Monday, December 26, 2011

LEGAL ALERT: Hopscotch Adoptions Claims Victory Against Serial Cyber Defamer

High Point, N.C. (November 30, 2011) – Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. today announced it was successful in a obtaining a favorable monetary settlement of $85,000 in a federal action alleging cyber harassment and defamation by Vanessa Kachadurian, of Fresno, California.

Over the last five years, Kachadurian’s online attacks of Hopscotch's Armenian adoption program became increasingly threatening and disruptive. Hopscotch alleged that Kachadurian used multiple online identities to avoid detection, which ultimately prompted the agency and Sizemore to file suit in United States District Court (Eastern District of California - Fresno) in December of 2009.

“In international adoption, the agency’s reputation is everything,” said Sizemore. “For the sake of our applicants, adoptive families and partners, we are enormously relieved that the legal system recognizes and is willing to address the harm that can be created by such online harassment.”

Hopscotch and its counsel, Bennet Kelley, founder of the Internet Law Center and author of the highly recognized Cyber Report newsletter, believe lawmakers must consider updating current state defamation laws to cover the emergence of serial cyber defamers or, in Internet lingo, “trolls.”

In the meantime, Ms. Sizemore urges other organizations to guard against such potentially destructive attacks by applying a proactive online reputation management strategy, including search engine optimization and participation in communities across the Web that can speak out and link to truthful content. Though this lawsuit was favorably concluded, Sizemore insists Hopscotch will remain forever diligent and protective of its reputation, which is key to its ability to place children in lifelong, loving homes.

“The Internet is an invaluable way for individuals and organizations to communicate,” affirmed Sizemore. “But not everything posted on the Web is true, and it’s up to every one of us to ensure that reality and facts override extreme, baseless content.”

####

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. is a not for profit, international adoption agency authorized in New York and licensed in North Carolina as a child-placement agency. Hopscotch is dedicated to helping children in need of families, through humanitarian efforts and through adoption into permanent, loving homes. Hopscotch was accredited by the Council on Accreditation as a Hague Accredited agency in April 2008, and thus follows U.S. and Hague Convention policies and regulations regarding international adoption.

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.
1208 Eastchester Drive
Suite 120
High Point, NC 27265
hopscotchadoptions.org

PH 1.336.899.0068

Friday, December 16, 2011

You Could Win $500 For Your Favorite Adoption Charity

Each year, we poll Adoptive Families readers to get the real deal on the average cost and length of time it takes to complete an adoption.

This year, if more than 1,000 parents participate in the survey, we'll randomly select one and donate $500 to the adoption charity of his or her choice. Take AF's Cost & Timing Survey now!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

LEGAL ALERT: Hopscotch Adoptions Claims Victory Against Serial Cyber Defamer

High Point, N.C. (November 30, 2011) – Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. today announced it was successful in a obtaining a favorable monetary settlement of $85,000 in a federal action alleging cyber harassment and defamation by Vanessa Kachadurian, of Fresno, California.

Over the last five years, Kachadurian’s online attacks of Hopscotch's Armenian adoption program became increasingly threatening and disruptive. Hopscotch alleged that Kachadurian used multiple online identities to avoid detection, which ultimately prompted the agency and Sizemore to file suit in United States District Court (Eastern District of California - Fresno) in December of 2009.

“In international adoption, the agency’s reputation is everything,” said Sizemore. “For the sake of our applicants, adoptive families and partners, we are enormously relieved that the legal system recognizes and is willing to address the harm that can be created by such online harassment.”

Hopscotch and its counsel, Bennet Kelley, founder of the Internet Law Center and author of the highly recognized Cyber Report newsletter, believe lawmakers must consider updating current state defamation laws to cover the emergence of serial cyber defamers or, in Internet lingo, “trolls.”

In the meantime, Ms. Sizemore urges other organizations to guard against such potentially destructive attacks by applying a proactive online reputation management strategy, including search engine optimization and participation in communities across the Web that can speak out and link to truthful content. Though this lawsuit was favorably concluded, Sizemore insists Hopscotch will remain forever diligent and protective of its reputation, which is key to its ability to place children in lifelong, loving homes.

“The Internet is an invaluable way for individuals and organizations to communicate,” affirmed Sizemore. “But not everything posted on the Web is true, and it’s up to every one of us to ensure that reality and facts override extreme, baseless content.”

####

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. is a not for profit, international adoption agency authorized in New York and licensed in North Carolina as a child-placement agency. Hopscotch is dedicated to helping children in need of families, through humanitarian efforts and through adoption into permanent, loving homes. Hopscotch was accredited by the Council on Accreditation as a Hague Accredited agency in April 2008, and thus follows U.S. and Hague Convention policies and regulations regarding international adoption.

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.
1208 Eastchester Drive
Suite 120
High Point, NC 27265
hopscotchadoptions.org

PH 1.336.899.0068

IAC 199 Results

The following referrals were issued in IAC Session 199 which was held on 12/13/11.  Download the PDF here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hopscotch Adoptions Inc Announces Partnership with Armenia's NGO "Renaissance of Children"

In this newsletter, you will learn about the immense impact of "Renaissance of Children" and how the lives of so many Armenian children are changed forever thanks to this organization and its founder, Dr. Garen Koloyan and friend to the children, Araz Artinian. Hopscotch would like to also recognize and thank our parent volunteer, Kelly Hunt Madden, for her commitment to this project. Without Kelly's efforts, the two year supply of casting material would be only a dream... today it is a reality!! Families that 'give back' through efforts like this are the cornerstone to good will and an expression of our passion for all children in need. Join hands with Hopscotch today in helping more dreams come true!

Download the newsletter (PDF)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Help make the Federal Adoption Credit Permanent

You can help make the tax credit for adoption permanent by writing to your legislators.

The federal tax credit has been a blessing for so many children! It has helped so many little ones find the safety and stability of a forever family by assisting in the costs of adoption. Without it, more children will end up in the system as there will be few families able to financially afford to adopt.

Adoption can be expensive—basic costs range from a few thousand to over $50,000. The federal government has provided a tax credit that has allowed families to offset their costs up to $13,170 with a credit to their taxes. Sadly, it is set to expire at the end of 2011.

Currently there are bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to help save this valuable tax credit. Supporting these bills will not only help continue the blessing of adoption, but it will save children from ending up in an overburdened foster system that is simply not the best option.

If you care about children joining permanent families, please contact your representative and your senators and ask them to support and vote in favor of bill H.R. 213 in the House and bill S.2816 in the Senate. Here are the steps:

Find your representatives. Contacting the Congress has both phone numbers and the means by which to send e-mail: www.ContactingtheCongress.org

Call your legislator's office. Simply dial the number and let them know that you hope they support the extension of the adoption tax credit. E-mail your legislator as well, encouraging them to support the bill. If you are inspired, feel free to contact others, including senate leadership, the president, and media outlets to bring attention to this need.

