Why the GOP's Tax Plan Is Bad News for Anyone Who Plans to Adopt

The adoption tax credit made it possible for me to become a mom. Other parents-to-be may lose that opportunity if the new tax bill goes into effect.

Adoptive Families: Lisa Milbrand
Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Milbrand

When political pundits debate winners and losers in the Republicans' new "Tax Cuts and Jobs" bill recently released by the House (spoiler alert: the more money you make, the more you win), they may not mention a particularly heartbreaking segment of the population that would be impacted by it: adoptive families.

Because the way the new plan is written could make it impossible for thousands of families to exist—including mine.

My two daughters were adopted from China—a long, arduous process that costs thousands of dollars in fees for agencies, paperwork, background checks, and travel (about $25,000 for each daughter, to be exact). That's not the kind of money most families have just lying around.

The adoption tax credit, which allowed us to recoup more than $13,000 of the fees, played a big role in making it affordable for us to grow our family. We were also lucky to get some help from our employers—a few thousand dollars from each toward our expenses. When we adopted, we were able to receive that help tax free. But the Tax Cuts and Jobs bill, as written, would remove the $13,000 tax credit and also tax the adoption benefits from employers, decreasing its impact and its ability to help make adoption affordable for all but the wealthiest families.

Even the help that the current tax law provides in the form of credits isn't always enough, when adoption fees can sometimes top $50,000. We know many families that took out second mortgages, took second (or third) jobs, held fundraisers, borrowed from friends and family, and maxed out credit cards to make their dream of a family a reality. (I took on as much extra work as I could freelancing to put into our adoption fund.) And we rolled over the tax refund we received when we adopted our oldest daughter into a savings account so we could afford to adopt our second daughter.

I think that even without the tax credit we might have been able to squeeze and save enough to adopt our first daughter. But I know for sure that, without the tax credit, my second daughter wouldn't be home with us. And with fewer other families able to afford to adopt, she might have stayed right where she was—in a Chinese orphanage. And my heart breaks just thinking about that.

I can't imagine my life without either of my daughters. I can't imagine having to say no to a second or third child—or to becoming parents in the first place—because adoption is about to become unaffordable. And I can't imagine what that means for the future of these children in need of families—and these good people who simply want a child to love.

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