Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute e-Newsletter - If you have problems reading this issue, please visit: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
AUGUST 2006 E-NEWSLETTER
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Law, Policy & Practice
5. Institute Update
1. Law, Policy & Practice
NEW LAW IN INDIA ESTABLISHES NATIONAL NORMS FOR ADOPTION PRACTICE|
India's president signed into law comprehensive legislation on Aug. 22 that will establish national norms for adoption including: expansion of the definition of "abandoned and surrendered" children to include a juvenile found begging, a street child or a working child; permitting the adoption of a child irregardless of religion (currently limited to Hindus) or marital status; defining the legal rights of an adopted person, such as rights to inheritance; and raising the age limit of adoptive parents. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill of 2006 also sets guidelines for dealing with juvenile delinquency, preventing child exploitation, and setting up state-level child protection units. Although the new law encourages domestic adoption, intercountry adoption will continue to be an option for orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children. To read the new law, go to: http://wcd.nic.in/childprot/jjactamedment.pdf
INDIANA APPEALS RULING STANDS: SAME SEX COUPLES CAN ADOPT JOINTLY
The Indiana Supreme Court, in a 4-1 decision, declined to hear arguments on Aug. 4 in a case involving the adoption of an infant from foster care by a lesbian couple, leaving intact an April 2006 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The appellate court ruling overturned a lower court's decision to deny the couple's adoption in 2005 on the grounds that state laws limited adoption to married couples and individuals. The appeals court opinion found same-sex couples (and unmarried heterosexual couples) can adopt by joint petition - a procedure that gives both partners equal custody. Indiana is among about 25 states that allow joint adoptions by unmarried couples. The state already permits second-parent adoptions by same-sex and unmarried, heterosexual couples in which a child is either the offspring of one partner or already has been adopted by one of the partners. To read the appeals court opinion, go to: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/04130604jgb.pdf
CALIFORNIA BILL WOULD ALLOW LEGAL ABANDONMENT FOR MONTH-OLD BABIES
The California state Assembly passed legislation on Aug. 24 that would extend the time period in which an infant could be legally abandoned, from 72 hours to 30 days, and would add fire stations to the list of "safe-surrender" sites. The bill (AB1873) was introduced by Assembly member Alberto Torrico and expands the current Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which permits a birthparent to anonymously abandon a newborn without criminal prosecution at designated sites. The original "safe haven" law was passed in 2001 and was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2006; it was extended permanently by Gov. Schwarzenegger in October 2005. Bill AB1873 was passed by the state Senate on Aug. 16 and is currently pending action by the governor. To read the bill, go to: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/bill/asm/ab_1851-1900/ab_1873_bill_20060828_enrolled.html; To read the Adoption Institute's letter to Governor Schwarzenegger urging him to veto the legislation, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/media/20060829_press_safehavencalif.php; to read the Adoption Institute's study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html
REPORT CITES KINSHIP CARE AS MAJOR CHILD WELFARE FOCUS IN STATES
The National Conference of State Legislatures issued a report in July on significant state child welfare legislation enacted during the 2005 calendar year. "State Child Welfare Legislation 2005" found a major focus of state legislatures was on promoting or enhancing kinship care and the use of relatives as care providers, including establishing and amending guardianship laws to include relatives as placement options. Additional areas addressed by the states last year were: substance-exposed newborns and methamphetamine abuse, education of children in foster care, court handling of child welfare cases, and extension of foster care beyond the age of 18. To read the full report, go to: http://www.ncsl.org/print/cyf/cwlegislation05.pdf
JOURNAL EXAMINES ISSUES RELATING TO GAY YOUTHS AND FOSTER PARENTS|
Landmark studies and position papers on issues pertaining to sexual orientation in child welfare services are published in the most recent issue of Child Welfare (Volume 85, Issue 2). Many articles examine issues pertaining to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) youth in foster care. Others explore the experiences of gay or lesbian foster parents and improving the adoption process for gay or lesbian applicants. Three of these articles are summarized below.
