Does the Adoption Tax Credit Hurt Kids?

Dawn Davenport

40

Is the Adoption Tax Credit Hurting Our Kids?

Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy gives her arguments about how the Adoption Tax Credit is hurting our children.

I distrust living in a bubble. It might feel cozy and safe inside, but in reality it’s anything but. There is a real world outside, and the real world is full of sharp objects, just waiting to burst our safe little bubble intentionally or unintentionally. It’s also limiting and leads to smugness. I hate smugness. It is surprisingly hard at times for me to recognize when I’ve insulated myself from radically different opinions. Fortunately, I can rely on the Creating a Family community to remind me. Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, a birthmom who blogs over at Musings of the Lame, commented on my recent blog What’s Up with the Adoption Tax Credit & What You Can Do {CRUNCH TIME is here} that the adoption tax credit hurts the very children it was originally intended to help. She lays out her position more fully in her blog What’s Wrong With the Adoption Tax Credit? I think it is crucial for those of us who support the adoption tax credit to understand the position of those who don’t. She raises points worth thinking about.

While the original adoption tax credit was created to benefit the adoptions of special needs children, successful lobbying from adoptive parents and the adoption lobbyists have increased the credit by both the amount refunded and the range of adoptions covered. Proponents of the Adoption Tax Credit claim that the credit /refund is set up to help make “adoption a financially viable option for many parents who might not otherwise have been able to afford adoption, allowing them to provide children with loving, permanent families”[1]  Yet, the modified adjusted gross income cut off for the current Adoption Tax Credit is $225,210 or more.[2]  The poor improvised adoptive parents are warned that if their modified adjusted gross income is above $185,210, then they might not be eligible for the full credit. I don’t know about you,  but $185,210 is hardly an amount that screams poverty or in need of financial assistance to me. I’m sorry, but if you can’t afford the crazy adoption fees or need to have a bake sale to afford your adoption, then DO NOT ADOPT. Or adopt through FOSTER CARE as those children REALLY NEED HOMES ( acknowledgement that CPS are also corrupt) As we know that many domestic infant adoptions are “chosen” in these times due to the financial constraints of the expectant families. Many mothers look to adoption to help them pay for their medical and living expenses while they cannot work due to pregnancy. They also look to adoption to provide financial stability for their child.  These are mothers who when asked “If you won Lotto tomorrow would you still consider placing your child for adoption?” say “NO!”. These are mothers who are not having unwanted children, or children that are in any danger from abuse or neglect, but rather their mothers fear the doom of impending poverty and see financial assistance as induction to the stereotypical “Welfare Momma” for life.  These are mothers who would parent their children especially if they had a guaranteed windfall of over 12,000 at the end of the tax year. The same 12K could go towards medical bills or baby supplies or just living expenses while a new mother stayed home with her child. … By making “adoption more affordable” to people who make over 100K a year anyway, we are increasing the demand of adoptable children in the US and providing more incentives for the adoption agencies to identify at risk families that they can separate from their children for their own profits. Let us remember that the adoption industry is over a 5.8 billion dollar annual industry. Historically, as the adoption tax credit went up, so does the adoption fees. In other words, the US government subsidizes the adoption industry this way through the Adoption Tax Credit. In addition, by giving added incentives for adoptive parents to spend more money on adoption, they will look towards international or domestic adoptions more. This will actually HURT the children that MIGHT benefit most from being adopted, the children living in foster care. Of course, foster adoptions often are the lowest cost and with other subsidies, often practically free. So don’t go telling me that we “need the Adoption Tax Credits to help all the unwanted children”. It hurts them. … It’s “push BACK time” people. Please ask your Senators and Representative understand that HR 4373 and S 3616 are exploitative and used to SEPARATE FAMILIES by ADOPTION. They need to  understand that giving tax payer money to adoptive families rather than assistance to mothers is unethical and wrong.  If the proposed Adoption Tax Credit Bills do NOT get passed, then ONLY Special Needs Adoptions will be eligible. I have NO issue with that!

I want us to first listen—really listen—without judgment to these thoughts, so I’ll keep my editorializing to a minimum. I do question whether a single one time tax credit of $12,000 would sway the majority of woman (and men) who make the decision to place their children. I know Claudia is probably better connected than I am with the birthmom community, but although finances are a consideration for most of the women I’ve spoken with, it is just one of many considerations that lead them to decide that they are not in the best position to parent their child for the long term. I do, however, hear her bigger point that we, as a society, promote specific choices through tax incentives, and what we promote is telling. I’d love to have a respectful discussion of her points. What do you think?

 

Image credit: BC Gov Photos

09/10/2012 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 40 Comments



40 Responses to Does the Adoption Tax Credit Hurt Kids?

  1. Wendy Waldroff-Aldaiz Wendy Waldroff-Aldaiz says:

    I’m also in agreement with Robyn and Lyn Wiltse Jameyson.