Thank you for your help in ensuring this continues to help all the children who need to find their forever families! See More.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

LEGAL ALERT: Hopscotch Adoptions Claims Victory Against Serial Cyber Defamer

High Point, N.C. (November 30, 2011) – Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. today announced it was successful in a obtaining a favorable monetary settlement of $85,000 in a federal action alleging cyber harassment and defamation by Vanessa Kachadurian, of Fresno, California.

Over the last five years, Kachadurian’s online attacks of Hopscotch's Armenian adoption program became increasingly threatening and disruptive. Hopscotch alleged that Kachadurian used multiple online identities to avoid detection, which ultimately prompted the agency and Sizemore to file suit in United States District Court (Eastern District of California - Fresno) in December of 2009.

“In international adoption, the agency’s reputation is everything,” said Sizemore. “For the sake of our applicants, adoptive families and partners, we are enormously relieved that the legal system recognizes and is willing to address the harm that can be created by such online harassment.”

Hopscotch and its counsel, Bennet Kelley, founder of the Internet Law Center and author of the highly recognized Cyber Report newsletter, believe lawmakers must consider updating current state defamation laws to cover the emergence of serial cyber defamers or, in Internet lingo, “trolls.”

In the meantime, Ms. Sizemore urges other organizations to guard against such potentially destructive attacks by applying a proactive online reputation management strategy, including search engine optimization and participation in communities across the Web that can speak out and link to truthful content. Though this lawsuit was favorably concluded, Sizemore insists Hopscotch will remain forever diligent and protective of its reputation, which is key to its ability to place children in lifelong, loving homes.

“The Internet is an invaluable way for individuals and organizations to communicate,” affirmed Sizemore. “But not everything posted on the Web is true, and it’s up to every one of us to ensure that reality and facts override extreme, baseless content.”

####

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc. is a not for profit, international adoption agency authorized in New York and licensed in North Carolina as a child-placement agency. Hopscotch is dedicated to helping children in need of families, through humanitarian efforts and through adoption into permanent, loving homes. Hopscotch was accredited by the Council on Accreditation as a Hague Accredited agency in April 2008, and thus follows U.S. and Hague Convention policies and regulations regarding international adoption.

Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc.
1208 Eastchester Drive
Suite 120
High Point, NC 27265
hopscotchadoptions.org

PH 1.336.899.0068

Free Webinar on Adoption Financing

Please join me to learn more about adoption financing and have the opportunity to get your questions answered during the live Q and A session.

FINANCIAL PLANNING AND ASSISTANCE IN THE ADOPTION PROCESS: FREE WEBINAR on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 7 PM. Here is the link to sign up for this Free Webinar.

Resources4Adoption and Children of All Nations

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waiting for Mattson

We waited for 10 months which seemed like 10 years to bring our baby girl home. Here is a video I created of the photos and video updates we received along the way.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flashback 2006: Hopscotch Adoptions FIRST Adoption Completed!!

As we enter this Holiday Season..Our family will be remembering, and giving thanks for our Thanksgiving in Armenia five years ago. It is amazing that it has already been five years...Time flies once your child comes home.

We are blessed to be the parents of two beautiful little boys. Our oldest son Nate came home from the Republic of Georgia in September 2002. After 13 years of waiting we were finally parents! He was beautiful, precious and perfect in every way.

In the summer of 2003 we sent off our dossier for baby number two..This time around things did not go as planned. We spent the next two plus years waiting. With many disappointments, ups and downs...Ending with losing a referral.

All of which, lead us to Robin, Hopscotch and our beautiful, precious, perfect in every way, Armenian Angel! On December 1st, our little guy Chance will turn six years old. His birthday also marks the day we returned home five years ago as a family of four. Tim and I are blessed and thankful for each and every day we have with our boys. They are gifts from God!

Thank you to Robin and her amazing team...Hopscotch. We were blessed to be the first Hopscotch family!

—The Locker Family

Hopscotch Adoptions Holiday Card

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 2011 IAC Results

Click here for the November 2011 IAC Results (PDF) including referrals that were issued in IAC Session 197 which was held on 10/14/11.

"Not Clearly Approvable" Defined

Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates have limited, delegated authority from the United States Citizen and Immigration Service to approve Form I-600 petitions that are found to be clearly approvable. Clearly approvable means that the petition and supporting documentation clearly establish that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law; all criteria identified on the Form I-600A approval regarding the child and any state pre-adoption requirements are met; and there are no concerns of fraud, child buying or other inappropriate practices in the adoption process.

In cases where the evidence is insufficient to establish that the child is an orphan or that the I-600A criteria have been met, the consular officer will allow the petitioner to respond to issues and questions that can be quickly and easily resolved. If issues and questions can be quickly and easily resolved and the case is clearly approvable the consular officer will approve the petition.

All non-Hague cases require an I-604 investigation to determine orphan status. In many instances this is a simple review of the documents and facts in the case. However, in some cases, an investigation by consular staff may be necessary to clarify doubts related to documentation presented or concerns of inappropriate practices. Investigations may include, but are not limited to, visits to the child's town of origin; interviews with birth relatives, orphanage staff, or social workers; DNA testing; and/or a field investigation.

If additional clarification and evidence does not fully resolve the issue quickly, the consular officer must send the petition to USCIS for review and adjudication. USCIS is the only agency with the authority to adjudicate NCA cases. If a case is identified as "Not Clearly Approvable", the consular officer sends the petitioner notification of the transfer to USCIS and provides contact information so that further inquiries may be directed to USCIS.

Copyright Intercountry Adoption

Welcome Home to Hopscotch's Second "Concurrent Inter-Country Adoption" Family!

Miss E. from Bulgaria is adorable and her handsome brother R from Armenia have brought us all so much joy in seeing them join your family. You Made It!!!! Hooray!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

2012 Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program

The Foster Youth Internship Program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is an internship program for young adults who spent at least 24 consecutive months in foster care at any point in their life and who have completed at least 4 semesters of higher education by May 29, 2012.  CCAI places these interns in Congressional offices in Washington, DC for a 9-week internship program.  The goal of the program is to educate policymakers about the experiences of foster youth in an effort to inspire legislative improvements to the foster care system.  Interns participating in this program benefit both personally and professionally, gaining experience and networking with professionals from various fields that will bolster their careers for years to come.  In addition, interns are given the opportunity to share their recommendations for improving foster care by writing a policy report that is presented at a briefing and disseminated to policymakers and advocates across the country.  Housing, travel, and a weekly stipend are provided by CCAI.  Applications are accepted now until January 6, 2012.  The program will run May 29-July 28, 2012.  For more information and to apply, visit www.ccainstitute.org/fyiapply.

Kybele: Holiday Open House and Merchandise Sale

Sunday December 4th - 2:00 - 4:00pm
131 Wing Haven Circle
Winston-Salem, NC 27106

No RSVP Required.
Come as you are anytime during event hours.

Make a lasting impression this holiday season with a unique gift from one of Kybele's partnering countries.  Shop from a wide variety of colorful handmade bags from Ghana, stylish pashminas from Turkey, papyrus wall hangings from Egypt, jewelry from Romania, and much more.

