Thank you for your question. We believe that some of what you are observing stems from the closing down of international adoption programs and domestic programs becoming too large. As a private adoption law firm exclusively focused on voluntary domestic adoption, we have not been affected by this. In fact, we are very proud to report that we are having another great year. It is our goal to balance the number of incoming adoptive parents and successful placements each year. We have developed a highly proprietary and effective advertising and outreach program that is at the core of our success. We maintain very thorough program statistics which we are happy to share with our potential clients and would be happy to send you references from clients who have used our program in the past. Should you like to learn more about our program, we can send you a packet of information about our program and set up and office or phone consultation so we can explain how our program works and answer any questions you may have.
The answer is No. However, the amount of the credit may be reduced significantly after December 31, 2010. Indeed, the federal adoption tax credit was implemented in 1996, and provides a credit of $5,000 to adopting parents for the adoption of a child ($6,000 in the case of a child with special needs). Fortunately, the law does not include a “sunset provision” whereby its provisions will expire and therefore, this version of the adoption tax credit is permanent.
However, in 2001, Congress ammended the original tax credit law increasing the amount of the adoption tax credit to $10,000 per child. Congress also insured that the credit would increase each year for inflation. Currently, the amount of the adoption tax credit is $12,150. Unfortunately, Congress included a general “sunset provision” for the Act, which states that all provisions of the Act do not apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2010. On January 6, 2009, Representative Wilson of South Carolina introduced House Bill No. 213 entitled: “Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009.” The purpose of the bill is to repeal the sunset provision of the 2001 bill.
In other words, this bill will remove the sunset provision and allow the more than $12,000 credit to continue in full force. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means Committee and remains there as of now. If Representative Wilson’s bill is not passed and Congress does not repeal the “sunset provision” as it applies to the adoption tax credit, the amount of the adoption credit will revert to the $5,000 original limit ($6,000 for special needs children) for all taxable years after December 31, 2010. Fortunately, many believe that the bill will pass and the current version of the adoption tax credit (which increases each year to account for inflation) will be renewed.
Please note that we are adoption professionals and can discuss our program, but any specific information about the tax credit (like whether or not you qualify) should be directed to a tax attorney or accountant.
Answer: The amount of contact that you’ll have with your birth mother will vary, depending on the situation. However, most birth mothers and adoptive families who pursue an open adoption email and/or talk on the phone about once a week during the match phase. This is important for both parties as it’s a way for everyone to get to know each other and feel more comfortable with one another. Because prospective adoptive parents are almost always in the labor and delivery room for the birth of the baby, we suggest that you meet your birth mother in person prior to the hospital. This is a wonderful way to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible with one another. Your adoption caseworker will help you in deciding how often you should be in contact with your birth mother based on the birth mother’s comfort level, as well as your own.
Answer: Not at all! I find that most prospective adoptive parents fear that their adoption attorney is going to tell them that they are too old to adopt. In domestic adoption, the birth parents select the adoptive parent(s) who they want to adopt the baby. Because it is the birth parents who make that decision, the State does not interfere by imposing any maximum age restrictions. Simply put, there is no maximum age restriction in domestic adoption. With respect to your specific ages, you’ll be happy to know that you fall within the average age range for prospective adoptive parents. Indeed, most prospective adoptive parents are between 35 and 55 years of age and we have seen both younger and older clients who have successfully adopted.
Answer: No. While being concerned with bonding is often a concern of a prospective adoptive parent(s) who are beginning to explore adoption, those that pursue adoption and have a baby through the process always report that bonding starts to take place as soon as the adoptive parents hold the baby and are given the responsibility of caring for the baby. In domestic adoption, the adoptive parents are usually in the delivery room and start to care for the baby the instant the baby is born. The awesome responsibility of parenting a newborn child instantly takes over. As one client once put it, “the second you see and hold the baby that was meant to be, bonding is instant and your life is forever changed.”
Answer: While the adoption is pending, your son will use his original birth certificate (issued immediately after the birth of the child). Your adoption petition and the birth parent consent forms prove you are the prospective adoptive parents and contain the name you gave your son. You should use your son’s new name for all purposes going forward. While the Social Security Administration can issue a social security number for your son while the adoption is pending, it is best to wait until the adoption is completed. I recommend that you wait to apply because you want to apply in the name you give your son and as your son’s parents. This is proven by the new birth certificate that you will receive after you finalize the adoption. If you want to claim your child for tax purposes while the adoption is still pending, you can download Form W-7A from the Internal Revenue Service. They will issue you an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (“ATIN”). This identification number is specifically for a child whose adoption is not yet finalized. Please remember to consult with your tax advisor regarding your particular tax situation. Once your son’s adoption is finalized, the Court and/or adoption agency will automatically request that the state in which the baby was born issue a new birth certificate that lists you as the parents of the child. The new birth certificate also will reflect whatever name you have given your son. Upon receiving the new birth certificate, (this can take a few days to a year depending on the state) you should go online to the Social Security Administration and apply for a social security number for your child.
