** Update! ** (Thanks to the efforts of people like you, the tax bill that was signed into law includes the Adoption Tax Credit! Yay!)
For those of you that don't know, Patrick and I are adopting. (Insert whoots and hollers here.)
I know! I know! It's so exciting and we can't fathom the joy we are going to feel, when, at long last our arms will be full and we will get the chance to care for our son or daughter.
But there's just no way around it — adoption is also horrible. Adoption is grievous — for the birth mother in crisis who feels that she doesn't have the support or ability to parent on her own; and for the adoptive family whose lives and finances are suddenly at the whim of someone else's emotions and hormones.
I've delayed announcing this on social media for many reasons, but now, I can't help myself. The U.S. Congress, led by Republicans, has put forth a new tax bill that delivers a corporate tax cut, while shaving away personal deductions from individual Americans. One of those itemized deductions that is now gone? The adoption tax credit.
I can hardly get my thoughts together, I'm so grieved and disappointed in my representatives in Congress for making this decision. But here are three main reasons that all Congressmen and women need to stop everything and propose an amendment to add the adoption tax credit back into the tax plan.
1. More than half of all adoptions are disrupted, leading to significant financial loss for adoptive families.
Patrick and I have chosen to partner with a for-profit adoption agency that provides insurance for its families. But most families that venture into adoption don't have that safety net in place. Instead, they provide financial assistance to the birth mother with whom they are matched, hoping and trusting that the adoption will go forward. Many times, birth mothers decide to parent the biological child and don't go through with the adoption plan. But when that happens — a large portion of that money is at risk. Families can lose tens of thousands of dollars on a failed match.
For families that qualify, the adoption tax credit provided just over $13,000. For those who have adopted, you know how small of a drop that is in the bucket, particularly since many families who decide to adopt have done so after spending thousands of dollars on infertility treatment, individual and marriage counseling, and other doctors appointments. But that drop is meaningful, helping families like mine realize that we are supported, even when things fall apart.
2. Adoptive Families support mothers in crisis and help children avoid a life in foster care.
Prior to deciding to adopt, Patrick and I went through the training to become Foster Parents. But at the end of that journey, we decided that Adoption was a way to prevent a crisis that leads to the Department of Children's services stepping in. Over the last year, Patrick and I have been matched with more than one birth mother who is homeless. Because of our support, those birth mothers were able to get a stable place to live and medical care — no matter what they ultimately choose. We take on that risk, with the help of our agency. But for mothers that do in fact go forward with their adoption plans, the children are often saved from situations that would have led to the Department of Children's Services stepping in. They're save from being tugged back and forth between parents and foster parents, while the state plays referee.
The financial investment that adoptive families put into the most needy in our society ought to be validated, honored, and reimbursed — if not in whole, then certainly in part.
3. For many adoptive families, this is the only way to grow their family.
Patrick and I have dealt with infertility for more than five years. As far as we know, the only way that we will be able to grow our family is through adoption. And when we hear our friends complain about medical bills after a vaginal delivery, we have to keep our mouths shut. Yes — insurance is there and it is a broken system, and often families are left with staggering bills even after biological delivery. But the labor of adoption is expensive — and for good reason. There are securities in place so that families aren't pressuring, bribing, or coercing birth mothers into a choice. There are lawyers in place, so that children are legally accounted for and that everyone understands their rights. There are counselors needed as birth mothers grieve their loss and adoptive families enter the treachery of parenthood. All of these costs are real and are not going away, just because the tax system changes.
Finally — and this is the last thing I'll say. We have a long way to go in our nation to support women in crisis and their children. To me, the loss of the adoption tax credit means that adoption will grow to be a possibility only for the wealthy which is a travesty. To me, the loss of the adoption tax credit will only further stigmatize women who choose to make an adoption plan over the far more "convenient" option of an abortion. (A procedure which is provided for less than $1000, if not for free.)
Please call your senators and congressman. This cannot stand.