View our newsletter here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Redjeb Jordania's "Concerto Classico for Percussion Solo" and "Symphonic Winds" New Edition Released

The Georgian Association in the U.S. would like to share the following information with you:

In honor of Redjeb Jordania's 90th birthday, Driftwood Press
is releasing a new edition of his seminal
Concerto Classico for Percussion Solo and Symphonic Winds
Russian Federal Orchestra, Vakhtang Jordania conductor,
Alexei Amosov Percussion Solo

Also included on the CD is Redjeb's 

Perkiomen Suite
Original 1963 recording with the composer at the piano
(to hear samples, go to Amazon.com below or download attached)

About the Music       
Loosely inspired by Prokofief's Classical Symphony, the Concerto Classico for Percussion and Symphonic Winds is written in an accessible musical idiom within a traditional four-part format, while the percussion part is limited to instruments commonly used in classical times. Paradoxically lyrical at times, it displays high virtuosity throughout, particularly in Part 4 with its Georgian dance rhythms as well as in the cadenzas and the intricate concluding sequence.

Master-percussionist Evelyn Glennie writes: "Your Concerto Classico for Percussion looks wonderfully exciting and fun! The performance given by the Russian Federal Orchestra and Alexei Asomov is wonderful. The writing for the winds is challenging and effective, as is the percussion."     

The Perkiomen Suite is named after the eastern-Pennsylvania village  where the composer landed coming practically straight from Paris in 1960. It is comprised of eight light-hearted sound-sketches depicting people and events of the locality, not forgetting the HEX signs so ubiquitous in the region.

Availability

Further Information
DriftwoodPress@aol.com or Redjeb@aol.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

FREE Course: We're Home! Now What?

During November, Adoption Awareness Month, Adoption Learning Partners is offering We're Home! Now What? for FREE to our families!

We're Home! Now What? helps new, internationally formed families address the immediate issues new families face while getting to know one another. Subject matter experts give practical suggestions related to: language, sleep, eating, discipline, attachment and medical care.     

Read more and register for the FREE course!>

Send Us Your Adoption Stories For ‘Home Is Where You Make It’ Week!

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the States and aside from considering ways to instill gratitude in our kids, we’ll also be celebrating National Adoption Month. We’ll be sharing a variety of stories surrounding adoption and opening your home to others in the spirit of family.

Read the full story & submit your entry at mommyish.com>

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Collins Family Gets the Surprise of Their Lives!


Kathleen and Tim Collins adopted four young boys from Ghana. This loving couple has hit a financial rough patch, but Ellen's got a huge surprise up her sleeve that's sure to help them get back on their feet! You don't wanna miss their inspiring story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ellen DeGeneres Show and Hopscotch Family

Exciting news!!! Our client family and friend to Hopscotch, Kathleen Majoras, just called to say that they had a knock on their door Saturday morning and it was Ellen DeGeneres!  Ellen wanted to feature their family on her show!  So, they filmed some at their home and now they’re all in California filming the on-set parts of the show.  This family brought 4 boys home from Ghana.  A really beautiful story you don't want to miss!

It is set to air tomorrow.  Join us and watch this amazing family!!!

Benefit Concert for Children's Cancer Center in Georgia - November 19, 2011

The St. George Foundation and Princess Diana Bagrationi Foundation are organizing a fundraiser concert in New York to help the Children's Cancer Center in Georgia. You are cordially invited to attend.

For more information about the concert, please refer to the brochure below.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spotlight on Hopscotch Adoptions, Inc Board Member, Kristin Dadey, Esq.

Kristin Dadey, a licensed attorney, lives overseas in Cairo, Egypt managing anti-human trafficking programs for the International Organization for Migration. Before moving overseas in 2003, Kristin practiced labor law in Washington, DC, working in both the government and non-profit sector. She received her Masters in Public Administration and Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and College of Law in 1998. Kristin’s work in Indonesia, the Republic of Georgia and Egypt changed her in profound ways, witnessing firsthand the extreme vulnerability of children, especially in developing countries. Her years of overseas experience have given her a keen understanding of the international rights of children, and dedicated to the basic children's rights' principle that all children have the right to grow up in a permanent family, Kristin is passionate in her advocacy on behalf of orphans.

Kristin and her husband Sean are the proud parents of one adopted daughter from Indonesia, one adopted daughter from Ghana and two biological daughters.

Kristin has personally visited with our partners in Armenia, Georgia and Ghana.  November, 2011, she will visit with our partner in Morocco.  Hopscotch is honored to have an experienced and passionate child advocate as a board member to Hopscotch Adoptions.

In Kristin's capacity as a board member, her visits to our programs allows firsthand knowledge and oversight, further endorsing Hopscotch's commitment to best practice and ethical permanency planning for orphaned children. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ever After: Encouraging attachment with lifebooks and family albums

If you haven’t already started a lifebook, memory book, or a new volume of your family album when you decided to adopt or got your referral, now is the time to catch up and get active with this important project. You may decide to also tell the story of your adoption trip itself. With an older child you may be able to use joint work on a lifebook as an enjoyable shared activity that reinforces your child’s place in the family and in your heart. For a younger child, such a book will also capture so many little details and feelings about your adoption journey and your child’s arrival in the family that are easy to forget later on.

You can approach this creative task in many ways, depending upon your own skills and perspective. Many adoptive parents put together a lifebook for their child that includes information, details, photos, and a narrative or little story about the child life before and after adoption. Some parents use a photo album or one of the ready- made lifebook albums available, others more try more elaborate, scrapbook-style approaches.

Whatever you choose, your efforts are a heart-felt gift from you to your child of your child’s own story: beginnings, the work towards adoption, arrival home and beyond.

Lifebooks can help adoptive parents feel more comfortable, more matter of fact in talking with children about sensitive issues in adoption. We may not know all the information about our child’s birth and time in care, but we can sensitively present and reframe the thrust and possibilities. For example, rather than use the work “abandoned” when birthparents could not parent a child, we can focus on how birth parents’ difficult decisions assured that their child would find a safe place and a new family. In addition, lifebooks communicate the message that being adopted and being part of an adoptive family is a positive thing. Adoption is “just another kind of normal”, another strong and healthy way parents and children come together.
Here are some practical resources for lifebooks:
  • Adoption Lifebook: A Bridge to Your Child’s Beginnings by Cindy Probst (a Workbook for International Adoptive Families)
  • Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O’Malley
  • Adoption Life Books
  • Adoption Shoppe
  • Adopting.org
Also check out the following children’s books for ideas
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Behaviors in the Beginning of Adoption

Common behaviors of children newly adopted internationally usually reflect the child’s sense of confusion and loss. A few children, easy-going and good-natured (or carefully guarding their feelings from others), seem to express these feelings openly in such behaviors only when in stressful situations, like when overtired or sick. Other children seem to explode with emotions and behaviors, at times out of control. From time to time, most parents encounter at least of few of these behaviors as their children adjust to the new environment of home and family.

