Adoption

A Mother’s Day Adoption Journey – Caitlin

WTVD – ABC 11 – Wake County couple celebrate first Mother’s Day after adopting baby boy

Caitlin and Chris are still in disbelief when they look into two-week-old Henry’s eyes.

Growing their family was all they ever wanted.

“We’ve always wanted to be parents. I’m from a large family,” said Caitlin.

The college sweethearts tried conceiving one year after marriage but had no luck. After four years of fertility treatments, they considered adoption.

“We were open to basically anything…race or gender. For us, it didn’t matter,” said Chris.

Two weeks ago, the couple brought home a special gift that weighed seven pounds and 12 ounces.

The couple is thankful adoption gave them a chance at making their family whole, and particularly this Mother’s Day.

“Just looking at him, I wouldn’t change it,” said Caitlin. “It makes him that much more special.”

See another Mother’s Day story

Start your Adoption Journey

Thank You on Birth Mother’s Day

This Birth Mother’s Day, we say THANK YOU and send our LOVE to all birth mothers. You hold a special place in our hearts ❤️ for there are two kinds of strength – the strength to make a parenting plan and the strength to give that plan to another.

Birth Mother's Day

Hear directly from a few of our birth mothers – watch the videos

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Covering the Cost of Adoption – The Adoption Tax Credit

Answers to Six Common Questions About the Adoption Tax Credit

Adoption Tax CreditTaking advantage of tax credits can go a long way in reducing adoption expenses, even after you have your baby. Changes to the law allow the credit to adjust each year based on the federal government’s cost-of-living calculation for the year of adoption finalization. For adoptions finalized in 2018, the Adoption Tax Credit is $13,810 and for 2019 finalizations, the amount increases to $14,080.

Unlike a tax deduction, which lowers gross income, a tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability. Depending on the annual tax liability, you may receive back 100% of the taxes withheld from your paycheck. If the credit exceeds your annual tax liability, you can carry forward the credit balance for up to 5 years.

  1. How Do I Make Sure I Get Every Penny?

The secret to being reimbursed for the maximum you are eligible is good record keeping and holding onto expense receipts. While some adoptive parents will be fortunate enough to have all of their expenses occur during the calendar year of adoption finalization, most will have expenses that fall outside of the finalization year. When this happens, you run the risk of forgetting pre-finalization expenses from a year or more prior.

  1. When Can I Claim the Adoption Tax Credit?

The short answer is right now. Any adoption expenses incurred in 2017 and 2018 for adoptions that finalized in 2018 should be claimed on the 2018 tax return. In addition, adopting parents do not have to wait for finalization to access the credit when seeking to adopt a U.S.-born child. Qualifying adoption expenses can be claimed on tax returns the year after the expense is incurred: i.e. 2017 expenses are claimed in 2018 and 2018 expenses are claimed in 2019. This means that even if you do not complete the adoption process or your adoption takes longer than average, you can be reimbursed for qualifying expenses along the way.

For international adoption, the adoption tax credit can only be claimed after the adoption is finalized.

  1. What if I Was Previously Eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit and Did Not Claim it in the Year of Eligibility?

You may be eligible to file an amended return to claim the Adoption Tax Credit for previous years. Consult a qualified tax attorney, CPA or licensed tax professional to determine specific eligibility.

  1. What Expenses Qualify?

According to the IRS, any adoption expenses must be reasonable, necessary and directly related to the adoption of the child. Types of expenses may include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and travel. In addition, adoption expenses that are required by the state as a condition of your adoption, such as installing a fence around a pool, may qualify.

An expense may be a qualified adoption expense even if the expense is paid before an eligible child has been identified. For example, prospective adoptive parents who pay for a home study at the outset of an adoption effort may treat the fees as qualified adoption expenses.

  1. Does Everyone Get the Full Amount?

Most adopting parent will qualify for the full Adoption Tax Credit. However, there are income restrictions. If your adjusted gross income exceeds 207,140 in 2018 ($211,160 in 2019) you will receive a reduced tax credit. If your adjusted gross income exceeds $247,140 in 2018 ($251,160 in 2019), you will not be eligible for the tax credit.

Employer-provided adoption benefits can also affect the amount of tax credit available. The amount paid by the employer needs to be deducted from the total adoption cost first. The remaining balance will be the maximum tax credit that can be claimed.

