Adoption at Any Cost?

2024 | Week of March 4 | Radio Transcript #1556

I’m not positive, but I’m fairly confident I was pretty cheap to adopt. Of course, that was a long time ago. In fact, I was adopted during the so-called Baby Scoop Era, a period following World War II and lasting to 1970 when there was, sadly, a lot of babies born out of wedlock.

My adoption was through a private agency in Georgia; and therefore, it may have been more expensive than had it been a public adoption through the social services agency. Admittedly, my online research resulted in no information directly related to the cost. But since babies were readily available, I suspect the law of “supply and demand” kept any costs quite reasonable.

I never remember my folks even mentioning anything about money related to adopting me or my brother—which in retrospect I admire. I suspect they would have paid just about any amount for us. They were that intent on having children.

The other aspect of the finances related to my adoption I’m pretty sure about is that the government did not have any programs to help offset the cost of adoption. Perhaps there were some private grant programs available then, just as there are today; but finding records of them proves elusive.

Interestingly, research shows that while the number of babies available for adoption in the Baby Scoop Era was high, adoption was pretty rare, with between just 2 to 4 percent of families adopting and just 2.5 percent of available children being adopted. Those numbers hold true even today.

In the height of the Baby Scoop Era, adoption agencies, public or private, worked hard to match children with adoptive families, in particular racially. Today, matching is not so important; and we see more transracial and international adoptions, which are striking in their appearance. Experts say these situations make us think adoption has increased, when actually the adoption rate, as well as the number of adoptions has been decreasing since 1970.

What we know hasn’t dropped is the cost of adopting.  Depending on how and where a family adopts, costs can be easily in the tens of thousands of dollars. Over the years, to promote adoption, various levels of government have offered financial incentives to help offset those expenses.

In 2023 for 2024 tax reporting, the federal government offers a one-time tax credit of up to $15,950 per adopted child for families that qualify. For some time now, Wisconsin has had a $5,000 per adopted child tax deduction available for adoptions that are finalized by a Wisconsin court and some additional resources are available when a special-needs child is adopted.

Earlier in this legislative session, a bill was introduced that would allocate $5 million every two years to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Family Services to be given out to qualified adoption agencies to ultimately be awarded in grants up to $10,000 per adoptive family who adopts a Wisconsin child. The Senate passed the bill, but the Assembly, sadly, never took action on the proposal beyond holding a public hearing and voting the bill out of committee. This bill could have helped many families not just consider adoption but actually do it.

I don’t think families who believe God has called them to give children a forever earthly home make a decision strictly on finances.  I think they’ll do everything they can to find the money; however, if the government offers assistance, I see no problem with their using that to help offset the costs, including adoption fees, court costs, and related legal fees.

It’s more than lamentable that adoption costs have skyrocketed.  I recoil at the idea of adoptions costing exorbitant amounts because I don’t think it’s right in any way to make children a commodity that produces income for someone. On the other hand, those who facilitate adoption placements need to pay their staff and overhead, and attorneys and courts aren’t wrong for charging reasonable fees. If some of the costs can be offset by federal and state tax credits and deductions, then that seems reasonable.

All this makes me even more grateful my adoptive parents were willing to shoulder whatever it cost to take this five-month-old, blonde-hair, brown-eyed orphan and give her a forever earthly family of a loving dad and mom, even without government help.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you that God, through the Prophet Hosea, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

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