Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
MARCH 2006 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
ARIZONA HOUSE VOTES TO GIVE MARRIED COUPLES PRIORITY IN ADOPTIONS|
The Arizona House passed a bill (HB2696) on March 9 that would require the state's Child Protective Services (and contracting agencies) to give married couples "primary consideration" in adoptions from foster care, except under specific circumstances. Exceptions would be allowed if: the single applicant is a legal relative; a "meaningful and healthy relationship" has already been established; the child's biological parent wants the single person to adopt; the child's best interests "require" adoption by a single adult; or the alternative is long-term foster care. State law already prohibits unmarried couples from adopting jointly. The state Senate has not yet voted on the measure. To read the bill, go to: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/DocumentsForBill.asp
BILLS IN TWO STATES PUT LIMITS ON ADOPTEE ACCESS TO BIRTH RECORDS
In Maine, a bill (LD1805) giving adoptees 18 or older access to their original birth certificates was rejected, 7-4, by the state House Judiciary Committee March 14. The bill included an amendment that would make it applicable only to future adoptions completed after Aug. 1, 2006; the original version allowed birthparents the option of indicating whether they wanted contact, but the amendment also allowed them to sign a disclosure veto allowing them to keep identifying information confidential. The legislation will now be sent back to the state House for consideration. In Connecticut, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill (SB4) on March 16 that would allow children adopted in the state after Oct. 1, 2006, access to their original birth certificates at 18 years of age, but would not apply retroactively. To read the Maine bill and status, go to: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/
LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280019835; ; to read the Connecticut bill and status, go to: http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/CGAbillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB4
LAWSUIT ALLEGES MISSISSIPPI HAS FAILED TO PROTECT FOSTER CHILDREN
A federal class action lawsuit was brought against the state of Mississippi Department of Human Services and its foster care agency for gross incompetence, child neglect, and fiscal mismanagement. Children's Rights Inc., which filed the lawsuit against the state, released reports that showed nearly one-third of the children who were placed into state foster homes did not receive a single visit from their assigned social workers or supervisors, as required; that children were maltreated or languished in the system rather than be adopted; and that case workers averaged 48 cases, with some managing as many as 286 cases - though the recommended caseload is 12 to 15 children. The lawsuit, which was filed in February, is expected to go to trial in August. To read an Associated Press article on the suit, go to: http://www.sunherald.com/
mld/sunherald/news/politics /13872116.htm; to read about the case by Children's Rights,
go to: http://www.childrensrights.org/
INSTITUTE REPORT FINDS ADOPTION BY GAYS AND LESBIANS `HOLDS PROMISE' |
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released a policy brief this month that provides a comprehensive examination of relevant issues, laws and practices relating to gay and lesbian adoption and parenting, including a review of available studies spanning the last several decades. "Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption by Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls Who Need Homes?" finds no child-centered reason to prevent gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents, and recommends that gay and lesbian parents be utilized more extensively to provide permanent, loving homes for children living in state care across the country. This policy brief is part of a larger, more extensive yearlong project examining theses issues. To read the full brief, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/
STUDY: APPROVED FOSTER FAMILIES HAVE FEWER PROBLEMS, HIGHER INCOME
A study of differences in 114 approved and 47 unapproved foster family applicants found that approved families had higher incomes and fewer psychosocial problems. Race, education, and a supply/demand ratio calculated by the authors were not significant factors. "Parental and Familial Characteristics Used in the Selection of Foster Families," by John Orme, Cheryl Buehler, Kathryn Rhodes, Mary Cox, Michael McSurdy and Gary Cuddeback, will be published in the April 2006 issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 28, Issue 4). Researchers used five standardized instruments to evaluate the existence of family problems. While caseworkers did not utilize such instruments in their usual practice or see the results of individual applicants' scores on these tests, the existence of more problems was associated with the disapproval of applicants. However, some families with psychosocial problems were approved; for example 25 percent of approved families had problems with empathy for children. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=Journal
INSTITUTIONS REPORTED TO BE OVERUSED FOR YOUNG CHILDREN IN EUROPE