  1. What About Adopting My Spouse’s or Domestic Partner’s Child?

While the adoption tax credit does not apply to expenses incurred to adopt the child of the taxpayer’s spouse. Unmarried domestic partners who live in states that allow co-parents or same-sex second parents to adopt their partner’s child may qualify for the credit.

To learn more about the Adoption Tax Credit visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.

To file for the Adoption Tax Credit complete Form 8839.pdf, Qualified Adoption Expenses, using Form 8839 Instructions.

To learn more about covering the cost of adoption, watch the “Making Adoption Affordable – Ways to Pay for Adoption” Facebook Live recording with Adoption Attorney E. Parker Herring.
 

Starting Your Adoption Journey?

If you, or someone you know, is considering adoption and would like to learn more, call A Child’s Hope at 919-839-8800. You can also watch our placement day videos to hear recent adoptive parents share their adoption stories.

Pregnant? If you are a birth mother and are looking to place your child in a loving home, contact our Birth Mother’s hotline to speak with an adoption counselor today at 877-890-4673. To see placement day videos of A Child’s Hope families, click here.

For more information on the legalities involved with adoption in North Carolina, visit parkerherringlawgroup.com.

The information contained in this article is for general knowledge purposes only. Individuals interested in claiming any tax credit should consult a qualified tax professional to determine specific eligibility and amounts.

Adoption is About Love. It’s That Simple.

Christmas 2018 (Left to Right)
Mackenzie, Michael and Mary
All of Parker Herring’s family got the gift of 23andME DNA kits and are planning a reveal party when the results arrive.

Valentine’s Day is always special at A Child’s Hope and the Parker Herring Law Group. It’s all about love and love is what we make a reality every day. We create families through adoption of all types, as well as surrogacy and assisted reproduction.

This Valentine’s Day, we collected a few thoughts and stories from those who have directly experienced the joy of love of adoption. We hope you will enjoy them, and the stories will help encourage you to begin, reflect, or continue your adoption journey.

Parker Herring’s Family:

“I started my own adoption journey 21 years ago by signing with The Gladney Center and became an adoptive mother three months later when I was blessed with my son, Mackenzie. Three years later, I took the adoption journey a second time. This time via an independent adoption. My second son, Michael, turns 18 this year. Two years after adopting Michael, God helped me through the assisted reproduction process to give birth to my beautiful daughter Mary. My heart is always full with love for them.” – E. Parker Herring

 

Kelly and her three children

 

The Dunbar Family:

“’If you have the heart for adoption, don’t let fear stand in the way,’ is a quote I love! As an adoption counselor and as an adoptive parent it really hits home! Loving a child you did not give birth to is one of the easiest things you will ever do! As a mom of three children, two biological and one adopted, the love I have for them is equal and ever growing!” – Adoption Counselor Supervisor Kelly Dunbar

 

 

 

 

The Extended Kaufman Family
Birth mothers (far left and right) next to their respective sons. Adoptive parents, Hal and his wife (center).

The Kaufman Family:

“We’ve seen our sons’ birth mothers every few months since the kids were born (almost 12 and 14 years ago), but this 2017 photo captures the first time the 6 of us were together. We started this journey with awkward, guarded conversations, but now we are family. That can be anyone’s story and I love that I get to play a role in helping adopting parents experience the love I’ve experienced.” – Hal Kaufman, Founder, My Adoption Advisor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birth Family and Adoptive Family Together
Adoptive mom, Jill (far left) and adoptive dad, Jimmy (far right) – Birth family (Mom, dad and brother (center) – Palmer in birth mother’s arms.

A Birth Mother’s Story:

“Having an open adoption taught me a new type of love. I never have to worry if my daughter is safe or loved because I know I handpicked the best possible parents for her. The adoptive parents of my daughter have shown me that family is not defined by blood, it’s defined by commitment and love.” – Loving Birth Mother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea, 16 – Adopted in 2002

An Adopted Child’s Love:

“My name is Andrea and I’m 16 years old. Let me tell ya, my family is great. Thanks to being adopted, I can see myself having a bright future. I don’t know who I’d be or what I’d even be doing if I had grown up living with my birthmother. I don’t think I’d be getting the good education I have now. I feel like I was saved from living in poverty or being involved in some type of illegal activity. My adoption was definitely a win-win situation. My parents couldn’t get pregnant and I was able to bring them the joy of being parents.”

