The Department of Adoption Services, Division for Personal and Social Services at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, in partnership with Ashalim, initiated a program which aims to increase adoption opportunities for children at risk who are unable to grow up in their birth families, and to improve adoption support services in Israel.
The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute was asked to provide research to support the initiative. This report presents the first stage of the study, that consists of (a) a review of the literature about the adoption of children at risk, options for expanding adoption, and adoption support services and (b) interviews conducted with senior decision-makers at the Ministry of Social Affairs, professionals at NGOs in the areas of foster care and family court judges.
The review presents findings about how current Israeli policy and regulations may lead to an overly protracted process before a child can be adopted and placed in a permanent home. Findings about the implementation of three policy options for improving the process and expanding possibilities for adoption are presented:
Open adoption, whereby some contact is maintained with the birth family – in contrast to the strict confidentiality currently imposed
Adoption by a foster family
Concurrent planning, whereby, for one year, work is done to rehabilitate the birth parents in parallel with preparations for adoption so that at the end of that period, a permanent solution is achieved for the child.
The last part of the review discusses adoption support services in Israel versus those in other countries, mainly the U.S. and Great Britain. Findings are presented about the types of services provided, their contribution, and varying strategies for providing the services within the child welfare system.
The report on the second phase of the study (forthcoming separately) will present findings from case studies of open adoption and adoption by foster families.
The findings of the report presented to key personnel at Ashalim and the Department of Adoption Services and at a national seminar for child protection staff. The information served as a basis for the work of the Gross Committee, which is discussing amendments to the Adoption Law. The conclusions of the review have contributed to the efforts of the MSASS to improve work and policy in the area of adoption of children at risk and to develop support services and financial assistance for adopting families.
The study was commissioned by Ashalim and the MSASS, and funded with their assistance and a special grant from Annie Sandler of Virginia, U.S.A.