Tuesday, February 21, 2012

more on the adoption tax credit

Adoption - much like infertility treatments - has its fair share of controversy. Perhaps more, when you take into consideration that there are not one, but two families affected by the actions that occur in an adoption. It has its misconceptions, too. I was disappointed by some of those misconceptions that were generated by a commenter on my previous post. Here I was, trying to encourage everyone to do something that is genuinely important, and there is someone coming back at me with negative remarks about the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC).

I don't usually spend my time writing entire posts to address one comment. But extending the current tax credit IS important. It's not me begging for aid from a broke government. It's thousands of adoptive parents who legitimately deserve this credit - if not to recoup some of the cost, then for their children. I have no problem pointing my finger at the government and picking out its problems. But the ATC is not one of them.

Do I think that there are agencies out there who rip people off? Unfortunately, yes. There are always going to be organizations that are into things for the wrong reasons. It happens. This is why it's important for potential adoptive parents to research agencies thoroughly, and to get recommendations from other adoption professionals and people who've used the agency. We are very lucky to not only know a social worker who used to be employed by our agency, but also adoptive parents AND birth parents who've had equally positive experiences with our organization. This played a large factor in our decision, particularly the close attention and care they give to the birth parents.

Do all agencies require classes? No, but some do. Many of these are mandated by the state in which the agency resides. Neither our state nor our agency requires us to take classes. We, however, chose to take classes on our own dime about newborn care and health because that's what I believe responsible parents should do.

Does adopting from foster care cost the same amount of money as adopting from a private agency? NO. Whether you choose to foster or adopt from foster care, the cost is minimal. In fact, the state provides money to families who foster. The only costs that may occur when adopting from foster care are court and attorney fees; however, these are often reimbursed by the state. Reserving the ATC solely for those families who adopt from foster care is unfair to those of us who will spend tens of thousands of dollars taking in children who are equally deserving of homes.

Do I think the tax credit is driving up the market on adoption costs? This has to be the most ridiculous lie re: adoption I've heard to date - and I've heard some pretty fantastic lies. It's called inflation. Every year, things get more expensive. It happens with absolutely every good and service there is in this world. Do you know why adoption gets more expensive each year? There are plenty of reasons. Legal fees and court fees could increase. Marketing materials become more expensive. Likely the biggest factor: birth mother expenses increase. Your rent increases each year, right? So does hers. Gas prices, groceries, water, and electricity: all of these are items paid for by adoptive parents, and all are items that go up in price each year. To blame the overall increase in expenses worldwide on the ATC is absolutely insane.

I don't sit here with rainbows and butterflies coming out of my ass and act like adoption/the adoption process is some sort of perfect and beautiful thing. It isn't. But I also won't tolerate any sort of misguided information in my space. I have no problem if someone wants to pit him or herself against this tax credit. What I do have a problem with is doing so based on false information. These are the types of statements that perpetuate over and over again until the majority believes them to be true – and we can't afford any more of those in the adoption community.

20 comments:

Jjiraffe said...

Great post and well said. I am so tired of everyone misunderstanding so many things around this topic (and infertility and loss).

I thought you might like this profile, which tries to demystify the adoption process, and the costs: http://jjiraffe.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/faces-of-adoptionlossinfertility-sarah-in-three-acts/

Keep up the good work :)

Trisha said...

Amen sister! We are living proof of the whole adoption process and *hopefully* being recipients of that tax credit this year. We hope that it gets continued because we'd like to adopt again. We've heard all of those same things...as well as, why should my tax dollars go to help you adopt?? Really? Our response, well if we didn't then a child may end up in foster care and you'd be paying anyways :) I'm glad you took the stand and responded :)

Heather said...

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Katie said...

Jjiraffe - I love that post. Thank you for sharing!

Jjiraffe said...

Thank you :)

Logical Libby said...

I think people need to realize also that adoption is expensive. These are private agencies that have to keep the lights on and the staff paid. They also have to care for birth moms, and to me, that is money well spent.

Nikki said...

It is unethical to pay a birth mother's rent, groceries etc. a good agency will tell you this.
You should not be supporting a potential birth mother in any way. That is coercion. And do you have any proof that the money you are unethically shilling in fees is actually going to the potential birth mother?
Please.
There is empirical evidence that the cost of fees has increased along in correllation to this tax credit.
Hey, if you want a kick back who can blame you? But at least be honest about it.
And no I do not believe that adoptive parents should get any kind of refund for adopting infants domestically. I have the right to express that opinion and let my politicians know that this needs to stop just as you have the right to lobby to keep a law that was never intended for you.

missohkay said...

The comments that claim empirical evidence? Show us. Katie's done her homework before writing her post - show us you've done yours.

Stefanie Blakely said...

Nikki, it's amazing how out of touch you are... surely, if you're reading Katie's blog you know something about the process of adoption. Yet by your comments, it's clear that you don't.

