www.moscowtimes.ru/stories/2005/08/09/013.html
TAIWAN AIMS TO INCREASE DOMESTIC ADOPTIONS, MAKE THEM MORE OPEN
Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior's Bureau of Child Welfare established a "Child Adoption Information Center," due to open in October 2005, as one in a series of measures to encourage domestic adoption and make adoptions more transparent. According to an Aug. 15 article in the Taipei Times, "Adoption Becoming More Open," by Mo Yan-chih, the new information center will be a central repository of information containing adoptees' medical data and biological family histories, including names and contact information. Adoptive parents, adopted people - including those adopted overseas - and birth parents will be able to get access to the information. According to the article, misconceptions about adoption have perpetuated a culture of secrecy that hinders the practice domestically and led to a decline in the number of children being adopted. In response, the government has provided subsidies to improve services, and agencies have relaxed some restrictions to encourage adoption, including by single parents. To read the article, go to: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2005/08/15/2003267800
AMERICANS ADOPTING ABROAD REPORTEDLY FACE GROWING CHALLENGES
Even as the number of adoptions to the United States has increased over the past decade, many "sending" nations have slowed the process by implementing stricter rules for the intercountry adoption of their children or have imposed moratoriums that are limiting options and increasing the risk for Americans seeking to adopt, according to an article published Aug. 18 in the Kalamazoo Gazette. "Numbers Up, But Some Doors Closing as Nations Tighten Rules," by Emily Walker, reported that moratoriums on intercountry adoption have been imposed in the past year in Romania and Ukraine, while stricter rules imposed in Guatemala, South Korea, Cambodia, Thailand and China have meant fewer options for prospective adoptive parents. There are even fewer opportunities for single people, since China changed its policy, only allowing 8 percent (formally 40 percent) of adoptive parents to be single. The article suggests that U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption may further slow down international adoptions in the future. To read the article, go to: http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/news-14/1124378459261560.xml&coll=7
REPORT OUTLINES PROJECTS THAT SEEK FAMILIES FOR MINORITY CHILDREN|
Approximately 20 special projects - primarily Adoption Opportunities Grant initiatives to find adoptive families for minority children - are summarized in a 12-page bibliography, "State and Local Efforts to Mitigate Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System." The report was released jointly in July by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. It highlights state and local agency efforts to address racial inequities in the child welfare system. To access the report, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/children-of-color.html
EXPERTS SAY REPORTING ON `METH' SHOULD BE BASED MORE ON SCIENCE
Medical and psychological researchers have collaborated on a response to media stories spreading what they termed misinformation and prejudice about methamphetamine users and children born to them. Join Together, a project of the Boston University School of Public Health, released "Meth Science, Not Stigma: An Open Letter to the Media" on July 25. The letter's authors contradict numerous reports based on "unfounded assumptions" about meth, and call for basing civil and child-welfare interventions on a more scientific base. A contact is given to obtain detailed technical information. To access the letter, go to: http://www.jointogether.org/sa/news/features/reader/0,1854,577769,00.html
NEW PUBLICATIONS OFFER ADVICE FOR DEALING WITH CHILDREN'S TRAUMA
North Carolina's Division of Social Services, in conjunction with the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC School of Social Work, issued two publications in June 2005 to help workers address trauma reactions in children. "PTSD and Children in the Child Welfare System," an issue of Practice Notes (Volume 10, Number. 3), describes children's reactions to trauma and its impact. Another publication, "Training Matters," (Volume 6, Number 3) reports on a range of resources for child welfare workers for addressing trauma in children, including the online courses at www.ChildTraumaAcademy.com. To access the North Carolina publications, go to: http://www.practicenotes.org/vol10_no3.htm and http://www.trainingmatters-nc.org/
5. Institute Update||
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH CAMP OFFERS OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS ADOPTION|
In an Aug. 18 interview with the Korea Times, "Adoptee Finds Identity Through Youth Camp," Adoption Institute Policy and Operations Director Hollee McGinnis describes her opportunity to be a guest lecturer at the 40th anniversary of the Korean UNESCO International Youth Camp - in which had participated in 1996 - as a chance to share "my personal experience as an adopted person … and show that adoption is a very natural way of forming a family." To read the article, go to: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/special/200508/kt2005081920071145250.htm
PUBLIC TELEVISION TO PRODUCE SHOW INSPIRED BY 'ADOPTION NATION'
WGBH Boston, a preeminent public broadcasting producer, has launched a website to promote a two-hour documentary, "Adoption: An American Revolution." The project, which will include educational outreach through libraries and schools, was inspired by Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman's book "Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America." In an Aug. 4 article in the Boston Globe, "WGBH Appeals to Viewers to Fund Show about Adoption," by Joanna Weiss, Pertman says a realistic portrayal of adoption is needed because too many programs - like January's "Who's Your Daddy?" - misrepresent adoption's realities. To read the Boston Globe article, go to: http://www.boston.com/ae/media/
articles/2005/08/04/wgbh_appeals_to_viewers_to_fund_show_about_adoption/ for more about the film project, go to: http://www.adoptionfilm.org
UPCOMING INSTITUTE EVENT: LOS ANGELES 'NIGHT OF COMEDY FOR A CAUSE'
On Monday, September 26, 2005, comedian Alison Larkin will perform her internationally acclaimed one-woman show, "The English American," at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, CA, to benefit the work of the Adoption Institute. For more information about the event or to download an invitation, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/comedyforacause_la.html
Executive Director Adam Pertman will have two upcoming appearances - a training for educators, "Adoption in the Schools: What Teachers Don't Know Can Hurt our Kids," sponsored by the Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center in New Jersey; and a presentation/Q&A entitled, "Adoption Today: Transforming Our Country, Transforming Our Lives," sponsored by the New York City Administration for Children's Services. To learn more, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/pertman2005.html#september. For a complete 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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