e-Memo for May 2004
On May 18, the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care
released its policy recommendations to reform federal child
welfare financing and strengthen court oversight of child
The Commission’s key financing recommendations include:
- Preservation of federal adoption assistance as an entitlement
and expanding its availability to all children, regardless
of birthfamily income and including Indian children and children
residing in US territories.
- Improving the current Child and Federal Services Review
process to strengthen state accountability.
- Allowance of guardianship subsidies in the event that
neither reunification nor adoption is a viable alternative.
- Extension of the adoption incentives to other forms of
permanence, i.e., reunification and legal guardianship.
- Increased and more flexible federal funding mechanisms
for states to devise strategies to meet the needs of their
foster care populations through:
° Available grants.
° An expanded and more simplified waiver process.
° Reinvesting of foster care dollars into other child
welfare programs when states safely reduce use of foster
The Commission’s key court recommendations include:
- Use of national performance measures to improve judicial
oversight of children in foster care, identify areas of needed
improvement, and ensure court accountability.
- Use of incentives and requirements to foster effective
collaboration between courts and child welfare agencies.
- Better leadership from chief justices and other state
court officials in positions of influence to institutionalize
- Improved advocacy for children and parents in court,
through the use of better-trained attorneys and more volunteer
NCFA’s comments on the Pew Commission report will
here to to access and read the report.
During the week preceding "Be My Baby" on "20/20," the
media ruckus focused on the obnoxious, reality-TV-style promotion
of the show's "inside look at open adoption." The
universal condemnation of those promotions was well deserved.
It is almost beyond belief that anyone, even TV-hype writers,
could be so insensitive as to cast adoption in terms of a
reality-show competition, where contestant couples vie for
a baby. It's no wonder that ABC News and the Federal Communications
Commission received thousands of complaints.
So other than that, how was the show? Flawed from the get-go.
The very idea of broadcasting an adoption on national television
is degrading and inhumane. The purpose of adoption is to...
here to read NCFA President Thomas Atwood's Washington
Times op ed.
The U.S. Department of State recently updated its report
on "Immigrant Visas Issued to Orphans Coming to the
United States," by adding figures for fiscal year 2003,
which ended September 30, 2003. This report provides authoritative
data regarding the number of children adopted internationally
by U.S. parents, which increased this past year by 1,517
children, from 20,099 in 2002, to 21,616 in 2003.
"It is encouraging that international adoptions by
U.S. parents continued to increase in 2003, for the eleventh
year in a row. More than ever, children in need around the
world found loving, permanent families through adoption by
U.S. parents," said National Council For Adoption (NCFA)
President Thomas Atwood, about the State Department figures. "But
the facts that one country, China, with an increase of 1,806,
accounted for more than the entire increase, and that other
countries stagnated or declined, indicates that intercountry
adoption continues to face obstacles that block many children
from enjoying the benefits of family life."
here to read NCFA's entire analysis of the new intercountry
Hosted by the Children’s Bureau and AdoptUSKinds,
the 2004 National Adoption and Foster Care Recruitment Summit
will be held on July 15-16, in Washington, DC. The event
will bring together state agency staff, adoption and foster
care organizations, and the faith community to help build
partnerships to recruit adoptive and foster families.
As of September 30, 2001, there were 126,000 children in
foster care with the case status of waiting to be adopted,
and more than 19,000 youth "aged out" of the foster
care system that year, never having found the love and security
of a family. There are approaching 400,000 places of worship
in the United States - about 3 places of worship for every
child waiting to be adopted. Universal to America's faiths
is the admonition for believers to care for children whose
biological parents cannot or will not parent them. Clearly,
there is an opportunity to help these deserving children
enjoy the love and security of a forever family by recruiting
parents from faith-based communities.
There is no fee to attend the conference.
here for Summit info, or to register online.
The House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee
on Human Resources held a hearing on Thursday, May 13, to
review state efforts to come into compliance with federal
Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR). CFSRs are designed
to enable the Children's Bureau to review state child welfare
agency practice, ensure conformity of agency practice with
federal child welfare requirements, and enhance states’ capacity
to help children and families achieve positive outcomes.
The May 13 hearing was the third in a series of hearings
held by the Human Resources Subcommittee since November 2003.
The links below provide additional information.
here to learn more about the hearing.
here to learn more about Child and Family Service Reviews.
On May 12, New Hampshire’s SB335 became law after
Governor Craig Benson failed to veto the bill. This new statute
eliminates privacy in adoption by allowing adult adopted
persons to access their original birth certificate, without
birthparent knowledge or consent. When the law goes into
effect on January 1, 2005, no future New Hampshire birthparent
will have the option of a confidential adoption. And, birthparents
who placed a child for adoption in New Hampshire in the past
will no longer be entitled to the confidentiality promised
them at the time of placement. The overwhelming majority
of states prohibit adopted adults, and birthparents, from
accessing identifying information without the other’s
permission. Rather, states have in place laws that allow
access to identifying information when both the adult adopted
person and the birthparent mutually agree. Since 2001, at
least 11 other states had considered more than 25 pieces
of similar "open records" legisla tion. Not one
had been approved.
here to read NCFA’s analysis of the harmful effects
of this new law.