Katie, well said, as usual!

c said...

"Reserving the ATC solely for those families who adopt from foster care is unfair to those of us who will spend tens of thousands of dollars taking in children who are equally deserving of homes"

Newborns will never have a problem finding a home - in fact, there is a shortage of women ready to provide them - luckily for all APs out there, the NCFA is doing their best to turn that around.

callmemama said...

To address a couple of your commenters -

There are certainly shortages of adoptive parents for biracial or African American newborns. It's sad, but true. Yes, there are thousands of people waiting for that blonde hair blue-eyed baby, but if you've done any research into adoption, you'll know it isn't true for all babies across the board, which is why some agencies & adoption attorneys have reduced fees for adopting a biracial/AA child. And what about all the babies who've had drug exposure, have medical issues, preterm infants, babies with Down's Syndrome, etc? Those babies, sadly, do have a harder time getting placed as well.
A tax CREDIT is not a "kickback" and that is just plain obnoxious to talk that way. Lessening the tax burden for adoptive parents is a good thing. Of course, I'm in the "fewer taxes for everybody" camp, so you'll never get me to argue against something that allows more people to keep more of THEIR OWN MONEY. It's not the gvt's money, we're talking about, it's the adoptive parents OWN MONEY that they've earned. Come on now.
Birth mother expenses are a part of adoption, depending on the state you adopt from (not all states allow it). Medical bills for the birthmom's prenatal care? Absolute essential. Living expenses, food, sometimes rent? Yeah, believe it or not, some birthmothers need help affording these basics while they are pregnant. Fees for counseling? So important for birthmom to get the support she needs to deal with such a huge decision. You use a reputable agency or adoption attorney and yes, you have assurance that your money is going where it's supposed to go.
There is so much misinformation about adoption out there. Educate yourselves before you go flaming people!!!

c said...

"Yeah, believe it or not, some birthmothers need help affording these basics while they are pregnant"
And isn't it sad that help is reliant on them placing their child. I know a bmom who felt she had a choice of living on the streets or living in bmom housing. It is sad to me that she wasn't able to find a middle ground. In other western countries, she would have been assisted in finding resources to parent her child.

"There are certainly shortages of adoptive parents for biracial or African American newborns. It's sad, but true."
That is sad and probably says more about the potential APs than it does about the child. I do remember reading though that, right or wrong, they would be considered "special needs". Also the other scenarios you mentioned are "special needs" as well. For those of you adopting healthy white newborns, there ain't going to be no shortage of takers.

With newborn adoptions that are done through the social service type agencies, eg charitable organisations, you would find that the fees are far lower (no more than $10,000 though there is actually no reason why an adoption shouldn't cost more than $4000). This is because adoption is a mere service provided by the agency and not their reason for being.

When adoption is the only reason d'etre for an agency to exist, then yes they do need to charge those high prices (to pay all their own wages/admin fees). Rent shouldn't cost as much as it is by the way, I know of quite a few bmoms who have said that the fees charged to their children's APs is way more than the market value. Also, when living in adoption agency quarters, the bmom can feel more obliged to place. In a social service type agency, they can also be offered housing but it is done more on charitable grounds (because money is provided via donations to said charity).

c said...

"There are always going to be organizations that are into things for the wrong reasons. It happens. This is why it's important for potential adoptive parents to research agencies thoroughly, and to get recommendations from other adoption professionals and people who've used the agency. We are very lucky to not only know a social worker who used to be employed by our agency, but also adoptive parents AND birth parents who've had equally positive experiences with our organization. This played a large factor in our decision, particularly the close attention and care they give to the birth parents."

Btw it sounds like you took a lot of care in chosing an agency that treats not just PAPs but emoms well, so kudos to you there.

Personally, I would look at their "unplanned pregnancy" page and make sure that it isn't too coercive - eg if they constantly use the word "selfless" to describe the decision, that is a coercive tactic (to be fair to most agencies, the marketing of adoption has quite often already taken place through counsellors trained in "adoption counselling" - I've done the most well known online adoption training course and, believe me, it is definitely about promoting adoption over parenting, not offering it as an *equal* choice)

"This played a large factor in our decision, particularly the close attention and care they give to the birth parents.""
Note though that most agencies that actually want to make a profit are going to give close attention and care to the bparents - in any business, treating the supplier well is always a good thing. Most important is making sure that they are well counselled about their forthcoming decision. Also a good agency will make sure that you are well counselled - I know quite a few PAPs who have said their counselling was rather lacking.

M said...

Thank you for sharing this!

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I would like to see the empirical evidence mentioned above. As I said prior, the onus is definitely on adoptive parents to find an ethical agency- one that is not coercive and taking in unnecessary fees. We did our research, as a counselor myself, BMs getting counseling was MOST important to me. Also important, birth mother's reviews of the agency.