    It’s easy for people to sit back and play judge and juror if they’ve never walked in our shoes. I was just saying these exact things to my mom today. My husband has served our country (Navy) for over 18 years and money is what is standing in our way from adopting again. As sad as that is. We’re not rich, but we have what it takes to raise a child. It’s the hurdle of he adoption expenses that we find so difficult. Our first adoption wiped out our savings, but he is well worth it. It was a private adoption (we’ve had him since he was minutes old). Our home study was approved March 31st, matched April 8th, born May 12th and finalized Sept 17th. $20,000 in a matter of a few months. That’s a lot to pay out and not a lot of time to save more.

    While I cry myself to sleep many nights, because I fear never having a second child, I know so many that have had their own (bio) children and haven’t paid one dime out-of-pocket. Their insurance covers it or the State pays for it if they don’t make enough. Then if they don’t make enough, they receive food stamps, medicaid, and WIC. I have no problem making sure the children receive what they need because, after all, they are the innocent ones in this. That’s just the monetary part – lets not forget the home studies, budgeting, references, etc., that a bio mom doesn’t have to do. As an adoptive parent, we have to prove that we are fit – emotionally, physically and financially. I feel completely discriminated against. (Sorry, I strayed from the topic.)

    I feel for Lori as well. Our nephew was in foster care for over 3 years before the State of Colorado allowed his foster parents to adopt him. We fought for him and was told that he would come to live with us (by the caseworker) as we were the most logical family member for him to live with. The ICPC was approved and we were waiting for word from the judge….that never happened as the caseworker was playing both sides (and she was eventually fired). In the end we lost….or did he? When he’s 18, I hope he will come look for the family who fought for him, who loves him. I have all the records of our fight for him. Now, they won’t even accept our phone calls when all we want to know is how he is. 🙁

  2. Christi Tipton Christi Tipton says:

    In our case, our daughter was 13 months old when our adoption was finalized… She had been with us since she was 2 days old (private adoption). We weren’t able to claim our expenses on our taxes until she was nearly 2 and didn’t get our refund until a few months after her birthday and because then it was ‘non-refundable’ we only could get back up to our tax liability. We certainly didn’t make a ton of money and our tax bill wasn’t huge, so we had to claim our expenses over the course of three years. Seriously, it was a help when we got our refund, but it wasn’t the thing that made or broke the deal and we certainly spent far more money on our daughter than we got back in a tax refund.

  3. Tara James Tara James says:

    Here is the other thing I’m thinking, and this could be used both for and against the tax credit:
    I don’t know about others but my son has been with me for 16 months. I haven’t gotten the money yet, may not if the IRS finds a reason to say no, and if I do get it, it will still be a few more months in coming while the IRS reviews my materials AGAIN. I can’t really say it’s helping to fund the adoption as much as easing the burden caused by using my savings for adoption rather than childcare. Certainly not buying a baby with it, which in my case, with my agency, is not what happened. Some of their funds actually do go toward helping birthmothers find the resources to parent. Sorry for rambling…

  4. Christi Tipton Christi Tipton says:

    I feel sorry for people like Lori, above, who is in a very personal fight over her grandchildren in another state when she’s very capable of caring for them herself. But the adoption tax credit is not about that for the majority of people, and adoptions, and in fact, even if she votes no on this, it will STILL be in place for foster care adoptions and wouldn’t have any affect on her whatsoever. It’s sad that foster care can be so corrupt that the state would fight to keep children in foster care rather than be sent to live with loving, qualified relatives, but that’s not always the case either, and foster parents DO spend quite a bit of their own money, often, on the children they care for. Just like any subsidy, it is NOT an effective way to make money, unless you leave the children to do without. Yes, there are those who are unethical and I don’t know how they get certified, but there are far more who are wonderful, caring foster parents who would never dream of separating their kids from their loving relatives just for the sake of a few bucks a month.

  5. Christi Tipton Christi Tipton says:

    wow… ok, so besides being a glutton for punishment (because I read comments on articles I read, usually and the last comment was so painfully ignorant – ‘We need to start having mandatory I.Q test before people can be aloud to vote, to make sure people like you never vote.’ uhh, yeah… anyway…) I actually read the whole article and your blog on it Dawn. To me, I can see why she feels as though the adoption tax credit has changed and maybe is unfair that mothers who keep their babies don’t receive income from the government, but I can’t see her argument as anything but flawed and so angry and full of hate that there’s no way she’d ever be swayed to a more rational thought process on this. These poor impoverished women she’s talking about – the ones who give their babies away just because they’re worried about the economy? If they’re impoverished, they can qualify for government assistance in many cases, as Lyn said. And I hate to say it, but any expectant mother, who would only give her child up based on a ‘fear of the economy in the future’ maybe she wasn’t too committed to having her child in the first place? I don’t mean that to sound disparaging, by any means, but what I’m saying is that most women who are expectant mothers think a whole lot more about every aspect of their unborn child’s life than just money and if money is the only driving factor, there’s a lot more to the story than that. Regardless, she assumes that all parents who adopt make over $100k! I certainly didn’t when we adopted our oldest. She also acknowledges how adoptions can be expensive, but assumes that adoptive parents are somehow getting a free ride because the adoption credit is now ‘refundable’… What she fails to realize (or acknowledge) is that adoptive parents generally pay out far more in expenses than they get back as a credit. She acts as if the money were never paid out to begin with, and outright says that adoption is a huge scam just to rip families apart and that it’s tantamount to rich people stealing babies from poor women who just need a financial break… I’d like to find her argument intelligent and worth having read, but it’s just hateful and mean spirited.

