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US Military offers Federal Adoption Tax Credit for Military Families looking to Adopt

This article was originally published by Herring & Mills PLLC on www.herringandmillslawfirm.com

By taking advantage of the federal adoption tax credit, US Military benefits and employer advantages, thousands of American families are eligible and receive financial benefits each year for the cost associated with an adoption. Here’s a quick breakdown of those three methods:

Federal Adoption Tax Credit

The federal adoption tax credit (FATC) allows a monetary boost for adopting families whose gross annual income is not over $200,000. For those families which qualify, the federal tax credit provides up to $13,460.00. You can find more information on the FATC here. We’ve written about the federal adoption tax credit on this blog before.

“My wife Priscila and I have adopted twice through A Child’s Hope. Our two boys – one adopted in 2008 and the other in 2013 –  are priceless to us, but the Federal adoption tax credit helped make the fees and expenses affordable for us. We both work in research; I am a medical writer and my wife is a research scientist.”

— Bill Siesser

Employer / employee adoption benefits

Many employers across the country also provide the benefit of financial assistance once a child is placed in the adoptive home of its new parents. Check with your Human Resource department at your company to see what benefits or advantages there might be (if any) which your company provides.

This financial assistance from employers can take the form of a lump sum, or payment of certain fees related to an adoption or partial reimbursement to employees for expenses. Each company that offers financial assistance varies in what the payment is, but the nationwide average is around $4,000, with a range generally from $3,000 to $5000. The application process with businesses and employers tends to be relatively simple and easy.

Why do companies do it? Businesses justify these benefits as an investment in retaining their employees, and that the payment towards adoption increases worker loyalty to the business. They see it as a win-win, since training new employees is almost always more expensive than retaining current staff.

Some companies are now also offering family leave for adoption, which is a benefit that can lower the cost of your adoption if the leave is paid. (Here’s a list of America’s top adoption-friendly workplaces.)

US Military adoption benefits

The United States Military Service is an employer too, and servicemen and women in the armed forces are eligible in many cases to take advantage of adoption credits while serving. The military can be quite adoption friendly.

“The military provided us with $3,000 as financial assistance for our son Joe Joe’s adoption.Overall, the military has been extremely supportive of our adoptions.”

  • Devon Donahue, wife of a U.S. Army Officer

Lakeisha’s Adoptive Mother Story: “Meeting our son”

Something was different about this time, however the previous heartbreak caused us to keep our guard up. We met for our match meeting less than a week before our birth mother was scheduled for delivery. The excitement and anticipation was so high. We chose not to share the news with our family, especially our 6 year old son. He had been praying nightly for God to send him a sister (little did he know God was preparing him a brother)! Adoptive mother Lakeisha

Our birth mother was wonderful! She kept us informed and included us on what was going on from the time she went to the hospital, after delivery and even after leaving the hospital. I remember talking to her the day our son was born. The adoption counselor called and gave us to information about the baby and assured us he was healthy. The next voice I heard was that of our birth mother. She was eager to share the news with us personally and it was a relief to know that she still wanted us to be his Forever Family! 

Placement Day FINALLY came! My husband and I we able to spend some time with birth mother, getting to know each other and discovering commonalities. I still look at pictures and will treasure the moment when she handed me this precious little boy. A moment when he was held and loved by the two women that love him so much! 

– Adoptive Mother, Lakeisha (child placed in 2015)

image credit via flickr

A Child’s Hope Q&A Adoption Facts and Figures

a childs hope adoption families

Q: How Much Does Adopting Cost?

A: It Depends

There are three types of adoption – domestic newborn, domestic foster, and international adoption. Each adoption type has a different average cost. Domestic newborn adoption, when a child is adopted directly at birth, without entering foster care, costs an average of $38,063. Domestic foster adoption costs significantly less, averaging $2,811. International adoption averages $42,281 (source: Adoptive Families).

Adoptive Families provides a graphic that breaks down the costs of newborn adoptions via adoption agency, as seen below.

