NCFA

e-Memo for February 2004

Update – Adoption Hall of Fame 2004 Awards Banquet

NCFA's Adoption Hall of Fame 2004 Awards Banquet is quickly approaching. This year's gala will be held on Wednesday, March 31, at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington DC. NCFA's annual celebration honors those who have proven their commitment to promoting sound and ethical adoption policies and practices. The 2004 awardees include Dr. Gregory Foltz, adoption advocate and practitioner; US Representative Wally Herger; and the Honorable Wade F. Horn, PhD. The program will also include a special video presentation and remarks from Representative James L. Oberstar, Representative Dave Camp, and Dr. Cassie Statuto Bevan, in tribute to NCFA's founding president, the late William L. Pierce, who passed away on January 13, 2004.

Follow the link below to download a copy of the invitation to order tickets. Due to Embassy security requirements, all RSVPs must be received no later than Thursday, March 18.

Please contact Megan Lott at (703) 299-6633 (ext. 104), or visit NCFA's website for additional details.

Click here for more information.

Update – 2004 National Adoption Conference

NCFA's 2004 National Adoption Conference will be held Thursday and Friday, April 1-2, at the Washington Terrace Hotel in Washington, DC. The event will bring together adoption professionals, child welfare advocates, and policymakers to discuss and learn about important domestic and intercountry adoption issues. Social work and other child welfare professionals can earn continuing education credit.

Go to NCFA's website (linked below) to download a copy of the conference registration form and agenda to sign up.

Note that NCFA's adoption agency members receive a discount. Also, call Kelsey Larus, (703) 299-6633 (ext. 103), to reserve your hotel room before March 15, for a special rate of $159.00 per night, plus tax.

Visit NCFA's website for updates.

Tributes to NCFA founder and adoption pioneer, William L. Pierce, speak to his accomplishments and dedication

NCFA has received numerous heartfelt personal remembrances and tributes to NCFA founder and adoption pioneer, the late William L. Pierce.

Tributes are posted on NCFA's website.

NCFA will continue to post submissions, and invites you to send your own tribute.

Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program update

In the first two months of 2004, the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program has conducted 40 three-day trainings, in a total of 37 different states, and another 63 one-day trainings. The trainings continue to be well received, with a participant satisfaction rate of 93%. To date, more than 6,500 have “graduated” from NCFA's Adoption Awareness trainings.

The Project's “Thanks for Considering Adoption” mass media campaign has reached many viewers, listeners, and readers across the United States. It is estimated that airtime and space donated for the messages to date easily exceed $1,000,000. Additional materials for the campaign are currently in production. The campaign materials are available in Spanish, as well as English. A Spanish language curriculum has also been developed so that trainings may now be offered entirely in Spanish.

Click here to visit the Project's website.

Missouri introduces putative father registry bill

Missouri is considering a putative father registry bill this session. Senator Charlie Shields has sponsored SB964, an amendment to Missouri's current putative father registry law. Three of the bill's most significant provisions are:

* A putative father's lack of knowledge of a pregnancy does not excuse his failure to timely file with the registry.

* Any man who has had sexual relations with a woman is deemed to be on notice that a child may be conceived, and the man is entitled to notice of an adoption proceeding only by complying with the state's registry requirements.

* A putative father who fails to timely file with the registry waives the right to withhold his consent to the adoption.

The Committee on Aging, Families, Mental & Public Health held a hearing on February 11, 2004. The bill was passed without amendment and will next be considered by the full Senate.

Register your support by contacting Senator Shields, (573) 751-9476, charlie_shields@senate.state.mo.us, or his legislative aide Chris Roepe, croepe@senate.state.mo.us.

Approximately one half of the states use putative father registry laws to specify the rights and responsibilities of putative (unmarried) fathers vis-à-vis the adoption of their child. These laws are a way to ensure that uncommitted birthfathers are unable to interfere with a birthmother's decision to place the child for adoption. Effective putative father registry laws detail the steps that a putative father must take to protect his rights, placing the responsibility on the father to: make himself aware of the mother's pregnancy and birth of the child; demonstrate his commitment to the child's well-being through reasonable financial and emotional support; and meet strict deadlines about complying with the outlined steps. These laws promote the early adoption of children whose birthparents are unable or unwilling to parent their child.

Click here to view the bill.

Hawaii and Nebraska introduce Safe Haven bills; New Jersey proposes amendment to current Safe Haven law

Hawaii is the second state this year to introduce an infant Safe Haven bill. Representative Maile S. L. Shimabukuro and Representative Dennis A. Arakaki cosponsored HB1901, which would allow a birthmother to place her child with a Safe Haven within 72 hours of birth and be immune from prosecution. The House Committees on Health and on Housing and Human Services passed HB1901, without amendment, at a February 10 hearing. Following a vote of the full House of Representatives, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on February 26. NCFA provided a written statement and analysis for the Committee's review. The Judiciary Committee passed HB1901 in an amended form. The Senate has introduced a companion bill, SB2587, but has taken no action on it.

Read Hawaii's bill by clicking here.