Please note that these typical behaviors are generally related to the stresses of moving from familiar territory into the unknown of an adoptive family. Although some of these may in addition be related to a child’s inexperience with attachments or more serious attachment issues, at the beginning of a placement it’s not always easy to tell. When these symptomatic behaviors persist over time, especially when combined with other behaviors related to attachment problems and resistant to parental interventions, then an assessment needs to be done and professional quidance considered.

SOME COMMON CHILD BEHAVIORS THAT REFLECT A SENSE OF LOSS
Typical for children new in families and adopted internationally
  • Constant crying; either hypersensitive to injuries or inappropriately stoic
  • Poor eating patters (or overeating, gorging, hoarding)
  • Listless, withdrawn, sleeping a lot (or disturbed sleep);sense of       shock  
  • Impulsive; frantic activity; controlling; acting out, raging or angry behavior      
  • Overly clingy, refuses to separate; or indiscriminate with affection
  • Resistant, indifferent, ambivalent, confused about parent interactions:
  • Poor or limited eye contact
  • Poor or resistance to clinging, holding, cuddling
  • Limited response to parental play, interactions, smiles
COMMON CHILD BEHAVIORS THAT MAY REFLECT RISKS FOR ATTACHMENT
  • The behaviors listed above on loss, if they continue over time and despite intervention; especially poor eye contact, resistance to parents’ touch/attention
  • Developmental delays; speech and language delays; incessant chatter
  • Tactile defensiveness (flinching, startling when touched)
  • Poor sucking response; poor crying response
  • Inappropriately demanding, clingy; indiscriminately affectionate
  • Indifference to others; or lack of discrimination between parents and strangers
  • Self abuse (head banging, biting, etc.); destructive without remorse
  • Extreme need to be in control; tantrums, raging; manipulation, lying
  • Lack of impulse controls and social cues; continual anger
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Monday, November 7, 2011

“When to…” Suggestions: The Beginning Months

During the first months after arrival home, when should parents...?

Be concerned that same your child just adopted internationally is not at the level as other children you know the same age:
  • Children who have not had the affection and attention of family care are usually behind those who have. Children in orphanages also usually haven’t had the same level of health care and nutrition. This is typical for children in international adoption.
  • Studies have shown that the majority of children adopted internationally make significant gains in overall development, size, and health after being with their families for a while.
  • Your pediatrician should compare your child’s patterns of development and growth against those of other adopted children adopted from the same country, not against other children born into families in your community.
  • Your adoption agency and other adoptive parents may have some of the resources, charts, and articles you and your pediatrician may need about development and international adoption.
Worry about the bonding process between you and your child:
  • While some children seem naturally to be adaptable and open, it may take weeks, or sometimes even months, before your child really feels comfortable with you and safe at home. Then attachment can grow.
  • Children who miss their familiar home and caretakers grieve these losses, and may hold off from making connections with you because of this. You may not, however, be able to plainly see their sad feelings: instead children may seem standoffish, withdrawn, angry, overly compliant, or have acting out behaviors.
  • Talk with other parents who have adopted children who were the same age as your child at arrival home, especially those who have adopted from the same country. Share with them your concerns and ask for advice and suggestions.
Worry about attachment problems for your child:
  • You will probably feel and be able to act on feelings of attachment well before your child feels this and is able to feel safe in expressing it. You, as parent, have responsibility for of guiding and encouraging attachment with your child.
  • Some behaviors that grieving children display are also symptoms of attachment problems. It may take time, and professional assistance, to determine if there is a real problem.
  • Check in with your agency and support group for suggestions about resources in your community knowledgeable about attachment and international adoption resources in your community.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Sunday, November 6, 2011

“When To…” Suggestions after you first come home

Some suggestions about when after arriving home you might address a few of the common situations for new parents with a child adopted internationally.

After you first come home, when to:

See the pediatrician:
  • Within the first week after coming home, for routine physical
  • Sooner, at any time, if you have any concerns you feel can’t wait or might be an emergency.
Take your child out to stores or other public places:
  • If possible, limit this in number and in time spent out. Your child can become easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed.
  • Avoid taking your child out if he or she is running a fever has a cold or running nose or with other health issues. (Check with your pediatrician if you are concerned.)
Hold a welcome home party or baby shower at home:
  • If it’s adults only, with the baby asleep, go ahead and schedule it for a time when you’re over jet lag.
  • If your child will be included, wait several weeks until your child feels more familiar with you and the new environment.
Get a sitter
  • Try for at least one parent to stay close to home with your child for the first few weeks, if at all possible.
  • But do find ways to take time out and time away: taking turns with your spouse for childcare; having a person familiar to your child come after he or she is tucked in for the night; saving naptime as time you spend just for yourself, not chores or work.
  • When you do have a sitter, introduce this person and have the person sitting spend some time with your child before the day will need the sitter. Take it gradually.
Have a get-together somewhere outside your home:
  • If possible, delay this until at least two weeks after you return to recover from travel fatigue. This may be too soon for your child.
  • If you will leave your child with a sitter, some parents find it’s helpful to schedule this after your child’s bedtime and with a person your child has become familiar with over many days of interaction. Delay until after the first two weeks, if possible, since you will all be recovering
  • If your child is included, wait until after the first month, longer if your child needs more time to be comfortable with strangers, new places, crowds.
Be concerned that your child prefers one of you more than the other
  • Some children seem to resent new moms for replacing their previous caretakers, others latch onto to new mothers for dear life and ignore Dads; many children who have never seen men (or only a few) can react with suspicion or rejection or think Dads are a wonderful new novelty. 
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Some Suggestions About Encouraging Attachments: Here are some helpful things to consider trying with your new child

  • “Wear your baby”: Avoid baby seats and stiff carriers: hold your baby instead, and keep your baby close to you; try flexible “snugli” type carriers. (But please use car seats when in cars).
  • If children are older, sit them on your lap to read, eat, watch tv; if your child will accept it from you, feed him/her yourself or make a fun game out of feeding your child. (One mother whose child avoided eye contact with her made getting eye contact into a game: every time her child would look at her during the game she fed child an M&M candy. The child’s spontaneous eye contact with her began to improve.) Go back and repeat behaviors and interactions from earlier developmental stages.
  • Don’t use “time out” as discipline, where child is removed from parents. Instead use “time-in”, so that your child must be close to you. If possible, transition slowly from what your child is used to by repeating regular patterns and schedules, and foods, toys, blankets, music, etc. that your child is used to. Make changes in these, including names, gradually.
  • In any case, keep your routines and schedules as consistent and simple as possible, which reinforces safety, trust and, eventually, attachment.
  • Use the simple words in your child’s language that your child knows/uses.
  • Use simple hand signs from American Sign Language to help with the transition from one language to another.
  • You alone, as parents, should take care of all tasks related to direct baby care, for as long as possible: changing, feeding, bath, play, sleep, etc.
  • Touch your child gently as often as possible, while smiling, singing, or using soft voice and baby talk.
  • It helps if children can sleep where they can see parents if they wake up.
  • Feed your baby yourself, instead of letting the child self feed or propping up a bottle. Make loving eye contact and smile; use soft touches and soft voice, try singing while feeding.
  • Hold and rock your child several times a day, holding close to you, heart to heart; use eye contact, smiles, singing, and baby talk.  Try infant massage each day; stoke, soothe, brush hair, put on lotion. When changing, feeding, bathing, playing- use positive eye contact, smiles, soft baby talk or singing.
  • Frequent physical interactions that are fun: simple toys or play like peek-a-boo and clapping hands that your child enjoys. Try silly faces and voices, gentle tickles,” tickle kisses”, return smiles when your child smiles at you. But keep it low key, and repeat the familiar; don’t over stimulate.
  • Keep the environment at home simple, calm, and consistent: avoid constant TV or videos, loud music, changes, too many stimulating toys and other things, lots of people; use soft textures a lot for toys, clothing.
  • Introduce new things and changes slowly and one at a time.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Friday, November 4, 2011

