Hope for Children Act


This is the press release that describes the “Hope for Children Act” which would give a $10,000 tax credit to people who adopt to help defray expenses. This is overwhelming supported on the adoption boards I’m on…despite being a proud upstanding liberal and adoptive mom, I have somewhat different feelings…

Debate, if you will

Well you make it really difficult to debate your position since you’re not letting us know what your position is. I’m no expert on adoption nor have I done much research about the subject. But from what I understand it can be an financially and emotionally draining process that can take many years. I don’t see anything wrong with a $10,000 tax break for people who adopt children. Sure beats the state caring for them until they’re 18.


I was hoping to debate the act itself, rather than my position, which is somewhat ambvilent. While adoption can be financially and emotionally draining, so can infertility, so can losing your job, so can so many things in life. For that matter, KIDS are finacially and emotionally draining.

The current adoption tax credit ends this year for healthy children or international adoptions. But it is extended indefinately for special needs children, those who the state currently takes care of. Special needs is usually defined as older, hard to place and or handicapped kids. These kids are readily available. In Minnesota, the State will pick up all adoption expenses and pick up health care costs until the child turns 18. I think this is a great idea. This act doubles the credit (to $10,000) and extends it to people adopting healthy white newborns or doing overseas adoptions (both currently covered through this year).

To paraphrase a common belief of this board “can’t afford kids, don’t have them.” Adoption is expensive, so are kids once you have them. The adoption of my son was less than what we spent on him the first year - formula, diapers, clothes and daycare. Can’t afford adoption, what are you going to do about diapers, braces, or college?, come back to the state for more handouts?

…maybe I’m really a conservative? Nah, then I’d probably think the Minnesota Special Needs Adoption scenario was wrong.

Interestingly, this adoption credit only works if you leave the country or “buy” a child. The year we adopted, going through our local human services department for a couple of special needs kids, we found that there were so few allowed expenses that it cost more to record them than we would recover in credit. (By following the route we did, there were no legal fees, the “travel expenses” amounted to gas money to see the kids a few times before we brought them into our home. Every other conceivable expense was disallowed. (Purchasing beds had been included a few years earlier, but had been stricken by the time we adopted.))

I’m probably OK with a renewal of the credit (although it tends to favor people who are getting kids from foreign countries or people who go through private agencies); an adopted kid is generally better off than one in an orphanage or a series of foster homes, regardless where they were born or the conditions under which they were adopted. I’m not sure what the purpose of doubling the credit would be except to encourage the brokers to raise their rates.

(I should note that because my kids are special needs kids, we do have access to some funding to help us with medical or psych issues related to their adoption. Of course, we have also run into the situation where, when we found a specific recommended service, we had to delay using it because the fund had been exhausted for that fiscal year. It is not a source that can be tapped at will.)


Although I disagree with the word “buy” (we bought services to unite us with our son, we did not buy our son, and hey, someone needs to pay the social worker), I think part of the point is that not all adoptions cost $30,000. Sure, depending on the state you are in, the amount you choose to invest in finding a child (or the international program you pick), you can rack up the costs. But, (depending on adoption laws in the state you are in) you can also find a birth mother by chance, do an independent homestudy for a reasonable cost, and find a lawyer who will work cheap. In international adoption, there are bargains as well. There are plenty of non-profit agencies who will work on a sliding fee.

I’m all for the state helping get special needs kids placed, almost any home is better than the foster home shuffle. I think there are better ways to place these kids than a tax credit at the federal level. My concern is more from the point of view of someone who has heard (often) “oh, we looked into adopting, it was so expensive.” And then you discover that they have a brand new Volvo, and that their adoption priorities were healthy, white, newborn and quick, and we want to pick gender, and we want birthmom to be a college student at a respectible school with a good GPA - yep, that’s going to be pricey, unless you are very lucky.

My son is from South Korea, btw. Non-special needs, unless you count low birthweight. I also donate annually to the children’s home he came from and the US non-profit agency we used. The US agency uses that money to provide grants and sliding scale fee schedules to families looking to adopt who aren’t as well off as I am. The Korean agency uses the money to support the children who have not been (and, in many cases, will never be) adopted. So its not that I have a problem helping other people pay for adoption. I think what I have is more a problem with the “entitlement” people feel.

I favor making expenses directly related to the adoption of a child already in the United States tax deductable up to a reasonable ceiling ($10,000 seems a little on teh low end, but not unreasonable).

I favor a deduction rather than a credit because the framework to tying a deduction to actual expenses already exists in the tax code.
I favor a celing to prevent abuses.
I would restrict it to the children already in this country since I would prefer not to use US tax dollars to subsidize overseas adoption services. We have children at home who need to be cared for. Having a child already in the domestic welfare system adopted also reduces the budgetary strain on local and federal agencies, thus providing a long-term return on the initial “investment” of a tax deduction.

And these are the folks at whom my “buy” verb was aimed. (Leaving the country was an “or” not an “and”.) My issue was that the expenses covered by the tax credit are aimed at people who can afford–with whatever personal stretching–to pay larger sums, to begin with. As I noted, virtually none of my expenses qualified for a credit. There are expenses associated with adoption and I have no problem with looking for ways to offset those costs. (My life would certainly be a lot easier if Ohio had the same rules regarding medical expenses that Minnesota seems to.) Every child raised in a good home, from where ever they are born, is one fewer child who is likely to wind up as a problem for society, later.

I have mixed feelings regarding Spiritus Mundi’s desire to see the expenses limited to kids from the U.S. I would like to see more help given to adopt U.S. kids, but also recognize that a big reason that many people go overseas is the incredible amount of hassle arranging for a placement within the U.S. (And, of course, many of the hassles were put in place by well-meaning people who wanted to reduce the number of children who were adopted to be little slaves or toys. I have no easy, fool-proof answers for these situations.)