Friday, September 28, 2012

Charity Begins at Home: Adoption Tax Credit

OK, as you know, I can't stand equating adoption and charity, but the author of the article titled it thus; the Family Law Prof blog reports on a new law review article arguing that the adoption tax credit should be discontinued for international adoptions:
DeLeith Duke Gossett (Texas Tech University School of Law) has recently posted her article If Charity Begins at Home, Why Do We Go Searching Abroad? A Call to Sunset the Portion of the Federal Adoption Tax Credit that Subsidizes International Adoptions, Lewis & Clark Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Unlike the media frenzy that surrounded Angelina Jolie’s and Madonna’s international adoptions, noted director Steven Spielberg’s adoption of two African American children from the Los Angeles foster care system received very little fanfare. Spielberg went on to establish the Children’s Action Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding permanent homes for the thousands of children stuck “in the system” of foster care. He documented their stories and their hopes of someday being adopted. For many, however, adoption is a dream yet to be realized. 

Currently, nearly half a million children reside in United States foster care, some “aging out” without ever having been adopted. Beginning in the 1980s and carrying through the 1990s, Congress passed a series of legislative measures aimed at helping those children in the system. As incentive for placing children in permanent homes, and as part of the Adoption Promotion and Stability Act of 1996, a tax credit was made available for those who adopted children. Since that time, the federal adoption tax credit has risen to as high as $13,360 per child, some years as refundable and other years as non-refundable. 

* * * 

In recent years, international adoption has become the new social trend, fueled by celebrity and evangelical circles alike (although arguably for different reasons), even though a large number of children remain in the foster care system. Children from other countries are now being imported to form the new American families, and those who adopt internationally, whether they receive $13,360, or even $6,000, are receiving the same tax benefits as those who adopt domestically. And while this may add to the diversity of our culture, and provide those adopting with a sense of fulfilling a higher purpose, the very ones who were the intended beneficiaries of the legislation, those “lost in the system,” remain there and are not being helped as the statute originally intended. Because the tax credit should be used to reclaim children from the foster care system — not to subsidize international adoptions — it is time to let the international portion of the tax credit sunset and focus taxpayer resources on those whom the tax credit originally sought to help.
I posted last week about how we adoption tax credit users are part of the 47%. And for an impassioned and cogent argument for why the adoption tax credit should be abolished alltogether, check out this post at Musings of the Lame.

20 comments: said...

"In recent years, international adoption has become the new social trend, fueled by celebrity and evangelical circles alike".......really?? International adoption have actually gone down. Maybe we should tell that to the folks who adopted from China and Korea long before Angelina Jolie adopted. I do not know one person who adopted because it was the "new social trend". They adopted and my husband and I adopted because we wanted to have a family. How incredibly insulting to adoptive parents and the children they adopted. I am not an evangelical Christian but the ones I have met since we adopted LOVE their children and although some are preachier than I like they adopted because they wanted to add to their family and this is how they believe God wanted them to add.

My husband and I did not qualify for the tax credit but I hope it is there in the future all adoptive parents who adopt from wherever – US or international.

-J.Darling said...

So, if I'm understanding this correctly, the author is really saying that they don't believe the tax credit should apply to those who adopt internationally - and should only apply to foster-to-adopt or adoption directly from US foster care.

I would hope all kinds of adoption are supported. If they want to offer a special incentive to those who choose to adopt hard-to-place or special-needs kids, then increase that, sure. Those families are usually taking on additional medical bills, therapy, etc as a result.

However, I'm not a fan of abolishing it for folk who opt to adopt internationally.

And those who think it's a "trend" seriously need to get their heads out of their rear ends. Sure, it's probably gaining more public attention now, but EVERYTHING is! Seriously! Look at crime rates as an example! There have ALWAYS been sex offenders living in neighborhoods, or violent crimes occuring. But in the information age, we can pull up a google search and find a map of it.

With news agencies in more and more competition to put out something "new", they'll shine the spot light anywhere they can, so EVERYTHING gains more attention.

Adopting is not a "social trend". It's just possibly becoming less "taboo". (When I was adopted in the 1980's, it was still something 'shameful' or ment something was 'wrong' with a couple because they opted to adopt vs having biological kids.) It's been around as long as there have been orphans.

theadoptedones said...

I think it has become a trend for three different reasons (some may fall into all three categories).

*Orphan Ministries where rehoming became such a problem Moore wrote a post "Don't adopt" because people were adopting because it was the thing to do - aka keeping up with the Jones.

*Infertility is at a record high.