Preparing for Nesting and Bonding at Home: Practical Suggestions for Simplifying the Arrival Home

Keep it simple
  • Complete or delegate (or postpone for a much later date) as many chores, responsibilities, and obligations in and out of the house that you can before you make your adoption trip.
  • Get a trusted person to help you with routine chores like meals and cleaning when you return, so that you can rest, recover, and spend time together alone with your child.
  • Let your answering machine do it’s job: record a message announcing your good news, and that you are spending time as a family resting, recovering, and bonding. Limit visitors to very short visits, one or two at a time, after the first two weeks.
  • “Cocoon” together as a family, blocking out as much of the world as is practical, and concentrates on learning about and enjoying each other.
  • Keep the home environment, especially your child’s room, simple and uncluttered. Reduce possible sensory overload.
Build a secure structure and routine.
  • Try to arrange a simple routine that lowers stress and helps your child feel that things in this home are dependable.
  • Expect that a somewhat untidy house is a positive reflection on your commitment to spend time first with your child.
  • Take time for yourself and take care of yourself, but in ways that allow the child to have the consistency of parent as caretaker.
  • (sitters after bedtimes or during naps; switching off childcare with the other parent.)
Don’t expect instant attachment or parenting perfection
  • Attachment is not a prize you win or an immediate goal, but a developmental process that keeps growing over time.
  • You didn’t create the issues your child struggles with. Your child’s behavior or misbehavior should not be viewed as a personal and purposeful insult to your parental skills, authority, or love.
  • Children don’t need (or appreciate) perfect parents. Children need parents who are there for them, no matter what.
  • Although we learn from our mistakes, so do our children: they learn from our example how to graciously admit mistakes, correct them and ask for forgiveness.
Focus on your child above all.
  • Your most important role right now is parent. Your most critical job right now is parenting. All else is secondary.
  • Attachment takes time. It also takes effort from you to keep it growing.
  • If you are having a hard time connecting with your child, you may need to find even more ways to enjoy each other, to share healthy touch and share fun. Usually the more than children (and parents)resist this, the more they need this vital connection.
  • Hold, rock, cuddle, touch, soothe, sing, play, laugh, tickle, smile.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some Parent Suggestions on How to Avoid Visitor Overload: How to tell well-meaning friends and family you will need time alone for a while.

  • Start early: Spread the news among your family and friends well before you leave that you will need time alone as a family without visitors, and then give a reminder again right before you leave on your adoption trip.
  • Ask other adoptive parents how they have dealt with this issue of time alone after arriving home with their own families and friends, and any suggestions the might have for you.
  • Arrange to have someone you trust be there for you at home after arrival to help with chores like laundry, bills, and meals, and fend off phone calls and visitors who drop by.
  • Send off a group email, or have a friend address a pile of pre-printed, addressed postcards for you, with the announcement that you are leaving on your adoption trip and when you expect to be back, plus reminder to hold off contacts for two weeks after you return so you can recover from the trip. You can do this beforehand, and just put in the dates.
  • Arrange for a group email (with new child or new family photo, if possible) to be send off to everyone during your trip or right after, with the announcement of your good news and the request that everyone wait a few weeks to contact you, so that you can all rest and recuperate from the long trip. Or do the same with card of postcard (perhaps printed in advance) that a trusted helper can mail for you.
  • If you do decide to have a just few important visitors, like new grandparents or great-grandparents, tell them you need to limit the visit time to just an hour or less,(unless it’s after your child is in bed asleep) since your new child needs rest to recover from the long journey and many new adjustments.
  • Ask those most likely to ignore your requests or most likely to be hurt or offended by them to help you by spreading the news about this request for some private time. Tell them they will be the one of the first to be invited to visit with you after this time.
  • Those people, who want to baby-sit to help you out, sign them up for a firm date in a few weeks time or ask them to run errands for you, which would be an even bigger help right now.
  • If there are still some stubborn hold outs about visiting, defer to a bigger authority: “Our social worker says that we must wait two weeks for the first visitors, and then limit the number and time for visits.”
  • Send out emails with photos of your new child to all those eager to see him or her.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making Adjustments at Home

Parents adopting internationally are usually concerned about what will happen after they meet and bring home their new child and what factors can affect this, both negatively and positively. They want to know what they can do to have the most positive adjustment possible, for their child and their family. Questions parents may have before adoptive placement include:

What will affect my child’s --
  • Initial reaction to me  
  • Behavior while traveling
  • Transition to a new home
  • Gradual adjustment to a new home and family
  • Attachment to me/us as parent(s)
  • Long-term adjustments, behavior, and development
How much of the influences for adoption adjustment come from –
  • My child’s experiences and age before adoption
  • My child’s genetic inheritance, intelligence, and health
  • My child’s individual temperament and personality
  • My own preparation for international adoption challenges and parenting
  • My own personal strengths and limits in coping with parenting and stress
  • The support and resources available to me, my child, my family
So much of adoption adjustment for families- both children and parents—is dependent upon the unpredictable interchanges between all of these factors, plus the addition of unexpected issues, both small and large, such as weather and travel problems, political and social changes in the child’s country, lost paperwork, unexpected health issue, and so on. The range of possibilities is vast and mind-boggling. And two or three families going through the same type of experiences may have two or three very different opinions about the adoption process and travel, based on their own experiences and strengths.

There are a number of practical suggestions, however, from adoptive parents and adoption professionals, which can help families, prepare for and cope with many of the expected and unexpected challenges in international adoption as parents head for the “home stretch” with their new child. Most parents and professionals say it is enormously helpful to understand as many of the challenges you may face in international adoption and related strategies for coping with these, as is possible. Their views about international adoption might be summarized as “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not Yet Attached is not the Same as “Unattached”

International adoptions generally involved children who have lived in orphanages traveling home with parents they have only just met. Children are separated from everything and everyone they have ever known and whisked away by virtual strangers through the confusion of international travel to a new place where nothing is the same and no one speaks their language. Some children are able to adjust better to these many, many changes than others, and with a more affable disposition. Other children are completely distraught and in considerable shock. Most children fall somewhere in between on any given day.