Several recent journals have published findings from a group of researchers in England (Kevin Browne, Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Rebecca Johnson and Mikael Ostergren) on the use of institutionalization for children under age 3 in European countries. Their survey of 31 European countries estimated that 23,099 children younger than 3 were living in institutions, although residential care costs three times more than foster care. "A European Survey of the Number and Characteristics of Children Less than Three Years Old in Residential Care," was published in the Winter 2005 edition of Adoption & Fostering (Volume 29, Issue 4). The authors wrote an analysis and commentary on their research in the February 2006 issue of the British Medical Journal (Volume 332). "Overuse of Institutional Care for Children in Europe," found the highest rates of institutionalization in Bulgaria, Latvia, Belgium, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro. A third article on this research, "Young Children in Institutional Care at Risk of Harm," published in the January 2006 issue of Trauma, Violence & Abuse (Volume 7, Issue 1) reviews studies supporting the detrimental effects of institutionalized care on children's development. To access an abstract from Adoption & Fostering, go to: http://www.baaf.org.uk/res/pubs/aandf/abstracts/05_4.shtml; to access the full article in British Medical Journal, go to: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/february/ac485.pdf; to access an abstract of the article in Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, go to: http://tva.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/1/34
ANALYSIS SHOWS ADOPTION IMPROVES CHILDREN'S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
A meta-analysis of 62 studies comparing the cognitive development and school performance of adopted children and their non-adopted siblings or peers still in institutions indicates that adoption has a positive impact on the children's cognitive development. "Adoption is a Successful Natural Intervention Enhancing Adopted Children's IQ and School Performance," by Marinus van IJzendoorn and Femmie Juffer, was published in the December, 2005 Current Directions in Psychological Science (Volume 14, Issue 6). When comparing children adopted from institutions to non-adopted peers still in the institution, adopted children surpass their peers by at least 20 IQ points. When comparing adopted children to non-adopted siblings in their adoptive families, their IQs are similar but the adoptees were found to lag in school performance. They also were approximately twice as likely to be in special education classes. To access the abstract, go to: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/cdir/2005/00000014/00000006/art00010
RESEARCH EXAMINES HOW CHILDREN COPE AFTER PARENTS LOSE RIGHTS
Research analyzing the coping strategies of 60 children in residential treatment, whose parents' rights have been terminated, found avoidant coping was the most common technique they used, followed by emotion-focused coping; problem-focused coping was the least common. "Coping with Parental Loss Because of Termination of Parental Rights," by Kerri Schneider and Vicky Phares, published in the final 2005 issue of Child Welfare (Volume 84, Issue 6), found that children using emotion-focused coping strategies had higher levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Children in acute emotional distress were found to need help in treatment to understand the loss and increase problem-solving coping strategies. To subscribe to this journal, go to: http://www.cwla.org/pubs/periodicals.htm
MENTORSHIP FOUND TO HAVE POSITIVE RESULTS FOR OLDER FOSTER YOUTHS
A publication by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports on the success of a United Kingdom mentoring project for youth, ages 16-21, leaving foster care. "Mentoring Young People Leaving Care," by Jasmine Clayden and Mike Stein, was published in November 2005 and contains research on the outcomes of 14 mentoring projects, as well as descriptions of the selection, training, support of mentors, and matching process. Youths who were mentored for over a year were more likely to have achieved their original goals and to have future plans. Also, the longer the mentoring relationship lasted, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome. For a summary, go to: http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/0555.asp; to read the full report, go to: http://www.jrf.org.uk/bookshop/
BOSTON CATHOLIC CHARITIES HALT PROGRAM OVER GAY ADOPTIONS|
On March 10 the Archbishop and leaders of Catholic Charities of Boston announced the agency would end its adoption program since it could not reconcile the conflict between state law permitting gays and lesbians to adopt and church doctrine stating such placements were "immoral". According to the March 11 article published in the Boston Globe, "Catholic Charities Stuns State, Ends Adoptions: Gay Issue Stirred Move by Agency," by Patricia Wen, the decision occurred the day after the Vatican reiterated a 2003 that Catholic agencies should not allow children to be placed in same-sex households. Catholic Charities in San Francisco and Denver are also now considering formal bans on gays from adopting. In response to Catholic Charities' decision, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney filed legislation on March 15 that would exempt the organization from adhering to the state's equal rights law in matters of adoption. The agency will discontinue the adoption program once it has completed its contract with the state on June 30. To read the article, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/03/11/
CHINA SAYS BABY-SELLING CASE INCLUDED NO CHILDREN ADOPTED TO U.S.
