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N.J. SENATE PASSES BILL GIVING ADOPTEES ACCESS TO BIRTH CERTIFICATES
The New Jersey Senate passed a bill on Mar. 3 allowing adoptees 18 or older (and adoptive parents of minors) to obtain their original birth certificates (S611). The legislation also would permit birthparents to submit non-disclosure and/or contact preference forms. Both requests would require birthparents to provide family history information. For “safe haven” surrender cases, the state would deem that the birthparent has requested nondisclosure. The bill also requires agencies and attorneys to release family history information in adoption files upon request, and allows people adopted through the child welfare system to request a summary of circumstances surrounding termination of parents’ rights. The bill is currently being considered by the Assembly’s Human Services Committee. To read the bill and learn its status, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/ and search for S611 in the bill number field. To read the Adoption Institute’s report on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/
To read the Institute’s report on “safe haven” infant abandonment, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/whowe/
FLORIDA LEGISLATION WOULD ALLOW SOME ADOPTION BY GAYS AND LESBIANS
Bills were introduced in Florida’s House and Senate this month that would allow gay men and lesbians to adopt children in limited circumstances (SB200 and H45). Among the stipulations are if a court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the child lives with the prospective adopter and views him/her as a parent, and if it is in the child’s best interest. The legislation would also allow gays/lesbians to adopt children for whom they are guardians. Both bills are in committee. There were nearly 7,500 children in Florida’s foster care system waiting to be adopted in 2006, according to the latest U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics. Florida is the only state that explicitly prohibits gays and lesbians from adopting by statute. To read the bills and learn their status, go to: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/ and http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/index.cfm. To read the Institute’s last report on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/
KAZAKHSTAN REVIEWS INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS, ALLOWS SOME NEW CASES
The U.S. Department of State issued a notice on March 21 in which it said Kazakhstan has temporarily halted most – but not all – new adoption cases. The notice, entitled “Embassy of Kazakhstan Halts Processing of Adoption Dossiers,” said that the Central Asian nation was reviewing its intercountry adoption procedures. It added that the “review will affect the processing of new adoption dossiers,” or files of documents that demonstrate “an intention to adopt a Kazakhstani orphan.” The duration of the review period was not known, but the notice continued: “Although initial indications were that no new cases would be processed during the review, we have learned that some new cases may have been accepted.” Americans adopted 587 children from Kazakhstan in FY2006. To read the notice, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/
STATE DEPARTMENT LISTS INITIAL HAGUE-APPROVED ADOPTION PROVIDERS
The State Department posted a list on its website on March 19 entitled, “Accredited, Temporarily Accredited, and Approved Hague Adoption Service Providers.” Only adoption agencies and practitioners that have been accredited, approved, or temporarily accredited through the Council on Accreditation (COA) or the Colorado Department of Human Services (CO) will be permitted to provide services in Hague cases – adoptions from countries that also have ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption – once the treaty enters into force in the United States on Apr. 1. To review the list of providers, go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/
ANALYSIS SEES BIG RETURNS FOR MONEY SPENT ON FOSTER CARE ADOPTION
A cost-benefit analysis of adoptions from foster care, including a synthesis of existing research comparing adopted and foster children, found that a dollar spent on the adoption of foster children yields from $2.45 to $3.26 in benefits to society (child welfare and human services savings, reduced educational costs, reduced crime, higher earnings, improved physical and mental health, avoidance of teen parenthood). “The Value of Adoption,” by Mary Hansen, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 10, Issue 2). The author recommends that in order to achieve the benefits of adoption, states must reverse the current trend toward cutting post-adoption supports, and the federal government must revise the current criteria for funding adoption subsidies. To access a free abstract, go to: http://aq.haworthpress.com/store/
STUDY FINDS LITTLE VARIANCE BETWEEN ADOPTEES FROM CHINA, OTHER GIRLS