I do agree- yes Caucasian newborns are not hard to place. But many other races are. But guess what? I was open to all races. It's not fair to flame all adoptive parents for such things. My issue with wanting to make sure this tax credit is passed is for the kids that are hard to place, and families that want to adopt children who are truly in need- in America but cannot.

I am confused by some of the above posters, the state determines what can and cannot be covered. Sometimes rent- not BM housing- is covered! Food, pregnancy clothing, health insurance payments for mom- all allowable by different states. Those costs have risen with the prices of everything else in this country with this damn recession. My food and health insurance went up the past 2 years! My agency fees did not! Also, $4000 would not cover many BM's fees for labor and delivery! That's not adoptive parents faults, blame insurance companies and the fact people can't afford healthcare!

Finally, I am most disturbed by a fundamental misunderstanding of what a tax credit is! This is not some bank cashing out stuff to adoptive parents. It is a refund of our own money!!!! We are not stealing money from the government. Do you think it's stealing that I got tax credits for donating to nonprofits? Or for buying energy efficient items for my home? Or for do donating my car to a nonprofit? Or for paying my student loans?? I had taxes refunded for each and every one things.

If you have ethical issues with adoption and hey- there are bunches. 1) go lobby your state to decrease what is allowable to be covered as birth mothers as too expensive- if you think it's too expensive 2) look into ways to help adoptive parents find an ethical agency or lobby government officials to expose the issues 3) don't sign this petition, if you don't want to... It's still a free country. Write a letter to those officials listed explaining your side of things. But if they vote against you- they are voting for the wishes of the majority and what they think is right based on tax codes and what is fair for US citizens. 4) Flaming people on Katie's blog helps NO ONE.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

And ps- yes- before you ask I am absolutely in favor of counseling for adoptive parents too.

Geochick said...

Every State has different requirements. Period. I agree, if you don't like it, you have to approach the problem on the state level. Contact your representative, tell them not to vote for renewing the credit.

Like us who welcome the tax credit and have the right to ask our representatives to extend it, people who oppose the tax credit have the right to ask their representatives not to renew it.

So, instead of getting on this blog and complaining up and down about the adoption process and tax credit, why don't you people put that negative energy towards something you may actually affect?

c said...

"Also, $4000 would not cover many BM's fees for labor and delivery!"

Medicaid will cover their fees in many states. I concede that some states don't, eg Utah, but if you are adopting from Utah, well...

"My issue with wanting to make sure this tax credit is passed is for the kids that are hard to place, and families that want to adopt children who are truly in need- in America but cannot"
But my take on the tax credit is that it will still be helping those with special needs but that you want it to go back to how it was over the last few years where every AP, even those adopting CC newborns, receive the refund. I don't agree with the tax credit but if you are going to have it, it should only be for special needs - I believe it was originally put in place to encourage people to adopt those that are harder to place, not just to encourage people to adopt. APs managed without it for years, you can manage without it again.

"Amen sister! We are living proof of the whole adoption process and *hopefully* being recipients of that tax credit this year. We hope that it gets continued because we'd like to adopt again. We've heard all of those same things...as well as, why should my tax dollars go to help you adopt?? Really? Our response, well if we didn't then a child may end up in foster care and you'd be paying anyways :) I'm glad you took the stand and responded :)"

In regards to domestic newborns, especially CC ones, do you know what happens in other western countries when the number of APs available falls below the number of babies available? Counsellors end up changing their counselling and end up trying to help the mother to find effective ways to parent rather than encouraging them to place. Countries realise that adoption is no longer the safety net it was and then realise they have to improve their services for women in need. That is what happened in the 60s/70s in other western countries.

As for foster care, the US still has higher rates of foster care per capita than other countries that don't have the extensive domestic newborn adoption programs you have.

Many of the emoms who end up placing don't place because they didn't want to raise their child, they place because they have made to feel that raising their own child is the act of a selfish person and that the only unselfish thing to do with their child is to place it for adoption.

c said...

You might find this interesting reading - the recommendations in this documen for the basis of today's counselling:

http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/pdf/missing_piece.pdf

I've done an online "adoption counselling course" and believe me I can see the heavy influences of the above document.

For those of you that feel that today's emoms are making the choice of "should I abort or adopt" this child, the above document will make you realise that in fact most women that decide to continue their pregnancy are mainly contemplating parenting, that is why they say the above in the following document:

"Counselors must be trained to give women sound reasons that will counter the desire to
keep their babies."

Today's counselling is very clever - they know that the best way to get a caring young woman to relinquish her child is to make her feel that it would be selfish for her to parent and that the only selfless act is placing her child for adoption.

Anonymous said...

What about the tax credit given to parents the year their biological child is born? Why should adoptive parents not receive the same sort of benefit when it has likely cost even more for them to begin their family? If only there was a tax credit for all the failed fertility treatments too.