*Not wanting to deal with open adoption, search, first family, etc.

Numbers don't have to go up to be a trend - it is who is adopting and why that makes a trend.

The ACT was originally intended and cast into law solely for foster adoption - and then the adoption lobbying started so that the private agencies could use that as a carrot for potential clients and increase the fees. If you did a historical comparison of pre ACT private agency costs and post ACT (based on amount of ACT by year) my money is on the fact the fees went up by the same amount as the ACT.

There is no reason for it to be used in the domestic infant adoption (is there a corresponding special KYB Tax credit (not the Child Tax Credit)) or international adoption arena. The focus was intended to be to increase the chances of a child in foster care being adopted so that it helped the CHILD and also reduced the tax burden foster care puts on the tax payers.

Unknown said...

With all due respect, when I read articles like this one I'm reminded of George Orwell's 1984. Say something enough and eventually it will become accepted as fact.

International adoption rates have declined dramatically over the past years. That's just a fact.

People decide to form families for reasons that make sense for them. If there's a "trend," it seems to be toward more sophisticated means of assisted reproduction. Not adoption at all.

Finally, to compare the high media profile of Angelina Jolie with that of Steven Spielberg seems to have little to do with where they adopted from, and everything to do with who they are. Angelina Jolie is a consummate publicity seeker; Steven Spielberg is not. To wit, I've never seen a published photograph of any of Spielberg's children, adopted or biological. Compare that with the daily dose we get of the family of Angelina Jolie. My guess is that Spielberg chooses to protect his family's privacy in a way that Jolie doesn't.

Unknown said...

Ps: I wrote the previous comment, but couldn't seem to "choose an identity" when posting. Apologies!

Jessica O'Dwyer
aka "Unknown."

Stephanie said...

In regards to the "adoption tax credit" here in America and domestic infant adoption (I am NOT talking about adopting from foster care) the way it is practiced today; it truly boggles the mind that adoptive families are given thousands of dollars of "government assistance" when adopting someone else's child, yet natural mothers who may need temporary assistance are called "welfare queens".

Most natural mothers and fathers have every fundamental right to keep and raise their own flesh and blood, yet give in to societal pressure of giving their child "a better life" because they are young and not as well off as adopters.)

Hypocritical much, government and a society that dictates this is okay?

wm said...

I'm an adoptive mother of a daughter from China and I know I will get blasted from other adoptive parents, but I do agree that the subsidy, if it should exist at all, should only be for children in the US, who are either special needs or in the foster care system. I am actually ashamed that by getting the refund, basically my neighbors and other people in my country are subsidizing my personal decision to adopt a child. Adopting a child benefits me and only me; why should other people be subsidizing my decision to adopt a child? I don't subsidize the cost of raising their child. It's crazy. Especially at a time when our deficit is sky high. No, in good consciousness, I cannot agree that this subsidy should apply to parents who CHOOSE to adopt a child from another country.

As one of the articles mentions mentions the "money" factor, there have been more than a few stories in the news of severe abuse of adoptive children, who were multiple adopters. See these links:

Vanessa and Ray Jackson are being prosecuted for starving their adoptive sons

Judge convicts Longview, Wash., couple of starving two of five adopted children

If you need more evidence, just read some of these horrifying stories:

I always wonder if these children would have ever been adopted and ever have been abused if the financial incentive to adopt these children had not existed. Where there is money to be made, there will be an unscrupulous person waiting to take advantage. In an ideal world, there would be no financial incentive and this way, at least we'd know adopting parents wouldn't be adopting for a financial gain.

Redspect said...

"If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it Help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!
mawaddainternationalaid said...

I think (just my opinion) that the tax credit should be available to all who adopt from wherever they adopt from – the US or international. I also don't think you can equate a one time tax credit with welfare. I believe in government programs. I don’t have a problem with people receiving welfare, food stamps, unemployment insurance. I am fortunate that I have not needed them to date but who knows what the future holds for me or anyone else.

Are there bad adoptive parents - people who should never have adopted - yes? Are there bad biological parents, people who should have never had children - yes? Do biological parents abuse their children, neglect them, and put them on unnecessary psych medicine so they can get SSI - yes. Are their bad adoptive parents yes. Are their bad biological parents – yes.

Sharon said...

Well, if folks are worried that families are making money off the tax credit, that worry should really be focused on foster adoption. The county I live in her in Calif charges $500 for foster adoption, and kids get free medical care and other subsidies. In other words, costs of raising the child are already subsidized. Of course it doesn't cover everything a good family would want/need for their kid, but an unscrupulous family could certainly make money via the tax credit, which hardly touches the initial expenses of in international adoption.

