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barriers_to_adoption_in_the_united_states [2015/11/03 12:27]
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 ==========Barriers to Adoption in the United States========== ==========Barriers to Adoption in the United States==========
  
-Although adoption meets the interests of the needy child better than any other option, Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law School concludes that "our adoption system has failed to live up to even its own limited vision.... Laws and policies that are supposed to protect children have created barriers to adoption that function effectively to prevent these children from getting the kind of protection they most need 'a loving, nurturing and permanent home.'"​((E. Bartholet, //Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting// (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993); quoted in J.D. Vincent, "​Reforming Adoption: Putting Children First,"​ //Center of the American Experiment//​(1995): 2. )) Several barriers make it very difficult for many families to adopt children:+Although adoption meets the interests of the needy child better than any other option, Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law School concludes that "our adoption system has failed to live up to even its own limited vision.... Laws and policies that are supposed to protect children have created barriers to adoption that function effectively to prevent these children from getting the kind of protection they most need 'a loving, nurturing and permanent home.'"​((Elizabeth ​Bartholet, //Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting// (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993); quoted in J.D. Vincent, "​Reforming Adoption: Putting Children First,"​ //Center of the American Experiment//​ (1995): 2. )) Several barriers make it very difficult for many families to adopt children:
  
 =====1. Anti-Adoption Bias in Pregnancy Counseling===== =====1. Anti-Adoption Bias in Pregnancy Counseling=====
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   * Some 40 percent of individuals in a variety of settings (health, family planning, social services, and adoption agencies) who identify themselves as "​pregnancy counselors"​ do not even raise the issue of adoption with pregnant clients.   * Some 40 percent of individuals in a variety of settings (health, family planning, social services, and adoption agencies) who identify themselves as "​pregnancy counselors"​ do not even raise the issue of adoption with pregnant clients.
-  * An additional 40 percent provide inaccurate or incomplete information to clients.((J.W. Steverson, //Children and the Law: Child vs. State//(2012)556.)) +  * An additional 40 percent provide inaccurate or incomplete information to clients.((Janet W. Steverson, //Child vs. State:Children and the Law// (2012)556.)) 
-  * By contrast, 38 percent of the clients whose counselors offered adoption went on to choose adoption.((E.V. Mech,"​Orientations of Pregnancy Counselors Toward Adoption,"​ (paper, University of Illinois, 1984.) )) +  * By contrast, 38 percent of the clients whose counselors offered adoption went on to choose adoption.((Edmund ​V. Mech,"​Orientations of Pregnancy Counselors Toward Adoption,"​ (paper, University of Illinois, 1984.) )) 
  
 Congress'​s efforts to require adoption information and counseling in one federally funded program providing services to pregnant women have met with resistance from family planning professionals. For example, the Adolescent Family Life Act((Part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, August 13, (1981): 97-35,)) was passed in the early 1980s to provide a modest ($7.8 million), more "​pro-life,"​ adoption-friendly alternative to the pregnancy counseling provided by established Title X and Title XIX family planning services (typically over $300 million per year). The bias among professionals against adoption can be seen in the evaluation of the program'​s effectiveness. Some 7 percent of the grantees violated the most basic terms of their grants by not providing any information on adoption to their clients. Most grantees failed to provide either adequate adoption information or counseling.((National Council for Adoption, "Why Won't the Public Health Service Talk About Adoption?"​ //National Adoption Reports//, (1994).)) ​ Congress'​s efforts to require adoption information and counseling in one federally funded program providing services to pregnant women have met with resistance from family planning professionals. For example, the Adolescent Family Life Act((Part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, August 13, (1981): 97-35,)) was passed in the early 1980s to provide a modest ($7.8 million), more "​pro-life,"​ adoption-friendly alternative to the pregnancy counseling provided by established Title X and Title XIX family planning services (typically over $300 million per year). The bias among professionals against adoption can be seen in the evaluation of the program'​s effectiveness. Some 7 percent of the grantees violated the most basic terms of their grants by not providing any information on adoption to their clients. Most grantees failed to provide either adequate adoption information or counseling.((National Council for Adoption, "Why Won't the Public Health Service Talk About Adoption?"​ //National Adoption Reports//, (1994).)) ​
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 During the 1980s, these permanency planning guidelines evolved into the operating principle of "​family preservation"​ -- keeping families intact through early, intense, comprehensive social services. The goal was to keep families united and thus avoid the high costs of foster care. During the 1980s, these permanency planning guidelines evolved into the operating principle of "​family preservation"​ -- keeping families intact through early, intense, comprehensive social services. The goal was to keep families united and thus avoid the high costs of foster care.
  
