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U.S. HOUSE APPROVES COMPREHENSIVE CHILD WELFARE REFORM LEGISLATION
On June 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Fostering Connections to Success Act (HR6307), which provides a number of child welfare reforms; these include reauthorizing the adoption incentive program to states (set to expire this year) through 2013, extending support for kinship care, and providing a state option to continue foster care to age 21. The legislation, introduced by Representatives Jim McDermott and Jerry Weller, also stipulates that states should conduct reasonable efforts to place siblings together, extends access to federal training funds to private agencies, gives tribes direct access to Title IV-E funds, and requires greater health planning and educational stability by states for children in foster care. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. To read the legislation, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search for H.R. 6307 in the search bill text field.
IOWA COURT RULES PART OF STATE INDIAN ADOPTION LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Iowa's highest court issued an opinion on June 13 saying that the state's Indian Child Welfare Act, passed in 2003 and extending additional rights to tribes beyond the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, was unconstitutional in its placement preferences since it interferes with parents' fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children. The case involved a Native American woman who voluntarily terminated her parental rights and chose a non-Native American couple as the adoptive parents for her child in 2006. Although the federal law permits a Native American child to be placed outside of a tribe for "good cause," placement under Iowa's law is determined by the tribe without regard to parental preferences. The court stated, "While providing additional rights to the tribe is the prerogative of the state, those rights may not come at the expense of the parent's or child's rights." The case was remanded to lower court for a decision under the federal rules. To read the opinion, go to:
CANADIAN STUDY SHOWS EFFECTS OF EARLY DEPRIVATION ON CHINA ADOPTEES
A Canadian longitudinal study of 70 infants adopted from China assessed the girls on arrival and at six-month intervals for two years; it found that it took two years for them to catch up developmentally on almost all measures with a comparison group of Canadian-born children - but that early deprivation had lasting effects on physical growth. "Children Adopted from China: A Prospective Study of their Growth and Development," by Nancy Cohen, Mirek Lojkasek, Zohreh Zadeh, Mirella Pugliese, and Heidi Kiefer, was published in the April issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Volume 49, Issue 4). At six months after their adoption, the girls' receptive language skills were similar to the Canadian-born children's scores, but expressive language remained lower at the two-year followup. To access a free abstract, go to:
CHILDREN FOUND TO MAKE SOLID GAINS AFTER INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
A study of 26 internationally adopted children under age 3 who were assessed within two months of adoption and again six months later found considerable gains for most; for mental development, those falling in the normal range went from 38 percent to 64 percent; and for motor development, the increase was from 31 percent to 76 percent. "A Preliminary Study of the Cognitive and Motor Skills Acquisition of Young International Adoptees," by Samantha Wilson, Terri Weaver, Mary Cradock, and Janet Kuebli, was published in the May issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 30, Issue 5). Children from foster care were less delayed than those institutionalized but demonstrated smaller gains after adoption. To access an abstract, go to:
RESEARCH TIES PRENATAL SUBSTANCE EXPOSURE TO BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS
A 14-year longitudinal California adoption study evaluated the impact of prenatal substance exposure among children at four measurement periods extending to 14 years post-adoption, and found that while these children scored higher on behavior problems at each measurement, their problems increased at the same rate as non-exposed children and did not reflect the cumulative disadvantage once projected. "Behavioral Outcomes for Substance-Exposed Adopted Children: Fourteen Years Postadoption," by Thomas Crea, Richard Barth (a Donaldson Institute Senior Fellow), Shenyang Guo, and Devon Brooks (also a Donaldson Institute Senior Fellow), was published in the current issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Volume 78, Issue 1). An unexpected finding was that children adopted from foster care, primarily those adopted by age 3, had significantly lower behavior problem scores. The authors hypothesized that this could have been due to lower income families having lower expectations of their children. To access an abstract, go to:
SURVEY REPORTS RISE IN CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM INSTITUTIONS ABROAD