    • Dawn says:

      Claudia doesn’t need (and probably most assuredly doesn’t want) me to make her arguments for her, but I think her bigger point is that by making the adoption tax credit apply to all types of adoptions (private domestic and international) it discourages prospective parents from considering foster care adoption. She also is argues that the the cost of adoption is “so high” that the tax credit in essence (in her opinion) is subsidizing the “adoption industry”.

      In my opinion, her comment that “if you can’t afford the crazy adoption fees or need to have a bake sale to afford your adoption, then DO NOT ADOPT” weakened her arguments. And as I said in my blog, I just don’t accept the basic premise that most expectant women who are considering adoption for their child would decide to parent if they received a tax credit of $12K or even if they received a one time payment of $12K. Poor woman and their children are currently eligible for far more governmental money than $12K in the form of WIC, health insurance for the kids, food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, job training, etc.

  6. Tara James Tara James says:

    I have to admit I was really disturbed by that comment to, if you have to raise the funds don’t adopt, or adopt out of foster care. As a single mom first time mom who works full time, foster care wasn’t the right way to go for me, although I am still contemplating it. The suggestion that only those who can afford to should adopt, is not only insulting, but seems to contradict her larger message, maybe I’m understanding it wrong. The tax credit, should the IRS actually grant it to me, will help me with childcare and is desperately needed, I didn’t know at the time I was in the process that I would lose the income counted on to pay for it.
    There are so many people out there who could provide a fine upbringing for a child placed for adoption, it would be ashamed if they could not adopt because they might not have a spare 20,000 dollars. That seems obscene to me.

  7. Robyn Chittister Robyn Chittister says:

    Jessica- Chad Ritchie: There are a lot of adoptees and birth parents who are happy. They have issues and/or emotions surrounding their adoption experiences, but are generally happy people. It is true that a person is more likely to write about a negative experience than a positive.

  8. Jennifer Michalik Olson Jennifer Michalik Olson says:

    I know adult adoptees that are happy. Is there still a sense of loss? Yes. But I would venture to guess that the silent majority are reasonably happy. You are much more likely to speak out about it if you are are really angry.

  9. Jessica- Chad Ritchie Jessica- Chad Ritchie says:

    I continued to read this woman’s blog/site and have this overcoming wash of should I not have adopted? I have bio’s and adopted kids out of foster care. Are my adopted kids going to hate me as adults? Are there any adoptees in the world that are happy? Im not looking for gratitude here, just happy kids! Why cant they be mad at their birth parents for not doing what they had to to keep them safe? The more I read from adoptees the more anger I find. Is it just the angry ones that are writers? 🙂 HELP THOUGHTS?

  10. Anon says:

    A few responses to the comments on this thread:
    “Adoptive parents don’t want to be social workers. They want to be parents”-AMEN!!
    “….spoken like a person who never had to adopt”. I would edit this comment to read:”….spoken like a person who never had to adopt TO BUILD THEIR FAMILIES” That will rule out the comments about whether adoption is something that one “has to” do-for some of us who are IF and who have no other way to build their families, yes we HAVE to do this if we want to be parents and have a family with children
    “Adoption is a way of building a family and should be subsidized just like pregnancy expenses are” AMEN again!
    To Claudia, the person who instigated this whole blog post, I have some responses to some of your comments:
    “I never had to adopt. I’m a birthmother, so I got the other end” Pardon me while I break out my violin
    “If you cannot afford to adopt, DON’T ADOPT” If you are not willing to have a bake sale, yard sale in order to afford adoption, they you have no right to adopt” In my mind the same thing goes for the conception of children by people who cannot afford to raise them and provide them with the necessities of life. Perhaps the natural/birth mothers should be the ones to have the bake sales in order to put food on their children’s tables and clothes on their children’s backs, instead of relying on social assistance so heavily if they decide to parent instead of choosing to adopt)( I realize that some NM/BM’s are self reliant and I applaud them for this, but my comment is directed toward those who expect the taxpayers of this country to support them in their decisions-taxpayers, I might add, who might also be IF and unable to have a family of their own if things like the tax credit did not exist) Perhaps you and your NM colleagues should practice what you preach-if you cannot afford to provide a child with the necessities of life, perhaps you should refrain from activities that might lead to their unplanned conception.
    I am also of the belief that if a BM decides to parent and backs out of an adoption plan, she should have to undergo a home study first before the child is returned to her custody. If the best interest of the child is truly being taken into consideration, he/she should be placed with the parent or parents who have proven themselves worthy and able to be parents in all aspects of what it will take to raise the child. If a person is so in doubt of her ability to parent that she has to consider an adoption plan, her decision to parent should be scrutinized just as carefully as the decision that was attempted to be made by the child’s potential adoptive parents. I’m sorry , but you should not be given a free pass into parenthood just because you were able to get pregnant and give birth. It takes much more than that to be a parent, and any BM who decides to parent should have to meet the same standards as any and all AP’s before she is given that responsibility. If a BM cannot afford a home study, one should be paid for on her behalf. If that is not possible, well, there’s always the bake sale idea….
    And as for your opinion that those of us who want to be AP’s should do the world a favour and adopt all of the special needs children for free-why do you, as a (too) fertile person, feel that you are entitled to dictate what kind of families we who seek to adopt should be willing to consider. It makes me sleep so much better at night knowing that you, a fertile person who is able to take her childbearing abilities for granted, would be perfectly okay with those of us who are not so lucky only adopting those children that you deem acceptable for us. I’m so glad we have your seal of approval for THOSE adoptions, anyway! Please see the social worker comment above
    Pop-I echo each and everyone of your comments, especially the last one!! 🙂