Shannan Wilber, Carolyn Reyes and Jody Marksamer collaborated in a San Francisco-based project to develop model professional standards governing the care of LGBT youth in state custody. Their article, "The Model Standards Project: Creating Inclusive Systems for LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care," recommends strategies for creating a safe, inclusive environment so LGBT youth can disclose sexual identity issues and needs. Due to increased risk of harassment and insensitive services, workers need to make extra efforts to insure that youth receive supportive placements, competent and sensitive health care, and supportive mental health services. Caseworkers also need to closely monitor educational services to address any harassment or discrimination. The authors discuss issues concerning privacy and confidentiality, as well as implementing these standards in local agencies.
Interviews with 21 gay and lesbian foster youth were analyzed to identify critical worker competencies for supporting development of positive identity. "Slamming the Closet Door: Working with Gay and Lesbian Youth in Care," by Mark Ragg, Dennis Patrick and Marjorie Ziefert, reported youths' concerns about workers protecting confidentiality related to their sexual identification. Validating and accepting responses from workers, recognizing their unique strengths, and not dismissing youths' concerns were important supportive responses of workers. Some youth reported feeling rejected by workers due to such behaviors as refusal to discuss concerns related to sexuality, avoidance by the worker, and stereotyping or judgmental responses. The authors identify three overall themes in workers' responses and critical competencies under each theme.
"Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Foster Parents: Strengths and Challenges for the Child Welfare System," by Chris Downs and Steven James, is one of the few studies examining the experiences of gay and lesbian foster parents. Using data from phone interviews with 60 active foster parents at 14 public agencies, the authors analyze the most satisfying and challenging aspects of foster parenting, sources of social support, and relationships with foster youths' relatives. The researchers recommend better training for social workers on working with LGB foster applicants and parents and more inclusive practices in screening and supporting these foster parents.For free abstracts of all articles in this special issue, go to: http://www.cwla.org/articles/cwjabstracts.htm#0603
STUDY FINDS CHILD'S AGE AT ADOPTION UNRELATED TO SATISFACTION
A study of 72 Dutch families adopting 80 children from Romania found that level of child behavior problems was related to parenting stress and adoption satisfaction, but not the age or health of the child upon arrival in the family. "Parents Who Adopt Deprived Children Have a Difficult Task," by Catharina Rijk, Rene Hoksbergen, Jan ter Laak, Cor van Dijkum and L. Robbroeckx, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 9, Issue 2/3). Researchers compared adoptive mothers and fathers in two groups (those receiving and not receiving services) to non-adoptive parents in clinical and non-clinical comparison groups. Overall, adoptive parents had higher parenting stress, primarily because many more of them had children needing professional help. Sixty-four percent of adoptive parents had sought clinical services; when compared with non-adoptive parents seeking help, they appeared more resilient (more satisfied and less stressed). To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.haworthpress.com/store/
RESEARCHERS SAY FOSTER CARE PLUS SPECIAL ED ADD UP TO HIGHER RISKS
An Oregon study contrasting four groups of children (foster care only, foster special education, special education only, and general education) found that foster care status and special education status placed youth at risk of poor performance on a range of academic indicators, but when youth had both characteristics, they were particularly vulnerable to falling behind educationally. "Are We Ignoring Youths with Disabilities in Foster Care? An Examination of Their School Performance," by Sarah Geenen and Laurie Powers, was published in the July 2006 issue of Social Work (Volume 51, Issue 3). Overall, 44 percent of youth in foster care were receiving special education services, and they had a higher rate of placement turnover than other foster youth, experienced more restrictive educational placements than others in special education, had the lowest grades, and earned fewer credits toward graduation than other groups. For an abstract of this article, go to: http://hermia.naswpressonline.org/vl=8579688/cl=28/nw=1/rpsv/cw/nasw/
ANALYSIS FINDS MEANING OF PERMANENCY VARIES BY STAKEHOLDER GROUP