 

 

 

Respite Care Providers Judy and Allan

The Love In Respite Care:

“Little souls find their way to you, whether from your womb or someone else’s. Every time the phone rings asking us if we can care for a baby awaiting adoption our hearts are full of love and excitement. Nothing can compare to seeing and feeling the joy and love on the faces of adoptive parents as they see their new son or daughter for the first time. Caring for each of these precious babies throughout most of our marriage has been both a blessing and our ministry.” – Respite care Giver Judy

 

 

 

 

Birth Mother and Adoption Counselor
Laura (left) and Rebecca (right)

An Adoption Counselor’s Love:

“The thing I love most about being an adoption counselor are the bonds I form with my clients. Each birth mother and adoptive family I’ve worked with has left a lasting mark on my heart. I feel honored to be a part of their adoption journeys and enjoy staying in touch with and supporting my clients long after the adoption process is over.” – Adoption Counselor Rebecca Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan’s First Christmas
Dad Matt, mom Laura and Ryan

Adoptive Parent’s Love:

“Our experience with adoption has truly changed our lives in ways we cannot describe. Ryan has brought us such joy and love! We have gained new family members in Ryan’s birth family and love them for the wonderful gift they have given us.” – Adoptive Mom Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worth The Wait
Josh and Melissa

Waiting Parents Growing In Love:

Josh and Melissa are waiting to adopt and are happy to have the chance to share their love with a child, whenever that happens!

“Love is all about family and we can’t wait to share our love with a child through adoption!” – Waiting Adoptive Mom Melissa

 

 

Whether you are an adopted child, adoptive parent, birth parent who placed your child for adoption, or an adoption professional we know that you have done what you do because of love and your life is better for it. Share your story and share your love.

Fond Memories and Bright Futures for Adoption Families

by Parker Herring

Adoption Holiday Cards 2Each year A Child’s Hope and Parker Herring Law Group receive brightly colored holiday cards from families whose lives have touched ours during their adoption or surrogacy journey. Although I think about each family throughout the year, as I look at the cards and see the smiling faces of the ever-growing children, I again feel the emotions of when those families were created. What joy!

Creating Lasting Bonds

Adoption and surrogacy are emotional journeys, connecting, in a special way, the attorney and support team with the parents and children. This year, one of the cards we received was from a family that adopted triplets 18 years ago — three boys who are now coming of age. I looked at the picture and remembered the phone call from Kenny, the adoptive father, as he stood outside the nursery window as he described to me while one, then two, then three little boys were wheeled into the nursery. Back then, phones didn’t have cameras, but he created a picture for me with his words that I will never forget.

The heartwarming adoption journey of Kenny and Melinda and their three boys will always be a part of me. I am grateful that my life’s work gives me that emotional connection. I feel an extra special connection with Kenny and Melinda as my middle son, whom I adopted, turns 18 this year, too.

In the Beginning

To see how my life’s work has affected the lives of others is what I dreamed of in 1999. At that time, I adopted my oldest son. His adoption was extremely stressful and expensive, mainly because he was born out of state – cross country – and the birth mother had not received in-person counseling because the adoption agency was located in a third state. As an attorney, I wanted to make adoption more affordable and less stressful.

The solution I thought was to do adoptions in state – matching North Carolina birthmothers with North Carolina families so that in-person counseling was possible, there would not be interstate laws conflicts, and only one attorney would be needed to handle the adoption.

I also wanted to be able to have a meaningful connection with the families. Thus, I formed A Child’s Hope, now entering its 20th year of creating forever families in North Carolina. We strive to keep adoption costs below the national average by focusing solely on in-state adoptions – no out-of-state travel costs or multiple-state legal expenses.

Today — Surrogacy & Assisted Reproduction

Approximately ten years ago, the Parker Herring Law Group (then Herring & Mills) expanded into assisted reproduction and surrogacy law. While constructing the carefully worded legal agreements for the intended parents and advising surrogates on the wording of a contract, I find the same emotional connection as with adoptive families.

Future Families 

As we approach the 375th placement through A Childs Hope, we see a bright future. Racial barriers are falling by the wayside and it is easier to place a child with same-gender couples. On the law firm side, there are more stepparents seeking to make legal the family bonds they have developed with the children, as well as seniors are more frequently considering adult adoption to formalize their family-type bonds with a younger friend, neighbor or caregiver.

I so look forward to the next holiday season bringing a mailbox full of even more smiling faces of every age and walk of life.


