Adoption

BACK TO SCHOOL FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN

Just starting school or returning from summer break can be difficult. For many children who are adopted this can be compounded with an awkwardness about family relationships. In some cases, the difference is obvious, such as when a child and their parents are different ethnicities or the parents are of the same gender. While taxing at times, a visual difference can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It often evokes questions or comments early when meeting people and allowing the issue to be addressed head-on.

For other students, skin tone doesn’t tell the story. For them, the awkwardness arises during school assignments. Examples may include: creating a family tree or student timeline, researching genetics, or bringing in baby and family pictures for a bulletin board. Uneasiness can also occur in student-to-student conversations about family and background.

Some parents choose not to address the issue at all, one mother stating:

Just as I don’t go to the school and point out that my children are biracial or fantastic athletes, or that their dad is a doctor, we leave it up to the kids whether to mention adoption. Our children share information about their adoption—and
other information—when it seems right to do so for them. It has worked for us.”

Many adoption experts suggest that parents talk to teachers to explain the adoption connection. They recommend using a simple explanation that includes only the information that the parents and child are comfortable sharing. The conversation starter may go like this:

“Michael was adopted by us as a newborn, and we have an open adoption with his birth mother.”

Or, keep it really simple:

“Michael is adopted and he (does or does not) know his birth family.”

Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide what is right for their child and family. For parents that choose to be proactive, bringing the topic up with teachers at the start of the school year is often best. The teacher may wish to make a discussion about different family types as part of their lesson plans.

School Resources

For teachers who are not familiar with the world of adoption, offering your own knowledge as a resource may be extremely helpful and very welcome guidance. Handouts like the one by Adoptive Families magazine help both the child and the teacher answer many common questions – Click here to download.

A discussion about positive adoption language and words can also be valuable. Consider sharing with the teacher this link to an article on the Adoptive Families website.

https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/talking-about-adoption/positive-adoption-language/.

Books for the School:

Parents may also wish to donate a book or two to the classroom. Here are a few titles for consideration:

The Mulberry Bird by Braff Brodzinsky & Anne Braff

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis

If the teacher isn’t comfortable with books that speak directly to adoption, some alternatives include

On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

The Family Book by Todd Parr

It’s Ok To Be Different by Todd Parr

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr

How parents communicate with teachers about adoption sets the precedent for how the teacher will likely treat the topic of adoption and address situations that arise among the students. Parents that are concerned about questions or conflicts should consider taking a proactive approach and engage with the teachers.

Breastfeeding For Adoptive Moms

Breastfeeding biological children is generally believed to have huge health benefits. Breast milk builds up the baby’s immune system and creates a special bond for mother and child. Babies who are breastfed suffer only a small fraction of the colds and ear infections experienced by bottle-fed babies during the first year.

Most people don’t realize that adopted children can be breastfed, as well as breastfeeding adopted children is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians. There are medications and supplements which help women lactate and along with breast pumping several months before the child’s expected birth usually brings on lactation.

One intended mother who recently adopted her son, Maxwell, through A Child’s Hope began breastfeeding him on the day of his birth in the hospital.

Rachel Breastfeeding Max

Rachel Breastfeeding Max

“I had the advantage of already producing milk because I never stopped pumping after my son Ari, who is now 21 months was born,” said Rachel. “But women can plan ahead even if they are not already producing milk and with a combination of pumping and medication or herbs like Fenugreek and Goat’s Rue can help you produce breast milk.”

Rachel produced a freezer full of breast milk before a child became available for adoption so her son will not want for breast milk whether fresh or frozen. Lactation consultants are generally positive about the likelihood that a woman can produce milk for her adopted child. If milk supply is not enough, frozen milk can be used to supplement, as well as formula.

“Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing,” said Rachel. “It’s been shown that even two ounces of breast milk a day provides a tremendous boost to building a baby’s immune system.”

Any woman who is planning on adopting a newborn and would like to breastfeed should first consult with her doctor who may prescribe medications and refer her to a lactation consultant who can discuss pumping and medications and herbal supplements. To find a lactation consultant near you, visit the International Lactation Consultant Association website.

Breastfeeding an adoptive newborn will take commitment and the support of your partner, as well as a lactation consultant before and after the baby is here. But the physical benefits of breast milk and the emotional health benefits of the skin to skin contact are more than worth the effort for both mother and baby!

For more information on breastfeeding an adopted child:

Medela

Healthy Children.org

Huffington Post

Breastfeeding.org

A Mother’s Day Adoption Journey – Caitlin

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

Megan Celebrates Her First Mother’s Day

After adopting Noah in January, Megan opened their home to reporters on Mother’s Day to share a little of her adoption journey and thank the birth mother.

CBS 17

Spectrum News

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

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