Qualitative analysis of interviews with three groups of child welfare stakeholders - 20 birth parents, 30 young adults from foster care, and 21 adoptive parents - explores the meaning and importance of permanency to those in each group. Madelyn Freundlich (a Senior Research Fellow of the Adoption Institute), Rosemary Avery, Sara Munson, and Sarah Gerstenzang authored "The Meaning of Permanency in Child Welfare: Multiple Stakeholder Perspectives," published in the July issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 28, Issue 7). Birth parents viewed permanency primarily in terms of their children returning to them, but they often perceived the system as using "permanency" in relation to keeping their children from them. Youth had more pessimistic perceptions of permanency as meaning not going home or not being achieved until they got their own place. The authors suggest that caseworkers need to engage parents and youth in open communication about the meaning of permanency. To access a free abstract, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=PublicationURL&_cdi=5892&_pubType=J&_
SURVEY UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF SUBSIDIES FOR FOSTER ADOPTION
Children's Rights Inc., in collaboration with the National Foster Parent Association and the North American Council on Adoptable Children, released a report on July 27 entitled, "Ending the Foster Care Life Sentence: The Critical Need for Adoption Subsidies." This survey of 242 adoptive and pre-adoptive parents in six states evaluated the needs and concerns of those who adopt from foster care. Eighty-one percent of parents reported that the availability of subsidies was important to their decision to adopt, and 58 percent said they could not adopt without a subsidy. More than half of those who had already adopted said the subsidy was not sufficient to meet the child's needs. To access this report, go to: http://www.childrensrights.org/pdfs/FINAL%20ADOPTION%20SUBSIDY%20DATA%20REPORT.
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS OF CZECH CHILDREN TEMPORARILY HALTED|
Government authorities of the Czech Republic have temporarily halted all international adoptions of Czech children until new, stricter regulations take effect this autumn, according to the Aug. 4 Prague Daily Monitor article, "State Temporarily Halts Adoptions of Czech Children Abroad." The new rules, which were created in response to the death of a Czech boy adopted by a Swedish couple last summer, increase the number of monitoring visits (from three to five) within the first 18-months of a child's placement overseas, and require nine visits within the first four years of placement to check on the child's health. In addition, foreign adoptive parents will be required to spend at least a week with the child in country. Currently, only institutionalized children who have no prospect of being placed with a foster family in the Czech Republic (primarily Romany and disabled children) are available for overseas adoption; about 40 Czech children are adopted overseas annually. To read the article, go to: http://www.praguemonitor.com/ctk/?story_id=w38224i20060807;story=
ADOPTIONS FROM GUATEMALA SURGE IN EXPECTATION OF NEW REGULATIONS
In anticipation of the U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions which is expected to take effect in mid 2007, there has been a surge of applications by parents interested in adopting from Guatemala, according to a July 30 Associated Press article. "Tougher Rules Could Slow Adoption of Babies" by Juan Carlos Llorca reports that of the current 4,100 pending cases, more that 3,000 were filed this year as parents seek to take advantage of the current process which is more lenient. Last year Guatemala ranked behind China and Russia in the total number of children sent to the U.S. for adoption; however it provided the most babies under the age of one (2,955 infants compared to 210 infants from China). Guatemala acceded to the Hague Convention in 2003 but has yet to implement the convention. To read the article, go to; http://www.sptimes.com/2006/07/30/Worldandnation/New_rules_could_slow_.shtml
TAIWAN ADVOCATES CALL FOR STRICTER LAWS TO PREVENT BABY SMUGGLING
The Taiwanese Child Welfare League Foundation called for stricter laws to prevent the sale of babies after determining that at least 362 children had been sold in the past decade. "Child Welfare Group Urges Tougher Laws to Halt Baby-Selling," written by Flora Wang and published in the Aug. 7 Taipei Times, reports that 91.9 percent of those cases occurred in Taipei; only 14 of the major cases have been solved by the police; and those who were convicted received only light punishments and retained their medical licenses. Many of the cases involved medical professionals and pregnant minors seeking to relinquish an infant as a result of "financial difficulties, career hopes, or family disapproval." The foundation's analysis estimated that the total money exchanged in the smuggling cases over the past decade totaled NT$1.3 billion (US$39.4 million), with infant boys bringing in more than girls as a result of gender preferences. To read the article, go to: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2006/08/07/2003322167
TELECONFERENCE ADDRESSES USE OF PSYCHOTROPIC MEDS IN CHILD WELFARE|