U.S. Newborn (Agency) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee $2,345
Document preparation & authentication $802
Adoption agency application & program fees $16,920
Adoption consultant fees $2,853
Attorney fees $4,129
Advertising/networking $2,271
Birth family counseling $783
Birth mother expenses $4,353
Foster care $325
Travel expenses $1,940
Post-placement expenses $1,911
All other expenses $2,900
AVERAGE TOTAL* $41,532

The next graphic breaks down the costs newborn adoption through an attorney.

U.S. Newborn (Attorney) – Average Cost Breakdown

Home study fee $1,732
Document preparation & authentication $929
Adoption agency application & program fees $5,780
Adoption consultant fees $1,014
Attorney fees $13,342
Advertising/networking $1,616
Birth family counseling $621
Birth mother expenses $4,748
Foster care $105
Travel expenses $2,758
Post-placement expenses $781
All other expenses $1,168
AVERAGE TOTAL* $34,594

As can be seen, the average cost through an attorney is much lower than going through an adoption agency.

Q: How Long Will My Family Have To Wait To Adopt?

A: Usually A Range Between 12-24 Months

Though, fortunately for families and children alike, most adoptions take place within the first year. Only approximately 14.5% of adoptive families have to wait longer than two years for adoption.

63% of Agency adoptions take place within 2 years, while 68% of attorney sponsored adoptions took place within a 2-year window.

Q: What is A Child’s Hope?

A: A Child’s Hope Is . . .

. . . An adoption agency operated by a former defense attorney who is, herself, an adoptive parent. A Child’s Hope was founded with the intent of helping adoptive families save time and money throughout the adoption process, bringing families together with less stress and less financial strain.

A Child’s Hope focuses on helping North Carolina families adopt within the state. This helps limit fees and travel time and helps avoid complications between state governments.

Q: What Do A Child’s Hope’s Numbers Look Like?

A: 13 Families Helped in 2015, 12 of those 13 placed within 12 months.

The average cost of adoption paid by the 13 families aided in 2015 is $35,000. This falls right on the line of the national average of attorney sponsored adoptions. With lower travel expenses and proximity allowing families to have a better understanding of the needs of the birth mother, there is much less stress or guesswork involved in the services provided by A Child’s Hope.

Since 2000, 316 families have already grown, thanks to A Child’s Hope. If you or your family is considering adopting, or if you just have questions about the adoption process, please feel free to contact A Child’s Hope here on our website/contact page or by phone at (877) 890-4673. 

Why would a Shark Divorce Attorney Start an adoption agency?

This article was originally published on our sister website, Herring & Mills Family Law Firm in Raleigh

parker herring attorney raleigh family lawPeople often ask me why I – once an aggressive divorce attorney – founded an adoption agency. I was Board certified in Family law and could fight it out with the best of them. The simple answer is that A Child’s Hope was born because I got mad, got scared and fell in love with a little boy born in New Mexico. My personal experience of the difficulties in bringing a family together through adoption shook my value system and gave me the courage to act as an advocate for other children and parents who want to adopt.

I Got Mad

. . . about how expensive, difficult and stressful the adoption process was when I travelled to New Mexico 18  years ago in order to adopt my son.  Now, I am no saint, and anyone who has borne the brunt of my temper knows the aftermath is not always pleasant. But in this case, thankfully, my anger was driven by compassion, and I was able to use that energy constructively. I believe that can be seen in A Child’s Hope’s ability to match 316 children to families over the last 16 years in North Carolina. With few exceptions, our families are matched with North Carolina birth mothers and the adoptions are in state. And when the birth father is identified, as much as possible the birth father issues are sorted out ahead of the baby’s birth.

I Got Scared

I remember feeling very scared once we started caring for my son-to-be in a hotel in New Mexico.  I was scared that the situation wasn’t going to work out – there were complex paternity issues,  and he had health issues because he was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. The doctors wanted us to leave him there in Albuquerque for treatment and he was losing weight really fast. We had to go to the pediatrician daily to weigh him and we had to  wait two weeks in a hotel to get approval to bring him back to North Carolina. I was scared I would lose a son I never had, and I was scared for his sake, for all that he was going through and for all that he would have to go through.