I too find throwing in the celebrity references and claims of a trend offensive and beside the point here. The adoptedones speculates a "trend" in intl adoption to avoid open domestic adoption, but closed intl adoptions are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The fastest growing intl programs are in Africa, and most incorporate birth family contact. More and more families are traveling overseas for birth family visits etc I even personally know a family that arranged for their teen to stay alone in Ethiopia with her grandmother for several weeks, just like any non-adopted kid might go visit grandma. Articles like this one repeat the same old tired claims.

Reena said...

I am an adoptive mom to two daughters adopted from China. We didn't even know about the adoption tax credit when we began our first adoption. We did qualify for the tax credit and it did assist us with being able to easily afford the cost of adopting our second daughter-- but even without the tax credit, we would have adopted our youngest daughter. We would have scraped the money together.

As another poster stated, I don't really consider a one time tax creidt in the same vein as welfare and there are plenty of government programs, insurance mechanisms, to which we contribute and have been fortunate in that we have not needed.

A good number of the families I know who have adopted internationally did not qualify for the tax credit.

BethandChowder said...

Many people don't know that the credit was originally intended to encourage adoption from foster care, and originally only those adoptions were eligible. A while back I saw a thread on an adoption forum questioning why foster care adoptions should be even eligible for the credit since they aren't that expensive.

And I remember that when it was extended to other adoptions, agencies suddenly upped the "going rate" by thousands of dollars, telling families, "don't worry, you can get it all back from the tax credit."

I think the credit should remain in place for adoptions of US foster care children only. Not domestic infant, not international, and not even foster-adopt. That was the original purpose of the credit, to help kids in foster care find permanency. Aside from that I don't see why people's choice to build their families in whatever way should be publically subsidized.

BethandChowder said...

I mistyped and apparently I can't edit my comment - I meant to say that I think the credit should apply to foster care adoptions, including foster-adopt. Just to clarify.

theadoptedones said...

Sharon - if you are going to quote me or refer to what I said - please don't take it out of context...

"I think it has become a trend for three different reasons (some may fall into all three categories).

*Orphan Ministries where rehoming became such a problem Moore wrote a post "Don't adopt" because people were adopting because it was the thing to do - aka keeping up with the Jones.

*Infertility is at a record high.

*Not wanting to deal with open adoption, search, first family, etc.

Numbers don't have to go up to be a trend - it is who is adopting and why that makes a trend."


And regardless if adoptions from Africa often include birth parents or not it is NOT THE SAME THING as getting together each month and knowing the child's family lives in the same state...Int'l you are talking about one, two, maybe even three trips back while the child is growing up - not an open adoption in the same country... said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

I could claim people are having children because celebrities have children. Magazines are plastered with adorable pictures of celebrities with their children and I have noticed a trend of people having kids.............

I don't know of anyone who thought gee think I will spend $50,000, turn my life inside out, take numerous parenting classes and open my home to a social worker because it is the in thing to do. How many people do you actually know that adopted as a trend? Actually know.

Sharon said...

theadoptedones, didn't mean to mischaracterize your statement or be rude. I certainly see your point that birth family contact domestically and internationally are different, and an intl adoption is still probably "easier" for adoptive parents who think they don't want contact with birth family. I do see a tend of embracing openess in intl adoption, and email, skype etc really facilitates ongoing contact with birth family even if visits are limited.

Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy said...

To renew the Adoption Tax Credit in it's current form actually will HURT the very children it's pretends to help. It will PREVENT children from foster care being adopted. 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. The Adoption Tax Credit now applies to domestic and international adoptions. Letting people use the credit to adopt in an otherwise competitive market does not help children in foster care. it helps the adoption industry. Historically, as the adoption tax credit went up, so do the adoption fees. In other words, the US government subsidizes the adoption industry this way through the Adoption Tax Credit." ~Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy"

Jenna said...

Do you know what hurts adoption from the foster care system? The foster care system itself. Even after all that we know about attachment, development, and trauma, we still have a system that removes a child from an unstable home, moves the child to a stable home, moves the child again to an unstable home, moves the child to a stable home (not necessarily the same one as before), rinse and repeat until the child has so much trauma that he or she very likely will never recover and will repeat patterns with his or her future children. Adoptions from foster care won't increase until the basic problems of the foster care system are better addressed. The children should be the focus, and they are not. said...

Agree Jenna!