Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
April 2006 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
BELGIUM JOINS SPAIN, NETHERLANDS IN LETTING GAY COUPLES MARRY, ADOPT|
Belgium’s Senate on April 20 approved a law allowing same-sex couples to adopt children domestically or internationally; the lower house of Belgium’s parliament had approved the measure in November 2005. Belgium joins Spain and the Netherlands in offering full rights of marriage and adoption to same-sex couples. The new law recognizes both partners as parents where one is a biological parent of a child, allows same-sex couples to jointly adopt, and gives children of these couples the same rights as those of heterosexual couples to inheritance, custody, visitation, and child support if a couple breaks up. Same-sex couples are allowed to adopt in Sweden, Wales, and England; adoption is limited in Germany and Denmark to partners’ biological children. To read an April 21 article on the new law, go to: http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=48
U.S. HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY ASKS ROMANIA TO EASE INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION BAN
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution (H.RES.578.EH) on April 6 urging the Romanian government to modify its ban on all international adoptions (except by a child’s biological grandparents). The prohibition, which went into effect in January 2005, left about 1,000 adoption cases pending, including 200 involving American families. The House resolution urged the Romanian government to lower barriers to adoption by allowing international adoption by non-relatives and to complete the processing of the “pipeline” cases. In 2001, under pressure by the European Union to change its adoption laws as a criterion for acceptance into the EU, Romania placed a moratorium on all intercountry adoptions but continued to accept new applications. To read the House Resolution go to: http://thomas.loc.gov and search for HRES.578.EH in the bill text field; to read a Department of State article on the resolution, go to: http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2006
ARIZONA SENATE DEFEATS ADOPTION MEASURE FAVORING MARRIED COUPLES
The Arizona state Senate defeated a bill (HB2696) on April 17 that would have required the state’s Child Protective Services (and contracting agencies) to give married couples “primary consideration” in adoptions from foster care over individuals who were single, except under specific circumstances. The legislation, passed by the state House in March, was rejected in the Senate by a 15-13 vote. Opponents argued the bill would have discriminated against gays and lesbians, since they cannot legally marry in Arizona. State law already prohibits unmarried couples from adopting jointly. To read the bill, go to: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/DocumentsForBill.asp
CONNECTICUT BILL WOULD GIVE SOME ADOPTEES ACCESS TO THEIR RECORDS
On a 27-7 vote, the Connecticut state Senate passed a bill (SB4) On April 18 that would give adults 18 years or older who are adopted after Oct. 1, 2006, access to their original birth certificates. The measure would also create a voluntary, non-binding procedure for birthparents to indicate contact preference with a child relinquished for adoption. Birth records in Connecticut were not sealed until 1974, so adults adopted between 1975 and prior to Oct. 1, 2006, would still be required to get a judge’s order to obtain their original records. On April 24, the state House of Representatives passed an amended version of the Senate bill, requiring adopted adults to be 21 rather than 18 before gaining access to birth records. The Senate’s vote on the amended House bill is pending. To read the bill and status, go to: http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/CGAbillstatus.asp
REVISED INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION REFORM ACT REINTRODUCED IN SENATE
The Intercountry Adoption Reform Act (ICARE) was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate on April 4 by Sen. Arlen Specter as one of several amendments (S.AMDT.3192) to the controversial immigration reform bill, “Securing America’s Borders Act” (S.2454). The ICARE measure would establish an Office of Intercountry Adoptions (OIA) in the State Department and confer automatic citizenship to children upon entry of a final adoption decree, rather than upon entry into the U.S. The original ICARE bill (S1934) was introduced in the Senate in November 2003, with a revised version reintroduced a year later. The current version is pending further action once the Senate comes back into session. To read the immigration reform bill and ICARE amendment, go to: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for S.2454 and S.AMDT.3192 in the text field.
