NCFA

e-Memo for January 2005

 

2005 Marks the 25th Anniversary of NCFA

NCFA will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2005. Please help us commemorate this milestone in adoption history. Be sure to mark your calendars for April 7 when we host our 25th Anniversary Adoption Hall of Fame 2005 Awards Banquet at the beautiful Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. It will be a stellar event. Awardees include CNN's Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt, Kenneth Feld owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and adoption pioneer and practitioner Theodore U.C. Kim. Other adoption leaders from the highest level of the US government have been invited but may not yet be announced at this time. Immediately following the 25th Anniversary banquet will be NCFA's National Adoption Conference on April 8-9, at the Washington Court Hotel.

For more information on the banquet, please contact Megan Lott, vice president of development at (703) 299-6633 or at mlott@adoptioncouncil.org.

For information on the conference, contact Chuck Johnson, director of training and agency services at (703) 299-6633 or at cjohnson@adoptioncouncil.org.

Continue to visit NCFA's Web site for updates on these special events. Click here.

In Memory of Dr. Gregory Foltz

NCFA Board member and 2004 Adoption Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Gregory Foltz passed away on December 29, 2004. Dr. Foltz served as a member of the NCFA Board for more than 15 years.

Greg was a man of great integrity, humility, and wit. Throughout his career of compassion, he tirelessly served women in crisis and children in need. As a faithful Board member and officer, Greg was instrumental in building and leading NCFA in its adoption expertise and advocacy.

To read his fellow NCFA Board members' comments about Dr. Foltz's contributions to the cause of adoption, click here.

Caring for tsunami orphans

There has been an outpouring of compassion from Americans interested in adopting children orphaned as a result of the Indian Ocean tsunami. NCFA has been contacted by concerned individuals seeking guidance and requesting information regarding the adoption of tsunami orphans. NCFA does not anticipate that many tsunami orphans will be free for adoption, at least, in the short term. The most affected countries do not have extensive international adoption programs. Moreover, notwithstanding the scope of this tragedy, basic adoption procedures must continue to be followed, to protect the affected children and families. Before the adoption of a tsunami orphan can move forward, it will need to be determined that the child truly has been orphaned, that there are no other family or community members who will care for the child, that the child is legally free to be adopted and the case has been ethically handled, and that the child is emotionally ready to be adopted.

For information on specific countries' international adoption policies, visit the US Department of State's Web site.
For Voice of America's interview of NCFA president Thomas Atwood on this subject, click here.
To contact NCFA member agencies that operate in some of the affected regions, please click here.

Supreme Court Lets Florida Homosexual Adoption Ban Stand

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review Florida's 1977 law that prevents homosexuals from adopting children. The rejection means that Florida's uniquely worded law — "no person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual" — will stand. Governor Bush and the state of Florida argued that children should be placed in homes with a mother and a father, ensuring that the 8,000 children awaiting adoption in Florida will not be entrusted to two homosexuals or two lesbians. This decision might lead other states to enact similar measures to ensure that children are placed in homes where they have the opportunity to have both a mother and a father.

According to NCFA's “Adoption First Principles,” preference in adoption placements should be given to families that offer married mother-and-father parenting. Recent research has confirmed the teaching of centuries of historical experience that married mother-and-father parenting is most likely to produce the best outcomes for children.

Click here to read NCFA's “Adoption First Principles.”
For more coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court's action, click here.

NCFA takes action against Fox's controversial “Who's Your Daddy?”

NCFA encouraged its constituents to contact the Fox Network or their local Fox stations and ask that the “Who's Your Daddy?” program be removed from the schedule. Over the objections of the adoption community, on January 3, Fox aired the show which featured a young lady placed for adoption as an infant, attempting to guess the identity of her birthfather for a $100,000 prize. One Fox affiliate WRAZ-TV in Raleigh-Durham decided not to air the program because it did not "reflect the prevailing standards of good taste for the local community."

Under the best of circumstances, the broadcasting of adoption-reunion stories tends to intrude and exploit. But “Who's Your Daddy?” took the media's misguided fascination with adoption openness to ridiculous new lows, and added to the media's distorted presentation of the openness issue. The show was so poorly conceived and delivered that it achieved the lowest rating for its time slot and Fox management decided not to air the other five episodes that had been filmed. The American viewing public and adoption community have spoken.

To read NCFA's letter to Fox, click here.

