November 12, 2010

Honoring Service Men and Women

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol...
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Whether you are celebrating Armistice Day, Poppy Day, Veterans Day, Remembrance Day or other holiday today and into this weekend, Adoption Agency Reviews joins you in honoring service men and women all over the world.  We appreciate the sacrifices you make for your country.  We also honor the families who support service men and women.  We recognize the sacrifices spouses, children, parents, girlfriends, boyfriends and other loved ones make supporting military personnel.   The service and dedication does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Thank you!

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November 2, 2010

National Adoption Month

Adoption
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Happy Adoption Month!  It’s a month to celebrate and honor all the ways adoption has touched our lives.  We celebrate all those who have been touched by adoption no matter which side of the adoption triad you find yourself.

President Obama said in his Presidential Proclamation, “Giving a child a strong foundation — a home, a family to love, and a safe place to grow — is one of life’s greatest and most generous gifts.”  If everyone involved considers the welfare of the child first and foremost, the world will be a better place and the future will be bright.  It is our greatest hope at Adoption Agency Reviews that we all remember that ultimately it should always be about the children.

During the month, take the time to share your adoption experience with others.  November is an opportunity to highlight the adoption experience and educate others.  You never know when telling your story will touch someone’s heart and bestow upon them the blessing of a child.  Our greatest wish is that every child finds their forever family.

Are you doing anything special during the month?  Are you sponsoring an adoption activity?  Tell us below!

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October 22, 2010

Adoption Tax Credit is Sweetened by Health Care Reform (at least for US taxpayers)

Financing Adoption

IRS gives adoption credit a breath of fresh air

At the risk of being called Captain Obvious, I’ll just say it… financing adoption is expensive.  However, the United States Government recently gave the nod to adoptive parents by sweetening the adoption credit for 2010 and 2011.  The credit has now become refundable. Now, you can call me Captain Obvious but you can’t call me an accountant or tax lawyer so please check with your professionals for more details related to your specific situation.  Here are some basic guidelines of the new provisions based on the interim IRS Guidelines (Notice 2010-66):

·         Even better than a tax credit is a refundable tax credit!  Most tax credits are nonrefundable meaning that they only reduce your tax liability to zero.  A refundable tax credit, like the $13,170 adoption tax credit, means that you can “cash out” any remaining money.

·         Carryover credits are refundable also!  Prior to the new provisions, carryover credits were merely carried over to offset the next year’s taxes.  Any credits now carried over from previous years may be included on your 2010 return.  See the draft IRS guidelines at draft version of the 2010 Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.

·         Beginning in 2010, adoptive parents will have to provide documentation to substantiate the finalization of the adoption.  Acceptable documents

The bad news (if you call it that): is that, because documentation is now required, it is not possible to file electronically.  I’d pay a stamp to get $13,170.  Be sure you check with your tax professional for specifics for your situation.  Happy adoption tax season!

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October 19, 2010

California’s Raises the Age Limit to 21 for the Foster Care System

On October 10th, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law from the campus of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in Santa Monica, California that would allow children to stay in the foster care system until age 21. This will relieve California’s foster children of the burden of worrying about aging out of the system at age 18. The authors of the bill recognized that the recession has created many Boomerang Kids, the term giving to children who leave home but return to their parents’ support system. Foster children do not have a place to Boomerang back to so what happens to them?

The Governor quoted a study showing that for every dollar the state invests in foster care, two and a half dollars are saved. The cost of the extra three years will be funded by state and federal money. He also said that as he sees it as an investment, the kids would have to do their part by returning to school, work and/or meet regularly with their case workers in exchange for the financial and social support. What are your thoughts? Should the state pay for a child to be in foster care until 21? Leave a comment below.

October 15, 2010

Ireland to Ratify the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children

As of November 1st, Ireland will Ratify the Hague Convention which will solidify their agreement to the high standards required to ensure the protection of children. The international pact means that citizens of that country may only adopt children from countries that have also ratified the treaty. That will mean that, while it will lend more credibility to the adoption process, there will be less children available to Irish people seeking to adopt. There is one provision for anyone who has a declaration “permission” to adopt from the Health Service Executive, by November 1st can still go to countries that don’t have an agreement with Ireland. However, anyone who is still waiting for a declaration will have to adopt from the new list of eligible countries. Previously popular countries such as Russia, Vietnam and Ethiopia are excluded from the list, so unless a declaration has already been granted, Irish families will not be able to adopt from these countries. Vietnam is actually one step closer to ratifying the Hague convention as their National Assembly has recently passed legislation which should allow for a move to ratify. Once the two countries are both members of the Hague convention, adoptions would likely resume. What are your thoughts? With all the changes in recent years with various countries opening and closing their doors, have you experienced an interruption in the process to adopt a child due to countries changing rules?