-Because of their own high costs, however, family preservation services cannot be sustained for long periods; and because of high demand, caseworkers move quickly to take care of the next family in crisis. This approach did succeed in stopping the removal of children from the home, but not necessarily in preserving them from further abuse.((P.H. Rossi, //​Evaluating Family Preservation Programs//University of Massachusetts:​ Social and Demographic Research Institute, September 1990 (report to the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation);​ \\ M.S. Wald, "​Family Preservation:​ Are We Moving Too Fast?" //Public Welfare// (1988).)) ​+Because of their own high costs, however, family preservation services cannot be sustained for long periods; and because of high demand, caseworkers move quickly to take care of the next family in crisis. This approach did succeed in stopping the removal of children from the home, but not necessarily in preserving them from further abuse.((P.H. Rossi, //​Evaluating Family Preservation Programs// University of Massachusetts:​ Social and Demographic Research Institute, September 1990 (report to the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation);​ \\ M.S. Wald, "​Family Preservation:​ Are We Moving Too Fast?" //Public Welfare// (1988).)) ​
  
 When possible, stabilizing families and leaving children with their biological parents is ideal. MIT researcher Joseph Doyle found that children who stay with parents who are accused (but not arrested or convicted) of [[child_abuse_in_the_united_states|abuse]] or neglect do better than the majority of children placed in foster care.((U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration When possible, stabilizing families and leaving children with their biological parents is ideal. MIT researcher Joseph Doyle found that children who stay with parents who are accused (but not arrested or convicted) of [[child_abuse_in_the_united_states|abuse]] or neglect do better than the majority of children placed in foster care.((U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration
-on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau //Child Maltreatment 2012// Children’s Bureau, (Washington:​ Administration on Children, Youth and Families, 2013) [[http://​www.acf.hhs.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​cb/​cm2012.pdf]].)) However, the rise in substance abuse in child abuse and neglect cases has severely complicated efforts by child welfare systems to protect children and rehabilitate families.”((Center for Substance Abuse Services, “Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons with Child Abuse and Neglect Issues,” //Treatment Improvement Protocol Series// 36 (2000).)) In 2012, 686,000 children were reported as victims of child abuse. In over 80 percent of abuse cases the child’s parents were the perpetrators. Among these child victims, 18 percent were physically abused, 9 percent were sexually abused, and 8.5 percent were psychologically maltreated. The majority, 78.3 percent of victims, suffered "​neglect"​ without physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. The level of harm from neglect can vary significantly.((C. Friedersdorf,​ “In a Year, Child Protective Services Checked up on 3.2 Million Children,​” //The Atlantic// ​Jul. 22, 2014 [[http://​www.theatlantic.com/​national/​archive/​2014/​07/​in-a-year-child-protective-services-conducted-32-million-investigations/​374809/​]]. Based on data reported U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, //Child Maltreatment 2012,// (2013) [[http://​www.acf.hhs.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​cb/​cm2012.pdf]].))+on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau //Child Maltreatment 2012// Children’s Bureau, (Washington:​ Administration on Children, Youth and Families, 2013). Available at [[http://​www.acf.hhs.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​cb/​cm2012.pdf]].)) However, the rise in substance abuse in child abuse and neglect cases has severely complicated efforts by child welfare systems to protect children and rehabilitate families.”((Center for Substance Abuse Services, “Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons with Child Abuse and Neglect Issues,” //Treatment Improvement Protocol Series// 36(2000).)) In 2012, 686,000 children were reported as victims of child abuse. In over 80 percent of abuse cases the child’s parents were the perpetrators. Among these child victims, 18 percent were physically abused, 9 percent were sexually abused, and 8.5 percent were psychologically maltreated. The majority, 78.3 percent of victims, suffered "​neglect"​ without physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. The level of harm from neglect can vary significantly.((Conor Friedersdorf,​ “In a Year, Child Protective Services Checked up on 3.2 Million Children,​” //The Atlantic// ​July 22, (2014[[http://​www.theatlantic.com/​national/​archive/​2014/​07/​in-a-year-child-protective-services-conducted-32-million-investigations/​374809/​]]. Based on data reported U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, //Child Maltreatment 2012,// (2013) [[http://​www.acf.hhs.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​cb/​cm2012.pdf]].))
  