The courts fail Evan Scott and forcibly return him to biological mother

Duval County Judge Waddell Wallace of Jacksonville, FL. ordered Evan Scott, nearly 4 years old, to be removed from the home of Gene and Dawn Scott who had sought to adopt him and cared for him since his infancy. Judge Wallace ordered Evan placed in the custody of his biological mother, but Evan's permanent placement has still not been determined after all this time. As NCFA President Tom Atwood said on “Larry King Live” regarding this case, “Evan, this little boy, is entitled, and all along has been entitled, to a timely and responsible permanent placement decision. It is the job of the courts to make that happen. The courts let Evan down. They did not resolve the issue of the biological father's rights in a timely manner. And they allowed what should have been a decision about the best interests of this little boy to become a debate over parental rights.” Atwood spoke similarly on Evan's behalf on the CBS network's “The Early Show” and on ABC's “Today” show. He also a ssured prospective adoptive parents that such cases are “exceedingly rare,” though they should “never happen” at all.

The courts' failure with respect to this case provides further illustration of the need to establish performance measures for courts in order to hold them accountable for their handling of adoption cases, both private adoptions and adoptions out of foster care. To avoid future “Evan Scott” cases, standards should be established for courts requiring that, in private adoptions disputed by the biological father: the case is assigned to one judge, one court (there have been nine judges involved in Evan's case to date); a best interests hearing is held within a short period of time (30 days, perhaps) after the biological father files for custody of the child (there was never a best interest hearing held for Evan); and the permanent placement decision will be issued by the court within a short period of time after the biological father's petition for custody (60 days perhaps).

Though cases lingering for years, such as Evan's, are rare in private adoptions, the problem of children languishing in foster care due to poor court performance is quite common. NCFA is developing recommendations for performance measures for courts that policymakers and the general public can use to hold courts accountable for performance that better serves children in foster care.

Stay tuned.

New Jersey State Senate votes to eliminate adoption privacy

On Monday, December 6, the New Jersey Senate passed SCS S1093-S620, a bill that threatens the privacy rights of birthparents by opening confidential records from past adoptions and eliminating future birthparents' option to choose confidentiality and privacy. If passed, this legislation would empower adult adopted persons to obtain birthparents' identifying information and impose unilateral contact without birthparent consent. The vote was 23 for, 14 against, and 3 not voting.

The bill has been sent to the Family, Women and Children's Services Committee in the Assembly. A unique coalition of New Jersey Right to Life, New Jersey Catholic Conference, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, and the New Jersey State Bar Association have joined with NCFA to oppose this legislation.

To read more about this bill, click here and type in S1093.
To read NCFA's overview of how this bill harms adoption, click here.

NCFA to engage adoption leaders in reforming foster care

With funding by The Pew Charitable Trusts, NCFA has launched the Adoption Leader Engagement Project (ALEP), to better serve children in foster care. Building upon the work of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, ALEP is designed to educate policy makers, judicial leaders, the media, and the general public on the importance of establishing performance-based measures for family courts, promoting judicial leadership, and allowing states greater flexibility and accountability in federal foster care funding.

Please continue to monitor NCFA's Web site for more updates. Click here and read our news release.

NCFA's National Adoption Month event - Kids at Heart - draws record crowd

On Sunday, November 21, NCFA celebrated “National Adoption Month” with the its annual Kids at Heart festival. This year's fun-filled event featured performers from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, generously donated by Feld Entertainment, Inc., and was held in the historic Puck Building in New York City.

The highlight of this year's Kids at Heart was Popeye's adoption of Swee'pea. More than 550 adopted children, their parents, and other friends of adoption witnessed the special ceremony, officiated by Judge Greg Mathis. Other witnesses included Olive Oyl, honorary co-chair and actress Dana Delany, and actor Luis Guzman, accompanied by his wife Angelita and their adopted children.

For more information on Kids at Heart 2004 or to find out how you can still make a donation, please contact Megan Lott, vice president of development, by e-mail mlott@adoptioncouncil.org or by phone at (703) 299.6633.

Click here to visit the NCFA Web site and see exciting photos from this year's event.

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

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You can contact NCFA by mail, phone, fax, and e-mail:

National Council For Adoption

225 N. Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314

703-299-6633 (Phone)

703-299-6004 (fax)

ncfa@adoptioncouncil.org