I Fell In Love

parker herring adoption agency open. . . with this sweet little baby boy with brownish-blonde hair and slate colored eyes  swaddled and lying on his side in a Catholic hospital in Albuquerque.

He was struggling to breathe and the nurses wouldn’t let me pick him up because he had been crying since he was born, the night before. When I tell my son this story he laughs and says, “I guess I was crying, someone must have showed me a mirror.” Another reason I love my son? His sense of humor. You see, my son knows that when he was born there was a gaping hole where his nose should be and a large bulbous growth sticking out. I won’t tell you that his dad and I weren’t scared for him but when we saw him that night, we saw  a little boy who had found his home with us and we fell in love with him.

Home Sweet HomeEPH Photo 1 - parker - resized

Once we got back home to North Carolina I again became angry, because our family had to deal with more complications within the adoption process. I was shocked to learn when we added it up that the legal, agency and medical costs as well as our costs for travelling and staying in New Mexico   totaled $35,000 in 1998 (or about $51,000 today). One of my goals has been to help families adopting to keep the costs lo and stress down by adopting within the state. Families adopting through  A Child’s Hope now spend an average of $35,000 18 years later from when I adopted my son — huge savings for any family.

Worthwhile, If Not Easy

Adoption for our family was complicated, stressful and very expensive.  I still wake up several times a year from the nightmares and my jaw aching from the clenching of teeth over the stress. It took us three years to pay off the adoption costs and quite some time to sort out the birth father and American Indian issues.  

So why did an aggressive divorce attorney create an adoption agency? Because adopting my son changed my life. As a family we sometimes get angry at each other, sometimes don’t talk and sometimes don’t see each other, but the love is always there. And I want other sons and daughters and their parents to have the opportunity that we did, and I want to make it easier for them than it was for us.

Choosing Adoption: Patrice’s Birth Mother Story of Open Adoption

I was single, expecting twins, and my due date was near. I chose adoption because I wanted my babies to have both a mother and a father. I chose to make the adoption open because I want my babies to always know how much I love them and I always wanted to be able to see how they are doing.

birth mother adoption story raleigh agency

Birth Mother Patrice with twins and adoptive parents Heather & John.

I called A Child’s Hope and the staff person who answered the phone was very friendly. She sent an adoption counselor named Kelly to come out and meet me locally at my home. Kelly was wonderful to work with. She showed me profiles of families that would be interested in adopting and my children. I always say I fell in love with my family from the pictures in the profile! When you know, you know!

After meeting the adopting family, I knew that I had picked the right one. The mom was very nurturing and just fun to be around. They both made me feel equally comfortable with my decision. They were by my side every step of the way. They took me to doctor’s appointments and were with me when I had the ultrasound. They were even with me in the delivery room when I pushed two beautiful babies into this world in May, 2015.

I know in my heart that I have made a bond with the adoptive parents that will last forever. I know I made the right decision. Thank you A Child’s Hope for bringing together a great adoptive family for the twins!

– Birth Mother, Patrice

Betsy & Tommy’s Double Adoption Story

FamilyAdoptedTwoChildrenFrom adoptive parents Tommy & Betsy…

April is a special month for our family! My husband proposed to me in April 1994, we were married in April 1995 and built our home in April 1996! We signed up with A Child’s Hope adoption agency in Raleigh, NC in Sept 2003 and told them we would bring home a child in April. And on April 28 our son, Freddy was born! We brought him home on May 7 the Friday before Mother’s Day, how appropriate!

We knew the Lord had other plans for us! I was working for SAS in the Research Triangle Park at the time and attended an Adoption Fair where we met adoption attorney Parker Herring! What a Blessing! We were happy! We knew Freddy needed a brother! So in 2009, we signed up again! We brought Christian home on July 5, 2011! Our boys have been best brothers and friends ever since! The staff at A Child’s Hope is so friendly and put our minds at ease!

image / flickr

Shannon’s Adoption Story

shannon birth mother adoption story raleigh ncOur waiting time was two years, from the time we signed with A Child’s Hope, until our precious baby boy was placed in our arms from his loving birth mother!

