The Right to a Credit and a Child

Since 1997, about $7 billion (Yes. Billion.) of your tax dollars have gone toward adoption, but not the way they should, if we really wanted to help children and families.

Joyce Maguire Pavao has often been quoted for saying “Adoption is about finding a family for children, not finding children for a family.” Much too often that is forgotten, or at least set aside.

An unfortunate corollary is the linkage between adoption and the adoption tax credit, in terms of entitlement. Tax credits are designed to provide an incentive for behavior that the government wants to encourage.  In case of the adoption tax credit, its original purpose was to encourage adoption from the US foster care system.  Instead, the credit has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar reimbursement primarily for international and private adoption expenses (including lawyer fees, hotel, airfare, meals abroad). That was not the Congressional intent.

Today, way too many adoptive parents have come to feel entitled to the tax credit as a right. Too few children are being adopted from US foster care, and too many adoptive families desperately need additional post-adoption resources. This revenue could be used to benefit far more children and families than it does currently.

Please take a look at my article on the Adoption Tax Credit. I argue that even a small percentage of these billions of dollars could be much better used for family preservation, for pre-adoption counseling, and for post-adoption services. It’s hard to talk about money sometimes–but this conversation is long overdue.