-Sadly, a number of children who die from [[effects_of_abuse_on_children|abuse]] and neglect are already known to Child Protective Services agencies. In 30 reporting states, 8.5 percent of child deaths were to families who had received family preservation services in the past 5 years. In 35 reporting states, 2.2 percent of child fatalities involved children who had been in foster care and were reunited with their families in the past 5 years.((C. Friedersdorf,​ “In a Year, Child Protective Services Checked up on 3.2 Million Children,​” //The Atlantic// Jul. 22, 2014 [[http://​www.theatlantic.com/​national/​archive/​2014/​07/​in-a-year-child-protective-services-conducted-32-million-investigations/​374809/​. Based on data reported U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, //Child Maltreatment 2012,// (2013) [[http://​www.acf.hhs.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​cb/​cm2012.pdf]].))  ​+Sadly, a number of children who die from [[effects_of_abuse_on_children|abuse]] and neglect are already known to Child Protective Services agencies. In 30 reporting states, 8.5 percent of child deaths were to families who had received family preservation services in the past 5 years. In 35 reporting states, 2.2 percent of child fatalities involved children who had been in foster care and were reunited with their families in the past 5 years.((Conor Friedersdorf,​ “In a Year, Child Protective Services Checked up on 3.2 Million Children,​” //The Atlantic// Jul. 22, 2014 [[http://​www.theatlantic.com/​national/​archive/​2014/​07/​in-a-year-child-protective-services-conducted-32-million-investigations/​374809/​. Based on data reported U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, //Child Maltreatment 2012,// (2013) [[http://​www.acf.hhs.gov/​sites/​default/​files/​cb/​cm2012.pdf]].))  ​
  
 The Boys Town conference highlighted the central problems of family preservation services. The first logical step should be to assess whether the parents are likely to benefit from support service or whether the child should be removed immediately;​ instead, family preservation services are assumed to be the best first treatment. Though these services are activated because of abuse to the child -- sometimes very severe abuse -- they must fail before the child can be protected from the abusing family. It is imprudent for government agencies to fund family preservation programs //at the expense of// adoption services. ​ The Boys Town conference highlighted the central problems of family preservation services. The first logical step should be to assess whether the parents are likely to benefit from support service or whether the child should be removed immediately;​ instead, family preservation services are assumed to be the best first treatment. Though these services are activated because of abuse to the child -- sometimes very severe abuse -- they must fail before the child can be protected from the abusing family. It is imprudent for government agencies to fund family preservation programs //at the expense of// adoption services. ​
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 =====3. Overload and Confusion of Social Service Roles===== =====3. Overload and Confusion of Social Service Roles=====
  