  11. Anon says:

    I apologise if my comments above offend anyone in the adoption triad. I don’t mean to hurt anyone, but, like Claudia, my sympathies for BM/NM’s dwindle away when I am confronted with so much self-righteousness from that community towards the IF/AP community. I see it as the ultimate example of the pendulum having swung too far the other way. I don’t agree with BM’s being dehumanized-their struggles are very real, and the decisions they are called to make are very hard, but I find it hard to have sympathy for the more vocal representatives of this group who seem to be seeking to build themselves up by vilifying and dehumanizing those of us on the other side of the adoption triad, and who then try to justify themselves by saying that they are just expressing an opinion or speaking truth to power. Those who are coming to adoption from IF are not in a position of power-and I do not support those from the BM community who feel entitled to kick these individuals while they are down by standing in judgement of what kind of families we should be aspiring to build. I know not all BM’s share these radical views, but unfortunately the ones who do are speaking so loudly they drown out those who might have a more balanced view of adoption, on all sides. Thanks

  12. Wendi Wendi says:

    What an interesting post. I’ve struggled with that with fundraising sites and grants as well – where are the grants/fundraising for struggling mothers to keep their babies? Like everything in adoption it’s complicated. The tax credit didn’t factor into our decision to adopt either our son that is home or the child we’re in the middle of adopting (we have been saving for years before starting to adopt) but obviously it will be nice if we get it.

    • Dawn says:

      Thanks Wendi. You raise a good point. It seems to me that fundraising is more useful for one time cost, not everyday living expenses, so less useful for expectant parents. Grants might also fall into the same category. There are governmental support programs to help struggling parents and their children, but it is still true that finances influence woman and men to consider an adoption plan.

  13. Pop says:

    In 2012, everyone can have a blog. But not everyone’s blog deserves center stage — especially when it serves up broad assertions, with little substantiation, that create pain and confusion without enhancing understanding.

    Just one point: To be able to confidently claim that there is a causation effect between the tax credit and agency fees requires regression analyses that have not been conducted. You can’t just declare that A and B both went up, and therefore A caused B to increase.

    We’re all entitled to our feelings and emotions. We’re not entitled to our own facts.

  14. Rebekah says:

    Wow! This really bothers me. I don’t appreciate being judged for the choices that my husband and I have made regarding how to build our family. It’s always easy for someone to say, “adopt special needs or adopt through foster care, or just accept your fate”. There is sooo much that goes into deciding to adopt a child and what route to take. Not everyone would be a good match for a child with special needs or a child who has spent years in foster care. So only children with special needs or children in foster care deserve to have a loving family? An infant needs to wait until it’s placed in the system before it can be adopted? Or children around the world don’t deserve loving homes and therefore must languish in an orphanage. My daughter spent every day of her life until we brought her home in an orphanage and in a crib all day every day. At almost 2 yrs, she could not walk, talk, or eat. She had been on a liquid diet and was 32 in and maybe 15 lbs. In a perfect world only those who want children would have them and when they were ready to have them. No child would ever experience neglect, abuse, abandonment, or hunger. No child would be born with any sort of disability. BUT this is NOT a perfect world.

    My heart breaks for the pain felt by birthmothers (and birthfathers) who have relinquished parental rights. I cannot imagine what you feel. I do, however, know how I feel. My husband and I did a lot of research and decided on the best path for us. We are not poor by any means, but we are no Bill Gates. I really HATE when someone makes a judgment in regards to income. Yes, we live in a nice home in a nice area, but we are NOT rolling in excess cash. My husband works very hard and has employees that he continuously puts first. He could take more money for himself, but then he wouldn’t have such hardworking and loyal employees. We also help my mother financially. Adoption is not cheap or easy, nor should it be. It does bother me that those who are lucky enough to have biological children can get help from the government, but those who adopt should not unless they go through the foster care system. Or that adoptive parents are at the mercy of others. If a person decides to adopt and the birthmother/father changes her/his mind (which is their right), they don’t have to give back the money that the adoptive parents have paid for the birthmother’s medical care or the agencies don’t have to return the money to the people trying to adopt if the adoption falls through.