We knew from the beginning that we would have a longer waiting time since we already had a child at home. All the praying and wondering when we would get that phone call that a birth mother had chosen us came on my birthday! We met her two days later for lunch with our adoption counselor, and immediately hit it off. I remember being so nervous and wondering if she would even like me. Here she was meeting the family that was going to raise her son. What if we weren’t what she wanted? How devastating that would be to me. As we were getting to know one another she asked us if we had picked out a name, the very same name that we picked out was the name she had chosen for him earlier on in her pregnancy! We felt that it was meant to be.

Two weeks later from that very first phone call, our son was born. On Valentine’s Day, we were on our way to visit with “L” and meet our little boy. I will never forget the moment when she took us to meet him. A beautiful 6lbs 8oz, blonde hair, blue eyed, precious baby boy. I remember the tears streaming down my face and the joy that I felt, she was making my heart whole. I knew what she was facing and she was entrusting us to take care of him, love him, and to give Jaxon the best life possible.

Jaxon’s birth mother and I now have a bond that’s unbreakable, and I have so much love for her. We have an open adoption with Jaxon’s birth family, he has two families that love and adore him. We see them on a regular basis, and it’s important to me that he gets to have that bond with them as well. We love them, they are our family too!

We did hit some roadblocks during Jaxon’s adoption, and I will tell you that as fearful as I was, I knew that A Child’s Hope in Raleigh was going to do everything to ease my mind. Jaxon’s birth father came into the picture much later during the process. I can remember the fear and the heartbreak that I was feeling wondering what was going to happen next.

The staff at A Child’s Hope eased my fears and told me they would be there with us every step of the way. It was the reason we went with ACH to begin with, they were always in contact with us letting us know what was going on. Our adoption counselor and the staff at A Child’s Hope made the process for us worth it. So yes, the wait was worth it all! I tell people all the time that I would have waited forever for my sweet Jaxon, he was worth every second that we waited. He brings so much joy to our lives! I will forever be thankful to A Child’s Hope because not only were we able to grow our family through adoption, but I feel like we also gained family, from Jaxon’s birth family, and from the staff at A Child’s Hope.

– Adoptive Mother, Shannon

Samantha’s Adoption Story

By Samantha Anderson…

It’s 3 o’clock in the morning on October 20th. We jumped in the car as fast as we could after missing calls from both our birthmother and our adoption counselor. I’m aggressively asking Danny (my husband) why he can’t drive any faster and how he can be so sleepy. I’m also questioning why we agreed to match with a birthmom who lived 3.5 hours away, because at this point I’m irrational … but in my defense, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning.

All along the way, we’re getting updates on the progress of her labor, the labor that was progressing extremely fast. She was trying, as much as any woman in labor can, to wait for us to be there. Something that to this day makes me want to cry.

But somehow, we made it … just in time.

Despite any of my doubts and irrational thoughts along the way, this was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. Not just the delivery, but the whole journey.

I always describe it as a roller coaster because there were some real highs and some real lows. But Hezekiah was always meant to be our son. We knew it the second we saw him- the second we held him.

I’m speaking from experience because we have been through this journey also without the help of an agency, and the experience was the complete opposite. Everyone from A Child’s Hope was there with us every step of the way, and no one ever made us feel like an inconvenience. We texted, called and emailed — they were always willing and happy to answer our questions.

ACH only has around 15 waiting families at one time. That’s one of the main reason we chose them. When I was doing my research in adoption agencies early on, one thing I really looked at was placement numbers and wait time. I had a nice little spreadsheet comparing them all. It didn’t turn out to mean anything. The large agencies have amazing numbers on paper but what I learned from friend’s experiences was that you can get lost in the shuffle and lose that care that you need as a waiting family.

