Education

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.

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.

 

Opioid Addiction and Adoption – What Waiting Parents Need to Know

The Opioid Addiction Crisis

Opioid Addiction babies

ACH counselor Kelly Dunbar with Jaxon

North Carolina, as is the nation, is experiencing an opioid addiction epidemic. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) one infant every 25 minutes was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in 2012, and the numbers are continuing to rise. NAS occurs when newborn babies experience withdrawal after being exposed to drugs in the womb.

Every new parent wants a child that is happy and healthy, but opioid addiction and other drug use by a birth mother during pregnancy is something that makes many adoptive parents wary, and with good reason. However, the fact is many birth mothers choose adoption because their life situation makes parenting a child impossible or difficult. Often, the life situation can be traced back to drugs and alcohol. In the case of opioids, sometimes the usage starts innocently enough with a doctor’s prescription for medications like Vicodin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, tramadol, and Zanax, and progresses to buying these drugs on the street and using harder drugs such as Heroin.

Regardless of the circumstance leading to opioid addiction, there is currently an increase in the number of unborn babies that have exposure to drugs or alcohol. Adoption by a caring family can make all of the difference in this precious child’s life and help them to thrive as they grow.

Addressing the Opioid Addiction Issue

Jaxon on Placement Day

It’s a sign of the times that hospitals statewide have developed a drug-tittering protocol for weaning babies. In the case of a child that is going to be adopted, adoptive parents are encouraged to be in the hospital during the withdrawal period. Often a prescribed opiate such as Morphine is used to help the baby cope, with the amount prescribed being reduced over time. Adoption counselors with A Child’s Hope may also coordinate birth mother visits during the 7-day revocation period to help the baby by holding him or her.

Fortunately, the effects of opioid withdrawal pass within a matter of weeks and the babies seldom need long-term medication. At A Child’s Hope, we have had babies born testing positive for opioids who spend as little as four days in the hospital. The longest hospital stay with one of our babies has been 10 days.

Statistics indicate that it will take a total of six to eight weeks for all of the symptoms to disappear if a birth mother is on methadone for as little as one month before the delivery. Therefore, intervention as early as possible is essential to help the birth mother transition to medically prescribed opiod such as methadone, suboxone or naloxone. Then when the baby is born withdrawal will be easier and shorter.

To help identify potential drug use issues, our adoption counselors work closely with each birth mother. They ask about alcohol, drug and cigarette use in a nonjudgmental way that expresses our mutual interest in the health of her and the unborn child. In addition, criminal checks, Accurint checks and obtaining medical records can help reveal information that the birth mother may be too afraid or embarrassed to share. In short, we do a great deal to try to discover what, if any, substances a birth mother may be using during pregnancy. Then we try to help her and her baby in getting treatment.

Our policy is to do the best we can to get the birth mother into a substance abuse program. When appropriate, a regulated opioid, such as methadone, suboxone or naloxone, will be prescribed so that her cravings are controlled and the baby’s withdrawals will be more comfortable.

Managing the Opioid Addiction Fear

Jaxon age 3

We connect waiting families who have concerns about adopting a NAS baby with some of our past placed parents who adopted babies who went through opioid withdrawal.

Three-year-old Jaxon is one NAS baby that is thriving now after being born testing positive for opiods. His mom, Shannon, talks about Jaxon’s care after birth:

“It’s hard to believe that its almost three years since Jaxon was born! Jaxon spent ten days in NICU, and I spent every waking minute with him. It was important for me to bond with him and for him to feel that love.

From day one, Jaxon was a happy, healthy baby boy who just loves life. I was never fearful of his drug exposure because I knew he had me in his corner fighting for him. I would get him any help that he needed. Jaxon was on morphine and then was switched to methadone. He spent nine months on methadone. So far we haven’t seen any long-term effects, there have been no developmental delays.

Jaxon is now 3 and so full of life; he always has a smile on his face. Anyone that is thinking of adopting a child with NAS, I beg you to take the risk. The joy that our son Jaxon brings to our life far outweighs the risks.”

To read the full story of Shannon’s adoption Journey, click here. 

A Child’s Hope encourages waiting families to do their research about the effects of opioids on the unborn, speak to your adoption counselor and a healthcare professional.

Resources

She’ll Be President Someday’: Meet the Adopted Little Girl Trump Praised

Taking a Leap of Faith – Why One Family Adopted a “Drug Baby”

Out of love, opioid-addicted women letting babies be adopted

Officer honored for adopting baby from opioid addicted mom

Weaning the Youngest Opioid Patients

The Adoption Journey for Shannon and Jaxon

Adoption Journey of Shannon & Jaxon

Shannon & Jaxon

Two years was our adoption journey wait, from the time we signed with our adoption agency until our precious baby boy was placed in our arms. We knew from the beginning that we should prepare ourselves for a long wait because we already had a child in the home. So we set out for a wait, we knew that the right child at the right time would come to our family, the one that was meant to be.