KENTUCKY PROBING IF FOSTER CHILDREN ARE BEING RUSHED TO ADOPTION
The Kentucky Inspector General is investigating 225 complaints by child protection workers that alleged some administrators within the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, under pressure to increase the number of foster adoptions in order to receive federal funds, prematurely terminated parental rights and too quickly shifted children to adoptive homes. The complaints were published in a report, “The Other Kentucky Lottery,” by the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families and the Kentucky Youth Advocates in January. The report suggests the federal 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), which was intended to prevent children from languishing in foster care by giving states bonuses for each child adopted out of foster care, has led to an increase in “quick trigger” adoptions – children being separated from their parents without sufficient evidence to justify the removal. In 2004, Kentucky was paid $1 million in bonus money under the program. The investigation could result in criminal prosecutions and administrative actions. To read the report in full, go to: http://www.kyyouth.org/spr_abu.htm; to read a related news article on the issue, go to: http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/14353723.htm
STUDY SHOWS ADOPTION OFFERS MAJOR COST BENEFITS OVER FOSTER CARE|
A new study, using longitudinal data and advanced statistical methods, project that the adoption of 50,000 children each year who otherwise would remain in foster care would save the government $3.3 billion to $6.3 billion in the long term. “A Comparison of the Governmental Costs of Long-Term Foster Care and Adoption,” by Richard Barth (a Senior Fellow of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute), Chung Kwon Lee, Judith Wildfire, and Shenyang Guo, was published in the March 2006 issue of Social Service Review (Volume 80, Issue 1). There has been increased concern over the rising costs of adoption subsidies, and some states recently cut them. However, each child who is adopted will cost government (federal, state, & local) about $21,000 less over a 7.7 year period than a child remaining in foster care for that period. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/SSR/journal/contents/v80n1.html
INTERVENTIONS DEVELOPED TO ENHANCE SPECIAL-NEEDS ADOPTIVE PARENTING
Researchers in England have developed two 10-week interventions to assist adoptive parents of foster children and are embarking on an evaluation of their effectiveness. “Enhancing Adoptive Parenting: Devising Promising Interventions,” by Alan Rushton, Elizabeth Monck, Helen Upright, and Mary Davidson, was published in the February issue of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Volume 11, Issue 1). The first intervention incorporates cognitive-behavioral approaches to build a repertoire of parenting responses that meet the needs of a specific child. The second focuses on increasing parents’ understanding of the child and underlying causes of behaviors. Manuals on the two approaches have been developed, and evaluative research is ongoing. For a free abstract, go to: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1475-3588.2005.00371.x
LEGAL EXPERT RECOMMENDS LONGER REVOCATION PERIODS FOR CONSENTS
A review of the laws surrounding mothers’ voluntary consent to adoption recommends best practices, including mothers not being allowed to sign consents until four to seven days after birth and having a substantial revocation period (at least 3 weeks) to withdraw consent. Elizabeth Samuels also recommends the provision of skilled, unbiased counseling and separate legal representation to birthparents in her article, “Time to Decide? The Laws Governing Mothers’ Consents to the Adoption of their Newborn Infants,” published in the Winter 2005 issue of Tennessee Law Review (Volume 72, Issue 2). Under the laws of over half of the states, irrevocable consent can be established in fewer than four days; by comparison, in a majority of European countries, consent does not become final for approximately six weeks. To order this issue, go to: http://www.law.utk.edu/departments/lawrev/lawrevieworder.htm
RESEARCHERS FIND LACK OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR FOSTER CHILDREN
“Mental Health Needs and Treatment of Foster Youth: Barriers and Opportunities,” by Bonnie Kerker and Martha Dore, was published in the most recent issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Volume 76, Issue 1). Although 40 percent to 80 percent of foster children have significant mental health problems, the researchers report only about 23 percent receive any mental health services each year. They also note that fewer than half the states routinely assess foster children entering care for mental health problems, and only 1 of 32 states were in compliance with mandates related to this issue in the child and family services reviews. Some recommendations include increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, routine screening, training foster parents to assess, and the provision of wraparound services and family-based treatments. For a free abstract, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/ort
STUDY: JOINT TRAINING OF BIRTH AND FOSTER PARENTS IS EFFECTIVE
Researchers at the New York University Child Study Center tested the effectiveness of an innovative parent-training program delivering two intervention components – termed “parenting” and “co-parenting” – to biological parents and the foster parents caring for their children. “A Promising Parenting Intervention in Foster Care,” by Oriana Linares, Daniela Montalto, MinMin Li and Vikash Oza, was published in the February issue of Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Volume 74, Issue 1). The 12-week program was offered to 40 randomly assigned biological/foster-parent pairs. Their progress was compared to 24 parent pairs in the “Usual Care” group on several measures at three points in time. Improvement in positive discipline and clear expectations was sustained in the treatment group at the three-month follow up. For a free abstract, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/ccp
NEW LAW GIVES ONTARIO FOSTER CHILDREN HOMES THROUGH OPEN ADOPTION |