Answer: First, birth parents who voluntarily elect to place a child for adoption and who personally choose the adoptive family are very grateful to the family they selected and are proud of their decision. Second, if a birth parent could change their mind about the placement after the revocation period runs, then there would be no such thing as adoption. The law simply does not permit this. In all fifty states, as long as there is no fraud, duress or coercion (which I assume is not part of your adoption plan) there is nothing that can go wrong once valid consents of the birth parents are obtained and the short revocation period has run. In a majority of states, irrevocable consents can be obtained and relied upon within seven days or less of the baby’s birth.
Answer: Generally the answer is no. Most pregnant women who do not already have medical insurance are entitled to medical coverage through MediCal or Medicaid. We assist a birth mother in securing this critical medical coverage. Since a baby cannot be placed for adoption until after the birth of the baby, the entire nine months of prenatal care and the delivery of the baby are generally covered by government issued medical insurance. Federal law (ERISA) requires your private health insurance provider to cover the baby. Your insurance company is responsible for coverage for the baby as soon as the birth mother signs the placement papers. All that you will need to do is contact your insurance company and request that the child be added to your policy. You should make this request once the birth mother signs her placement papers. While coverage is mandatory, an insurance company will charge an extra monthly/yearly premium to add a dependent to your policy. Since Medicaid generally covers the birth mother and the baby until placement, and an adoptive parent’s insurance company covers the baby from the placement, it is fair to say that most adoptive parents do not pay the birth mother’s prenatal or delivery bills because they already are covered.
We have heard incredible things about your program. Can you answer the following questions:
1) Do most adoptive parents go forward with the 1st birth mother who selects them or do they pass & wait for the “perfect” match;
2) What is the average of this happening; &
3) when a birth mother selects an adoptive parent in your program, how likely is it that it results in a successful adoption.
Thank you for your wonderful questions. With respect to your first question, we only present prospective adoptive parent profiles to fully screened, last trimester birth mothers who fit the requirements of each prospective adoptive parent in advance. This greatly increases the likelihood that the client will want to pursue the first birth mother who selects him/her. That being said, the decision of whether to match with a specific birth mother is a visceral, as opposed to an analytical, process. Simply put, it has to feel right. If a client doesn’t feel that the situation is right for him/her, he/she can always pass on the opportunity and continue to be presented to birth mothers until the “right” birth mother selects them. With respect to your second question regarding the average number of clients who pass on being selected by a birth mother, we would estimate that approximately 80% of clients go forward with the first birth mother who selects them and about 20% pass on their first opportunity. With respect to your third question, we are very proud to be able to report that when a birth mother selects one of our clients through our program, and the client decides to go forward with the match, that match is three times more likely to result in a successful placement than the national average of all adoption programs. We hope this answers all of your questions. As always, please feel free to send us more or give us a call at 818-789-3477 so we can further discuss.
Did you know that your employer may have an adoption benefit program to help you with the costs of your adoption? Indeed, in an effort to offer competitive employee benefits, more and more companies are implementing employee adoption benefit programs to help their employees defray adoption costs.
Employer-based adoption benefit programs take different forms. Typical plans include tax-free financial assistance to reimburse the employee for his/her adoption expenses. Reimbursable adoption expenses can include public or private agency fees, legal fees, counseling fees and birth mother living expenses. A typical benefit plan reimburses between $3,000 and $6,000. Some employers reimburse at higher rates for adoptions of children with special needs.
In most cases, employee adoption benefits are paid after the adoption is finalized. However, some employers pay benefits when the child is placed with the employee well before finalization or as the expenses are incurred.
Did you also know that you may be able to stay home with your adoptive child up to three months after his/her birth and your employer must hold your job and maintain your medical insurance for you? The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) applies equally to employees who adopt a child, and therefore, employers subject to the FMLA must grant parental leave to parents who have adopted a child. FMLA is a federal law that requires most employers with 50 or more employees to offer both mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. FMLA ensures that the employee can return to his/her current job or an equivalent position after up to a three-month absence. It also requires employers to continue the employee’s health benefits during the leave period.
Some employers allow employees to take more than the 12 weeks of unpaid leave as provided by the FMLA. Employees may be permitted to combine accumulated paid leave (such as vacation or sick leave) with unpaid leave to extend their total leave time. Better yet, some employers offer paid leave for employees who adopt a child. Paid parental leave varies from one to 20 weeks and averages three weeks. Certain employers may be bound by public and private union contracts that have provisions for adoption leave.
The IRS treats employer-based financial assistance received by the employee as tax free and will allow the employee to exclude the amount his/her income. In addition, the employee also is permitted to claim the adoption tax credit for the remaining amount of adoption expenses incurred for the same adoption. Be sure to check with your tax advisor to see how these deductions and credits apply to you.
Employer-based adoption assistance programs and FMLA benefits provide adoptive parents with additional resources to aid in the costs of adoption. Check with your employer to learn more about these programs and benefits.