E. Parker Herring
E. Parker Herring is a Board Certified family law specialist who has practiced in Wake County, N.C. for more than 32 years. She has three children through adoption and assisted reproduction and in 2000 started the adoption agency, A Child’s Hope. The agency focuses on North Carolina birthmothers with North Carolina newborns. The agency has placed more than 370 children since it opened. The multiple adoption journeys of her own family and her personal experiences in fertility treatments continue to be the driving force behind her working in the areas of adoption and assisted reproduction. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and received her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.

Happy Holidays – It’s Been a Banner Year

Dear Friends!

Wow, what a year! A total of 21 babies to date have been placed in forever homes! Moreover, we have three more birthmothers signed with December due dates that we hope will choose adoption! It has been a year of many firsts for the agency.

We started the year placing a set of twins marking 350 placements since we began in 2000. Now approaching 375 placements, we are so thankful.

In May, we celebrated our first graduates! Five of the placements from the year 2000 graduated from high school in 2018.

We saw placement diversity grow exponentially. For the first time at our agency, a birth mother chose to place with a same-sex couple. In addition, more families have been open to adopting racially diverse babies. Moreover, we have seen more bi-racial and tri-racial and even one quad-racial baby placed.

We take great joy in seeing each family in our offices. Each child is a wonderful blessing with bright futures in their forever homes!

Best wishes for a joy-filled 2019.

 

 

Reducing the Out-Of-Pocket Cost of Adoption

This article was originally published by Herring & Mills PLLC on www.parkerherringlawgroup.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 of 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

Mommy You’re Peach and I’m Brown

One of our own adoptive parents recently shared with RaleighMomsBlog her experiences of having a family and how she has empowered her 5-yr-old daughter with the skills to be strong, proud and respond when questions and comments by the curious arise. (Original Blog Post by Cindy Stranad, November 26, 2018)

Mommy, you’re peach, and I’m brown,” she said.

I know honey, is that ok?” I asked.

Without hesitation and a smirk running toward the toy box, “Of course mommy, don’t ya know.

In 2012, I adopted my daughter as an infant. I suppose you could say my biological clock didn’t strike midnight until around the age of 40. After much research and sitting on the fence, independent adoption was the right choice to build my family.

A little older than the average mom, it wasn’t uncommon for many questions to pop up from strangers as our twosome toddled around the neighborhood or headed off to the pool or grocery store. What was evident is that I adopted as a single parent by choice and my baby was a different race than myself or that of my family.

The wish I had for my daughter had nothing to do with race. It is what we all want for our kids no matter of their ethnicity or gender – “Be strong in who you are.”

Ever-present in my mind still today – is playing out a strong sense of self for her because we are confronted with it often – I am single, she is adopted, and she looks different than me.

What I did not know in the beginning and equally as important, was the notion of letting the questions come. Not only to listen intently to the question but embrace each one with a smile. (OK, the smile may be a stretch.) Not only fielding this variety of questions from strangers but from friends, family and — between us — as mother and daughter. What I did know was questions would come surrounding our reality, and I had to prepare her to answer them with confidence.

This year, my daughter started Kindergarten. A first for both of us, I had to trust the snapshots of conversations we have had about our transracial family, and our collective response to all those questions over the last five years has prepared her to stand proud, to have the answers for the moment.

Here are three things I did to prepare for the questions:

1. Start the conversation.

Don’t wait. Ask your child a leading question, don’t wait for them to ask you. They may not want you to be uncomfortable or know exactly the question to ask. It may be something like, “Look there are another mom and daughter who looks like our familyWhat do you think about that?” or “Does anyone ever mention that you and I have different color skin?

Open the dialogue. Let them know it’s okay to talk about it.

2. Role-Play

Be careful not to create a defensive posture. Role-Play with your child on how a conversation may go with a friend if they ask about skin color or other personal questions. It’s like practicing a talk for training at work, a lesson plan at church or perhaps a job interview. It’s about anticipating the question, so you have an answer.

3. Plant another family tree

I was taken off-guard during preschool when she brought home the family tree. This child exercise scared me. Will she be compared to other families unfairly? I had to let go of my insecurity, and teach her to make room for different types of trees in the family backyard – birth parents, stepparents and single parents, as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles from each of these family connections. Moreover, there is your village of close friends and godparents. Most of us probably have something that looks more like a sprawling vineyard than a simple tree.

