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1
Apr

Tax Credit Grassroots Advocacy Campaign

By Annie

adoption-tax-credit

The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, of which American Adoptions is a member, has set a goal of obtaining 30 Co-Sponsors on the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC) Refundability Bills: S. 1056 and H.R. 2144 in 100 days and are leaning on grassroots efforts from folks like you!

Individuals Like You are Making a Difference!

Members of Congress only act on an issue when they believe it has a real impact on their constituents. It is especially important now that the credit is under threat that your three Members of Congress understand how important the adoption tax credit is to you and your family. The more you reach out to them and tell your story, the better.

What is the Current Status of the Federal Adoption Tax Credit?

The legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff (the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, signed into law on January 2, 2013) included a provision that made the adoption tax credit permanent. While this was a huge victory, “permanent” only means that it does not have a set expiration date. It does not mean that the credit is safe from elimination – especially in the context of the tax reform discussions Congress is undertaking. Proponents of eliminating the adoption tax credit cite the money that will be saved if the credit is removed. Our voices about the positive impact of the credit need to drown out this opposition.

Furthermore, the fiscal cliff bill did not make the adoption tax credit refundable, so it only benefits those adoptive families who have federal income tax liability. The refundability bills in the U.S. House and Senate (H.R. 2144/S.1056) would make the credit refundable and ensure that all families can benefit from the credit. Right now co-sponsorship of these bills is the best way for Members of Congress to show their support for adoption and the tax credit.

This Week’s Call to Action: Telephone Outreach – Continue to engage with your three Members of Congress by calling each of their offices to talk about the importance of the adoption tax credit. Use their websites to locate the phones numbers for their Washington, D.C. offices. When you reach the staff member who handles the tax or child welfare portfolio in the office, explain why the credit is important to your family and ask the Member to co-sponsor the refundability bills (H.R. 2144/S.1056) and make protection of the credit a priority.

28
Mar

March is Social Work Month!

By Annie

social work month 2014Each March is recognized as Social Work Month. This year, National Association of Social Workers chose the theme “All People Matter” to raise awareness of how social workers, the world over, work to improve the lives of all people.

Staff Collage Smaller

Our American Adoptions’ Adoption Specialists are each Licensed Social Workers or Professional Counselors. These men and women work tirelessly to support and educate our birth parents and adoptive family clients. Their commitment, experience and heart are one of the things that make American Adoptions special! You can learn more about our amazing staff by visiting our website.

 

27
Mar

Continued Decline in International Adoption Numbers in 2013

By Annie

The total number of international adoptions fell by 18 percent in 2013, to the lowest level since 1992, due in part to Russia’s ban on adoption by Americans and further declines in adoption from South Korea and Ethiopia.

According to the State Department, international adoptions totaled 7,094 in 2013, down from 8,668 in 2012, 9,320 in 2011 and 11,059 in 2010. International adoptions reached an all-time high in 2004 with 22,884 completed in that year.

China continued to have the highest number of international adoptions with 2,589. Ethiopia was the second highest with 1,568, and Russia was third with 748 adoptions.

The top ten countries for 2012 were:

1. China – 2,301
2. Ethiopia – 950
3. Ukraine – 403
4. Haiti – 365
5. Russia – 249
6. Nigeria – 181
7. Bulgaria – 159
7. Colombia – 159
8. Ghana – 118
9. Latvia – 89
10. Taiwan – 76

South Korea fell out of the top ten countries this year, completing only 71 adoptions in 2013.

To compare these numbers to previous years, look back to last year’s blog post. You can read the report at the State Department website. Or read the Associated Press’ take on the trend.

14
Mar

We Need Your Help with the Adoption Tax Credit!

By Annie

The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, of which American Adoptions is a member, has set a goal of obtaining 30 Co-Sponsors on the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC) Refundability Bills: S. 1056 and H.R. 2144 in 100 days. Already in the last week, outreach efforts have secured two new cosponsors!

Why the urgency?

Tax discussions are underway in the United States House and Senate, and we need to keep the adoption tax credit top-of-mind with legislators and staff. The best way to do that is to demonstrate to legislators that their constituents care about this issue.

Additionally, because refundability was not included in the bill that made the Credit permanent, many adoptive families are still not able to receive this critical support, a fact which some Members of Congress may not yet be aware.

Cosponsorship of the refundability bills is the best way for Members to show their willingness to help protect the adoption tax credit!

Congressman Camp’s tax reform proposal that eliminates the adoption tax credit makes your outreach that much more critical. While his particular proposal may never go anywhere, it has now become the basis from which tax reform discussions will begin. We need to ensure that we have vocal Members of Congress who will fight on behalf of the adoption tax credit and ensure its protection. And the best way to get Members engaged is by hearing from constituents about the importance of an issue. Don’t let the adoption tax credit be threatened by a lack of vocal outreach from families like yours.