October 6, 2010

Same Sex Adoption– A Hot Topic for the States Lately

Florida is the latest state to wrestle with same sex adoption.  The 3rd  District Court of Appeal recently shot down a statute enacted more than 30 years ago banning adoptions by same sex partners.  Florida Governor Charlie Crist, an independent US Senate candidate, originally expressed his support for the ban but later announced that the state would stop enforcing the ban and he would not appeal the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.  Unless Republican Attorney General Bill McCullom challenges the decision, the Court’s ruling will stand.  If that’s the case all the children currently in the care of same sex partners in Florida will be eligible to be legally adopted and have the confidence that they have joined their forever families.  We are 100% in favor of that!  What are your thoughts?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

October 1, 2010

100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption recently announced the fourth annual 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces list recognizing US organizations for their adoption benefits.  Topping the list is The Wendy’s/Arby’s Group.  The honor was well deserved as they offer a maximum of $24,300 in financial assistance and up to six weeks paid leave. Wow!  I admire that commitment to adoption and foster care.  How about you?  If you work outside the home, did your employer offer benefits?  Have you ever changed jobs to work for a company merely because of their adoption benefits?  If you think your company could compete, you can complete a registration form for next year.  What do you think?   Should employers pay for or provide support to parents going through adoption or foster care (other than what is legally required like the FMLA)?  We welcome your opinion below.

September 16, 2010

Was Your Adoption Education Elementary?

In the August 25th Adoption Disruption and Dissolutions episode of the Creating a Family Podcast, Dawn and her guest, Dr Ronald Federici, discuss how to avoid this heartbreaking situation.  It was a very compelling show with great information for people concerned about this topic.  I was particularly intrigued by an excellent point that Dr. Federici made about prospective parents being ill-prepared for the challenges that come along with adoption. He suggested that a greater focus on adoption education and preparation by adoption professionals may reduce the number of dissolutions and disruptions.  I understand from the agency’s perspective that they don’t want to scare off prospective parents but I don’t think it helps anyone to overshadow the importance of preparation and education.

I am an advocate of the power of education in all areas of life but for something so critical, it’s imperative.  In my own experience, my agency introduced the educational piece as “this is the schedule of required training just pick the one you can make.”  It was more of a check-the-box task.  The actual training was excellent for helping us to understand the challenges that we might face.

When I was discussing this topic with a friend, he had a different take on the situation.  He pointed out that people having a baby, and I quote, “the old fashioned way,” receive even less training and the change to their lives is just as impactful.  I, of course, attempted to explain that an adopted child might present some unique challenges.  He went on to argue that, in some cases, biological children have challenges that are just as great.  How would you respond to that?  How satisfied were you with your education from your adoption professional?  What do you wish you were better educated about?  Please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

September 9, 2010

Adoption is Not Normal

I refused to let something this negative be one of the first blog entries from Adoption Agency Reviews so I saved it.  However, it’s been burning a hole in my documents folder.  I’m anxious to start a conversation and get your thoughts.

Have you been to the adoption questions in Yahoo Answers lately?  “Adoption is not normal” was one of the many comments from the adoption haters.  I was so sad at the sentiments being expressed and the sheer number of anti-adoption responses.  Some of the answers were downright wrong.

Forget about the pro-life versus pro-choice discussion.  This isn’t about that.  Unscrupulous agencies are out there.  I know that.  Believe me, I understand having a bad experience with an agency but where does this venom toward adoption come from?   Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the Internet that allows people to spew this poison on the Internet.

The other issue that I have is that the people who asked the questions walked away with such a skewed view of her options.  If you weren’t educated about adoption, would you want to pursue it after reading this?  Even worse, all these responses are now in perpetuity for the next person in this situation to read.  If you come across someone asking a similar question, let us all know so we can provide some objective and balanced information about the beautiful, positive side of adoption.

What are your thoughts about the negative responses?  Have you experienced an adoption hater in person?  How did you handle them?

September 3, 2010

How Do I Avoid Adoption Fraud

I have been seeing more and more questions online about avoiding adoption fraud.  After getting past the frustration that someone would even have to ask the question, I started to do some research.

There are reviews on AdoptionAgencyReviews.com from people who have been a victim of fraud so it’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time. The Better Business Bureau has great information at http://www.bbb.org/us/article/find-an-adoption-agency-you-can-trust-20502.  Also, there is a wealth of information  from someone who has experienced adoption fraud firsthand at http://adoptionagencychecklist.com/gpage.html1.html.

Please take a few minutes of your time to enter a review on AdoptionAgencyReviews.com so that others will be able to use the information to make informed decisions.  We can help people avoid adoption fraud. You may be changing someone’s life in just a couple minutes!

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