Thinking about adopting can be challenging as you sort through the necessary steps, from completing a home study to connecting with social workers and from filing appropriate paperwork to appearing in court. Of course, every step is worth the final decree declaring your family permanent . . . but there are times you may feel alone in the process or uncertain about where to turn for financial assistance, emotional support or needs-based services for your child or family.
You are not alone! Adoption support is available to families in many forms and though multiple venues.
Whether you are considering a domestic infant adoption, an inter-country adoption or a United States foster care adoption, the costs of each vary as much as the vehicles for financial support that exist. Ranging from $0 to $40,000 in expenses, financing an adoption can be a challenge for many families. The following are important areas to understand and explore:
Federal Adoption Tax Credit (http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html)
Taxpayers who adopt a child may qualify for the adoption tax credit; for the 2009 tax year the credit was $12,150 and for 2010 it is $13,170. The tax credit applies to domestic and international adoptions, but not stepparent adoptions. Contact your tax specialist or the IRS for specific details about claiming an adoption tax credit.
Employer Adoption Benefits (http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/Our-Programs/Adoption-Friendly-Workplace)
Many employers offer financial reimbursement for qualified adoption expenses, paid and/or unpaid leave to their employees who adopt. Ask your human resource department about adoption benefits and how to participate.
Military Adoption Benefits (http://www.militaryfamily.org/your-benefits/adoption/reimbursement/
Active duty military service members who adopt a child under 18 years of age may be reimbursed qualified adoption expenses up to $2,000 per adoptive child (up to a total of $5,000 if more than one child is adopted) per calendar year. Additionally, benefits may include eligibility for extra leave to complete the adoption, and access to military health care for the adopted child before the adoption is final
Federal/State Subsidies (http://www.nacac.org/adoptionsubsidy/adoptionsubsidy.html)
Adoption subsidies are monthly payments to adoptive families made on behalf of children with special needs adopted from foster care, as well as medical assistance for the adopted child, often through Medicaid. Children may qualify for one of two types of adoption subsidies: subsidies funded through a combination of federal and state and/or local funds, or subsidies funded solely with state and/or local funds. Subsidies can be vital support to families raising children with often-serious behavioral, emotional, or physical disabilities. It also can help families access medical care, counseling or therapy, special equipment, tutoring programs, and other supports that help them raise their children who have special needs.
Pre and post-adoption support
Whether you are engaged in the adoption process, or at home with a newly formed family, your emotions may range from exhilarated to exhausted, and you may be uncovering more questions than answers. Finding accurate information, accessible resources, professional services and emotional support for you, your child and the family now formed through adoption is an important part of this journey. Below are just a few resource routes:
A Child is Waiting: A Step-By Step Guide to Adoption (http://www.davethomasfoundation.org/Free-Adoption-Resources/Adoption-Guides)
This free resource takes you through the typical 10 steps to adopt, from thinking about which type of adoption is right for you to celebrating adoption day.
Parent Support Groups (http://www.nacac.org/parentgroups/database.html)
Connecting with others who have or will share many of your same experiences can be very important. Adoption parent groups often provide connections to resources, emotional support, educational materials and training, online opportunities for discussion, social activities for families and/or a welcoming venue for problem-solving or information sharing. Check with your social worker to find out about local groups and meetings in your community.
Post-Adoption Services (http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/postadoption/families/)
The need for post-adoption services responds to the complex dynamics of adoption and includes addressing issues of grief and loss, identity formation, attachment and bonding, psychological or physical challenges, educational needs, race and culture issues, and birth families. The level of service available can vary based on the adoption-competency of the professionals involved and where the adoption took place. Always check with your adoption agency to inquire about local services and never hesitate to ask for help or seek additional information about the particular needs of your child and family.
Celebrating and Supporting Family Diversity
Adoption celebrates that families are as diverse as the children waiting for homes. Single parent adoption (http://adoption.about.com/od/nontraditional/a/singleapar.htm), same sex parent adoptions (http://222.hrc.org/issues/parenting/adoptions/12111.htm) and transracial adoptions (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_trans.cfm) are not only an important aspect of the family dynamics created in many adoptions, but also an important message to our children that they are loved, supported and cherished within the family and the extended community. Parent support groups and post-adoption services also can address the challenges and issues that can accompany nontraditional families.
Adoption is a rewarding but often complicated journey. The unique experiences, challenges and issues that families encounter in infant, international or foster care adoption deserve seamless access to resources and an unconditional commitment to the health and happiness of the children impacted. For more information about any of the topics discussed, contact the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption at 1-800-ASK-DTFA, www.davethomasfoundation.org, or connect and share on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Rita Soronen is the Executive Director for The Dave Thomas Foundation. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of the more than 150,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s® founder, Dave Thomas, who was adopted, the Foundation implements results-driven national signature programs, foster care adoption awareness initiatives and research-based advocacy efforts. As the only foundation dedicated exclusively to foster care adoption, we are driven by Dave’s simple value: Do what’s best for the child.