TOUGH LOVE a Documentary About the Child Welfare System by Stephanie – Kickstarter


TOUGH LOVE chronicles the lives of two parents, Hannah from New York City and Patrick from Seattle, who have been separated from their children by the state. Through vérité-style footage and exclusive access inside the child welfare courts, TOUGH LOVE captures an intimate, firsthand account of these parents’ triumphs and struggles as they confront their past mistakes and attempt to prove to the system that they deserve a second chance to be parents. Throughout the film we will also hear from the foster parents who take care of these children, the judges who oversee these cases and the child welfare experts who have a clear understanding of how this complex system works.

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Hosting Program

100_6000 Considering hosting a child this summer?  If your family lives in New York or North Carolina, Hopscotch can assist you with the necessary home assessment service.  If you have not considered hosting before and want more information, contact to get started on a terrific and life-changing summer. 

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Spread the Word – 2 Weeks Until NAC 2013!

2013 National Adoption Conference and Prospective Adoptive Parents Day

Conference logo

2013 National Adoption Conference and Prospective Adoptive Parents Day

Professional Conference – Leading Change from Within: Aspire. Plan. Create.
Thursday – Friday, June 13-14

Join leaders in the field of adoption and learn what is happening at the forefront of adoption policy and practice, and how to play an active role in improving and safe-guarding adoption to better serve your clients. View the agenda here >> and Register here >>

Prospective Adoptive Parents Day – Explore. Learn. Adopt.
Saturday, June 15, 9:00am – 4:30pm

This exciting day is for those interested in learning more about adoption. Whether you’re exploring your options, pursuing adoptions, or in the midst of the adoption process, this day is for you. With sessions ranging from Agency Selection and Understanding the Screening Process to Wait Gain: Getting the Most from your Pre-adoptive Wait, you’ll leave with a sense of understanding and encouragement about your adoption.

View the agenda here >> and Register here >>


PAPD AttendeesLimited time BOGO offer for Prospective Adoptive Parents Day! Save up to $35!
Register by Monday, June 3rd and receive one FREE registration for your spouse or partner. Use code PDBOGO.

Registration includes entry into all sessions, supplies, and lunch. Reservations are non-refundable.


Featuring Secretary David Wilkins, Tanya Wilkins, and Lucas Daniel Boyce!

Hotel & Accommodations
Buena Vista Palace
On the edge of Downtown Disney World
Orlando, Florida
Room rate is $109/night plus tax*
Click here to make your hotel reservations >>

Why We Need to Talk About Race in Adoption, Shared by Mary-Jean Gianquinto, LMSW

8881271685_e0641c51b3 Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl’s eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.

Adoption has changed in the 32 years since a social worker told my parents “not to worry” about my ethnicity. Thanks to many transracial adoptees who have shared their experiences, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of racial and cultural identity. Numerous books have been written on the subject, and excellent blog posts abound. Transnational adoption has inspired documentary films such as First Person Plural, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, Wo Ai Ni Mommy, and Somewhere Between

While “colorblindness” in adoption has been widely challenged, however, not everyone is convinced – like the adoptive mother who recently told me, “I don’t see my son’s color. Race is just not an issue for us.”

Some people maintain that any cultural loss is unimportant compared to what children gain through adoption. But in both mainstream media and personal conversations about adoption, cultural and racial identity need not be pitted against a child’s right to love, safety, and security.

This unfortunate “either-or” framing of the issue finds frequent expression in discussions of transracial adoption. Michael Gerson—whose wife is a Korean adoptee—wrote in the Washington Post: “Ethnicity is an abstraction…. Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.” In a National Review article criticizing Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, adoptive father David French dismissed “the ‘culture’” (note the mocking quotation marks) of internationally adopted children as “the culture of starvation, of rags, of disease, and of abandonment.”

