By Jen Kirby
“We must continue to remove barriers to adoption whenever we can,” President Donald Trump wrote in a proclamation to declare November National Adoption Month, “so that the love and care of prospective adoptive parents can be directed to children waiting for their permanent homes.”
That sentiment, apparently, did not translate into the House GOP’s tax overhaul bill. The proposal, unveiled Thursday, eliminates the adoption tax credit, which exists to help reduce financial barriers to adoption. The credit essentially helps subsidize costs — sometimes in the tens of thousands for private or international adoptions — for agency and attorney fees, travel, and post-adoption services, such as retrofitting a home for a child with special needs.
But adoption advocates had been bracing for the end of this credit. In December, House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), one of the architects of the tax overhaul bill who is also a father to adopted kids, spoke at the Heritage Foundation about tax reform, and he mentioned the adoption tax credit as an example of a provision that could be eliminated. Michaela Sims, a lobbyist and spokesperson for the Save the Adoption Tax Credit working group, said these organizations had feared this since Brady’s speech. But, she told me, “when I saw that in black and white today, it positively took my breath away.”
“It’s stunning to me that this package that is supposed to be pro-family eliminates the adoption tax credit, which is definitely not pro-family,” Sims added. “At the minimum, it’s a tax increase for families who choose to adopt. But at maximum, it could have a chilling effect on adoption.”
Rep. Brady told the Washington Post that the adoption tax credit in its current form wasn’t working because families didn’t earn enough to qualify, or didn’t itemize, and that the new plan would give “families more in their paychecks.” The GOP tax overhaul does outline a modest increase to the child tax credit, which would benefit adoptive parents — but only after the fact. Sims said that increase was great but not enough. “We’re talking about kids not having a home and not having a permanent family,” she said. “Last time I checked, that was very pro-family.”