A study testing a revised measure for child behavior and emotional problems, the Child Behavior Checklist – with a sample of 516 girls adopted from China who were 6-18 years old – found few differences between the adopted girls and girls in a normative group from the general population. “Factor Structure of the Child Behavior Checklist/6-18 in a Sample of Girls Adopted from China,” by Robert Dedrick, Tony Xing Tan and Kofi Marfo, was published in the March issue of Psychological Assessment (Volume 20, Issue 1). All but 29 of the girls were age 11 or younger, and they had slightly fewer problem behaviors on seven sub-scales and the three summary scales than did the normative sample, and slightly more problems on the Anxious/Depressed scale. To access a free abstract, go to: http://content.apa.org/journals/pas
RESEARCH SHOWS RACIAL DISPARITY INCREASES AT EACH STAGE IN SYSTEM
An analysis of racial disproportionality at key decision points in the child welfare process found increasing disparity between two groups of minority children (African American and Native American) and others as they progressed through the child welfare system. While children from these two groups comprised 8 percent of the child population in a Washington county, they accounted for 25 percent of investigated referrals, 33 percent of new placements, and 50 percent of those in the system more than four years. “Decision Points in Child Welfare: An Action Research Model to Address Disproportionality,” by Marian Harris and Wanda Hackett, was published in the Feb. issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 30, Issue 2). Reasons for disparity at each stage were identified from focus group data, including professionals’ lack of awareness of racial bias in themselves and in the court system. To access an abstract, go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/
INTERVIEWS INDICATE OLDER CHILDREN NEED MORE ADOPTION PREPARATION
An exploratory study based on interviews with 55 adoptive parents and 26 caseworkers identified what is being done and what needs to be done to prepare older children for adoption. “Preparing School Age Children for Adoption: Perspectives of Successful Adoptive Parents and Caseworkers,” by Michele Hanna, was published in the most recent issue of Adoption Quarterly (Volume 10, Issue 2). Hanna’s review of previous studies and her own study indicate that basic preparation activities are not consistently provided to children. For example, only 60 percent of adopted children were reported by parents to have a Lifebook prior to adoption, and very few of these (three) were assessed as comprehensive. For a free abstract, go to: http://aq.haworthpress.com/store/
MORE DELAYS, FEWER OPTIONS REPORTED FOR INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS
A March 18 article, “Road to Foreign Adoption Grows Longer,” in The News & Observer reports that as international adoption by Americans has grown more popular, corruption concerns in Vietnam and Guatemala, new adoptive parent requirements in China and an adoption suspension in Kazakhstan have created lengthy delays and fewer options for U.S. adoptive parents. State Department FY2006 statistics show that China was the number one sending country of internationally adopted children to the U.S., followed by Guatemala, while Kazakhstan was number six and Vietnam 14. According to the article by Kristin Collins, “some say international adoption’s popularity may be creating a worldwide backlash” and “experts say they’ve rarely seen so many countries having problems at once.” To read the article, go to: http://www.newsobserver.com/front/
GUATEMALA SUGGESTS FRAUD COULD THREATEN COMPLETED ADOPTIONS
Guatemalan prosecutors have found numerous “irregularities” in the activities of one of the country’s major adoption agencies, Casa Quivira – problems that “have left dozens of babies in danger of being seized from their anguished American adoptive parents,” according to an Associated Press story published in the Seattle Times on March 11. The story, “Guatemala probe finds fraud; U.S. adoptions at risk,” said the investigation had revealed serious flaws in the adoption system that the country replaced in January. A second AP article, “Guatemala: No Amnesty for Adoption Fraud,” published March 12, says prosecutors will not offer amnesty to birthmothers who used false identities to surrender their babies, a decision that could deter some women from stepping forward and, according to officials, could thereby prevent the finalization of their children’s adoptions. To read the articles, go to: http://ap.google.com/article/
MOVIE `JUNO’ CONTINUES TO SPARK DISCUSSION, CONTROVERSY ON ADOPTION
Responses to the movie Juno continue to spark discussion on issues related to teenage pregnancy, the realities of adoption today, and the promotion of adoption as an option. “Movies Open Door for Adoption Advocates,” by Wendy Koch, in the March 9 USA Today, reports that Juno and another movie, Bella, have provided a backdrop for efforts to increase the number of single women who place infants for adoption, such as the media campaign launched this month by the National Council for Adoption.