    I’m sorry, I might have gotten a bit off the topic, but I am quite sensitive about the whole thing. I have read some of Claudia’s blog posts and what kept jumping out at me is what seems to be anger and hatred toward adoptive parents unless they do it her way. This is a highly emotional area and so many people are quick to judge others. I have no idea how she came to be pregnant or what went into her decision in deciding to relinquish her parental rights and I have no right to judge her because I don’t know what I would do in her situation. On the flip side, I don’t like being judged. While the adoption tax credit did not influence our decision to adopt, it does help with a very small amount of our expenses. Our path to building our family is no less than a different person’s path. It’s what was best for us.

  15. No I never HAD to adopt. I’m a birthmother so I got the other end.

    And for the record: so NOT hate filled and actually a VERY HAPPY person. Loud, but happy. I am actual a PERFECT birthmother story. I relinquished for ALL the “right” reasons. And while financial considerations are often a HUGE motivation for infant placement (along with the paid hospital bills, support, etc) I also dislike many of the other “reasons” that this society finds acceptable reasons to place a child.

    I’m sorry you don’t like my “try foster care or just adapt”, but you know.. after years of being told that I shouldn’t have spread my legs in the first place and I deserve to have this pain, my sympathy is just kind of gone. Really, it’s not about YOU.. it’s about a tax credit that I don’t support.

  16. Anon says:

    This statement bothers me: “Personally, I am offended by what I read in the blog and all I can think is, “spoken like someone who has never HAD to adopt.” Claudia should mind her own business.”

    I don’t understand what you mean by you “had” to adopt. No one “has” to adopt. It sounds like what you are saying is you couldn’t have bio children so you “had” to adopt. I really don’t like how that statement feels. It sounds like you “had” to accept the only option available to you (adoption). I think adoption is a privilege – not something that I “had” to accept.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I should add – I am not rich. Far from it. I just know I would’ve worked it out without the tax credit so I really ddin’t even consider it when making my decision.

  18. Jennifer says:

    I would have adopted with or without the tax credit. It barely even registered when I was making my decision as to where/how to adopt.

  19. TAO says:

    Jessica #11, Jennifer #12, Robyn #13. All of you most likely have the ability to hold both positive and critical points of view on the same subject. While you can view a subject such as adoption as a positive solution, you can also be critical of how the system/institution operates. Let me know if you disagree with that statement.

    Which brings me to my statement – if you as individual human beings are capable of doing that, then why on earth would you even venture to suggest that an adoptee is not capable of the same ability. Just because we are adopted – are we lesser human beings? Not capable of the same abilities as you? And if you think we are equal to you in capabilities, then why continue this boxing of “happy” or “angry” adoptee. I sick and tired of this ongoing battle to dismiss the voices of adoptees who challenge “how” adoption is practiced today.

    We all have to live with the hand dealt us – the majority of adoptive parents (per the CDC) come to adoption because of infertility. Many of those who eventually get to adoption, also did the fertility treatments first in an attempt to have a biological child, then some of them may have tried using donor gametes, and when that failed too, in my opinion only, settled for adoption. No one has the right to adopt – only the right to see if they can be approved to adopt someone elses child. Part of that approval is financial stability which is also one of the cards used on expectant mothers – you can’t give your child what a financially secure adoptive family can. Yet that same family who drained their accounts for fertility treatments, now needs fundraising and tax credits to be able to afford to adopt. Surely you should be able to see why that is upsetting to mothers who surrendered a child…

    The hand I was dealt with was being adoptee. I have lived being adopted my entire life, and received both the positives from it, and the very real negatives of it. I strive to get conversations going so that eventually positive changes to a system/institution will happen. Yes, I believe adoption should ALWAYS be the last option explored for a mother. Yes, I believe there needs to be many changes to the system in the US including paid maternity leave through unemployment insurance. Yes, I believe that unless changes are made the slippery slope of some practices seen today – will be the norm tomorrow, and that scares me. We should always strive to be in the race to the top of the ethical ladder in adoption – not the race to the bottom so more adoptions happen. Creating adoptees for the sake of creating them so that people can be parents, is the opposite of finding homes for children who really need homes.

    Finally, how is my talking about it (adoptee), different than a your (prospective or adoptive parent) talking about changes needed?

  20. Dan Jameyson Dan Jameyson says:

    I’m in agreement with Robyn and my wife, Lyn Wiltse Jameyson (of course). Personally, I am offended by what I read in the blog and all I can think is, “spoken like someone who has never HAD to adopt.” Claudia should mind her own business.