Read NCFA's written statement and analysis provided to the Judiciary Committee by clicking here.

The Nebraska Judiciary Committee considered its infant Safe Haven bill, LB933, at a January 28 hearing, but took no action. Like the Hawaii bill, LB933 allows a birthmother to place her child with a Safe Haven within 72 hours of birth and be immune from prosecution.

Click here to read Nebraska's bill.

Read NCFA's written statement and analysis provided to the Judiciary Committee by clicking here.

New Jersey is considering an amendment to its Safe Haven law to provide birthparents immunity from prosecution, rather than only the right to an affirmative defense, should they place their child with a Safe Haven. It would also prohibit the State from any attempts to locate or contact birthparents if provided identifying information. A-312's stated purpose is to encourage parents to place their infant safely with a Safe Haven. A-312 was voted on favorably by the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee and the Assembly Family, Women, and Children's Issues Committee, after which the Assembly unanimously passed the bill, as amended, on February 23, 2004. The bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on February 24, 2004.

Read A-312, as amended, by clicking here.

Preserving the option of privacy in adoption

The New Hampshire Public Institutions, Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on February 3, 2004, to consider SB335, a bill that would allow adult adopted persons to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate without the consent of the birthparent. The Committee will vote on SB335 on March 2, 2004. You can contact the members of the Public Institutions, Health and Human Services Committee by email below:

Senator Andre Martel, Chair - andre.martel@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Robert K. Boyce, Vice Chair - robert.boyce@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Iris W. Estabrook - iris.estabrook@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Joseph D. Kenney - joseph.kenney@leg.state.nh.us

Senator Jane E. O'Hearn - jane.ohearn@leg.state.nh.us

Review the bill by clicking here.

Click here to read NCFA's written analysis of “How SB335 Harms Adoption.”

Prints of Angels in Adoption™ painting available for purchase

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute commissioned Doug Pratt, Jr. to paint the Angels in Adoption™ series, to promote adoption of children out of foster care. A series of three paintings, the second was unveiled at the 2003 Angels in Adoption Banquet last October. Framed prints of the original are available at participating Target stores for $39.99.

Target is donating a portion of each print sale to help children awaiting permanency find safe and loving homes and to eliminate the barriers that hinder children from realizing their basic need of a family.

You can also purchase unframed 16 X 20 posters for $15.00, with the option of paying an additional $10.00 to have the print signed by the artist, by visiting the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's website www.ccainstitute.org. There, you will find order forms and additional information on other items for sale.

To view the artwork and order online from Target, please click here.

"Voices from the Inside," new report from the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care

The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care submitted a report, "Voices from the Inside," in February 2004, which examines the experiences of children in foster care, as well as the experiences of parents whose children were placed in foster care and of foster and adoptive parents. The report presents the results of three focus groups conducted by the Commission in September and October 2003: one with eight former foster youth in Washington, DC; another with thirteen parents in New York City whose children had been in foster care; and a third with eleven foster and adoptive parents in Denver, Colorado. The report illustrates serious shortcomings in the nation's child welfare system—of which foster care is the largest component. It also identifies aspects of the system that are successfully helping children live safely in permanent families.

The Commission states that it is developing practical, evidence-based recommendations to improve outcomes for children in foster care in two critical areas:

* improving federal funding mechanisms to help facilitate faster movement of children out of foster care and into safe, permanent homes, and to help reduce the need for foster care; and

* improving court oversight of child welfare cases to promote better and more timely decisions related to children's safety, permanence, and well-being.

The Commission expects to release its recommendations in the spring of 2004.

The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care was formed in May 2003. Its work is supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute.

Read the complete report by clicking here.

CIS publishes annual Adjustment of the Immigration Benefit Application Fee Schedule in Federal Register

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) published its annual, proposed Adjustment of the Immigration Benefit Application Fee Schedule on February 3, 2004, in the Federal Register. Among other adjustments, CIS is proposing to raise the application fee for the Forms I600 and I600A to $525, an increase of $65. There is a 30-day period ending on March 4, 2004, during which the public may submit comments to CIS on these proposed fee changes.

To read the proposed rule and instructions about submission of comments, click here.

Romanian suspension of 2001 Emergency Ordinance provisions

On February 6, 2004, the Romanian government issued a press release announcing the abolishment of certain provisions of the 2001 Emergency Ordinance relating to intercountry adoption. The Emergency Ordinance had made it possible for "exceptional adoption cases" to continue during the Romanian imposed moratorium on intercountry adoption. The moratorium was put into place in 2001, and is still in effect.

Read the Romanian government's press release by clicking here.

The State Department is seeking clarification on the intent of this announcement, e.g., as to whether any exceptions will apply.

Click here to visit the Office of Children's Issues website.

NCFA's e-Memo is a monthly publication distributed free of charge. Subscribe online.

You can contact NCFA by mail, phone, fax, and email:

National Council For Adoption
225 N. Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314
703-299-6633 (Phone)
703-299-6004 (fax)
ncfa@adoptioncouncil.org

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