On May 17, the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan
informed the US Embassy in Baku that it has put a temporary
hold on adoptions pending the results of an ongoing investigation,
which it expects to conclude in the very near future. The
Prosecutor’s Office has not provided a specific timetable,
or speculated on what the results of the investigation will
be. Adoptive families who have accepted a referral of an
Azerbaijani orphan are asked to contact the Office of Children’s
Issues at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Azerbaijan placed 62 orphans with American families in
additional information on the 2003 State Department adoption
data, click here.
A number of states took up Safe Haven-related bills in
2004. The following outlines noteworthy developments:
- Nebraska’s and Hawaii’s legislatures failed
to enact their respective Safe Haven bills this session.
Both bills would have allowed birthparents to place their
child with a Safe Haven within 72 hours of birth with a designated
Safe Haven without fear of prosecution.
- Massachusetts’ legislature is still considering
House Bill 4325. The House of Representatives passed the
bill, and it is now with the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
In the meantime, 15 Commonwealth communities, 11 towns and
4 cities, have passed the Safe Haven home rule petition.
Massachusetts’ largest city, Boston, and its largest
town, Framingham, have both passed the petition. There are
over 20 other communities that are still considering the
home rule petition.
- New Jersey is considering two Safe Haven-related bills.
A312-A would strengthen the existing law, by giving 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. A312-A was passed by the Assembly and is now
before the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens
Committee. No hearing has been scheduled in the Senate Committee,
here to read A312-A.
A1971 would appropriate funding in the amount of $100,000
to be used for Safe Haven public awareness. The Assembly
Family, Women, and Children’s Services Committee held
a hearing on May 17, and referred the bill to the Assembly
here to read A1971.
The Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program is proud
to announce that since commencing a nation-wide training
initiative in 2002, the Program has trained more than 10,000
individuals as Adoption Specialists and Adoption Liaisons.
In some 1,000 training days in just over two years, counselors
and healthcare professionals have gained in-depth knowledge
about the adoption process and legal issues, as well as effective
counseling techniques. The Program is currently offered in
all 50 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
In addition to reaching thousands of pregnancy counselors,
clinic workers, and other healthcare professionals, the Program
is currently reaching millions of individuals with a positive
adoption message through an award-winning public information
campaign, entitled, “Thanks for Considering Adoption.” The
campaign materials include radio and television announcements,
as well as print, billboard, and transit ads. The Program
proudly announces the release of an entirely new set of television
spots featuring more children and even greater diversity.
More than 3,600 media outlets across the U.S. have received
the new thirty and sixty-second commercials, as well as the
popular radio and print materials. The new campaign has already
received great attention from existing media partners, as
well as commitments from additional outlets.
find out more about the Program, click here.
Senator Charles Grassley and Senator Hillary Clinton have
requested a GAO study to determine the presence of any financial
and non-financial obstacles in placing and keeping children
in adoptive homes; the steps that the Department of Health
and Human Services and the states have taken to address these
obstacles; and the extent to which the Adoption Promotion
Act of 2003 and the Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program
assist states in increasing adoptions, as well as any needed
changes to further facilitate adoptive placements.
As of the time of this eMemo distribution, Romania is still
considering international adoption legislation that would
effectively end intercountry adoption from Romania. Some
powerbrokers in the European Union have made Romania’s
admission into the E.U. contingent upon the once adoption-friendly
country’s enactment of this anti-adoption policy. There
is, however, a proposed amendment that would correct the
problem. The Romanian government reportedly is awaiting a
report from an EU Commission that will address certain legalities,
before it will take action. Hopefully, child advocates in
Romania will be able to amend this legislation in ways that
put the interests of children first. Romania suspended intercountry
adoption with the United States in 2001. The moratorium has
remained in effect since then.
Adoption professionals, child welfare advocates, and policy
makers from across the country gathered in Washington, DC,
on April 1-2, for the NCFA’s National Adoption Conference
2004. The conference provided the opportunity for adoption
agency staff and others committed to adoption to come together
and learn from experts, and each other, about issues affecting
the institution of adoption today, as well as help set the
adoption agenda for the future.
a glimpse of the 2004 National Adoption Conference, click
The annual Adoption Hall of Fame 2004 Awards Banquet sponsored
by the National Council For Adoption (NCFA) took place on
Wednesday, March 31, at the elegant Embassy of the Russian
Federation in Washington, D.C.
here to read more about this event and to view photos.
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National Council For Adoption
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Alexandria, VA 22314
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