Monday, March 23, 2015

VA Passes Law to Prevent "Re-homing" or Unregulated Child Custody Transfers

Re-homing or Unregulated Child Custody Transfers is a hot topic today.  Who can forget the story of the woman who sent her seven year old adopted child back to Russia on a place because she could not parent him?  The Reuters article depicted situations where adopted children were placed informally with child predators without the proper legal processes or vetting of the second family. 

Most adoptions are successful and the child and adoptive family blend to create a new whole. However, this is a process which takes time and expertise.  Too often, families who adopt older children in particular experience unique challenges and receive little support.  Without this support, we sometimes see desperate families seeking alternative placements for their adopted children which are not likely to be successful and may actually be dangerous to the child. The family may be charged with child abandonment and the child will not have services which are critically important to make the transition into the new family. 

In 2014 and 2015, states have passed a number of laws to prevent these unregulated secondary adoption processes. Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin laws ban "advertising" of adopted children over the internet.  In Louisiana and Oklahoma, if a family places an adopted child with a second family without legal oversight, they face criminal charges.  

Virginia has taken a creative approach by encouraging adoptive families in crisis to seek help before they consider placing their adopted child in an unregulated way.  The new Virginia law provides that when  the Division of Vital Records issues a post adoption birth certificate, they must supply a list of post adoption support services to the individual family. Vital Records must update the list annually and maintain this list on its web-site.

View the law here

The hope is that families who are struggling will know where to turn to seek helpful services like respite care, adoption competent counseling, and support groups in their communities. We encourage families who are struggling to seek help from their adoption agencies and adoption attorneys to move forward in healthy ways.

Drafted by Brittany Alness, staff member of the Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC.
This web site and the information contained within have been prepared by Law Offices of Karen S. Law, PLC for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute an attorney-client relationship. Viewers should not act upon information found here without seeking legal counsel. All photographs shown on this blog are depictions of clients and are not actual clients of this law firm. Copyright Karen S. Law, 2014.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Making Adoption Affordable 2015

Making Adoption Affordable
Federal Tax Credit
There is help available.  The federal Adoption Tax Credit provides up to $13,400 for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child in 2015.  The credit is indexed for inflation and will increase annually.  Eligible expenses include adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses (including amounts spent for meals and lodging) and other expenses directly related to your adoption.  There is an income limit for this credit. See, for the forms and additional information.                      

Corporate Matching Gifts
Further, many large employers offer adoption assistance.  See htttp:// for a list of employers.  Those payments may qualify for exclusion from your income for tax purposes in addition to the federal tax credit.  You may exclude up to $13,400 from your income in 2015.  So, for example, if your employer offers adoption assistance payments of $5,000 and your total adoption related expenses were $18,400, you could claim $13,400 as a tax credit AND exclude $5,000 from your income.  However, if your total expenses were $13,400, you could not take the credit and the exclusion-the same expenses cannot be counted twice.  The income limits for the tax credit also apply to the exclusion.

Subsidy for Full Time Military Personnel
There is a one-time reimbursement program available for full-time military personnel of $2,000 per child per calendar year, with a cap of $5,000.  The service member applies for the reimbursement by submitting a DD Form 2675 no later than one year after the adoption is final.  You cannot claim expenses that were reimbursed through the Federal Tax Credit or a Corporate Matching Grant.  See  A recent change of policy permits a military member adopting a step-child to claim reimbursement.

Adoption Loans and Grants
Adoption Loans can be obtained from Americas Christian Credit Union or Entrust Financial Credit Union, among other financial service providers.  Additionally, a number of foundations provide grants with specific eligibility criteria.

Adoption Subsidies and Financial Aid for Adopting an Older Child
If you adopt a special needs child or a child from foster care, the cost is usually less.  A monthly adoption subsidy is often available to help pay for everyday expenses and special services such as remedial educational services, physical therapy and medical care.  You may also take the entire amount of the federal tax credit even if you don’t incur those costs.

There are two methods of adopting an older child: you may apply to become a foster parent through your local public agency.  If the child becomes free for adoption and there are no approved relatives, you would have first priority to adopt that child.  Alternatively, you can apply to adopt an older child through a private agency.  Adoptions Together, Catholic Charities and United Methodist Family Services have private programs.  These children are already free for adoption.  The cost of the private programs is slightly more than the public programs.  However, it is still significantly less expensive than any other form of adoption.