Archive for September, 2011

Social Media: A Game-Changer for Adoption

This month’s issue of Parenting magazine includes an article about a couple who found a child to adopt by putting the word out among their friends on Facebook. Lisa Belkin recently wrote an article for the New York Times about the joys and dangers of birth parents and adoptees finding each other through social media sites. There’s no doubt about it: Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as the profusion of search sites like MyLife, have been a real game-changer for the adoption community.

Adoptive parents today are able to get the word out much faster to a much larger number of people about their wish to adopt a child by posting to social media sites and asking their friends to re-post. There are even social media sites dedicated solely to adoption. Birth mothers could also use this method to find an adoptive family, although for a variety of reasons many birth mothers feel more private about their decisions. The elimination of the need for agencies or facilitators (both of which can be expensive and not always honest) to match up families could be a wonderful development, giving all parties more choice at lower cost.

For adoptees seeking to find their birth parents (or vice versa) the Internet is also an amazing tool. It’s easier than ever before to find a person’s contact information. This aspect of social and search media is more of a mixed blessing. It can be a wonderful thing to eliminate the gatekeepers that so often serve to keep adoptees from knowing more about their histories. However, it can also be scary for people (be they adoptees or birth parents) who don’t wish to be found. I have heard stories about children as young as 13 being contacted online by birth parents without the adoptive parents’ knowledge, which is very disturbing.

What do you think? Do any of my readers have stories about social media and the Internet affecting their adoption stories?

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

The Adoption Tax Credit: Save Everything!

I’ve been getting quite a few frantic calls from adoptive parents this year, even though their adoptions are final. No, it’s not a problem with their adoptions – it’s a problem with their taxes. “I must have done something wrong,” these parents tell me, “the IRS is auditing me! They want copies of everything!” The truth is, it’s nothing they’ve done wrong. It’s simply that for some reason, the IRS is taking a close look at returns claiming the adoption tax credit this year.

As you may know, the 2010 adoption tax credit reimbursed adoptive parents for up to $13,170 in qualifying adoption expenses to adopt an eligible child, and also excluded certain employer-provided adoption benefits from taxable income. If you claimed this credit last year, you probably filled out a form that looks like this one. You probably were advised to submit a copy of your final adoption decree from the court and not much more. If this is your case, it’s quite likely that you later got a letter from the IRS asking for documentation of all your adoption-related expenses.

Many parents were told by their tax preparers that they only had to submit the final adoption decree to the IRS to get the credit, only to get notification later that they had to submit everything –receipts, canceled checks, the works. One 2010 adoptive mom’s advice to adoptive parents? “To keep good records, and not to throw anything away until they’ve gotten the full credit back. It’s taken us 2 years to get the full credit. Last year they just gave us 9K and this year they’re harassing us over 3K. And according to the other families I’ve spoken to, we’re all in the same boat.”

So, there you have it, folks: Don’t panic, but do save everything! Below is a list of expenses to document by getting and saving the receipt and keeping it in a special file for this purpose:

  • Any fees paid to your adoption agency or attorney
  • Any court costs, whether paid directly or to you adoption agency or attorney
  • Any of the birth mother’s permitted expenses (in most states, this includes legal and medical expenses – some states also allow some living expenses to be paid by the adoptive parents).
  • Your home study fee
  • The guardian ad litem’s fee
  • Mileage or travel expenses if you are adopting from somewhere outside your hometown
  • Postage and supplies related to the adoption (your adoption profile, search cards, etc.).

Have you been audited by the IRS regarding your tax credit claim? Tell us about it here or email me your thoughts at evaughan (at) vaughanfirm (dot) com.

Do you have more questions about adoption? Contact The Vaughan Firm to speak with an adoption attorney.

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