-According to Douglas J. Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute, the rising incidence of reported child abuse keeps local child welfare agencies extremely busy on policing activities, diverting time and resources away from adoption.((D.J. Besharov with L.A. Laumann, "​Don'​t Call It Child Abuse If It's Really Poverty,"​ //American Enterprise Institute,//​ Washington, D.C.; paper prepared for conference on Social Policies for Children, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton, New Jersey, May 1994. \\ S. Torre and R.T. Anderson, “Adoption,​ Foster Care, and Conscience Protection”,​ January 15, 2014.)) Often the same staff must investigate abuse reports, provide family preservation services, file for the termination of parental rights, and recruit and prepare adoptive families.+According to Douglas J. Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute, the rising incidence of reported child abuse keeps local child welfare agencies extremely busy on policing activities, diverting time and resources away from adoption.((Douglas ​J. Besharov with Lisa A. Laumann, "​Don'​t Call It Child Abuse If It's Really Poverty,"​ //American Enterprise Institute,//​ Washington, D.C.; paper prepared for conference on Social Policies for Children, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton, New Jersey, May 1994. \\ Sarah Torre and Ryan T. Anderson, “Adoption,​ Foster Care, and Conscience Protection”,​ January 15, 2014.)) Often the same staff must investigate abuse reports, provide family preservation services, file for the termination of parental rights, and recruit and prepare adoptive families.
  
 The child welfare system typically does not separate the responsibility for terminating parental rights of parents who continue to abuse and neglect their children from the responsibility to help those parents who can be helped. As a result, many children unnecessarily die. Professionals are trapped in the role confusion caused by simultaneous demands to reunite every family while also protecting the child. By contrast, states like Arizona and Oregon use separate professional units  to make initial determinations and to justify the necessary court proceedings. ​ The child welfare system typically does not separate the responsibility for terminating parental rights of parents who continue to abuse and neglect their children from the responsibility to help those parents who can be helped. As a result, many children unnecessarily die. Professionals are trapped in the role confusion caused by simultaneous demands to reunite every family while also protecting the child. By contrast, states like Arizona and Oregon use separate professional units  to make initial determinations and to justify the necessary court proceedings. ​
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 In adoption law and philosophy, there has arisen a view which parallels the modern revisionist view of marriage and parenthood embodied in "​no-fault"​ divorce. New relationships between parent and child are imagined, and a new type of contract is forged between parents. Open adoption is akin to no-fault divorce, and the "birth parents"​ take on the role of the visiting parent who has not yielded up all his rights to the child, particularly rights of visitation and vacations together. The adoptive parents are bound not just to their adopted child, but also to the birth parents and must facilitate the continuing relationship between the child and his birth parents. ​ In adoption law and philosophy, there has arisen a view which parallels the modern revisionist view of marriage and parenthood embodied in "​no-fault"​ divorce. New relationships between parent and child are imagined, and a new type of contract is forged between parents. Open adoption is akin to no-fault divorce, and the "birth parents"​ take on the role of the visiting parent who has not yielded up all his rights to the child, particularly rights of visitation and vacations together. The adoptive parents are bound not just to their adopted child, but also to the birth parents and must facilitate the continuing relationship between the child and his birth parents. ​
  