“Does ‘Juno’ Show Strength or Glorify Teen Pregnancy?” in the same USA Today issue, raises concerns about the impact of pregnancy and parenting on the lives of adolescent girls and acknowledges that many teens are able to parent successfully; a similar article, “The Juno Syndrome: Are Teenage Mums Bad News?” appeared in the London Times on March 11. Other responses to Juno include an op-ed article by the filmmaker Jean Strauss, “In Juno, Adoption Pain Is Left on Cutting Room Floor,” in USA Today on March 18; and an article by Susan Bomalaski, an adoption social worker, in the Anchorage Daily News, on March 9. Both of these commentaries contrast Juno’s presentation with the realities of current adoptions.
COSTA RICAN ‘ADOPTION-FOR CASH SCHEME’ ALLEGEDLY INCLUDES A JUDGE Fourteen people, including a judge who oversaw adoptions, were detained in connection with alleged payments to women to relinquish their infants, according to an Associated Press article published in the March 5 International Herald Tribune. The story, “Costa Rica detains 14, including judge, in adoption-for-cash scheme,” reports that the case centers on three babies, but that investigators believe additional babies may have been trafficked. Costa Rican adoptive parents are said to have paid an average of $10,000 to adopt the infants; it is unclear whether any children were placed with international adoptive families. To read the story, go to: http://www.iht.com/
REPORT GIVES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BUILDING SUPPORT FOR YOUTH
“A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime: Relational Permanence Among Young Adults with Foster Care Backgrounds,” a Chapin Hall report by Gina Samuels, examines the social support networks of young adults coming from foster care, based on interviews with 29 individuals, ages 17-26. It explores the supportive relationships that youth maintain and how these support, or fail to support, them as sustaining permanent connections. A key finding is that how youth experience and learn to cope with ambiguous losses shapes their relational patterns over time. Recommendations include greater attention in practice and policy to the social-emotional health of youth in care, and more creative methods of providing emotional support services, including peer counseling. The report can be downloaded at: http://www.chapinhall.org/
NATIONAL CENTER OFFERS TOOLKIT FOR WORK WITH TRAUMATIZED CHILDREN
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, in collaboration with four California organizations, has developed a toolkit for training professionals to understand the impact of trauma and to work with traumatized children. The full toolkit includes a trainer’s guide, seven training modules, Power Point slides, and supplemental handouts, including activities, case vignettes, and readings. A bound copy can be ordered for a nominal fee, or the full curriculum can be downloaded at: http://www.nctsnet.org/nccts/
INSTITUTE MAKES PRESENTATION TO N.C. LEGISLATIVE STUDY COMMITTEE
Adam Pertman, the Adoption Institute’s Executive Director, made an hour-long presentation on March 5 to the North Carolina House Select Committee on Adoptee Birth Certificates. Pertman discussed research on the issue, provided background, data, analysis and statutory approaches in other states, and also answered legislators’ questions; he was invited to appear by the committee, which is studying what the state should do (or not do) about expanding access to original birth certificates for adult adoptees. To read the Institute’s report on this issue, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/
CALIFORNIA LAWMAKERS CONSIDER SHORTENING REVOCATION PERIOD
Adam Pertman, Executive Director, and Susan Smith, Program & Project Director, submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee of the California state legislature regarding SB1726, which would shorten, from 30 days to five days, California’s revocation period for a birthparent’s relinquishment of a child for adoption. The Institute stressed the need for birthparents to have time to reflect on the “rightness” of their decision due to the gravity of this decision and the stressful conditions surrounding this time in their lives. The letter reported that in many other countries, including 18 European nations, adoption consents do not become final for more than a month. To read the letter, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/policy/; to read the Institute’s report on birthparents, go to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/
LIFEBOOK PROJECT, WITH DVD, AIMS TO HELP FOSTER AND ADOPTED YOUTH