I say all of this because I had to trust myself. And, I am encouraging you to trust yourself. Release the adult definitions of family and wake up to the reality of what your family looks like from your child’s perspective.

As we celebrate gratefulness during November as National Adoption Awareness Month, remember that open and honest talks across the board on adoption, race and family diversity will go a long way in building your child’s self-esteem. You may even be surprised at some of the reactions and aha moments created as we all widen our thinking about the beauty of transracial families.

 

How to Talk to a Reluctant Spouse to Adopt a Child

By Parker Herring, Director

It’s not unusual for A Child’s Hope to field a call from a woman who is ready to adopt a child, but she states that her husband is “not quite there yet.” Furthermore, during many of the adoption consultations I have conducted, I have noticed that it’s commonplace for the wife to be way ahead of the husband on the adoption learning curve. This is of little surprise. As with most things in marriage, both partners are not always on the same page at the same time. The topic of adoption is no different.

So how do you open up the conversation when you want to adopt a child? Here are some options, clearly there are other considerations.

FIRST, COMMUNICATE. In the adopt-a-child conversation, don’t force your husband to give you an immediate yes or no. It may take a while for him to understand the adoption process and overcome any reservations.

Begin by listening to his concerns. Don’t argue — listen and try to understand. He may be trying to process the loss of a dream to have a son that looks like him. Other common concerns expressed have been 1) a fear that you will not find a child and 2) a fear that he may not love an adopted child the same way that he would love a biological child.

Articulate back what you hear without judgment. For example, you may wish to frame a response in the form of a question, “To make sure I am hearing what you are trying to share, do you feel that if we adopt a child …?”

Don’t push for an immediate change of position or a move forward plan. Express appreciation for what he has shared and let the conversation sit. Your husband may never have put his thought and feelings about adoption into words. Now that he has, he can chew on them a little.

SECOND, EDUCATE. Work hard to show your spouse the positive outcomes when you adopt a child. Try to address concerns by recommending reading resources and inviting him to attend information sessions that agencies offer. Here are some resources to consider:

E-zine – Adoptive Families

Articles from Adoption.com:

What if You’re Ready to Adopt but your Husband isn’t?

When You and Your Spouse are Not on the Same Page with Adoption

Books:

Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae.  This guide draws on the experiences of over 100 contributors to offer advice to all different types of families, ranging from those who have just adopted to those who have been raising adopted children for years.

Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents by Deborah D. Gray. Attaching in Adoption is a bestselling, comprehensive guide for prospective and actual adoptive parents on how to understand and care for their adopted child and promote healthy attachment.

Show him pictures or videos that others share on social media sites of their adopted children. You may even offer to help him make a list of his concerns, and aid in bringing them up visiting with friends and family members who have adopted.

Video interviews with A Child’s Hope adoptive families

A Child’s Hope Facebook page

THIRD, MAN TALK. Some men get quiet in formal settings, such as an agency consultation, especially if they are the only man in the room. It may be easier for your husband to discuss his concerns in a social setting with another man.

Use your network of friends and family to see if any fathers in your circle would be willing to make themselves available to talk to your husband about their experiences when choosing to adopt a child. The agency may also be able to assist by arranging a meeting with some adoptive parents, as couples or just the guys.

FINALLY, TIME. Choosing to adopt a child is a big decision. Everyone involved needs to be comfortable with the process and be on board. It may take a while. Adopting is a decision that will affect every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life. Taking time is okay.

As I mentioned earlier, many of the couples I have worked with were not always in harmony on the decision to adopt a child at first. However, when they come to the office with their child to sign the adoption documents, I have noticed that the men are as extremely proud, and equally excited as the spouse.  It makes me smile sometimes thinking back to how unsure some of the fathers were at that first consultation.

Adoption Agency Director Parker Herring and the twinsA mother of three children, E. Parker Herring has a deep respect and understanding of family law and the adoption process (for which she’s adopted two children of her own). She is the founder and director of A Child’s Hope, a North Carolina licensed adoption agency located in Raleigh that focuses on helping birthmothers and families looking to adopt. A Child’s Hope has placed 332 children since 2000, and is the only North Carolina domestic adoption agency directed by an attorney. Herring is a Board-Certified Family Law Specialist who has practiced family law for nearly 30 years in the Raleigh area. She’s a member of the N.C. Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association, and the NC Collaborative Lawyers.

 

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