What is “tax reform” and how does it relate to the adoption tax credit?

For the past several years, key Members of Congress have been calling for the U.S. tax code to be reformed and simplified. If tax reform occurs, ALL existing tax credits or policies, including the now permanent adoption tax credit, would be subject to review, so there is always a chance that it could be changed or eliminated. The House Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees (the two committees with jurisdiction over tax policy) have begun their review of the U.S. tax code and have signaled their interest in continuing to determine which of the existing credits should be eliminated.

In order to ensure that the adoption tax credit not only remains a permanent part of the code, but is also amended to add back in refundability in order to serve the needs of all children in need of adoption, Members of Congress need to be educated about how this credit is affecting you and your family. To learn more about tax reform, go to waysandmeans.house.gov/ or www.finance.senate.gov.

Why is a refundable credit important and how do the bills relate to the overall goal of protecting the credit?

In 2012, Congress took a huge step forward in making the adoption tax credit a permanent part of the code, but failed to include the refundability provisions that would have ensured it benefitted all children in need of permanent homes. In response, Senators Casey, Blunt and Landrieu, and Congressmen Bruce Braley and Rob Wittman introduced S.1056 and H.R.2144 to make the credit refundable and ensure that all families are able to benefit from the credit regardless of income.

Some families will never be able to adopt without the benefit of the adoption tax credit. Others will still adopt, but won’t benefit at all from the tax credit, which means they may face challenges in meeting their children’s needs. The reason for this inequity is simple: A non-refundable tax credit is useless to families who have limited or no tax liability. If we increase low- and moderate-income families’ access to the credit, we make adoption possible for more waiting children.

Right now, the best way for Members of Congress to show their support for the Adoption Tax Credit and the thousands of families that it helps is by cosponsoring these refundability bills. It is the ultimate show of support for the credit and will help in building vocal champions who will fight for its protection through tax reform.

What’s the call to action?

Get educated on the ATC by visiting our website, reading our FAQ section, and liking us on Facebook for frequent updates: http://www.adoptiontaxcredit.org. Please also spread the word with your friends and family who would want to join in the fight to protect the adoption tax credit.

Then engage with your Members of Congress via social media. Find their Twitter and Facebook accounts and follow them. Use social media as another outlet to connect with your Members and ask for their support cosponsoring the refundability bills and protecting the Adoption Tax Credit (make sure to reference the bill numbers S.1056 and H.R.2144). The more your Members hear from you, the better. If they are already a bill co-sponsor, thank them (template here) for their dedication to adoption issues and use social media to let others in your community know of their support.

27
Feb

Getting “The Call” about Your Adoption

By Annie

Laurie Q&AQ & A with Laurie

Hello everyone, my name is Laurie Walker, and I am an Adoptive Family Specialist with American Adoptions. I have worked with many birth mothers and adoptive families in my time here at American Adoptions and love being able to watch families form through adoption.

Q. Can I expect “the call” about an adoption opportunity to come during normal business hours or is it possible that it might come in the evening, on the weekend or a holiday, or even in the middle of the night?

A. Typically, phone calls to adoptive families are made during our regular business hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST on weekdays. However, there are circumstances that require us to call a family outside our business hours.

During those less common situations referred to as “pop-ups” by our agency, we have little to no notice that there is an adoption opportunity coming for the adoptive couple until after the baby is born. Typically, this is because the birth mother has not contacted until after the baby is born. In those circumstances, we will call a family as soon as we have information from the birth mother and hospital and have assessed the birth mother’s commitment level and the type of adoption she desires. In those circumstances, you might be called at night, on the weekend or during a holiday.

Because those types of situations are unpredictable, it’s best that you are available at any time. We recommend that you and/or your spouse provide us with your cell phone number after you become activated with our agency. In the event you have a pop-up adoption opportunity and are not home when the agency needs to reach you, your cell phone will be the best way to ensure we are able to present the adoption opportunity to you. If we receive your voicemail, we’ll continue trying to reach you. But if several hours pass by and we are unsuccessful in reaching you, we may need to call a different family. The agency and an adoptive family has to move very fast in pop-up adoptions because the birth mother likely wants a family at the hospital as soon as possible to care for the baby, and the baby will likely need to be discharged to a family 36 to 48 hours after birth.

This is also a good time to remind all families to notify the agency if you are planning a vacation to a destination without cell phone coverage. In that case, we recommend that you leave an additional phone number with the agency (like your hotel) or some other type of contact. If you know you will have cell phone coverage, notification is not as crucial, as we will call both your home and cell phone numbers if we need to reach you.

If you have any questions about phone calls or your contact information with our agency, you can talk to your Adoptive Family Specialist.