The behaviors children when they first arrive home vary widely, but there is one overall statement that can be made: children take time to make true attachments. Attachments are not fully formed at the first meeting or even in the weeks that follow; this is the introduction of the interactions that nurture attachments. Some children are more open to accepting positive interactions; some children need time to grieve their losses; some children are resistant to new attachments (or attachments in general) and need assistance. But in the first few weeks and months of being part of a family, children are still checking out these new parents; relationship have the potential to grow depending upon the combination of both child and parent experiences and flexibility.

Because new parents must take the lead in encouraging attachments with their child, preparation for international adoption includes information, insights, and approaches on, first, helping children with the transition to a new home and then, second, encouraging healthy attachments. Parents have the task of figuring out what their children need at any point in time and then adapting what they have learned to respond to those needs. This can seem a daunting task, and feel overwhelming at times. The support and encouragement of agency and other adoptive parents can be a tremendous help to new parents.

In the beginning, there are a number of different behaviors a child might display that are typical for children separated from the familiar. These can be considered normal for the situation, not necessarily part of attachment problems. Not yet being attached to parents just met is not the same as being an unattached child. One describes a child being at the beginning of an important but not yet established relationship, the other a child who has serious difficulties with making attachments. Whether these typical reactions to separation and loss will depend on how intense and long lasting these symptoms are for a particular child, whether there are other critical symptoms, and how resistant these are to interventions. Remember that in most cases, parents begin to fall in love with them. 

Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beating the New "Baby Blues"

Some people call it "Post-Adoption Depression", because it can happen for adoptive parents just like parents who give birth to children. It’s often compounded by travel fatigue, jet lag, and experiencing the unexpected during your adoption process and trip. Your new child’s arrival may also trigger some old emotions for you related to loss, infertility, or other difficult life issues.
    • Have patience with yourself, as well as with spouse, child, family. As much as you can, limit the demands on yourself (emotionally, physically, and time-wise). Practice saying ” NO ” to requests outside your new parenting tasks, except to take time off to de-stress and relax.
    • Be aware of the many stressors in your everyday life, and try to minimize these wherever possible (delegate, time out, etc.)
    • You will be juggling many balls as you are also recovering physically and emotionally from your adoption trip. Keep these stressors separate in your mind from the typical stressors of a new child…everything isn’t baby’s fault or because you aren’t a good enough parent.
    • Let the dishes and the dust go: At this point a clean is probably the sign of overstressed parent with not nearly enough time for a new child.
    • Give yourself time to be sad or angry, but also find ways to be positive when possible; at the end of the day, find at least one blessing to count.
    • You do not have to prove to anyone (including yourself) that you are the perfect parent and radiantly happy at all times. Children need real parents, not perfect, plastic ones.
    • ”Happily ever after” and “love at first sight” are both rare. Most of us just bump along, since there are always bumps in the road.
    • After the first two weeks, either switch with your spouse or gradually introduce a sitter/caretaker to your child, so that you can take some time away to recharge. Later, schedule a regular time away on night a week with a spouse or close friend to spend on yourself (no talking bills or kids).
    • Keep visitors away or to an absolute minimum during the first few weeks.
    • Get someone trustworthy ( perhaps one who volunteered to help) to take care of things like chores, meals, laundry, errands, so that you can rest and recover, and focus on playing with and getting to know your new child in positive ways.
    • Be prepared to redirect or deflect intrusive questions or comments by others about your adoption choices or parenting style, and occasionally allow yourself  to feel smug about the fact that those who criticize usually don’t know anything about international adoption or about you.
    • Check in with your support systems, especially those from the adoption community who may understand better some of your challenges.
    • After the first weeks if you feel things are getting out of control –or you are- get someone to take over some of your (preferable non-child) duties for a while so that you can have time to calm down, de-stress and talk out your frustrations and needs with someone who will listen and understand.
    • If you can’t seem to get a handle on things after several weeks, look to your agency, support group, a counselor, or mental health professional for some additional guidance and assistance. Parenting is not an easy job.
Attachment and International Adoption.  From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adoption Institute Announces Partnership with Adoption Today Magazine

NEW YORK, October 28, 2011 - Adoption Today magazine and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute proudly announced today that they are forming a strategic partnership to further their missions of improving the lives of children and families around the world through greater understanding of key contemporary issues in the realms of adoption, foster care, orphan care and child welfare.

As a result of this partnership, the Adoption Institute will gain a significant new means of disseminating reports about its cutting-edge research, commentaries on significant issues, and information about its programs, projects and advocacy initiatives. Adoption Today, in turn, will provide its readers with more and better knowledge about the range of topics on which the Institute conducts its unique work.

Richard Fisher, the publisher of Adoption Today (and its sibling publication, Fostering Families Today), said he views the partnership as a way to "give back" to the adoption community and feels that supporting the Adoption Institute is a "great way to do that because it's such a vital player. The Institute is unique in its impact on policy, practice and real people. And it's the most trusted source of research and advocacy in our field."

To further the Institute's work, for the next year Fisher will donate $2 from every new Adoption Today subscription to the Adoption Institute. Click here to subscribe or call 888-924-6736. "We're very enthusiastic about the opportunity to share our work, our mission and our vision with such an important publication and, of course, with its readers," said Adam Pertman, the Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. "We not only appreciate Richard's generosity, but also know that he's providing us with a wonderful opportunity to educate more people and, hopefully, improve more lives as a result."

The mission of the Institute, which was founded in 1996, is to "provide leadership to improve laws, policies, and practices - through sound research, education and advocacy - to enhance the lives of everyone touched by adoption." Since 1998, Adoption Today has strived to publish the most accurate, honest and timely articles to provide the adoption community with information to make quality, informed decisions regarding family formation and the well-being of children. To request an interview or to learn more about the two organizations, contact Pertman at 617-763-0134, or Fisher at (888) 924-6736.

Visit the Institute's website, and Adoption Today.

The Adoption Institute's other partners include: the Child Welfare League of America, Spence-Chapin, LifeCare, Adoption Learning Partners and Adoption Quarterly.

Adam Pertman, Executive Director
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th St, New York, NY 10016
212-925-4089/617-332-8944
617-763-0134 (direct cell)
Adoption Institute 

 
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Love and Legislation: The International Politics of Inter-country Adoption

Alison M. S. Watson | August 17, 2011

Credit: Bergius
Probably not since the first wave of inter-country adoptions took place in the aftermath of the Korean War has there been so much attention focused upon the very personal decision of taking a child from one country, and placing him/her permanently within a family in another. Between 1999 and 2010, 224,615 children—often girls, and most aged two and under—were adopted into the United States,1 whilst overall, Sweden, Ireland, and Spain lead the field in terms of inter-country adoptions per 100,00 inhabitants in each country (10.18, 9.45 and 7.79 respectively).2

In an increasingly celebrity-obsessed culture, inter-country adoption can appear to demonstrate the very worst of what wealth and fame can bring—the ability to treat children as commodities, "buying" them to create not only the family that you desire, but the one that publicly appears to elevate the adopter to some form of "saintly" status. It may also appear to imply neo-colonialism, with the common assumption that inter-country adoption implies that a child is "saved" from a poor country by bringing it up in a rich one.