  21. Tammy K says:

    I agree with Tara James. This statement from the author is rather insensitive:
    ” I’m sorry, but if you can’t afford the crazy adoption fees or need to have a bake sale to afford your adoption, then DO NOT ADOPT. Or adopt through FOSTER CARE as those children REALLY NEED HOMES”

    First of all, given that a pretty high percentage of adoptive parents choose this route because of infertility, I found this quite offensive. In addition, the notion that only children in foster care in the US “really need homes”, as opposed to any other child in the world who is unwanted for whatever reason is particularly insensitive.
    Second, as long as the government is also subsidizing Planned Parenthood, and alternative choices for unplanned pregnancies, I certainly see no reason why the adoption process can’t be “subsidized”. Especially when it is only subsidizing those making BELOW a certain level of income, i.e., the ones most likely prevented from adopting because of high costs.

  22. I read this post yesterday and had to wait a day to respond, I was so ticked off by it. While I do think there are points to consider, I fully and deeply resent her statement that if a couple doesn’t have an extra $20,000 to $50,000 just sitting around, they have no business adopting a baby. “If you have to hold a bake sale….” Excuse me???!!! We have talked here in this group many times about how there are multiple ways to build a family, and each couple finds the way that is right for them. I refuse to add a child to my family in a way that doesn’t feel right, just because we aren’t rich. Wouldn’t that be along the same lines as what she’s saying about birth mothers’ reasons for placing? How would it be fair to a foster care child to join a family simply because they were all that family could afford? That sounds much more to me like buying children than what happens with newborn adoptions. And FYI: during our first adoption journey, we were linked with 3 different birthmothers–NONE of which chose adoption for economic reasons. The first was in her 40s and already had several children, and did not want to start back over with an infant (despite being financially secure). The second had severe schizophrenia and had already had her other children removed from her care, for safety/neglect reasons. And my son’s birthmother had a thriving career in her chosen field, and she was not ready to give it up in order to parent. Finally, I just want to say that I sincerely hope that her statements do not deter people from choosing adoption OR from taking action to save the adoption tax credit. There are real and wonderful families for whom this tax credit makes all the difference between being able to create a family and having to live a sad, childless life. I’ve already been punished once by not being able to create life within my own body; I don’t need to be punished again for not being rich.

  23. THANK YOU, ROBYN! Very well stated.

  24. Lori Heeren Scribner says:

    My grandchildren are in foster care. I have been fighting this system now for many years trying to get my grandchildren out of Michigan to live with me in Florida. I have spent about $100,000 in attorney fee’s and travel and then there is missed work not even counted. They dangle all this money on front of the foster parents who are living below poverty and of course they don’t want them to go with family. The state attorney fights for free for the foster family, they get the adoption subsidy and then the adoption tax credit. They have spent nothing. They have admitted to putting hot sauce in the children’s mouths, taking them to the utility room and slapping them for wetting their pants. They have had unexplained burns and nothing is done. I want my my grandchildren because I love them not because of all this money. If you need all this money as an incentive to take a foster child then it should be obvious you aren’t doing it for love. It costs nothing to adopt a foster child. The foster parents are living below the poverty level and they do not want to loose their income. I can take my grandchildren without any taxpayer money. I am a registered nurse, a foster parent and a voter. I oppose this bill because it increases corruption in the system, it promotes adoption by people who should not be adopting in the first place since they are doing it for money not love and lastly because it gives adoptive families privileges not given to natural families.

    • Dawn says:

      Lori, I can’t imagine your pain and frustration. This flies in the face of all that we are told about how case workers first look to extended family. I wish you luck in your fight!

  25. anon WP says:

    Tax credit or no tax credit, I think the overall current financial model for adoption could stand some revision. There’s no doubt in my mind that some agencies use the credit as justification for raising fees, for example. I think I can also safely say that birthparent expenses are an example of something that can be turned into an unethical tool by some. Add in a few unscrupulous facilitators (not all, but some are downright creepy), agencies that “recruit” expectant mothers (pulled that language from an agency site. Bleah.) and prospective adoptive parents, agencies that offer scholarships to birthmothers on their crisis pregnancy info page (shudder), Google search ads that say “Adopt a Beautiful Newborn: adoption is easier than you think!” (easier for whom exactly?), non-profit agencies where large percentages of revenue go to overhead (pull some of those 990s), etc. and there’s a whole world of ugly out there. There are also very good, caring, knowledgeable, compassionate people, but I’m not sure which side of the balance is winning.

    I don’t know how to correct this, but I do know that there are a lot of practices out there that give me the willies. The tax credit could be a good or horrid thing, depending on how it is implemented and used, but it is only one small piece of the overall puzzle. (That, of course, being why you have an entire blog about adoption, infertility, and the like.) I, for one, would like to see a complete examination of the funding and regulatory models that are in place today by an independent panel of state, local, and federal authorities; representatives of adoption agencies, birthparents, adoptees, and adoptive parents; ethicists, economists, social scientists, lawyers… Probably missing some group since this issue is so complex, but how else can we actually get this right? As individuals, my husband and I are trying to go through this process as ethically as possible, and our agency is phenomenal, but it’d be nice to have a bit more backing from government and society as we do it.