We had some disappointments, and at times we were discouraged, but we always kept the faith that God knew exactly what He was doing. God was writing our adoption journey story, and that story included our sweet Jaxon. All the praying and wondering when we would get the phone call with the news that an amazing birth mother had chosen us was answered on my birthday.

Meeting the Birth Mother

We met her, “L,” two days later for lunch with our adoption counselor, and hit it off from the start. I remember being very nervous and wondering if she would 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. I imagine these same very thoughts run through every adoptive momma’s mind at one point or another. 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.

Meeting Jaxon

Two weeks after that very first phone call, our son was born. The next morning which happened to be Valentine’s day we are 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 — this 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 on Placement Day

Jaxon spent ten days in NICU to help him through opioid withdrawal. I spent every waking minute with him. It was important for me to bond with him and for him to feel that love. I was never fearful of his drug exposure because I knew he had me in his corner fighting for him. I would get him any help that he needed. Jaxon was on morphine and then was switched to methadone. He spent nine months on methadone. So far we haven’t seen any long-term effects, there have been no developmental delays.

“L” and I 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. We love them; they are our family too!

Overcoming Roadblocks

We hit some roadblocks during our adoption journey. I will share that as fearful as I was, I knew that A Child’s Hope would ease my mind. In addition to being a NAS baby, Jaxon’s birth father came unexpectedly late during the adoption process.

I can remember the fear and 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 every step of the way. It was the reason we went with ACH to begin with; they were always in contact with us on the status.

The Best Gifts Ever

Jaxon age 3

Jaxon’s birthmother gave me the best birthday present and Valentine’s Day gift! My husband tells people all the time that he could never top that! Jaxon’s birth father gave me the best Christmas gift that year as well – he gave his consent to the adoption.

What a gift Jaxon is to our family! So yes, the wait was worth it. I tell people all the time that I would have waited forever for my sweet Jaxon. He is 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 a family, from Jaxon’s birth family, and from the staff at A Child’s Hope.

To start your adoption journey, click here and complete the “Would You Like To Adopt?” form or call us at (919) 839-8800.

Adoption Tax Credit – 2017 Taxes

Adoptive parents get a substantial boost from the federal government in the form of a $13,570 adoption tax credit. If you adopted in 2017, before you file your 2017 taxes, make sure that you and your tax preparer understand the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. You may also be able to amend a previous year’s return if you had expenses related to adoption, but didn’t claim them.

Adoption Tax Credit 2017 - A Child's HopeThe bottom line is that if your modified adjusted gross income is below $203,540 you are eligible to receive the full adoption tax credit, and the credit can be spread out over five years. With the average cost of a domestic adoption at $36,000, this tax credit covers more than a third of your costs.

There are “fine points” in the adoption tax credit. So, you are encouraged to consult with a tax preparer who is familiar with the provisions.

What Does the Adoption Tax Credit Cover?

The tax credit is designated to offset real expenses associated with the adoption of a child, other than a spouse’s child. Eligible expenses include:

  • Reasonable and necessary adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging while away from home)
  • Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child.

How Much is the Adoption Tax Credit?

The credit is per child, the maximum that can be claimed depends on the number of children adopted. The credit adjusts for inflation every year. For 2017, the credit is $13,570 per child non-refundable*
*Nonrefundable means the tax credit is limited to the taxpayer’s tax liability for that year. However, any credit in excess of the tax liability may be carried forward for up to five years.

When Can the Adoption Tax Credit be Taken?

For domestic adoptions, (a child who is a citizen or resident of the U.S. or its possessions before the adoption effort begins):

  • Qualified adoption expenses paid before the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the tax year following the year of payment (even if the adoption is never finalized, and even if an eligible child was never identified).
  • Qualified adoption expenses paid during or after the year the adoption becomes final are allowable as a credit for the year of payment.
  • Eligible tax credit amounts claimed, but not redeemable due to the taxpayer’s tax liability being less than the value of the tax credit, can roll over to the following year (up to 5 years).

What are Some of the Limitations of the Adoption Tax Credit?

The income limit on the adoption credit is based on the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

  • If your MAGI amount is below $203,540 for 2017, your credit will not be affected
  • If your MAGI amount for 2017 falls between $203,540 and $243,539 will be subject to a phase-out reduction
  • Taxpayers with income in excess of $243,539 are not eligible to receive any adoption tax credit from the federal government

The dollar limits for any single adoption effort is:

  • The maximum cumulative Adoption Tax Credit claimed for any single adoption effort cannot exceed the maximum value of the Adoption Tax Credit for the year the adoption becomes final. For example:
    • If an adoption became final in 2017;
    • And a $3,000 credit was claimed 2016 for qualified expensed incurred in 2015 in connection with the 2017 adoption;
    • Then the maximum credit that can be claimed in 2017 is $10,570
      (2017:$13,570 dollar limit, less $3,000 of qualified adoption expenses claimed previously)

Filing status limit – The filing status of Married Filing Separately is not eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit.

What if My Employer provides Adoption Assistance?

The taxpayer may be able to claim both the tax credit and an income exclusion for qualified expenses. However, you must claim any allowable exclusion before claiming any allowable credit. Expenses used for the exclusion reduce the qualified adoption expenses available for the credit. As a result, you can’t claim both a credit and an exclusion for the same expenses.