17
Feb

Adoptive Family Video Profile FAQs

By Annie

Questions about Adoptive Family Video ProfilesEvery adoptive family we work with will make an Adoptive Family Video Profile with Show Pro Media. Below are some frequently asked questions about Adoptive Family Video Profiles.

What is an Adoptive Family Video Profile?

For most adoptive families, Adoptive Family Print Profiles are their first opportunity to connect with birth parents. Print profiles usually include information about the adoptive family’s home, neighborhood, family members, motivations to adopt, hobbies and much more.

But what if these profiles were watched instead of read? What if birth parents could actually see a couple interact? What if they could witness the couple’s personalities, instead of just reading that they have good personalities? What if they could actually hear and feel their desire to become parents?

By showcasing the qualities that can only translate to video, Adoptive Family Video Profiles allow prospective birth mothers to better envision their child’s life while growing up in your family.

So, how does this process work?

You will receive a Show Pro Video Kit and an easy-to-use instruction booklet in the mail. You will then have 15 days to film the necessary footage and return the video kit back to Show Pro Media.

Using the various interviews with you, family members and friends, additional footage to supplement the interviews, and original music composed by Show Pro, our Video Specialists will edit your footage into an emotive story for prospective birth mothers to watch.

What are the benefits of doing an Adoptive Family Video Profile?

Adoptive Family Video Profiles benefit the birth mother by helping her choose the best adoptive family for her adoption plan. Consequently, there are also many benefits for adoptive families and benefits for adoption professionals:

  • Video Profiles Show Your Family – Imagine picking your spouse with only photographs and a few pages of written information. Now imagine picking a family to raise your child by only using that same information. Adoptive Family Video Profiles allow a birth mother to learn more about you so that she can feel more secure about the family she has chosen.
  • Video Profiles Showcase Personality – Print profiles are a great way to connect with birth parents, but they are only able to present so much. They cannot express how compassionate, funny or outgoing you are in person. In video, your personality and everyday lives can be easily seen.
  • Video Profiles Help Lower Chances of a Disruption – After a birth mother selects a family, she often watches their video multiple times throughout her pregnancy, which helps her stay committed to the family and remind her why she has chosen adoption for her child. While Adoptive Family Video Profiles don’t eliminate disruptions altogether, they give birth parents a stronger sense of knowing the family, which helps them remain dedicated to their adoption plans. Videos are also often used as an “icebreaker” when talking on the phone or meeting in person for the first time.
  • Video Profiles Reach More Prospective Birth Parents – Every year, more and more birth mothers are searching for prospective adoption families on the Web, and an increasing amount search for them on YouTube, the world’s second highest trafficked search engine.

How does the filming process work?

You will receive a Show Pro Video Kit in the mail via FedEx, including some easy-to-use instruction booklets to help you film. You will receive more details on how the filming process works once you register with Show Pro.

We are afraid of the filming process and how we will come across on video. Are we alone?

This is a common concern. The main thing to remember is the goal of the video – to help prospective birth parents get a better understanding of what life would be like as a part of your family. The camera is easy to operate, and you will receive detailed instructions on what to film and how to make it look professional. So be yourself, have fun, and we will take care of the rest!

Show Pro Media created the following video for American Adoptions, which helps address some of these concerns:

How Long Are Adoptive Family Video Profiles?

Each adoptive family’s footage is edited by one of our Video Specialists into a short movie that highlights your family’s personality. Footage quality determines the video’s length, but most profiles are two to four minutes long.

Will we get to approve the video once it is edited, and can we request changes?

Once your video is edited, you will be able to view in your Show Pro Account. You can then either approve it, or request a revision with specific changes that you would like made.

Does Show Pro Media film and edit other video projects?

Yes, Show Pro films and edits a variety of other video project. Visit the following page to watch some of our other video projects.

*Once you register with Show Pro, you will receive a more in-depth FAQ and access to a Video Specialist to help guide you through the filming process. If you have any questions about the video profile process, you can contact a Media Specialist at video.specialist@showpromedia.com!

14
Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day

By Annie

American Adoptions wants to wish you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here’s a quote from a favorite children’s book that reminds us how birth parents and adoptive parents alike carry their children in their hearts. We hope you and yours are surrounded by love today!

I'll Love You Forever

31
Jan

Connecting with Birth Parents

By Annie

Laurie Q&AQ & A with Laurie

Hello everyone, my name is Laurie Walker, and I am an Adoptive Family Specialist with American Adoptions. I have worked with many birth mothers and adoptive families in my time here at American Adoptions and love being able to watch families form through adoption.

Q. We are really worried because we don’t seem to be connecting to our birth mother the way it seems other families have in the stories on your website. We know that every birth mother is different, but we had hoped for more interaction (and to be able to get more of a feeling from our interaction) with her. Does her lack of contact with us mean she is less likely to follow through with her adoption plan?