-Open adoption provides no seal of confidentiality regarding the identity of the birth parents, the adopting parents, and the child. It essentially blends birth families with adopting families, directly undermining the creation of a permanent new family for a child. The professional literature shows a frequent confusion of roles when the birth family continues a relationship with the child. This also interferes with parent and child bonding((K. Silber and P.M. Dorner, //Children of Open Adoption// (San Antonio, Tex.: Corona Publishing Company, 1989); Marianne Berry, "The Effects of Open Adoption on Biological and Adoptive Parents and the Children: The Arguments and the Evidence,"​ //Child Welfare//70, no. 6 (1990).)) in the adoptive family and inhibits the birth parents'​ grieving process.((M.E. Seader and W.L. Pierce, "​Should Parents Who Give Up Their Children for Adoption Continue to Have Access to Their Children?"​ in Mary Ann Mason and Eileen Gambrill, eds., \\ M.A. Mason and E. Gambrill //Debating Children'​s Lives: Current Controversies on Children and Adolescents//​ (Thousand Oaks, Cal: Sage Publications,​ 1994).)) There are parallel experiences and research findings with respect to divorce and the increased risks of being raised in blended families.((Blended families are composed of children of two former marriages or unions. The rate of family conflict is higher, and the children have higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems, in blended families than in original intact families.)) Confidentiality,​ especially in infant adoptions, helps minimize these risks.+Open adoption provides no seal of confidentiality regarding the identity of the birth parents, the adopting parents, and the child. It essentially blends birth families with adopting families, directly undermining the creation of a permanent new family for a child. The professional literature shows a frequent confusion of roles when the birth family continues a relationship with the child. This also interferes with parent and child bonding((Kathleen ​Silber and Patricia ​M. Dorner, //Children of Open Adoption// (San Antonio, Tex.: Corona Publishing Company, 1989); Marianne Berry, "The Effects of Open Adoption on Biological and Adoptive Parents and the Children: The Arguments and the Evidence,"​ //Child Welfare// 70, no. 6 (1990).)) in the adoptive family and inhibits the birth parents'​ grieving process.((Mary E. Seader and William ​L. Pierce, "​Should Parents Who Give Up Their Children for Adoption Continue to Have Access to Their Children?"​ in Mary Ann Mason and Eileen Gambrill, eds., \\ Mary A. Mason and Eileen ​Gambrill //Debating Children'​s Lives: Current Controversies on Children and Adolescents//​ (Thousand Oaks, Cal: Sage Publications,​ 1994).)) There are parallel experiences and research findings with respect to divorce and the increased risks of being raised in blended families.((Blended families are composed of children of two former marriages or unions. The rate of family conflict is higher, and the children have higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems, in blended families than in original intact families.)) Confidentiality,​ especially in infant adoptions, helps minimize these risks.
  
-In some states, open adoption allows birth parents to take adoptive parents to court to uphold visitation agreements. This policy undermines the rights of adoptive parents to make parenting decisions. It also changes the nature and dynamics of a close, intact, inviolably intimate adoptive family, exposing it to the disruptions,​ conflicts, and anxieties characteristic of divorced and blended families. The professional literature on childhood emotional and behavioral development shows that children of blended families do less well than children of single parents and intact families.((N. Zill and C.A. Schoenborn, "​Developmental,​ Learning, and Emotional Problems: Health of Our Nation'​s Children, United States 1988," //Advanced Data from Vital and Health Statistics of the National Center for Health Statistics//​no. 190, (1990).)) If successful, the growing push for open adoption((The major proponents of open adoption are the American Adoption Congress and Concerned United Birthparents.)) could cause similar difficulties for adopted children, undermining the generally strong mental health reported by the Search Institute and Nicholas Zill.((P. L. Benson, ​A.R. Sharma, and E.C. Roehlkepartain,​ //Growing Up Adopted-A Portrait of Adolescents and Their Families// (Minneapolis:​ Search Institute, 1994); ​N. Zill, “Adopted Children in the United States: A Profile Based on a National Survey of Child Health,” testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, May 1995. \\ K. Patricelli, “Long-Term Issues For The Adopted Child,” January 22, 2007.))+In some states, open adoption allows birth parents to take adoptive parents to court to uphold visitation agreements. This policy undermines the rights of adoptive parents to make parenting decisions. It also changes the nature and dynamics of a close, intact, inviolably intimate adoptive family, exposing it to the disruptions,​ conflicts, and anxieties characteristic of divorced and blended families. The professional literature on childhood emotional and behavioral development shows that children of blended families do less well than children of single parents and intact families.((Nicholas ​Zill and Charlotte ​A. Schoenborn, "​Developmental,​ Learning, and Emotional Problems: Health of Our Nation'​s Children, United States 1988," //Advanced Data from Vital and Health Statistics of the National Center for Health Statistics//​ no. 190, (1990).)) If successful, the growing push for open adoption((The major proponents of open adoption are the American Adoption Congress and Concerned United Birthparents.)) could cause similar difficulties for adopted children, undermining the generally strong mental health reported by the Search Institute and Nicholas Zill.((Peter L. Benson, ​Anu R. Sharma, and Eugene ​C. Roehlkepartain,​ //Growing Up Adopted-A Portrait of Adolescents and Their Families// (Minneapolis:​ Search Institute, 1994); ​Nicholas ​Zill, “Adopted Children in the United States: A Profile Based on a National Survey of Child Health,” testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, May 1995. \\ Kathryn ​Patricelli, “Long-Term Issues For The Adopted Child,” January 22, 2007.))
  