Another common framing of transracial adoption suggests that America’s “melting pot” has made race less relevant. In her NPR review of Somewhere Between, a documentary following four women adopted from China, adoptive mother Ella Taylor wrote: “[T]he film makes it seem that these girls’ lives are dominated by worry about who they are and whether they’ll be emotionally crippled by conflicting allegiances. Adopted or not, few of us develop our identities in the abstract – least of all today’s adolescents, who… are far more nonchalant about racial difference, let alone adoption, than we boomers can ever be.” But even if Taylor is raising her own daughter in “a polyglot world,” not all adopted youth feel “nonchalant” about adoption and racial identity—nor should indifference be presented as the ideal.

“There’s no one way to experience being adopted, or being a teenager, or being a woman of color,” says Linda Goldstein Knowlton, director/producer of Somewhere Between and the adoptive mother of a daughter from China.  “Being ‘race-blind’ – saying race doesn’t matter – could make a child feel as though an important part of her is being rejected.”

Some adoptive parents feel uncertain about how to discuss race with their own adopted children. Taiwanese adoptee Marijane Nguyen says that she doubts her parents were aware of how much she struggled with her identity. “They never asked,” she says. “Race in our household was never discussed. Because there weren’t many Asians in the community I grew up in, I always felt like I had some deficit because I wasn’t white.”

Louisville adoptive mother Amy Cubbage says that it is difficult to fully understand the challenges of transracial adoption until you are actually parenting. She and her husband recently transferred their six-year-old daughter to a more diverse school, and are now contemplating moving to a town with a larger Asian population. When they took their child to visit China for the first time since her adoption, Cubbage said, “We have never seen [our daughter] so at ease with herself… we underestimated her need to see where she’s from and see a place where everyone looks like her.”

Dr. Elizabeth Vonk, director of the MSW Program at the University of Georgia School of Social Work and an adoptive parent, leads a play therapy group for transracially adopted children. She notes that many parents find it easy and fun to introduce their children to their birth cultures, but may be less comfortable helping them explore their racial identity. “Racial socialization requires pushing beyond parents’ comfort zones to acknowledge racism, white privilege, and prejudice,” she told me. “I do still meet parents who are convinced that a colorblind approach is best. It is a belief system that makes positive racial identity development more difficult for their children.”

Even adoptees whose parents are willing to engage in meaningful discussions about race will inevitably have questions about their identity and needs their families might not be able to anticipate. Angela Tucker, an African American adoptee raised in a large, racially diverse family, credits her parents for taking her to African-American fashion shows and teaching her and her siblings about different cultures. Still, she said, she has struggled with knowing where she fits “within traditional Black culture,” a question that led her to search for her birth family. She and her husband recently secured the funding necessary to complete Closure, a documentary about Tucker’s adoption reunion.

We cannot have an honest discussion about transracial adoption if we aren’t willing to discuss race, prejudice, and privilege. Adoptees need to feel safe when we talk about the instances of racism we encounter. This may not sound easy—because it isn’t easy for white parents to raise children of color. But as the mother of two multiracial children, I can say that it’s not easy for parents of color, either.

Some people who plan to adopt across racial lines give me blank looks when I suggest that they closely examine their town, their neighborhood, their local schools, their social activities and community organizations before adopting outside their race. They bristle when I emphasize the importance of educating themselves about the persistence of inequality and the experiences of transracial adoptees and people of color living in this country. Sometimes they remind me that my experiences as a transracial adoptee aren’t universal—which is true—and therefore I don’t actually know what their adopted children will face.

Maybe I don’t, and I don’t know why adopted Asian kids stare at me. I just know why I used to stare.

Photo: The author, her mother, and their dog in 1983.


Joint Council Update – Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act

Last Thursday Senators Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013.  These bills follow the successful effort to reinstate the adoption tax credit which Congress made permanent in late 2012.  The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013 will expand the number of children benefiting from adoption by supporting adoptive families through full refundability.