The therapeutic use of lifebooks to help foster and adopted youth keep track of their own personal narratives – and to heal from past trauma and loss – has been put into extensive practice by Lutheran Social Services in Illinois, which has partnered with Dr. Jeanne Howard, the Adoption Institute’s Policy & Research Director. They developed training materials and a DVD, “Putting the Pieces Together, Lifebook Work with Children,” to teach workers about therapeutic lifebook work, and are systematically implementing this work. A section cover story in the Chicago Tribune on March 25, “Lives Rebuilt, a Page at a Time,” by Bonnie Rubin, features this effort. To read the article, go to: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/;
to order the DVD, e-mail Jeanne Howard at: email@example.com
INSTITUTE STAFFERS TO GIVE JOINT KEYNOTE AT N.Y. ADOPTION CONFERENCE
Adam Pertman, Executive Director, and three other senior staff members of the Institute – Dr. David Brodzinsky, Dr. Jeanne Howard, and Susan Smith – will present a joint keynote address at the 14th Annual Ametz Adoption Program Conference in Manhattan on Sunday, April 6. “Welcome to the Revolution: What We’ve Learned from and about Adoptive Families” will provide information and insights gleaned from a wide range of Institute projects. Institute staff also will present workshops throughout the day-long conference. To access the conference program, go to: http://jccany.convio.net/site/
CONTEMPORARY FAMILIES CONFERENCE TO INCLUDE INSTITUTE PRESENTERS
The Council for Contemporary Families will hold its 11th annual conference on April 25-26 at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Two Institute staff members, Dr. Jeanne Howard and Adam Pertman – as well as Institute Senior Research Fellow Ruth McRoy – are among the panelists at the event, which will center on important current family issues, including adoption. “The world of adoption is changing rapidly and radically,” explains Pertman, adding that the issues it raises “… couldn’t be more touching, personal, or controversial.” For more information, go to: http://www.contemporaryfamilies.org/docs/;
to read a release about the conference, go to: http://newswire.ascribe.org/
INSTITUTE FRIENDS AND CELEBRITY CHEFS SUPPORT SPRING BENEFIT
Early donations and ticket sales have begun for our annual benefit, “A Taste of Spring.” The event, being held in midtown New York on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, will feature boutique wines from around the world, live music, and celebrity chefs from many wonderful New York restaurants. Returning for the fourth consecutive year are Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit and Executive Chef Cyril Renaud’s Fleur de Sel. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian of Country is participating in the event for the first time this year. The delicacies available will provide a culinary trip around the world, with not only the tastes of Sweden and France, but also of rural India (Yuva), Southeast Asia and the Far East (P*Ong), and Mexico (Zarela).
“A Taste of Spring” is our most important fundraiser of the year, providing the support needed to continue our unique work designed to improve the lives of the millions of people touched by adoption. Board members Kimberly Donaldson, Caroline Fitzgibbons, and Sandra McManus are serving as the event’s Co-Chairs; the Honorary Co-Chairs are Board member Priscilla Newman and her husband, Ron Cappello, and Institute supporter Roger Kline.
This year we are honoring Adoption Institute Board President Sandra D. Kresch, and Tony-award-winning Broadway star Christine Ebersole and her husband, musician and composer Bill Moloney; the Adoption Institute is delighted to honor this couple, who have so joyfully put the Institute’s core values into action. Kresch has served as the Institute's Board President since 2002, and has helped steer the organization through a period of unprecedented growth and productivity. As she ends her highly successful tenure as Board President this year, we are delighted to recognize her leadership, creativity, and insight.
We are especially excited that, this year, all our costs are being underwritten by our “Angels” and past Honorary Co-Chairs, Jurate Kazickas & Roger Altman and Jane & Bill Donaldson. Their generosity means every cent of the proceeds will go directly toward our programs. Please contact External Relations Director Laura James at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, to reserve tickets (they go quickly!), or to become an individual/corporate sponsor.
If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please contact Laura, or please consider advancing our many initiatives by:
Making a donation – and asking friends and relatives to honor birthdays and anniversaries with gifts to the Institute
Making a gift to the Institute in a loved one's honor or memory
Including the Institute in your estate plans
Using your contacts to help introduce us to foundations, corporations and other sources of support
Making "in-kind" donations of computer equipment, air miles and hotel vouchers
its establishment in 1996, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has
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