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

A taxpayer 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.

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. 

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.

To learn more about the adoption laws in North Carolina, click here.

Birth Mothers Talk About Placing Their Baby for Adoption

As we honor National Adoption Month, we take a moment to recognize birth mothers for the brave decisions they make. Hear the videos from Stephanie and Rebecca as they talk about placing their babies with families who are ready to adopt from A Child’s Hope.

We understand that women who are experiencing an unplanning pregnancy and considering adoption may feel uncertain and have questions to determine if this is the right decision for them and their unborn child. Having sufficient support and information during this time can be reassuring for anyone thinking about placing their baby for adoption.

To help birth mothers in their time of uncertainty, we have compiled some common questions and answers from birthmothers who have gone through the adoption process. If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, call our birthmother hotline and speak to one of our counselors today. Call (877) 890-4673.

 

Birth mothers Can Show Love to Their Child Placed for Adoption

Parker Herring, is a Board-Certified Family Law Attorney and Director of the NC-based adoption agency, A Child’s Hope. In this blog, she discusses the most frequent asked questions about adoption that she gets from birth mothers. Plus, shares many of her firsthand experiences as she’s adopted two children of her own.

Parker Herring Answers Questions About AdoptionOne of the questions about adoption I often hear from birth mothers is:

“How can I let my child know how much I love him/her?”

I explain that although she will not be there physically to do the daily tasks that let a child know he/she is loved, there is a lot that can be done before and after the placement to help the child understand the difficult act of choosing adoption. Remember, a child can never have too many people loving him/her. These eight ideas are written as suggestions for birth mothers, but of course, birth fathers can follow the same protocol.

Letters — Write a letter to your child for the adoptive parents to read later. What is most important is that this letter be in your own words and from your heart. Explain why you made this decision, how much you love him/her and how he/she will always be in your heart. My middle son’s birth mother wrote a nicely worded letter on lined paper with a pen. It’s simple and beautiful.

Lifebooks — Consider doing a photo book. Known as a lifebook, these scrapbooks can include photographs of you, your family, and even the birth father. Over time the child can get to know you. For some ideas on photo books, Amazon has a nice selection.  

Make Something for the Child — Making a blanket or giving a stuffed animal to the adoptive family to give to the child is special. The child can keep it, it’s tangible and something you have gifted. If you are okay with parting with a stuffed animal or toy that you had as a child, this can make the gift even more meaningful.

Books About Adoption — Purchase a children’s book about adoption and inscribe inside a message from your heart. Maybe something like: “Never forget how much I love you!” For a list of children’s books, visit amazon and your local library.

Send Clothes and Toys.  Ask the adoptive parents to let you know about sizes for clothes and favorite toys to send to your child. Even something small, but sent on a regular basis honoring an important day or event, will let the child know that they continued to be loved.

Naming the Child — If you are in contact with the adoptive parents, ask them to work with you on choosing a name for the child that either has part of your name, or a name you chose for the baby. Ask the adoptive parents to share with the child how he/she got their name. Names are a sensitive subject. If you are uncomfortable bringing up the suggestion of being involved in the name process, consider asking a counselor for help. If you don’t have a counselor, email or ask the question in a note to the adoptive parents. My oldest son’s birth mother chose a name for him, but never told us. I didn’t know until after the mother’s birth certificate arrived. I’ve told him the name she chose, and he cherishes it. If I’d known of her choice, I would have honored it by using at least one of the names.

Stay in touch. Both with open and semi-open adoptions (hot link to web pages), you can send letters and pictures over the years. Birthday cards, Valentine’s cards, all holidays. Send in advance so the child receives on his/her holiday celebration. Your pictures can show the child how you are doing. I saw one birth mother hold up a sign in a photograph with the lettering “Forever in my Heart”. You can also set up SnapFish, Shutterfly or Flickr accounts to share pictures.

Visits – It is important to always follow through with plans to stay in touch. If you had agreed on visits, follow through. At the visit remember that your emotions may be difficult for the child to understand, so do your best to put the child’s needs first. It’s always good to give a small gift – whether it be a card, coloring book or some other small token. Physically demonstrate your affection for the child at the visit, but take cues from the child. You do not want to make the child feel uncomfortable. If there has been a long time between visits, it may take your child awhile to warm up. Don’t insist that the child call you “mom” – use your first name.

There are many ways show the child that you love and care for him/her as they grow. Determining which will be best for you, the child and the adoptive family is a partnership and should be planned for, as much as possible, before the adoption. Holding open and honest conversations with the adoption agency counselor and the adoptive parents will go a long way in providing you comfort that the child knows how loved they are, as well as providing the child the knowledge of who the birth parents are, where they come from and, most importantly, that they are loved dearly.

A 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 birth mothers and families looking to adopt and answer questions about adoption. 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 NC Bar Association, the Wake County Bar Association, and the NC Collaborative Lawyers.

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

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 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

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. 

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

Envia Un Texto: (919) 218-6270

Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396