A July 12 teleconference hosted by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning and the Child Welfare League of America addressed the use of psychotropic medications for children in the child welfare system. A special initiative in Tennessee addressing policies and standards for the use of psychotropic medications was featured. Initial data in this initiative showed that 25 percent of children were on these medications, and a minority had informed consent forms authorizing this usage. Audio files of the teleconference and handouts can be accessed on the website: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/teleconferences/index.html#psychotropics
WEBCASTS PROVIDES INFORMATION ON CHILD WELFARE DATA COLLECTION
Webcasts of two sessions from the Children's Bureau 9th Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference in Washington, DC, in July 2006 are available online. The first, "AFCARS 201," examines the approaches states have taken in the data collection of AFCARS and SACWIS data elements. The second, "CFSR Round 2: Data Quality and Measures," discusses collection of data to evaluate a State's performance for the Child and Family Service Reviews. These may be accessed at: http://www.state-itc.org/media/CW_WebCasts.html
JUVENILE LAW CENTER OFFERS GUIDE ON LEGAL RIGHTS FOR YOUTH IN CARE
The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, in collaboration with Kids Voice and a Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board, developed a guide for youth in care about their legal rights and how they can advocate for themselves. Although based on Pennsylvania law, this guide could be adapted for other states. It includes content on general rights and policies governing their care, issues related to lawyers and courts, and considerable advice about planning for leaving foster care, such as pointers on getting a job and finding housing. To access, go to: http://www.jlc.org/index.php/publications/14
CASEY MANUALS AIM TO HELP OLDER FOSTER YOUTH WITH COLLEGE AND JOBS
Casey Family Programs published resource guides for professionals who are assisting older foster youth in planning for education and vocational training. The first, "It's My Life: Postsecondary Education and Training," offers practical strategies and resources for preparing for college - including preparing for standardized tests, choosing a school, and a checklist of tasks to complete from 7th to 12th grade. The second, "It's My Life: Financial Aid," is a guide for getting financial aid and also includes information on the Chaffee Programs. To access these publications, go to: http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/IMLPostsecondaryEd.htm
WEBSITE PROVIDES RESOURCES RELATING TO SOLUTION-FOCUSED PRACTICES
The National Child Welfare Resource Center on Organizational Improvement at the University of Southern Maine sponsored three teleconferences in April-May, 2006 on solution-focused practice in child welfare. The audio files and handouts from these conferences are now available on the Center's website. Special initiatives involving solution-focused casework with families in Kentucky and Michigan are featured. Other teleconferences also are available on this site, reviewing promising interventions for reducing recurrence of maltreatment and performance-based contracting. To access, go to: http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/helpkids/tele.htm
NATIONAL ADOPTION DIRECTORY OFFERS STATE-SPECIFIC INFORMATION
The National Adoption Directory on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website (formerly the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse) was updated this summer and offers the ability to search for a range of information by state, such as licensed agencies for domestic and international adoptions, support groups, child listing services, reunion registries, and contact information for state-level officials involved in adoption and foster care. To access, go to: http://www.childwelfare.gov/nad/
5. Institute Update||
ADOPTION INSTITUTE, CITING RESEARCH, CASTS DOUBT ON `SAFE HAVENS'|
In an Aug. 13, 2006, Chicago Tribune article, "Experts Debate Merits of Safe-Haven Laws" by Lisa Black, Executive Director Adam Pertman states that based on current research, women who commit neonaticide (killing a baby) are suffering from psychosis, extreme denial or pressure from parents or partners - and therefore would rarely utilize safe haven options. Separately, the Institute issued a press release on Aug. 29 urging California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto legislation (AB1873) that would legalize the abandonment of children up to 30 days after birth, saying such a change would "do absolutely nothing to save infants' lives" but, instead, could cause numerous other problems. In a groundbreaking study entitled "Unintended Consequences," the Adoption Institute raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of "safe haven" laws such as the ones in California and Illinois. To read the Chicago Tribune article, go to: http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/
nation/15265613.htm. To read the Adoption Institute press release on the California bill, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/media/20060829_press_safehavencalif.php; for the Institute's letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/
20060829_letter_safehavencalifletter.php. To read the Adoption Institute's study on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/lastreport_coverpage.html.
