WASHINGTON, November 13, 2012 — This week the Red Thread welcomes guest contributor Kathleen Strottman, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, who explains why it is important for the Congress to renew the adoption tax credit this year.
Strottman, who served as an advisor to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), helped to pass The Inter-Country Adoption Act, The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, The Adoption Tax Credit and the Family Court Act. She is also a regular contributor to Adoption Today magazine. Kathleen attended Whittier Law School’s Center for Children’s Rights where she received a state certified specialty in juvenile advocacy.
Congress will take up the issue of taxes at the end of this year. If the adoption tax credit is not among the list of credits to be extended, it will no longer be a help to the majority of families who adopt. If the credit is extended, but is not made refundable, this will leave out a large percentage of families who adopt from foster care.
When Mark and Lenore Schindler became foster parents eight years ago, they had no idea what the future would bring. What they did know was that they wanted to grow their family of six and provide a safe and loving home to a child in need.
After fostering for several years, the couple adopted siblings, 12-year-old Rylee and 9-year-old Emery, and qualified for the adoption tax credit.
The refund not only helped them improve their house to better serve Rylee and Emery’s needs, it also allowed them to open their heart and homes to another sibling group of four, ages 10 to 14.
First on the list of things to do with the refund earned from their upcoming adoption: purchase a vehicle large enough to fit their family of twelve.
More than ten years ago Congress had the wisdom to turn to the tax code as a means to support families who stepped up to take an orphaned or foster child into their homes.
The Schindler Family is one of the hundreds of thousands of families who have made this immeasurable difference in the life of a child.
Like many who adopt, the Schindlers are not rich. In fact, according to the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents, only one quarter of individuals who adopt children from foster care have incomes greater than $87,000.
In homes such as these, a refundable tax credit goes a long way toward helping families to make necessary investments in the future of the child they wish to adopt.
For instance, the adoption tax credit might help a family who adopts three teenagers pay for college. It might also help a family afford the specialized therapy that their child needs, but is not covered by their insurance. Or, as in the case of the Schindlers, it may help a family to cover the cost of adding three new bedrooms to their home.
The benefits of the adoption tax credit reach beyond the children who are adopted. A 2006 study, cited by the Children’s Bureau, found that “approximately $65,422 to $126,825 is saved for every child who is adopted rather than placed in long-term foster care.”
A large part of these savings are achieved because—plain and simple—children who are adopted fare better than those who live out their childhood in foster care.
An extensive study by Nicholas Zill found that 81 percent of males in long term foster care had been arrested compared with 17 percent of all young males nationally. Incarceration of former foster youth is estimated to cost society $5.1 billion annually.
If Congress needs a reminder as to why the adoption tax credit should be a top priority for their investment, they need look no further than the words of Tameka, adopted on National Adoption Day at age 13: “The day I was adopted by my mom was the first day I really dared to dream about my future, because I knew no matter what, she would be there for me.”
To find out more about the adoption tax credit and what you can do to help ensure it continues to play a part in finding a forever family for every child in need, visit
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