The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group (ATCWG), of which we are a founding member, has worked to educate Members of Congress on the need to make the tax credit fully refundable.  Visit the ATCWG’s website and Facebook page to learn more about refundability and the ATCWG’s efforts.  The ATCWG  will be developing talking points and advocacy strategies and will post more information soon to ask members of the adoption community to become fully engaged. 

We extend our thanks to Senators Casey and Landrieu and Representative Braley for their leadership and work to ensure that the adoption tax credit is made refundable.   We also thank the many Joint Council Partners who are members of the ATCWG and for their continued support.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo

P.S.  Senator Landrieu’s statement on the legislation can be found below.


Dear Adoption Leader,

My husband and I are blessed with two precious, adopted children, and I know the Adoption Tax Credit encourages many others to consider expanding their own families through adoption. Although the tax credit was made permanent in January, the law did not extend the refundability provisions that applied in 2010 and 2011, allowing the full use of the tax credit. 

Last week, I joined my colleagues to introduce the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act to make the Adoption Tax Credit fully refundable.

Without the tax credit being refundable, many adopting families can’t fully utilize the benefits of this credit to make adoption a reality. This change will especially help families that want to adopt foster youth, finally providing them with a permanent and loving family and ensuring foster care is only temporary.

I am committed to making the Adoption Tax Credit refundable and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue to support families who make the wonderful decision to adopt.

Read the Towanda, Pa., Daily Review’s editorial in support of the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act here or below.



The Daily Review: EDITORIAL: ‘Adopt’ the Tax Credit

May 28, 2013

The reality of adoption in America and its perception in the pop culture are widely divergent. Due to the publicity attending Russia’s use of international adoptions for political purposes, and the attention that often attends adoptions by celebrities, the day-to-day issues often are obscured.

Coverage of celebrity adoptions leads many Americans to view adoption as the province of the wealthy, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a third of all adopted children live in households with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Among households that adopt children from foster care, 46 percent are in that income range.

For many families, then, adoption poses a huge financial challenge. To help them, Sens. Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu, and Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa, have introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2013.

A tax credit to encourage adoption was included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed in January. Because a high percentage of adoptive families have low incomes, however, their tax burden is too low to make them eligible for the adoption tax credit.

The new bill would make the credit refundable to the adoptive parents despite their low tax burden, as it was in 2010 and 2011.

According to the IRS, of filers claiming the adoption tax credit in 2011, 62 percent benefitted from the refundability provision and 25 percent of all filers claiming the credit had adjusted gross incomes lower than $50,000. Clearly, refundability is an important incentive for families to adopt children.

Making the tax credit refundable will create some cost for the federal government, but it long has been demonstrated that the cost of such credits is substantially less than the aggregate costs to the government of foster care.

Congress, especially those members who claim a pro-life position, should vote for the credit to help make adoption as affordable as possible to as many prospective adoptive families as possible.

Please contact Sen. Landrieu at the office nearest you.

Adoption Notice: The Republic of Korea Signs the Hague Adoption Convention

May 28, 2013

On May 24, 2013, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) signed the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention).  This is the first step for South Korea in becoming a Convention partner.  Adoptions between the United States and South Korea, however, are not yet subject to the require­ments of the Convention and relevant implementing laws and regulations.  According to the Ministry of Health and Wel­fare, which will be designated as South Korea’s Central Authority, there is no set date when South Korea will deliver its instrument of ratification or when the Convention will enter into force with respect to South Korea. We will continue to keep you informed through as we receive additional updates.

Adoption Notice: Guatemala

Update on Intercountry Adoptions in Guatemala  

Joint USCIS-State Delegation to Guatemala

May 29, 2013

During the week of May 13, 2013, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs traveled with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to Guatemala for meetings with Guatemalan government officials of agencies directly in­volved in adoptions, including the Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN) and the Guatemalan National Council on Adoption (CNA).  They also met with members of the Supreme Court, the Ministerio Publico (MP), the Ministry of So­cial Welfare, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).  Their visit provided an important opportunity to meet recently-appointed Guatemalan officials and emphasize that the timely and transparent resolution of all the remaining pending transition adoption cases in the best interests of the children remains a top priority for the United States. 