The Chinese government reports no children adopted by Americans were involved in the high-profile baby trafficking case last month, which resulted in 10 people being sentenced for up to 15 years in prison on charges of selling at least 78 babies to welfare homes in the southern province of Hengyang. The Associated Press article, "No Babies in Trafficking Case Sent to US: China," published March 17, reports the trafficking case has been controversial in China, since thousands of children are adopted by Americans each year. Supporters of the people convicted argue orphans were passed for free to orphanages and that the accusations were unwarranted. To read the article, go to: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-03/17/content_542254.htm
SOUTH KOREA CONSIDERS FINANCIAL AID TO PROMOTE DOMESTIC ADOPTION
The South Korean government is considering several potential programs to encourage domestic adoptions, including granting foster parents 2 million won (US$2,000) in financial aid to support adoption. According to the article, "Foster Parents to Get W2 Mil. for Adoption," by Lee Jin-woo, published March 17 in the Korea Times, other aid packages being considered include temporary paid leaves for parents who adopt, and free educational services for each adopted child. About 10,000 children are abandoned by their parents annually, and about 19,000 children under age 18 live in orphanages. Many South Koreans continue to hold beliefs that stigmatize domestic adoption. As a result, last year only 1,461 children were adopted domestically, while 2,001 were adopted overseas. To read the article, go to: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200603/kt2006031717574611970.htm
TRAFFICKING, SUB-STANDARD ORPHANGES MAY HALT LIBERIAN ADOPTIONS
The National Child Rights Observation Group of Liberia has called for a halt to all adoptions due to allegations of child trafficking and sub-standard operations of orphanages, according to a Feb. 24 article published on Alertnet. "Liberia: Orphanages Accused of Child Trafficking," reports some orphanages were profiteering from adoptions. The U.N. Mission in Liberia also found orphanages were poorly administered, with many operating under harsh and unsanitary conditions - and some illegally. The deputy health minister of Liberia said orphanages operating below standard would be shut down once an evaluation was completed. According to the U.S. State Department, in 2005 U.S. citizens adopted 182 children from Liberia, making it the 12th largest sending country. To read the article, go to: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/
PUBLICATION CLARIFIES LAWS RELATED TO EDUCATION AND FOSTER YOUTH|
"Mythbusting: Breaking Down Confidentiality and Decision-Making Barriers to Meet the Education Needs of Children in Foster Care," by Kathleen McNaught, focuses on understanding laws on confidentiality of education records and strategies for facilitating timely decisions about the educational needs of foster youth. This 71-page report was recently published by the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law, and is intended for use by a range of people involved with youth in the child welfare system, including judges, attorneys, parents, foster parents, caseworkers, and court-appointed special advocates. It also contains an annotated bibliography of studies and reports on education and foster youth. To access, go to: http://www.abanet.org/child/rclji/education/caseyeducationproject.pdf
CENTER OFFERS LIST OF RESOURCES ON EDUCATION AND FOSTER CHILDREN
An annotated listing of resources, research reports, bibliographies, and websites related to the educational needs of foster children and strategies for addressing these needs was compiled in March 2006 by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning. To access, go to: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/education-and-foster-care.html#bib
WEB CONFERENCE ON KEEPING KIDS IN FOSTER CARE AFTER AGE 18 AVAILABLE
The audio recording and power point presentations from the first of a five-part series of web conferences on child and family policy, co-sponsored by the Chapin Hall Center for Children and the National Conference of State Legislatures, is now available. "Keeping Kids in the Child Welfare System after 18," was held on March 1, 2006, and contains presentations by five panelists, primarily from Illinois, and discussion of call-in questions from participants throughout the U.S. and Canada. Martha Shirk, co-author of On Their Own, moderates the web conference. Dr. Mark Courtney from Chapin Hall presents results from a longitudinal study of foster youth making the transition to adulthood. To access the recording, go to: https://chapinhall.webex.com/chapinhall/onstage/tool/record/viewrecording1.php?
