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Support for LB 768 – Case File Reading for Adoptive Parents

January 20, 2012

To: Members of the Judiciary Committee

From: Sarah Forrest, Policy Coordinator – Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

Re: Support for LB 768 – Case File Reading for Adoptive Parents

Adoption often provides children who enter Nebraska’s foster care system with a permanent, loving home. For families and children to succeed within this new family structure, however, they need both supports from the state and information about what transpired while children were in the state’s care.

There is a wide misconception that children and families need to “start over” or start with a “clean slate” when adoption occurs. The very opposite is true. If children don’t have information from their past, they actually lose pieces of their memory. If prospective adoptive parents don’t have full disclosure about a child’s background and needs, they cannot seek the training and resources they may need to best support that child, especially if any difficulties arise in the future.

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) is a widely recognized organization that has led adoption reform efforts across the country for more than thirty years. NACAC’s policy and practice recommendations emphasize the importance of full disclosure and a family’s need to receive a child’s information prior to adoption, because it is “critical to the success of placements.” This information should at a minimum include: “family, agency, court, school, mental health and medical files.”[1]

Last year the Legislature adopted LB 94, a bill which allowed prospective adoptive parents to read their child’s case file, in the case that the child had been a Nebraska state ward.  Voices for Children in Nebraska supported LB 94 and supports the clarification that LB 768 provides, allowing access to case files to all adoptive parents regardless of the date their adoption was finalized.  We appreciate the committee’s leadership on this issue and urge you to advance this bill as a simple, but necessary clarification.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Thank you.

[1] “Pre-Placement/Pre-Adoption Issues,” North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), 2005.

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