Behind such appearances, however, is the real story of inter-country adoption—and it is a story that demonstrates a number of things that are of significance not only to each family touched by adoption, but also to the wider discourse of international affairs, and to the ethical dilemmas that surround it. In an era supposedly characterized by a desire for pluralism, multi-culturalism, and hybridity, the many dilemmas of inter-country adoption demonstrate how far we have come, but also how far we still have to go.
Although the number of inter-country adoptions is certainly large, the figures should be seen in proportion. UNICEF estimates suggest that there are around 140 million children who have lost at least one parent, whether as a result of poverty, conflict, or disease. The greatest proportion of these children live in Africa, whilst the largest numbers of orphans are in Asia.3

For the vast majority of these children, adoption is not an option, whether because it is unnecessary—they may still be being cared for within their families, whether by their surviving parent or by extended family; because it is unlikely—some children may be seen as "unadoptable" for a variety of reasons, such as age, disability, or HIV status; or because it is impossible, for example in societies where there is no history of adoption or where the societal infrastructure cannot support it. Where it works, however, it seems that inter-country adoption can actually help to change the culture of adoption in the adoptees' native country, so that in the longer term more children are cared for within their own communities. In China, for example, there is now evidence that as the number of inter-country adoptions has increased so has the number of Chinese families willing to consider domestic adoption.

As interest in inter-country adoption has grown, so has the desire of the international community to create a regime that they hope will ensure that the practice is not only legally appropriate but also ethically sound. This desire has been aided at times by some very high profile cases—often in the wake of conflict and natural disaster—where legality and ethics appear to have left the room. A recent example is the now famous case of January 2010 when Haitian police arrested and charged ten American nationals from the Idaho-based charity New Life Children's Refuge, who wanted to take orphans from the quake to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic for subsequent adoption into the United States. Actions such as these demonstrate the increase in "demand" for inter-country adoptees that happens at such times, something indeed that Haiti has recognized in its vocal acknowledgment of its intention to join the Hague Adoption Convention. Questions remain, however as to the efficacy of the Hague Convention and what the present legal regime surrounding inter-country adoption is really designed to achieve.

The Hague Convention of May 29, 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature, or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. This Convention, which also operates through a system of national Central Authorities, reinforces the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC - Art. 21) and seeks to ensure that inter-country adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights, and to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in, children.

These are goals that all should be able to agree on, and of course the UNCRC would appear to have a clear mandate, given that it is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. However the UNCRC is a document that is arguably flawed in that rather than giving children real rights, it instead lays down the obligations that adults have to them, all couched in terms of a western idealization of childhood that can actually curtail the rights of those children whose lives cannot live up to that ideal. Moreover, the Hague Convention has currently been signed by only 87 countries and ratified by 83, and the majority of those who have ratified it are countries who in inter-country adoption terms would be "receiving" countries rather than "sending" ones.

This does not mean that those countries who have not signed and/or ratified it do not set a priority on the best interests of the child. Rather that they may not see adoption as a significant issue or, indeed, that they may not be able to afford to implement the regulations that the Convention requires, such as ensuring that, after the possibilities for placement of the child within the State of origin have been given due consideration, an inter-country adoption is in the child's best interests; and that the persons, institutions and authorities whose consent is necessary for adoption, have been properly counseled and notified of the effects of their consent, in particular whether or not an adoption will result in the termination of the legal relationship between the child and his or her family of origin.4

For this reason, many of the "receiving" countries, for example the U.S. and the UK, will have national legislation in place that covers adoptions from Hague Convention signatories AND from non-Hague Convention signatories. The U.S. is in the unique position of being a signatory to the Hague Convention, but of not being a signatory to the UNCRC, the latter a decision that appears to be informed by the notion of the primacy of the family, and in particular the role of parents, as well as the concern (often expressed by conservative Christian groups) that the UNCRC in some way undermines parental rights and authority.5 Such a position is particularly ironic given that so many U.S. agencies specializing in inter-country adoption have a clear Christian focus in their activities, and also given that so many adoptive parents cite a calling from God as the catalyst for their adoption journey.6

The debate surrounding inter-country adoption is not made any clearer by the somewhat negative tone that some of the most powerful intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) that advocate for children assume in their views.

For example, UNICEF states that it supports inter-country adoption, when it is carried out in line with the standards and principles of the Hague Convention, but that it is a practice that can also pose significant problems and risks if children are unnecessarily denied the opportunity to live with their parents or relatives and/or are exposed to trauma and long-term emotional problems. UNICEF also states that the financial aspects of international adoption can encourage malpractice and accelerate the proliferation of poor quality orphanages, as well as diverting resources from the development of good quality alternative care for children in their own communities.

There is no doubt that there is truth in such statements—adoption does have a life-long impact on any child, and there are indeed financial incentives that can encourage malpractice. But many would argue that the amount of lip-service paid to these issues is out of proportion with the extent of these malpractices themselves. This is not to say that cases of corruption and child laundering do not take place—they absolutely do; however seeing inter-country adoption as somehow commensurate with such malpractice is to take a distorted view. Moreover, such sentiments take much away from the majority of bona fide adoptive parents who often spend significant time ensuring that their adoptions are ethical, and on trying to minimize the long-term ill effects on their child.

Similarly, Save the Children states that:
While intercountry adoption may, in some circumstances, be the best option for some children, adoption does not address the root cause of its existence, namely poverty, wars and natural disasters. If the economic, social and protection needs of citizens in developing countries could be met, there would be little need for intercountry adoption. Consequently, families in developing countries should be supported so that children are able to be cared for in the context of their own families, communities and culture.
Again, this is a laudable aim, and no-one should ever seek to take away a child from his/her birth family when the possibility exists that they could remain. But the problem is that for so many children, despite the best efforts of NGO's, such a possibility does not exist—whether because of poverty, or illness, or separation—and when this is the case inter-country adoption is one of a range of options that are available. Furthermore there are few who would claim that adoption is a solution to the root causes of its existence. Of course the ideal solution is an end to poverty and wars, and creating better coping mechanisms after natural disasters in developing countries. Yet the current reality is that for individual children who cannot be cared for in a family setting in their country of origin, inter-country adoption may be the best permanent solution.

In a recent open letter to former President Bill Clinton, founder of Worldwide Orphans Foundation Jane Aronson stated that:
The destruction of international adoption has become the cure for a misdiagnosed disease. Uninspired, bureaucratic, desperate decision-makers in governments, including our own, and in large child welfare organizations, raise the cry of "trafficking" and the rest is inevitable: to protect the children and stop the trafficking—stop adoption."
Policymakers might make better use of their time if they actually tackled the root causes of inter-country adoption that continue to exist in developing countries—the searing poverty and inequality, and the soaring levels of HIV infection—rather than spending so much time trying to legislate it out of existence. Whilst no one is denying that adoption needs to be transparent, ethical, and in the best interests of the child, I would argue that when done right, inter-country adoptions can be beneficial for all concerned—because the real story of inter-country adoption can be seen in the thousands of children who have received better life chances as a result, and the thousands more who have been denied that possibility.