A. Thank you for your question, which is common among adoptive families. Some families are concerned that their birth mother’s need for a lot of contact means she will not be able to let go and will always want an open adoption, while other families (like you) are concerned that their birth mother’s disinterest in contact means that she is not committed to her adoption plan.

The truth is that every adoption is completely different and what works best for one woman may not work best for another. We counsel all birth mothers on the pros and cons of different scenarios. But I can speak from experience that if I tried to fit every birth mother into the same type of adoption scenario, it would not work.

We work with many different expectant women:

  • Some women keep their pregnancy private and carry the burden of the decision on their own and choose a more closed adoption, sometimes with no contact with the adoptive parents. There may be no convincing them that this is not the adoption plan they want.
  • Some women do not need a lot of emotional support and, although they talk with the adoptive parents once or twice and/or meet them, choose not to get too close to the adoptive parents because that is how they find it best to cope.
  • Other women want to involve the adoptive parents in every aspect of the pregnancy and really need to get to know the adoptive parents to feel at peace with their decision. They talk with the adoptive parents often and spend a great deal of time with them and the baby in the hospital prior to placement.

There are birth mothers in each of the above categories who place and others who ultimately do not feel comfortable choosing adoption. It is important to note that each prospective adoptive family needs to be flexible and understand their particular birth mother’s needs.

Every adoption situation has to be evaluated individually. It may be a little uncomfortable or not your ideal picture, but sometimes things work best when they are not what we envision. This has certainly been true in my life on several occasions and probably has for you as well. The ultimate goal is to honor, respect and support the birth mother for her decisions.

For your situation, all you can do is let your Adoption Specialist and/or the birth mother know that you care about her and will support her with anything she needs. The rest is up to her. If you try to be overly involved or become too wrapped up in her life when she does not need that type of support or contact, it may end up pushing her away. Conversely, if a family did not travel right away when their birth mother went into labor, even if she really wanted them there, that may cause her additional doubt, pain or distrust. Your Adoption Specialists will guide you as best he or she can as to what the birth mother needs. Sometimes your needs or comfort level will take a backseat.

I know that what I am saying is not easy, but it is crucial that the birth mother feel that her desires are respected and that you are truly concerned with her wellbeing. Follow your Adoption Specialist’s guidance and suggestions about interactions with birth parents and remain flexible. Sometimes birth mothers change their mind throughout their adoption plan about the type of contact they desire.

I cannot promise that we have all the answers or can anything because that is up to the birth mother and nobody else, but we will guide you in the right direction as much as we can. Good luck – this is an exciting time in your adoption journey!

9
Jan

DC-Area Adoption Seminar in March

By Annie

Website PhotosCome see us in McLean, VA in the Washingon, D.C. area on March 8th for an Adoption 101 Seminar! 

Curious about domestic adoption? Wonder if American Adoptions can help you add to your family? American Adoptions will answer all of your questions and more at our free adoption seminar for adoptive families in Orlando. Topics of discussion include:

  • The differences between domestic, international and state adoption
  • American Adoptions’ advantages over other adoption professionals
  • Details on the domestic adoption process
  • Common myths concerning domestic adoption

Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of an adoptive family that adopted through American Adoptions.

Washington, DC Adoption SeminarDate: Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST

Where: Hilton McLean – Tyson’s Corner
7920 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 2210

Notes: There is no cost for this seminar; however, pre-registration is required. To pre-register, email Justin King at Justin@americanadoptions.com or call 1-800-ADOPTION. Please provide your name, phone number(s) and how many will be attending. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our seminars for adoptive families as well.

 

9
Jan

Phoenix Adoption Seminar in February

By Annie

Adoptive Family SeminarWe’ll be giving a free Adoption 101 Seminar for adoptive families in Phoenix, AZ on February 22nd! 

If you’re considering adoption to make your dreams of parenting come true, American Adoptions can answer your questions at our free adoption seminar for adoptive families in Phoenix. Topics of discussion will include:

  • The differences between domestic, international and state adoption
  • American Adoptions’ advantages over other adoption professionals
  • Details on the domestic adoption process
  • Common myths concerning domestic adoption

Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of an adoptive family that adopted through American Adoptions. These families volunteer their time because they’re passionate about adoption. Read what our Adoptive Family Coordinators shared love about doing adoptive family seminars too!

Arizona Adoption SeminarDate: Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Where: Hilton Phoenix Airport
2435 South 47th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Notes: Pre-registration is required. To pre-register, email Justin King at Justin@americanadoptions.com or call 1-800-ADOPTION. Please provide your name, phone number(s) and how many will be attending. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding our seminars for adoptive families as well.

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