The first population-based study in the U.S. of parents adopting internationally, based on 1,834 surveys (62% response) of Minnesotan families adopting between 1990 and 1998, found that there was an increase in children coming from institutions - from under 60 percent in 1990 to over 80 percent in 1998. "The International Adoption Project: Population-based Surveillance of Minnesota Parents Who Adopted Children Internationally," by Wendy Hellerstadt, Nikki Madsen, Megan Gunnar, Harold Grotevant (an Institute Senior Fellow), Richard Lee, and Dana Johnson (an Institute Senior Fellow), was published in the March issue of Maternal and Child Health Journal (Volume 12, Issue 2). Seventy-five percent of parents agreed that parental leave was an issue for them. Eighty-eight percent were transracial adoptions, and 71 percent of children had some exposure to experiences involving other children from their birth countries. A copy of the article can be ordered at:
REVIEW CALLS FOR MORE ATTENTION TO EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF FOSTER YOUTH
A research review seeks to find answers for the approximately 20,000 youth who "age out" of foster care each year, and recommends educational reforms and innovative practices focused on helping youth stay in school and learn requisite skills for independence. "Foster Children Need More Help after They Reach the Age of Eighteen," by James Vacca, was published in the May issue of Children and Youth Services Review (Volume 30, Issue 5). The author, who is a longtime educational advocate for foster youth, recommends initiatives such as New York City's pilot program putting caseworkers in middle schools to offer intensive support for foster children, as well as basic steps such as focusing on the youth's educational needs at each case review meeting. To access a free abstract, go to:
NORWAY EXPANDS RIGHTS OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY AND ADOPT
Norway's parliament approved legislation on June 17 granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage and parental rights. The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2009, amends the definition of a civil marriage by making it gender neutral. It replaces a 1993 law that gave same-sex couples the right to enter civil unions but did not permit church weddings or adoption. Under the new rules, gay and lesbian couples may adopt jointly and lesbians can undergo in vitro fertilization treatments. The new measure makes Norway the sixth country in the world to give same-sex couples the legal right to marry. To read an Associated Press article on the new law, go to:
MYANMAR PROHIBITS ADOPTION OF CHILDREN LEFT ORPHANED BY CYCLONE
Government officials of Myanmar declared that none of the children orphaned as a result of the May 2 cyclone would be available for adoption and would instead be taken care of jointly by the government, domestic non-governmental organizations, and resident United Nations organizations. According to a June 11 Xinhua report, "Myanmar to Take Care of Cyclone Orphans, Ban Adoption," the government has also promised to help find any surviving relatives of orphans and provide education up to university level, depending on the ability of the child. The government reports 130 children were officially registered as orphans out of an initial estimate of over 500; the storm killed 77,738 people, left 55,917 missing and 19,359 injured, according to government estimates. To read the article, go to:
MORE AMERICAN COMPANIES PROVIDING ADOPTION BENEFITS TO EMPLOYEES
Of the approximately 1,000 major companies in the U.S., 47 percent provided employees with adoption benefits in 2007 compared to 12 percent in 1990, according to a June 20 CNN article, "More U.S. Firms Help Workers Adopt." The article reported on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption's ranking of the most adoption-friendly companies for 2008, with the best companies offering benefits that include financial aid, paid time off, consulting or referral services, and free workshops. Despite the growing popularity of such benefits, fewer than half of 1 percent of employees takes advantage of adoption benefits and employers reportedly remain naïve about the issues adoptive parents may face. To read the article, go to:
CITIZENSHIP EASIER FOR WIVES, ADOPTED CHILDREN OF MILITARY PERSONNEL
U.S. armed service members stationed abroad can now obtain citizenship for their foreign-born spouses and adopted children at their overseas stations, thereby eliminating the need to fly to the United States to finalize citizenship. According to a June 10 article, "Obtaining U.S. Citizenship is Now Easier for Servicemembers' Foreign-born Spouses," published in Stars and Stripes, the new procedure was approved in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 110-242) signed by President Bush on Jan. 28. Foreign-born adopted children applying for citizenship must have one parent who is an American citizen who has also spent at least five years in the U.S.; time spent at an oversea duty station can count toward that five years, according to the law. To read the article, go to:
WEBSITE FEATURES PROGRAMS, RESOURCES OF FOSTER CARE PROJECT GRANTEES
The Children's Bureau awarded five-year grants in 2005 to nine demonstration projects to develop programs facilitating open adoptions/guardianships for older youth in foster care. This month these grantees, along with the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption, established a website offering descriptions of the programs and resources developed by projects. Resources currently offered include curricula for training workers, legal professionals, youth, and parents; a videotape, Family Connections, which can be viewed online and ordered; and an array of assessment and evaluation tools. Other resources will be added to this site as projects continue. To access the website, go to:
DAVE THOMAS FOUNDATION IDENTIFIES TOP 100 ADOPTION-FRIENDLY FIRMS
The 2008 list of the top 100 adoption-friendly workplaces was posted on the Dave Thomas Foundation website. The Foundation ranks employers based on the amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave for employees who adopt; the top company in 2008 is Wendy's International, Inc., which offers up to $23,300 in reimbursement and up to six weeks paid leave. The site has an adoption benefits survey for employers to submit, as well as an adoption benefits toolkit for employees to use in expanding employer benefits. A number of educational videos are also featured. To access the website, go to:
ADOPTION INSTITUTE PRESENTS MEPA PAPER AT CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute on June 10 presented information and findings from its recently released report, "Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race and Law in Adoptions from Foster Care," to senior congressional staff on Capitol Hill at the invitation of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Executive Director Adam Pertman led the Institute's presentation, which also featured representatives of organizations that have endorsed the report, including the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the Child Welfare League of America. The Institute's report found that the current law was not working as intended to increase the number of African American children being adopted from foster care, and recommended changes in current law; proponents of the status quo also spoke at the briefing. To read the Institute's report, go to:
CHILD PSYCHIATRISTS HONOR INSTITUTE'S PERTMAN FOR `EXEMPLARY WORK'
The Adoption Institute's Executive Director, Adam Pertman, has been chosen by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist to receive a major honor - its 2008 Marshall Schechter Lecture Award. The award, which is presented every other year, "recognizes an individual's exemplary work in the field of adoption," says the notification letter sent to Pertman this month. Pertman will receive the award at the organization's 55th annual meeting in October in Chicago, where he will deliver a keynote address.
A 100-MILE RIDE OVER THE ROCKIES TO BENEFIT THE ADOPTION INSTITUTE
In past years, Matt Donaldson has completed the Iron Man triathlon to raise support for the Institute named after his mother, Evan B. Donaldson. This year, for a change, Matt is not swimming or running, he's just going to ride his bike - just a 100 mile ride through the Colorado Rockies, on forest trails and mountain roads as high as 12,600 feet above sea level. Matt will be riding in the Leadville Trail 100 - "The Race Across the Sky" - on August 16-17, 2008. Please support Matt in this tremendous effort - be the wind at his back, pushing him up those mountains - by supporting the important work of the Adoption Institute. To donate, you can either send a check to the Adoption Institute at 120 E. 38th Street, New York, NY 10016 (Please write "Matt Donaldson" or "100 Mile Race" on the memo line); or you can donate online through
Network for Good here or through our support page at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/about/support.php.
Please put "Matt Donaldson" or "100 Mile Race" in the designation box. Finally, you can also donate by emailing Laura James, External Relations Director, at email@example.com or calling her at (212) 925-4089.
WEST-C0ASTERS: SAVE THE DATE FOR OUR NEXT L.A. BENEFIT ON OCTOBER 23
Those of you who live on the West Coast - or plan to travel there! - please mark October 23, 2008, for the next Adoption Institute Benefit in Los Angeles. This is always a fun party, full of "stars" and movers and shakers in the entertainment industry, all devoted to supporting the work of the Institute to make adoption fairer and more beneficial for everyone it touches. The event will be at a private home, so please contact Laura James for more information on sponsorship opportunities, and how to attend.
If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, please contact Laura James at firstname.lastname@example.org or 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 introduce us to foundations, corporations and other sources of support
• Making "in-kind" donations of computer equipment, air miles and hotel vouchers
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.
Support Our Work
The Adoption Institute was established in 1996 with a one-time grant. To continue our work, we depend on new and renewable sources of funding. We need the financial support of people like you whose lives have been touched by adoption and who care
about the future of vulnerable children everywhere. Please send a generous contribution to the Adoption Institute’s annual fund today. To donate, please call 212-925-4089 or go online to: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/about/support.php,
or print and complete this form http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/donate/donatereply.pdf,
and fax it to 775-796-6592, or mail it with your check or credit card information to:
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
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