The below post is from March 2012 (before the adoption of our three).
A post by LT at http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/why-do-people-adopt-hurt-kids/ asked why THESE kids?
(as I’m typing, I can see this is going to be multi-part)
One motive is put forward: money.
It is cheaper to adopt from foster care. This *is* a reason people go this route, at least at first and to some degree. I recently inquired on a situation where a birth mother was asking for someone with very specific requirements. Well, *extremely* few adoptive families meet her requirements; I do. So I inquired. I sent my reply to the agency as well as a “dear birthmom letter.” The agency’s reply wasn’t about whether the birth mom would be interested in us or anything of the sort. It was simply to let us know that the fees associated with this child would run about $36,000. Seriously? So what should this mother do? She doesn’t feel she can raise the child and yet the handful of adoptive families who meet her requirements can’t afford to pay that sort of money before the child’s birth.
But with my three? I won’t pay a dime towards their adoption. The state will pay my attorney, the state’s attorney, the children’s attorney. The state will pay for all the filing, paperwork, etc. The state pays the adoption worker, her supervisor, the person who redacts the file, etc. I don’t have a clue how much the actual costs are (though I’d guess a WHOLE lot less than $36K!), but my tax money and my neighbor’s tax money is paying for it. And while they do? I’m getting the foster care stipend that helps me take care of their needs whether their new suits and pretty dresses or their gymnastics and swim lesson or the new furniture and bikes. They deserve the absolute best and I’m glad I had a year of a little more money to spend on them! They came from so little. The zoo, restaurants, fairs, pictures in the fields of wildflowers, homeschool programs, etc are so worth it. They deserve anything and everything I can get them while the state is working out making them mine forever.
Okay, so the children come with an adoption subsidy also. This is help after the adoption. Some may call it a paycheck. Well, maybe not. Here, the adoption subsidy is a fraction of what the foster care stipend is. My kids’ needs aren’t changing any as we finalize their adoptions, but the amount of help we’ll get to care for those needs will cut down to less than half.
Subsidy also includes help with medical. THANKFULLY. Seriously, a lot of these kids have additional medical issues as well as ongoing mental health concerns. They deserve as much help as possible. Having secondary medical coverage will help CONSIDERABLY in getting them the services that they need!
It isn’t all-inclusive though! For example, medicaid will pay for speech therapy for a child as long as they are under the 13th percentile (btw, in public school here, it is the 7th percentile). A child’s speech has to be pretty rough to be so low! For example, one of my children’s speech is at the 11th percentile. He is 40% intelligible by strangers and 60% by people who know him. Our agency worker speaks to him about 3 times per month and “can usually get the gist of what he’s saying” (her words). Okay, so medicaid will pick up the difference between what our insurance will pay and what it costs to have our speech therapist out here until he gets over 13 percent. Well, then? We either have to pay the difference (approx. $880 per month) or take him to a speech center where we can pay just a normal 10% co-pay. Obviously, we’ll have to choose the latter despite the fact that that is very likely not best for him.
Subsidy also includes a number of post-adoption services. We will get a small amount yearly towards summer camp (this amount changes yearly, but may be $100 or $300). The children will be able to stay with their same therapist, a therapist who doesn’t take our insurance or the kind of Medicaid the state will give us. The adoptive therapy/support group that costs $35 per session now will be free. Respite is offered. Family therapy is offered. Help finding information and services is offered. I didn’t know all that was included in the subsidy, but I’m glad it is.
And then there is the Tax Credit. Boy has this been something discussed a lot the last few years. See, the tax credit is an amount that would offset the amount of tax you were required to pay. The amount varies yearly, but it is around $12-13K per kid. Well, in order to get to offset $12,000 of tax liability, a married couple has to have a taxable income (adjusted gross income minus deductions and exemptions) over $79,000. I don’t even know how to figure how much our income would have to be to take it for three kids in one year. I don’t need to know as there is no way we’ll ever make that kind of money. So the tax law allows people to take it over five years. With seven exemptions plus the standard deduction, we simply will never use one child’s offset, much less three. Our tax liability was under $1000 for 2011. So over five years, we’re talking less than a couple thousand dollars of the $39,000 possible.
It may be worth considering who are the people adopting from foster care? Are they wealthy people? Or are they people like us who simply wanted to help children and families (fostering) while possibly building our own families (adopting)? Are they more likely solidly middle class and working poor or people who are making $200,000 per year? It just seems the tax credit may not really be helping the people who need it the most who are adopting the children who have started out the furthest behind the eight ball.
Anyway, so that is the money side of it. We aren’t getting rich by adopting from foster care. We are struggling in lots of ways. As I was filling out the adoption subsidy paperwork, I could see how poor we really are. That doesn’t make us a bad “placement.” It means our love runs deeper than our wallets I’m glad we’ll get a little help. It makes it possible for people like us to provide a normal childhood as well as the care these kids need.
Really, money is really a very small consideration. Yes, I can afford to adopt from foster care while I can’t pay $36,000 for a child. Yes, I will get a subsidy. But though those things may encourage people to look this direction, it doesn’t mean it is the reason for doing it.