Adoption Tax Credit Under Fire

      Adoption is costly. According to American Adoptions – one of the largest domestic adoption agencies in the US – the average domestic adoption costs over $30,000. This is an average, and many adoptions are significantly less costly, especially if the adoptive family is adopting out of the foster care system, but I know firsthand how costly adoption can be: my two brothers and I are all adopted.

       If you are wondering how adoption could be so expensive, let me try to paint a picture. You’re paying for a home study, which can be as little as a couple hundred dollars and as much as a couple thousand, and which often requires updates in childproofing your home: everything from little plastic locks that keep curious toddlers out of medicine cabinets to a no-smoking on the front door. You’re paying for FBI security clearances and for classes to recertify you in first aid. You’re paying for any counseling services needed that aren’t covered by your state or the adoption agency. You’re paying for toys, because your child needs toys and often he isn’t coming with any, and actually, he may be in need of a winter coat and boots too. You’re paying all the gas money to travel to mandatory visitation sessions, mandatory training sessions, mandatory court dates. Oh, and you’re taking time off work too: if you’re hourly, that means you’re losing income every time you have to go to that 2pm court date or leave work early to attend that training event which starts at 6pm but is an hour-and-a-half away.

      The Adoption Tax Credit was the result of bipartisan efforts. The policy allows families to write off up to $13,000 of their tax liability in the calendar year in which they have adopted a child or teen. In case you aren’t paying attention to the math, this write-off is often less than half the total cost of an adoption. There is no “gaming the system” with a policy of this nature. You get paid to foster children, but you pay (a lot) to adopt a child. This policy is meant only to help offset the costs of adoption, in order to encourage more families to adopt and to help aid them in that adoption. Notice also that since this is a tax credit: it is not as if the government is tapping into its own resources to aid families. Instead, it is simply a way of keeping more of the earned income of the family in their own pockets. I should also mention that it is not as if adoptions are always completed in one calendar year: my own took three years to litigate: if the policy had been in place when I was being adopted, it would still have required my parents spend for two years with no write-off for those two years of income tax..

       In the new Republican tax plan, the adoption tax credit was initially eliminated. It was likely only the swift and fervent criticism, particularly from prominent evangelical voices such as Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist denomination, that made the House Republicans change their minds. The attempt to eliminate the credit was cold hearted and lacked any justification. No one currently loses out through the tax credit policy. But so many children in need of a “forever home” and so many families who want to adopt but can’t quite afford to would have been deeply hurt by a revocation of the policy.

      Why would the GOP try to pull a stunt like this? What was their endgame here? I don’t know and I don’t even really care at this point. Trump, Paul Ryan, and the rest of them, do not have our best interests in mind. They also don’t believe in their professed pro-life principles: if they did, they wouldn’t have tried to remove the adoption credit while continuing to fund Planned Parenthood. I want all of you to remember what they wanted to do to us, to remember who they cared about and who they didn’t. And during the next election cycle, I want that memory alive and burning when you step into the voting booth.

       Sources: American Adoptions; IRS; New York Magazine; Christianity Today

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