The meetings were also an opportunity to review the progress on completion of these remaining cases following recent administrative and personnel changes in the Government of Guatemala.  In the last several months, the Guatemalan gov­ernment has accelerated its completion of cases, and fewer than 100 pending transition adoption cases are awaiting reso­lution as of the date of this notice.  Twenty-nine cases have moved to CNA’s Acuerdo process, and nine cases have con­cluded with the immigration of the adopted children to the United States with their U.S. citizen parent(s).  Guatemala also completed an additional four cases under the notarial process and these children have joined their families in the United States.  Some cases have concluded with the child’s reunification with a biological family member in Guatemala. 

Officials at the PGN, which has the authority to complete the investigations in the pending cases, report having 52 cases in various stages of investigation.  The PGN has received renewed funding for its investigators, allowing them to con­tinue their work with a goal of completing these investigations within two months.  Once it has completed an investiga­tion, PGN will request a hearing with a Guatemalan court judge for a determination of the child’s adoptability , or reuni­fication with biological or extended family.  It is also possible, though not likely, that the judge will order the case to conclude via the notarial process.  According to the Guatemalan Supreme Court, there currently are no backlogs at the courts in Guatemala City, so that legal process should proceed without delays.  The cases with court decrees of adopta­bility will go to the CNA for evaluation of their eligibility for completion of the adoptions through the Acuerdo process. 

The USCIS and Consular staff of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City are in constant communication with the Guatema­lan officials responsible for adoption procedures.  U.S. Embassy staff monitor and promote Guatemalan progress in re­solving the remaining cases by attending the semi-weekly meetings of the technical group where these authorities work through the cases.  Prospective adoptive parents may contact USCIS directly at, and the Immigrant Visa Unit of the Consular Section directly at, in order to inquire about the status of individual adoption cases.

Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope With Trauma: A Guide for Pediatricians

The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to:

  • identify traumatized children,
  • educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and
  • empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy Film

About the Film

From 2000-2008, China was the leading country for U.S. international adoptions. There are now approximately 70,000 Chinese children being raised in the United States. Wo Ai Ni Mommy explores what happens when an older Chinese girl is adopted into an American family. This film reveals the complicated gains and losses that are an inherent aspect of international, transracial adoption.

In 2007 Donna and Jeff Sadowsky of Long Island, New York submitted their dossier to adopt eight-year old Fang Sui Yong from Guangzhou, China. From the very first moment Sui Yong meets her new mother, Donna, we get a real sense of the emotional confusion and loss Sui Yong experiences, as adoption workers translate their first words of communication. This day will change Sui Yong’s life, forever. Language, habits, food, everything she knows will never be the same. Her new life in America is filled with happiness and confusion. As she struggles to survive in this new world, we witness her transform into a lively, outspoken American. Sui Yong has become someone neither she nor Donna could have imagined. In a sense, she’s the same girl Donna met in Guangzhou all those months ago – and yet she’s utterly different.

Read more.

Joint Council Update – Senate Hearings on Children in Adversity

Last week Senator Mary Landrieu chaired the Senate Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs’ unprecedented hearing on U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity.   While our participation was limited as the hearing was held the same day as our Symposium, many of our colleagues with whom we have been working on the U.S. Action Plan for Children in Adversity testified and were present for the hearing.

The hearings were live streamed and are now available as a webcast.  Due to the length of the hearings we have broken down the various testimonies and questioning so that you can view all of the hearing or specific witnesses.  The entire hearing is well worth watching but recognizing everyone’s time constraints we have highlighted just a few sections that we feel you would find particularly interesting and relevant.

We extend our thanks to Senators Leahy and Landrieu for convening this unprecedented hearing and for bringing the needs of children living without family care to the attention of Congress.

Best Wishes,

Tom DiFilipo
Senate Hearing on U.S. Foreign Assistance for Children in Adversity

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