5. Institute Update||
INSTITUTE RESEARCH ON GAY ADOPTION GARNERS BROAD MEDIA ATTENTION |
The release of the Adoption Institutes' policy brief this month, "Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption by Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls Who Need Homes?" has been widely cited in national and international print and broadcast media, and Executive Director Adam Pertman has been frequently quoted on this issue. The Associated Press article, "Adoption Institute Supports Gay Parents," by David Crary, was published in the Boston Globe, Chicago Sun Times, and Guardian Unlimited (U.K.), as well as hundreds of other publications. In a separate column by Ellen Goodman, "Taking the Gay Insults Personally," published in newspapers nationally, Pertman comments that impeding gay adoption does not prevent homosexuals from becoming parents - because they can do so elsewhere and by other means - but, rather, only "diminish the pool of mothers and fathers for children who need homes". To read the AP article, go to: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060324/ap_on_re_us/gay_adoption; to read Ellen Goodman's column, go to: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/
2006/03/24/taking_the_gay_insults_personally/ to read the Institute's policy brief and press release, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/2006_Expanding_Resources_for_Children.php
TRANSRACIALLY ADOPTED ADULTS PROVIDE LESSONS ON IDENTITY NEEDS
The Institute's Policy and Operations Director, Hollee McGinnis, was quoted in the New York Times stating that identity formation for transracially adopted people can be particularly important during college, and that the older generation of internationally adopted adults can provide useful lessons for families adopting from China. The March 22 article, "Adopted in China, Seeking Identity in America," by Lynette Clemetson, examines the experience of youth adopted from China who are now entering adolescence and highlights the current research project being conducted by the Adoption Institute on adoption and identity. In addition, Pertman was cited in a March 10 article published in Bloomberg, "Chinese Adoption Surge in New York, East Meets Upper West Side." In that story, he said many children in the first generation of Korean adopted people did not grow up with the benefit of having their ethnic identity fostered - as is often the case today for children adopted from China. To read the New York Times article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/23/national/23adopt.html?_r=1&oref=slogin ; to read the Bloomberg article, go to: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aXnwP_HZ2DAg&refer=us
PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRIES NOT EFFECTIVE IF 'NO ONE'S HEARD OF THEM'
Executive Director Pertman comments on the limitation of putative father registries, suggesting that "if no one's heard of them" because of a lack of publicity, it undermines their usefulness. "Unwed Fathers Fight for Babies Placed for Adoption by Mothers," by Tamar Lewin, published in the New York Times on March 19, reports putative father registries exist in about 30 states and require unmarried fathers to register to protect their parental rights. Since putative father registries are regulated by each state, men who register are not protected if the father or mother moves, or if a baby is relinquished for adoption in a different state. To read the article for a fee, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/national/19fathers.html?_r=1
EFFECTIVENESS OF 'SAFE HAVEN' LAW IN NEW YORK STATE QUESTIONED
In a March 17 Journal News article examining the effectiveness of New York State's infant abandonment law, "No One Tracking New York's Safe-Haven Abandonments," by Noreen O'Donnell, Executive Director Pertman says that antidotal evidence indicates the number of unsafely abandoned children has not dropped nationwide, and that most women who would unsafely abandon their babies are unlikely to utilize safe haven laws. Pertman's comments were based on the Institute's study "Unintended Consequences." To read the article, go to: http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060321/NEWS02/603210321/1018; to read the Institute study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
UPCOMING EVENTS: ADOPTION & NEW REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES
On May 19, the Adoption Institute will co-sponsor a one-day conference, "Lessons from Adoption for New Reproductive Technologies," in New York City; more information will be available soon on our website. On March 16-17, the Adoption Institute co-sponsored a highly successful conference in California with the Kinship Center and the Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children, "Biology and Beyond: Sibling Issues in Adoption and Foster Care," in which over 200 professionals participated. For more information on upcoming conferences, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/conferences.php
Executive Director Pertman will present a keynote address, "Adoption from China: A Revolution in the Family," at the East Meets West China Adoption Conference, sponsored by Great Wall China Adoption in Atlanta on April 22. To learn more, please go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/appearances.php#april. For a list of Pertman's speaking engagements and presentations by senior staff, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/appearances.php
ADOPTION INSTITUTE PLANS GALA IN MAY TO CELEBRATE 10th ANNIVERSARY
On May 24, the Adoption Institute will celebrate 10 years of providing unique, high-impact projects designed to improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption - especially children. The gala, "A Taste of Spring," will take place in New York City. The Board of Directors, staff, major donors and friends of the Institute will gather at the Midtown Loft for a joyous evening that will feature celebrity chefs, winemakers, a silent auction and live music. For more information about event sponsorship or tickets, please contact Joellen Gavin at email@example.com. If you want to make a contribution to support the Institute's important work, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/about/support.php
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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Read past e-Newsletters at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/enewsletter.php.
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