  26. Peach says:

    Kudos to you for sharing Claudia’s insight into this “tax-credit” incentive. As an adult adoptee, I completely agree with her thoughts. Adoption is a billion-dollar per year industry, based on economic principles of supply & demand. Adoptee’s birth certificates are falsified and sealed (even in a so-called “open adoption”). Until the financial aspects of adoption are eliminated, “Dear Birthmother” letters are deemed illegal (marketing), and adult adoptees are restored their God-given identities, adoption is the transfer of humans for money. Isn’t that sad? It isn’t about finding homes for children who need homes. It is about finding more “available” babies (commodity) for those who are willing to pay. Foster children deserve better than this ill-directed tax-credit. http://www.PeachNeitherHereNorThere.blogspot.com

  27. Lisa says:

    Wow! These are really strong points! My husband and I are in the stage of gathering information about adoption. We haven’t taken steps yet, we’re just learning. In this process I’ve certainly been bothered by the idea that there are so many people who would parent their children if not for financial constraints. Thinking about the role of the adoption tax credit in this already disheartening situation is something to really sit with and think about.

  28. Natalia says:

    My husband and I are in the process of adoption from the foster system, and I do support the adoption tax credit, but now that I read Claudia’s points about not supporting it, I’m going to have to rethink the issue. I think she makes really good points. I do agree that if you earn more than 100,000/year, you probably don’t need any financial help. And I know there is a lot of help already in place to support adoption from the foster system.

  29. anon says:

    Wow, really good points! I agree with Claudia on the income requirements of the credit and that one outcome of the policy is the subsidy and increase in adoption costs. No part of me agrees with the idea that we should pay people to have/keep their babies, though – that would result in more babies who were born for monetary purposes, which feels exploitive and yucky too (I’ll go as far to call for the elimination of tax breaks for having kids period, but that’s another post for another blog altogether). I could see a case for funneling this money to other support services.

    Bottom line, Claudia makes a great argument that no one should be subsidizing any one else’s family building. This would not have affected our decision to adopt, but it I know many people who it would. I imagine there will always be private foundations who will step in to help fund, but perhaps it is time for the government to stop funding this industry with public money.

  30. Michelle says:

    She makes one huge leap. She assumes that if the adoption tax credit goes away that it will be given to birth mothers. That in all likelihood would never happen. And actually you could have a $12,000 tax credit and a $12,000 keep your baby credit at the same time. ( Not sure how you implement but you get my point.) That is a legislature decision and certianly people could lobby that every new mom regardles of how ( adoption or birth), if you parent you get $12,000.

    She may have a point about it makes domestic or international adoption more attractive vs. foster care. BUT 1) many people who decide on foster care have a different desire in their parenting than baby/infant. Older kid adoption is a different desire. And regardless of money there will be lots of people who choose not to have children before they do foster care adoption. On the opposite end there are people regardless of money who will do foster care adoption. and 2) some kids who are adopted domestically via private agencies ( a sizable amount) are actually one step away from foster care anyway. Many babies adopted via private agencies are drug exposed and would otherwise be taken by the STATE. The benefit of early placement is a) birth mom gets choice in family selection b) child and adoptive parents get early bonding which means less likely to disrupt and c) child is not bounced around multiple homes while “the State and birth parents figure it out” increasing RAD possibilities and d) it saves the taxpayers LOTS of money as a child is not in the system for the next 1 to 12 years with the taxpayers paying foster care and social workers and Judges and lawyers while birth mom tries to clean up. So she makes assumptions that domestic adoption is all babies who otherwise except for their mothers’ poverty would not be placed which is not acccurate. ( it is for some birth moms and no doubt poverty plays a huge role in adoption. But ask any parent who has adopted domestically and they will tell you how many drug babies and or mothers with severe mental illness they have been offered and may have choosen to parent. It is very common!) I am leaving out International because the numbers are dwindling so much that it may become a moot point soon, except for older kids, which generally have the same issues as right here in the U.S. foster care system.

    Next while I might agree with her the threshold of $182,000 is too high ( although I saw a woman yesterday complain on Faceboook that they made too much money to qualify and she thought it unfair), there are many good families who earn under $75,000 and would not be able to afford to adopt otherwise. ( according to adoptive families magazine the average cost is $31,000 for a domestic adoption.) The average family of 4 in America makes $44,000. I would argue why should only wealthy or upper middle class families adopt? There are plenty of good families who make less and should not be penalized in parenting compared to the rich families. Rich does not mean you are a better parent or more ethical. (BTW, rich families can also make good parents and be ethical). But if the idea is to find a good family for the child, while the family should be able to support the child financially, I think it is a stretch to say they should have to be rich. Again the average family of 4 in America makes $44,000. Try and adopt on that with no tax credit and no help from families and friends. Possible but not probable.