 Proponents of open adoption even recommend abolishing adoption in favor of "​guardianship,"​ which does not offer the same permanence of family for the child.((R. Pannor and A. Baran, "​It'​s Time for a Sweeping Change,"​ //American Adoption Congress Newsletter//,​ 1990; Carole Anderson, "​Response to '​It'​s Time for a Sweeping Change',"​ //CUB Communicator//,​ (1990).)) Like any other government policy which treats the adoptive families differently from intact families, this undermines the very essence of adoption. Proponents of open adoption even recommend abolishing adoption in favor of "​guardianship,"​ which does not offer the same permanence of family for the child.((R. Pannor and A. Baran, "​It'​s Time for a Sweeping Change,"​ //American Adoption Congress Newsletter//,​ 1990; Carole Anderson, "​Response to '​It'​s Time for a Sweeping Change',"​ //CUB Communicator//,​ (1990).)) Like any other government policy which treats the adoptive families differently from intact families, this undermines the very essence of adoption.
  
-Understandably,​ many children become interested in knowing about their [[adoptee_s_search_for_biological_parents|birth parents]] as they reach early adulthood. Their desire may be fulfilled if everyone involved is prepared to cooperate in lifting the veil of confidentiality. Most states try to maintain confidentiality if there is not full agreement among all concerned. Others do not. Two, Alaska and Kansas, will release the original birth certificate with the names of the biological parents to the adopted person after the age of eighteen, regardless of the birth mother'​s desires.((National Council for Adoption, //On the Confidentiality of Adoption Records//1992. As cited by Patrick F. Fagan, “Promoting Adoption Reform: Congress Can Give Children Another Chance,” Heritage Backgrounder ​#1080 (1996). Available at [[http://​www.heritage.org/​research/​reports/​1996/​05/​bg1080nbsp-promoting-adoption-reform#​68]].)) ​+Understandably,​ many children become interested in knowing about their [[adoptee_s_search_for_biological_parents|birth parents]] as they reach early adulthood. Their desire may be fulfilled if everyone involved is prepared to cooperate in lifting the veil of confidentiality. Most states try to maintain confidentiality if there is not full agreement among all concerned. Others do not. Two, Alaska and Kansas, will release the original birth certificate with the names of the biological parents to the adopted person after the age of eighteen, regardless of the birth mother'​s desires.((National Council for Adoption, //On the Confidentiality of Adoption Records// 1992. As cited by Patrick F. Fagan, “Promoting Adoption Reform: Congress Can Give Children Another Chance,​” ​//Heritage Backgrounder// no. 1080 (1996). Available at [[http://​www.heritage.org/​research/​reports/​1996/​05/​bg1080nbsp-promoting-adoption-reform#​68]].)) ​
  
 Proponents of opening adoption records seek legislation at the federal level. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has introduced various versions of a "​national reunion registry"​ to help connect birth parents with persons who are adopted. The National Council for Adoption and many of its affiliated private adoption agencies have challenged the vagueness of the legislative proposals which do not assure confidentiality. ​ Proponents of opening adoption records seek legislation at the federal level. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) has introduced various versions of a "​national reunion registry"​ to help connect birth parents with persons who are adopted. The National Council for Adoption and many of its affiliated private adoption agencies have challenged the vagueness of the legislative proposals which do not assure confidentiality. ​