The other big factor for us was A Child’s Hope practice with adoption counselors. It was so assuring to us to know that someone was taking care of our birthmother in a way that we wouldn’t be able to leading up to the birth of our son. Now, we have grown very close and participate in a very open adoption — that is the best choice for our family.

Without ACH and all the work that was done preparing for this placement for our family, we wouldn’t have Kai.

Modernization Comes to Interstate Adoptions & Interstate Compact

Modernization Comes to Interstate Adoptions & Interstate Compact in North Carolina

This article by Bobby D Mills was originally posted at our partner website, Herring & Mills Family Law Firm

Adoptive families used to dread the waiting associated with satisfying the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). 

As the Act states: “the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) was established in 1960 to provide a uniform legal framework for the placement of children across State lines in foster and adoptive homes;”

The ICPC applies to adoptions which involve a child to crossing state lines. If a child is born in State A (the Sending State) and is to be adopted by parents in State B (the Receiving State), then the ICPC applies to the adoption. In those cases in which the Compact applies, the laws of both states must be satisfied before the child can leave State A and travel into State B.  

Prospective adoptive parents often found themselves waiting in a hotel with an infant while administrative agencies in two states reviewed their paperwork before deciding whether to grant the family approval to travel back home. Unfortunately, the system has not been uniform and many states continued to process the paperwork much the same way that it was done in the 1960s.  

The National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) was launched in August 2014 in Indiana, Nevada, Florida, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia “to improve the administrative process by which children are placed with families across State lines;”

On February 3, 2016, Representative Young of Indiana introduced the a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which would “require States to adopt a centralized electronic system to help expedite the placement of children in foster care or guardianship, or for adoption, across State lines, and to provide grants to aid States in developing such a system, and for other purposes.”

The Act is called ‘‘Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act.’’ Beginning in 2017, it allocates $5,000,000 for grants to states to develop processes “to facilitate the development of a centralized electronic system for the exchange of data and documents to expedite the placements of children in foster, guardianship, or adoptive homes across State lines.”

Birth Certificates and Adoption

You have done a lot of work to be recognized as your child’s “legal parents”  — a homestudy, post placement visits, matching with a birthmother, placement and then filing an adoption petition etc. The last step before you can apply for a social security card for your child is to obtain a birth certificate with the child’s formal name and your names listed as the parents. Let’s look at the formal process for obtaining a birth certificate and why it’s important.

In domestic adoptions, once your decree of adoption is entered by the court, then the Department of Vital Records in the state where your child was or will be born is directed to create a new birth certificate. In adoptions, the original birth certificate given at the hospital — often referred to as the “mother’s copy of the birth certificate” will be sealed. The new birth certificate will list you as the parents and use the name you have chosen for the baby. Unless you have an open adoption, you will not receive the mother’s copy of the birth certificate.

If your baby was born in North Carolina, it will normally take four to six months  for a new birth certificate to be prepared. You will need to get the birth certificate from the Department of Vital Records. Their contact information is 919-733-3000, extension 5886. The address is: N.C. Vital Records, Special Registration Unit, 1903 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1903. As of 2016, there is a $24 fee for the first copy of the birth certificate and then an additional $15 for each additional copy requested on the initial application. There is also a one time $15 processing fee.

We recommend that you request three certified copies of your child’s birth certificate and keep the certificates in different safe places. You can request additional copies over time, but it is easiest to get multiple copies when you originally request them. Since many adoptees want information about their birth parents, we suggest that you store the birthmother’s copy of the birth certificate in the same location as the new formal birth certificate. We also recommend that if you are going to actually pick up your birth certificate that you call and make an appointment.

If your child was born out of state, then the North Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) will prepare a package to send to the state where the child was born to prepare a new birth certificate, listing you as the child’s parents. We recommend waiting several months and then calling the Department of Vital Records in the state where the child was born and check to see if they have received the package from North Carolina. The cost for the out of state birth certificate will depend on that state.

This article was originally posted at our sister website, Herring & Mills Family Law Firm.

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