    And why do we keep pushing the most troubled children from foster care- some who need a lot of help- therapies etc.. on poor families? Rich families have the resources for these kids and yet the adoption “system” ( for lack of better word) has poor families adopting kids from the state and richer families get the babies domestic or international. ( Unless the family has a ” mission”) Go to any court room and already you can see that State ward kids are more likely to be adopted by poorer families than domestic or international. That being said I fully support an adoption tax credit for anybody who adopts via foster care.

    And Finally, I want to make a racial argument too. Already most of the African-American kids are going to White families in the domestic adoption as they have more wealth and income ( wealth is different concept from income) than African-American families. A history lesson would need to be given to explain that I will spare you BUT African-American families are often priced out already with the tax credit in place;I can only imagine what it will be like after it is phased out. Should African-American mothers only have White families to choose from if they want to place for adoption? White birth moms have options; so should African-American birth moms. And I have no problem with transracial adoptions BUT if a mom wants to place her child same race she should be able too and already that is a problem.

  31. Michelle says:

    To Suzanne and her point: has voluntary adoptions gone up since the credit was implemented. The answer appears to be No. The data I have seen is in 2000 ,roughly 22,000 domestic baby adoptions occcured nationally, whereas by 2010 , it was just under 18,000. The credit started in 2000 if i remember correctly. There is no way to verify this number cuase there is no tracking system for baby private and or private agency adoptions nationally.

    To Natalia’s comment that the foster care system does a good job of supporting parents who adopt from the foster system: Sometimes. Each state sets its own subsidy rate (combined with the federal subsidy) so the rate parents get per month for the standard rate can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on what state you adopt from. I have found one state that offeres no state subsidy which explains why my girl friend who adopted from foster care in that state is still broke. Also for a healthy child via the system, whatever support provided is more than adequate but for those kids who have ODD, RAD, FAS and ADD ( yes, kids come with all four), there is probably not enough support possible.

  32. Robyn says:

    Yes, I read this on her site. I completely disagree with her.

    Adoption is a way of building a family. Pregnancy is a way of building a family. Medical expenses are tax deductible – including the expenses related to pregnancy. The average pregnancy costs a person $3000 out of pocket, all of which is tax deductible. I feel that adoption should be tax deductible. The average adoption costs more than $25,000.

    The most recent credit was part of health care reform, a change that I believe indicates a change in thinking. Everyone should be able to build a family. Those who choose to do so via adoption should be given some of the same advantages as those who choose to do so via pregnancy. No one is paying us money to adopt. They are reimbursing us for a fraction of our expenses.

    People who choose to parent their children *are* given monetary assistance. You can claim the child as a dependent on your taxes, for starters. You can also get federal and state money via WIC, SNAP, and many other programs.

    Although money was a factor in both of my children’s birthmothers’ decisions, it was not the only factor. It also was/is not at all temporary.

  33. Janice says:

    I agree….wow! We adopted twins out of foster care. Our initial intention was to just be a safe and loving home for children in foster care and then we ended up adopting as the babies we had we fell in love with. I do agree….that it seems that people in poverty are those that typically end up losing their children, but it’s also those families that struggle to find support of families and friends to help them deal with raising their children as they usually are struggling themselves to meet the demands of life. But, I’ve been working with the foster care system for quite some time and I have to say that my professional (I’m a licensed psychologist and licensed social worker) is that even though the system is flawed, the majority of these kids were in really bad situations and that families are often given many opportunities (in my state at least) to rectify this situation, often in my opinion, more than they should be as the kids stability lies in the balance.
    I personally appreciated the tax credit. We were able to put money in savings for college and put a down payment on a house to provide for the family that we now had. It was definitely helpful to give us the home and life for our large family. I believe the credit is a great benefit. I do agree that maybe it needs to be limited somewhat. My kids were considered special needs so our situation is different from those that are choosing to adopt out of the country. I do feel that there are SO many kids here in the united states that need homes,that maybe it should be limited to this. But, I’m a social worker at heart….and would love for every kid in the US to find a forever home…

  34. suzanne says:

    First, should there be an adoption tax credit – maybe, maybe not – should it apply to domestic state adoption only – maybe – but this blogger isn’t taking into account the math. $182,000 gross translates into a much lower take-home pay. Put that up against adoption costs (even for domestic) and the costs of raising a child (food, clothes education).

    Also — People do not adopt out of foster care for a very simple reason: By the time a child in that system is available for adoption they are often (not always) but OFTEN older and pretty significantly emotionally damaged thanks to the system which has usually shuttled them around – often back and forth to highly dysfunctional birth parents and multiple FC placements. Most adoptive families do not want to be social workers, they want to be parents.

    Here is the only question that matters: Have voluntary surrender rates in the US gone up since the tax credit? I doubt it.

    It really does not matter if people say they would raise their children if they won the lottery. Very few people actually relinquish children because of money — might they say that is the reason – sure – but it doesn’t mean it is true. What people say often bears little resemblance to truth. Look at the numbers of relinquishments and see who is relinquishing. That is all that matters.

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