End Notes

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Ready Resources

The Safe Start Center recently published a new tool to help families combat the effect of violence on children. The guide, called Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children's Exposure to Violence can be downloaded as a PDF from the center's website in English (www.safestartcenter.org/pdf/caregiver.pdf) and Spanish (www.safestartcenter.org/pdf/caregiver-spanish.pdf), and free printed copies are available for delivery. In addition to the 30-page booklet, the center offers a "quick reference guide," a card that shares resources--hotlines, websites, and books--on one side and age-appropriate signs of what to look for in children who have been exposed to violence, and what to do to help them. Visit www.safestartcenter.org" for more on the topic.

Health Beat

Astudy from the Proceedings of the Royal Society B chronicles the effect of a mother's voice on stress in children. In the study, which included 61 mothers and their 7- to 12-year-old daughters, the children participated in a stressful activity and were then divided into three groups. The first group was allowed physical mother-daughter contact, and mothers could comfort the girls as they normally would; the second was allowed only contact over the phone, and mothers spoke to the girls; the third group of girls did not see or speak to their mothers, but watched an hour-long film. The last group of daughters remained stressed, but both groups who had interaction with their mothers--whether physical or just vocal--experienced the same amount of stress reduction. Researchers conclude that speech may be as important as touch in developing attachment with children. View the abstract and download the study, "Social Vocalizations Can Release Oxytocin in Humans," from rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org.

Tech Trends

In between the class reunions, virtual farms, and myriad fan pages, Facebook is connecting people in a new arena: adoption.

Maryland couple Seth Edlavitch and Melissa Segal made headlines recently after their story was published in Facebook Fairytales: Modern-Day Miracles to Inspire the Human Spirit. After unsuccessful fertility treatments, they had decided that adoption was the way to find their first child, and shared with friends and family on the social networking website that they were looking to adopt a baby. In less than a month, they were talking to a friend of a friend of a friend who was pregnant but didn't have a plan for her baby. Noah was born December 30, 2008, and Edlavitch and Segal took him home January 1. The couple is hoping to adopt a sibling for Noah in the near future.


Of course, just as connections can be made between children and adoptive parents, Facebook is facilitating connections between adopted children and their birth parents. Valerie Ryan, 24, of Crofton, British Columbia, Canada, had been searching for her birth mother for five years and found her through a chance Facebook search of her full name. They lived about 30 miles apart. Ryan met her birth mother on Mother's Day, with her adoptive mother, who had supported the search, in attendance as well, according to the Nanaimo Daily News. However, an article in The Observer highlights the distressing side of this trend, when birth parents contact children who are sometimes unaware of their adoption. Especially for adopted children who had suffered abuse or neglect with their birth parents and were removed from their homes, unexpected contact can be traumatic. Agencies are fielding calls from adoptive parents and the British Association for Adoption and Fostering is set to offer new guidance to parents and social workers.

Speaking Out

"I think what every kid wants is for someone to say, 'I don't care what you do, I don't care how bad you act, you're going to be in this house, and you're going to be grounded, and you're going to learn your manners, and you're not going anywhere.' ... Somebody should have taken the time to find me a family that would have stuck with me. Find me one placement that's going to work, find me the one placement so I don't have to go through 13."


-- Mandy Baldwin, who had 13 placeme nts in 7 years in the foster care system. Baldwin, now 21, is featured in the documentary From Place to Place, which follows six young adults over 18 months after they age out of the foster care system. View a t railer for the forthcoming film at www.fromplacetoplacemovie.com. Baldwin also spoke at a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill May 17 with the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, which also included CWLA's Linda Spears.

"Social work is a profession with meaning that offers opportunities that are as diverse as the individuals, families, communities, and populations of service that are supported in this country.... Social work is a profession that is indeed grounded in scientific research--which i s the foundation for developing effective approaches for prevention and intervention in social work practice--but it is also an art."


-- CWLA President and CEO Christine James-Brown, in a commencement speech to graduates of the Jane Addams Colle ge of Social Work of the University of Illinois at Chicago. See an essay adapted from this speech at James-Brown's new blog online at the Huffington Post. Visit her author page at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-jamesbrown.

Research Report

Anew report, Gender and Racial Biases: Evidence from Child Adoption, uses an economic approach to explore parents' preferences in adopting children. Download the PDF from www.hss.caltech.edu/~lyariv/Papers/Adoption.pdf. The research shows that parents have strong preference for girls and against African American babies in domestic U.S. adoptions. Researchers analyzed the costs of adoptions, which include agency fees (according to the paper, often 80% of the total cost) and the birth mother's expenses. Costs for an African American child are $8,000 lower than those for a Caucasian or Hispanic child, and costs for girls are $2,000 higher than those for boys. By measuring interest of prospective adoptive parents, and working with the assumption that all other things being equal, a higher expected adoption cost would lower interest in a child, the researchers were able to convert the gender and racial bias into dollars. To even out prospective parents' preference for girls, the authors say, boys would need to be $16,000 cheaper than girls, and adopting an African American baby would need to be $38,000 cheaper than a Caucasian or Hispanic baby to negate prospective parents' racial preferences.

The paper also examines the attitudes of different types of parents: same-sex couples, single women, and foreign couples. The researchers' conclusions support policies that allow same-sex couples and foreign couples to adopt. For more, see a blog post from The Economist at www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2010/05/markets_everything based on a conversation with one of the study's authors.

Dispatch From Abroad

College students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, planned an awareness campaign against child abuse in May, Arab News reported. "Mercy on Childhood" centered around students joining hands at a mall for two nights as part of project for a class at Dar Al-Hekma. The school also planned to host seminars on campus where social workers, teachers, and lecturers would talk about how to recognize and eradicate child abuse. Arab News quoted one lecturer who said one of the biggest challenges in combating child abuse was the government's lack of recordkeeping on the issue.

Have an opinion on child welfare issues in the news, especially the comments above? Send a letter to the editor to voice@cwla.org.

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