Indeed, the real questions we should be asking are: What is our current international system, and the legislation that supports it actually designed to do?: Is it to help those who are in need, or is it to allow policymakers—whoever they may be—to think that they have? 

The author would like to thank the editors, Madeleine Lynn and Oliver Richmond, for their comments during the writing process. All errors remain the author's own.

NOTES 

1 http://adoption.state.gov/

2 http://www.aican.org/statistics.php

3 "UNICEF Data on Orphans by Region to 2010 [Chart]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #293

4 Hague Conference on Private International Law, Intercountry Adoption section

5 Kilbourne, Susan, "Placing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in an American context," Human Rights, 26.2 (Spring, 1999): 27(5).

6 Evidence of this can be seen in the many "gotcha day" videos on YouTube that document, the journey towards adoption that so many families have made.

Copyright © 2011 Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hopscotch Adoptions Newsletter: Playgrounds, Fall 2011

In this issue:
  • Letter from the Executive Director
  • Program Updates
  • Different Like Everyone Else
  • Did You Know?
  • Here and There...
  • Koloyan Project
  • Welcome Home!
  • You Said It...We Heard It!
  • Helpful Resources
  • If We Hadn't Met Before

Download Playgrounds, Fall 2011 (PDF)

Adoption Institute Release: A Major New Study and Best Practice Standards on Gay/Lesbian Adoption

For a full report, go to: www.adoptioninstitute.org

Aiming to Increase Families for `Waiting' Children, Institute Releases

New Research on Gay/Lesbian Adoption and Recommends Best Practices

NEW YORK, October 20, 2011
- Despite laws in some states that impede the practice, a growing number of lesbians and gay men are adopting children in the United States - at least half of them providing families for boys and girls from foster care and 60% adopting transracially, according to the results of an extensive new survey by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

The survey is part of a broad, four-year-long research project by the Adoption Institute that culminates in the publication today of a 68-page report, "Expanding Resources for Children III: Research-Based Best Practices in Adoption by Gays and Lesbians," which provides important new information about and insights into the perceptions, experiences and needs of non-heterosexual adoptive parents.

"We know the majority of adoption agencies readily work with gay and lesbian clients, and our research shows that most want guidance about how best to do that," said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. "Our hope and belief is that by providing greater knowledge to professionals, policy-makers and the public, the result will be more families for the children who need them."

In addition to the statistics cited above, major (and interesting) findings in the Institute's report include:

*About one-third of the adoptions by lesbians and gay men in our new survey were "open," and the birth families' initial reactions regarding sexual orientation were very positive (73%). Interestingly, male couples more often reported being chosen because of sexual orientation than did lesbians, saying birthmothers expressed a desire to remain the child's "only mother."

*Over 10% of the children adopted were 6 or older - a population generally perceived as more difficult to place - and 25% were at least 3 years old. Interestingly, the household incomes of respondents were high - and more so for the male parents, $212,380 vs. $115,467, indicating (among other things) that more lesbians adopted as individuals and more gay men as couples.

Among the report's recommendations, primarily intended for practitioners and policy-makers, are:

*Remove legal and cultural barriers so that all qualified, vetted prospective parents can be considered, notably including the passage of "gay marriage" laws, because the social institution of marriage brings clear long-term psychological (and other benefits) to children.

*Provide training, recruitment and educational tools to increase professional competence for working with non-heterosexual parents, and offer pre- and post-placement services to better enable those parents to deal with adoption issues and those relating to their sexual orientation.

"Expanding Resources for Children III" is being published just days before another major research-based report, "All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families." That report, which is being endorsed by several child welfare organizations including the Adoption Institute, is being released next week at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. The report will be available on 10/25 at www.lgbtmap.org/lgbt-families.

The components of the Adoption Institute's "Expanding Resources for Children" report included an extensive review of adoption practice literature and research on gay and lesbian family life, a national survey of gay/lesbian adoptive parents, a separate national survey of adoption agency practices (which informed this report but the results of which are still being analyzed and not included here), and an interdisciplinary book entitled Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men: A New Dimension in Family Diversity, edited by Institute staff members David Brodzinsky and Adam Pertman.

The report also draws from and follows up on three previous publications of the Adoption Institute in this same realm: 1). Adoption by Lesbians and Gays: A National Survey of Adoption Agency Policies, Practices and Attitudes (2003); 2). Expanding Resources for Children: Is Adoption by Gays and Lesbians Part of the Answer for Boys and Girls who Need Homes (2006); and 3). Expanding Resources for Children II: Eliminating Legal and Practice Barriers to Gays and Lesbians Adopting from Foster Care (2008). In addition, it is informed by the work of the Human Rights Campaign, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, and Dr. Gary Mallon of Hunter College, among others.

The background for the new report includes these findings from the Institute's past works:

*Lesbians and gay men adopt at significant rates, with over 65,000 adopted and 14,000 foster children in the U.S. residing in homes headed by non-heterosexuals. Children growing up in such households show similar patterns of adjustment as those raised by heterosexuals.

*At least 60% of U.S. adoption agencies accept non-heterosexual parental applicants, and almost 40% have knowingly placed children with them - meaning almost any lesbian, gay man, or same-sex couples can find a professional to work with them.

For more details about "Expanding Resources for Children III" or to schedule an interview, please contact Pertman at 617-763-0134 or apertman@adoptioninstitute.org.

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership - through sound research - that improves the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Its award-winning website is www.adoptioninstitute.org.

Adam Pertman, Executive Director
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
120 East 38th St, New York, NY 10016
212-925-4089/ 617-332-8944
617-763-0134 (direct cell)
www.adoptioninstitute.org

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hopscotch Newsletter, Playgrounds, is Re-introduced

Hopscotch Adoptions is pleased to re-introduce our newsletter, Playgrounds.  Playgrounds will appear on Hopscotch's website each quarterly and a link to Playgrounds will be sent to you by email.  If you have any problems opening the link, please contact Megan Gardinier, Senior Administrative Assistant.

If you have a topic, photo, accomplishment or story idea, we want to hear from you.  Michelle Moreau, MSW is collecting news for our next installment.

Thank you and enjoy!

The Waiting Game: Coping With Stress During The Wait

loveInternational adoption is universally stretching over longer processing times. With the introduction and implementation of Hague procedures and regulations, the process to adopt a child is much longer when compared to a few years ago. Longer wait times for adoption can result in greater anxiety for prospective adoptive parents, as they worry about issues like bonding, health and adoptions falling through. Hopscotch is pleased to share this terrific and insightful article, by Dawn Davenport, on anxiety and adoption and how to help to put these issues into perspective.

This article is shared with permission of Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, a nonprofit providing education and support for adoption and infertility, and host of the weekly podcast-Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility available for listening or downloading at www.CreatingaFamily.org.