A new law will enable thousands of children in foster care in the Canadian province of Ontario to become eligible for adoption through open adoption agreements, according to an April 4 article published in the Toronto Star. “Adoption Law Gives Foster Children Hope,” by Kerry Gillespie, reports that three-quarters of children in foster care are currently ineligible for adoption because their birth families have a court-ordered right to contact them. The new law, which was approved in March and will be in force by this November, allow these children to be adopted through open adoption agreements that enable them to maintain contact with their birth families. The law also is more flexible, allowing foster children to stay with family members and creating a province-wide registry to match available children with prospective adoptive parents. To read the article, go to: http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar
SCOTLAND CONSIDERS MODERNIZING ADOPTION LAWS, LOWERING BARRIERS
The government of Scotland is considering legislation that would modernize adoption laws in order to promote permanency and stability for children in government care, reduce barriers to adoption by allowing unmarried couples (including same-sex couples) to adopt jointly, and provide better financial support for relative caregivers, particularly grandparents. The Adoption and Children bill was introduced on March 28 and was based on recommendations made by an adoption policy review group set up in 2001. According to a March 31 article, “Special Report on Scotland’s New Adoption Bill,” published by Josephine Hocking on the website communitycare.co.uk, 6,500 children are in care in Scotland. Of these, about 3,500 are in foster care, 1,500 live with friends or relatives, and 1,500 are in residential homes. To read the article, go to: http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2006/03/31/53439/
WEB SEMINAR FOCUSES ON MEETING FOSTER CHILDREN’S EDUCATION NEEDS|
“Charting a Course: Meeting the Special Education Needs of Foster Children” is the second in a web conference series co-sponsored by Chapin Hall Center for Children and the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference, first aired April 5, focuses on research findings related to mental health problems and learning disabilities among foster children, and the types of state policies that facilitate meeting their needs. Among the recommendations are that assessments should be conducted to determine whether a child’s emotional disturbance is situational or chronic, and that educational liaisons should be assigned to ensure that children receive and benefit from services prescribed in their educational plans. To access the recording and Power Point, go to: http://www.about.chapinhall.org/conferences/charting/apr2006/conference.html
ONLINE CATALOGUE OFFERS RESOURCES FOR WORKING WITH ADOLESCENTS
The National Resource Center for Youth Services has added an online catalogue of books, training materials, videos and therapeutic tools for working with youth ages 12 to 18. The resources may be searched by 16 topics, including Adolescent Permanency, Independent Living, and Residential and Youth Care Work. To access the catalog, go to: http://www.nrcys.ou.edu/catalog
BAZELON CENTER OFFERS FACT SHEETS ON 57 FEDERAL PROGRAMS FOR YOUTH
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law completed an analysis, for a 2005 conference, of 57 programs that serve youth with serious mental health conditions. The programs are run by 20 agencies in nine departments of the federal government. The Center produced a collection of fact sheets on these programs and a report, “Moving On: Federal Programs to Assist Transition-Age Youth with Serious Mental Health Conditions,” which can be downloaded or purchased. The fact sheets give information about each program’s services, eligibility criteria and impact. To access go to: http://www.bazelon.org/publications/movingon/
NEW ONLINE COURSE EXAMINES BONDING AND ATTACHMENT ISSUES
The Child Trauma Academy has added a fifth course to its curriculum on child trauma: “Bonding and Attachment in Maltreated Children.” This three-hour course can be taken for free or for three continuing education credits at a fee of $45. Content includes how healthy attachments are facilitated, the impact of maltreatment on attachment, and approaches to helping maltreated children. To access, go to: http://www.childtraumaacademy.com/bonding_attachment/index.html
5. Institute Update||
INSTITUTE STAFF MEMBERS PUBLISH RESEARCH ON POST-ADOPTION SERVICES|
Two Institute staff members wrote several chapters in The Post-adoption Experience: Adoptive Families’ Service Needs and Service Outcomes, a research-based book commissioned by Casey Family Services and published by the Child Welfare League of America. Susan Livingston Smith, Program and Project Director of the Institute, authored two chapters, “A Study of the Illinois Adoption/Guardianship Preservation Program” and “The Nature of Effective Adoption Preservation Services.” Jeanne Howard, Research and Policy Director of the Institute, authored “An Examination of Post-adoption Functioning and the Needs of Kin, Foster, and Matched Adoptive Families.” To order the book, go to: http://www.cwla.org/pubs/pubdetails.asp?PUBID=10773
POST-ADOPTION DEPRESSION EXISTS, BUT RESEARCH IS LIMITED
Executive Director Adam Pertman was quoted in the New York Times acknowledging that post-adoption depression is experienced by some adoptive parents, but it is not clear by how many. The April 25 article, “After the Adoption, a New Child and the Blues,” by Laurie Tarkan, examines the symptoms of post-adoption depression, the growing awareness of the reaction by adoption professionals, and the lack of relevant research. To read the article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/25/health/25adop.html
UPCOMING CONFERENCE: ADOPTION AND NEW REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES
On May 19, the Adoption Institute will co-sponsor a one-day conference along with the Center for Adoption Policy and the Justice Action Center of New York Law School. The conference, "Lessons from Adoption for New Reproductive Technologies," will be held at New York Law School. Additional information, including registration details and a list of speakers, will be available soon on our website. For more information on upcoming conferences, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/conferences.php
Executive Director Pertman will conduct a training for social workers followed by a keynote address at a conference, “Going Home: Transitioning Toward Permanency,” sponsored by Community Health and Counseling Services in Presque Isle, Maine, on May 5-6. To learn more, please go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/appearances.php#may. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Our award-winning web site, www.adoptioninstitute.org, is a popular and reliable source for accurate adoption information.
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