INSTITUTE STAFF CONTRIBUTE TO ADOPTION PARENTING RESOURCE BOOK
Executive Director Adam Pertman and Policy and Operations Director Hollee McGinnis are two of the contributors in a new book for adoptive families. Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections, published in late July by EMK Press with articles from 100 contributors, contains tools and resources for all adoptive families. Pertman wrote the book's foreword and an essay, "When Do You Tell a Child He was Adopted? And Other Secrets We Shouldn't Keep." McGinnis wrote a keynote article in the ending chapter entitled "The Search for Identity in Adoption: Understanding the Meaning of One's Life." To learn more about the book, go to: http://www.emkpress.com/adoptparent.html
CHANGING ATTITUDES TOWARDS ADOPTION AND TRANSFORMING FAMILIES
Executive Director Pertman was quoted in two articles in July on changes spurred by adoption. In "Yearning for Family Transcends Borders," by Jackie Burrell published in the Aug. 6 Contra Costa Times, Pertman states that in the past three decades the U.S. has evolved from a country where adoption was stigmatized to a culture in which international and domestic adoption is increasingly normalized. In an Aug. 13 Traverse City Record Eagle piece by Vanessa McCray, "Special Reunion Brings Together the 'Guo Sisters,' " Pertman comments on how international adoption has contributed to the emergence of multicultural families and that many adoptive parents have formed groups for support and friendship. To read the Contra Costa Times article, go to: http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/
news/15211683.htm; to read the Traverse City Record Eagle article, go to: http://www.record-eagle.com/2006/aug/13china.htm
CATHOLIC CHARITIES' END TO ADOPTION PROGRAM 'NOT A GOOD THING'
An Aug. 2 San Jose Mercury News article describes the decision by San Francisco Catholic Charities to end its adoption program because of a conflict between the state's anti-discrimination law and the church's prohibition against adoptions by gays. In that article, "Catholic Agency Ending Adoption Program" by John Simerman, Pertman acknowledges the challenge the agency faced, but added that "the bottom line … is kids need homes. And if there are fewer agencies trying to find them, that's not a good thing." To read the article, go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/
INSTITUTE STAFFER, FELLOW TO KEYNOTE AT BIENNIAL ADOPTION CONFERENCE
The Adoption Institute is one of the co-sponsors of the fourth biennial adoption conference hosted by St. John's University, "Families Without Borders? Adoption Across Culture and Race," from Oct. 13-14, 2006, in New York City. Senior Fellow and Institute board member Ruth McRoy and Policy and Operations Director Hollee McGinnis with be keynote speakers and workshop presenters. This year's conference will focus on transracial and transcutural adoption and will include two days of speakers, workshops and presentations, as well as screenings of several films. For more information on the St. John's conference and to register, go to: http://www.stjohns.edu/learnmore/00175.
In addition, Policy & Research Director Jeanne Howard will be co-presenting a workshop at the annual symposium "Striking the 'Rights' Balance: Respecting Parents While Protecting Children", sponsored by The National Center for Adoption Law & Policy and the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services on Oct. 5-6, 2006 in Columbus, Ohio. For information on symposium, go to: http://www.law.capital.edu/adoption/symposium.htm. For information on other Adoption Institute appearances and events, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/events/
ADOPTION INSTITUTE: GROWING ONWARD AND UPWARD
The Adoption Institute is in the midst of one of the most exciting growth periods in our history. We are about to hire another development staff member in New York and we've just added a Policy Director based in California.
We are also planning a series of events across the country, to be held by our loyal supporters and advocates; stay tuned for dates and locations. Most important, we are producing some of the best, cutting-edge work since our founding exactly a decade ago. Here are just a few of the initiatives we are working on:
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.php.
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