Monday, June 27

Impact of US adoptions, CRT in wake of Buffalo shooting: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: How states are failing adopted children

Reporters Aleszu Bajak and Marisa Kwiatkowski have more on their investigation. Plus, more Ukrainian fighters leave the Mariupol steel plant where they were holed up, education reporter Alia Wong looks at critical race theory in the wake of the Buffalo shooting, a recount may be on the way in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary race and the PGA Championship is here.

Podcast:True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Buenos dias. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Thursday, the 19th of May 2022. Today, how states are failing adopted children. Plus, Ukrainian forces begin to surrender in Mariupol, and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. COVID-19 cases are back on the rise. About 1/3 of Americans now live in areas with medium or high COVID-19 rates and reported cases are up 26% from last week.
  2. The US government is moving to ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela. The move aims to encourage summarizes negotiations between the US backed opposition and the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
  3. And President Joe Biden heads out on a five day trip to Asia today. He’ll meet with leaders from across the region, with stops in South Korea and Japan.

With broken adoptions and buried records, states are failing adopted children. And a USA TODAY investigation found that no one knows how well each state is fulfilling its mission of finding children their forever homes. Reporters Aleszu Bajak and Marisa Kwiatkowski have more.

Aleszu Bajak:

So since 1993, states have been required to submit data to the federal government about all the children that pass through their foster care system. Each child is supposed to have a unique encrypted ID number so officials and outside researchers can understand what happened to these kids. But what we found was that most states present a brand new child ID number to the federal system either at adoption or when the adopted child comes back into the foster system. What that means is that it erases a lot of the child’s prior history that could help prevent adoptions from failing. That’s important, because look, more than 50,000 kids are adopted out of foster care each year and the government spends more than $3 billion subsidizing families and more than 20 million incentivizing agencies a year. So the stakes are high to understand what it is that potentially went wrong and what we could do to drive new policies or interventions like mental health counseling and other kind of post adoptive services.

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Marisa Kwiatkowski:

This analysis that Aleszu conducted is part of a broader investigation looking at adoption failures. And what we found is that while the majority of adoptions in the US remain intact, tens of thousands of children suffer the collapse of, not one but two families, their birth family and their adoptive family. And on average, our analysis found that 12 adoptions failed every day. We found that there are breakdowns at every point in the adoption process, including flawed home studies and failures to access mental health services. And so there are a lot of pieces of this puzzle that affect the stability of an adoption.

Aleszu Bajak:

Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how many adoptions dissolve and return to the system or enter the system for the first time. We have seen estimates from 5% to 20% of adoptions, but that data is spotty and varies by state and by year. What we have done in, first of its kind analysis, is tally up all the previously adopted kids in foster care from 2008 to 2020, and we counted more than 66,000. But experts tell us that’s an undercount. We really don’t know exactly how many dissolve and for what reasons.

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