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.
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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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
The federal agency in charge of this data has known about the problem for more than 20 years. There have been multiple efforts to alert Congress and to alert the federal agency. They’ve done things. They’ve tried and actually failed to institute penalties to states, where if you are reporting bad data, they would penalize you, take money away from you. States have always pushed back and won. And so, now starting in 2023, there are new rules for what data should be submitted about children in care and there are supposed to be penalties. So we’ll see what happens.
For more on this investigation, go to brokenadoption.usatoday.com.
Nearly a thousand last-ditch Ukrainian fighters who held out inside a steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered. Those who came out of the Azovstal steelworks now face an uncertain fate. Some were taken by Russia to a former penal colony in territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Ukraine said it hopes to get them back in a prisoner swap, but Russia is threatening to put some on trial for war crimes. It’s not clear how many forces remain in the compound where 2,000 were believed to be holed up at one point. But a separatist leader in the region said no top commanders had emerged.
Meanwhile, some normalcy has returned to the capital of Kyiv, including the US embassy reopening there yesterday. That comes a month after Russian forces abandoned their push to seize the capital. On the diplomatic front, Finland and Sweden could become members of NATO in a matter of months. /that’s despite objections from Turkey to potentially disrupt things. Turkey accuses the two countries of harboring Kurdish militants and others it considers a threat to its security.
After last week’s mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket, experts say that teaching children about racism can help counter dangerous conspiracy theories and hate crimes. Education reporter Alia Wong has more on the debate over critical race theory in American history education combating this type of violence.
CRT or critical race theory is a graduate level framework that examines how racism continues to permeate our structures and our systems and our laws and our policies. It’s rarely, if ever, taught at the K-12 level. But that term has been sort of caricatured and leveraged by critics on the right to refer to any teaching that has students think critically about America’s past, and in particular, its racial past. So critics call it CRT. Proponents call this anti-racist education. Some say it’s simply good history instruction. Either way, in the aftermath of this tragedy in Buffalo last weekend, some people have been saying essentially that this is exhibiting A for why we really need good anti-racist history education in this country.
We know that it was a racially motivated attack. We know that most of the victims were Black. In a document circulating online, the 18 year old male suspect, who’s white, alluded to a conspiracy theory known as Great Replacement. He has entertained narratives of America that are popular among white supremacists and entertained really distorted stereotypes about Black people in particular. So his version of America’s history is deeply and dangerously flawed, clearly. Experts are saying this is a reminder of why we need better US history education. When they say better, they mean history that’s more honest, more nuanced, more inclusive, history that talks about the contributions of people of color that shows them in their multidimensional experiences, lessons that don’t whitewash the ugly moments from our country’s past.
And at least until relatively recently, there’s a movement to reform history classes so that they were indeed more inclusive and more nuanced. Teachers and administrators were really taking it upon themselves to disrupt traditional narratives by including more diverse voices in social studies lessons. But in the past year and a half or so, of course, this slew of legislative efforts, and in some cases, successes have sought to outlaw that kind of teaching. And at a time that when hate crimes are on the rise and conspiracy theories are spreading faster and wider than ever, experts say it’s especially critical that that movement to make history classes more accurate and nuanced and diverse, need to get that movement back on track .
You can find Alia’s full story in today’s episode description.
The decision on whether to hold a recount election in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary still had not been decided as of this morning. Heart surgeon turned TV celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick were separated by a slim margin. Out of more than 1.3 million votes counted, the Trump-supported Oz led McCormick by just 1,723 votes yesterday. And there were tens of thousands of votes left to be counted along with overseas and absentee ballots. The winner will face democratic nominee for the seat, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. He won the nomination just days after suffering a stroke on the campaign trail.
The 104th PGA Championship is here. The golf major begins today and runs through Sunday at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s the first time the course is hosting a PGA championship since 2007 when Tiger Woods won it. And Tiger will be back this week, that’s one of the storylines golf week senior writer Steve DiMeglio is looking out for.
15 months after he nearly killed himself in a single car accident north of Los Angeles, Tiger Woods will be playing in his second major championship of the year. I have made a remarkable return at this year’s Masters. And after a first round of 71, he faded to a tie for 47. But the fact that he was still able to just walk around that hilly terrain at Augusta National was unbelievable. The fact that he was playing golf at the highest level was unbelievable. Now we are going to see this week at the PGA championship at Southern Hills how much stronger Tiger is, how much stronger his game is than it was at Augusta National.
With every major championship, you can make a strong case for 10, 15, 20 players to win the title. Starting out with world number 1, Scotty Scheffler, world number 2, John Rahm who just recently won in Mexico, world number 3, Colin Morikawa already has two major championships under his young belt. 2017 PGA champion, Justin Thomas, and the list goes on. You could add Brooks Koepka if he plays. The four time major champion and two time Wanamaker Trophy winner with drawn from last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson with an unspecified injury. He’s been bothered by hip and wrist injuries of late, and we do not know if he will show up. But we do know if he does, he more likely than not will contend as he will 10, 15 or 20 others.
Master champion Scotty Scheffler comes into this week as the betting favorite at 10 to 1 odds to win his second major.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us seven mornings a week wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliot for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more than 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism