Last Friday was the ninth anniversary of the day Bethany and I held our son Truman for the very first time. The joyous occasion—one that took place in a Chinese office building rather than a hospital maternity ward—has been celebrated as Truman’s “Gotcha Day” every November 3rd since. It seems only fitting that November is National Adoption Month. Thirty whole days to celebrate Truman becoming a Naughton!
This year, Truman chose to celebrate his special day as he does every year; by pigging out at IHOP. Our diminutive child, who is by far the slowest eater on Earth, can somehow manage to scarf-down an adult-sized Gotcha Day meal of scrambled eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and chocolate milk in less time than it takes him to finish a small bowl of cereal at home.
November has special significance in our household. National Adoption Month provides an opportunity not only to celebrate our adopted children, (we adopted our lovely daughter Tiana a couple years after Truman), but also to promote and advocate the institution of adoption itself.
Millions of American families have already been touched by adoption, but with an estimated 400,000 children in the United States living in foster care and over 100,000 of them currently eligible for adoption, many more adoptive families are needed. Sadly, approximately 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system each year without ever being adopted. Even more troubling, UNICEF estimates that there are as many as 140 million children worldwide who are orphans.
Everyone who chooses to adopt has their own reasons for doing so. They may not be able to conceive. They may feel compelled to adopt a young relative whose birth parents can’t or won’t raise their own offspring. They may simply feel that there is room in their hearts and homes for one or two more children who deserve to know what it is like to be loved by a family.
There are also many reasons people don’t adopt. These include legal issues, the health of the prospective parents or adoptees, and of course financial constraints. Money, or the lack thereof, is often the deciding factor in whether or not a family can afford to provide a home to a child in need.
In our case, Bethany and I worked for years to get out of debt and to save up enough money to fund our two adoptions. Bethany worked two jobs to my one. We ate beans & rice and rice & beans. We didn’t go out to dinner or the movies. We drove high-mileage cars that didn’t require monthly payments. Because of all our sacrifices, we scraped together the money to pay for round-trip airfare to China, in-country transportation, lodging, meals, legal fees, visa fees, passport fees, background checks, orphanage donations, etc.
International adoption is expensive, and domestic adoptions can be, too. Fortunately, we qualified for a federal adoption tax credit to help offset some of the financial burden. We could have managed without the credit, but it would have been difficult. However, that tax credit can make all the difference in the world to an adoptive family with more love in their hearts than money in their bank account.
As I watched my beautiful children while they stuffed their faces with pancakes the other night, I couldn’t help dwelling on some news I had heard earlier that day. Congressional Republicans, with the blessing of billionaire-president Donald Trump, revealed the details of their tax reform bill. One particular provision made my blood boil.
Inexplicably, at the outset of National Adoption Month, the party of “Family Values” announced their intention to eliminate the adoption tax credit. You read that correctly. The party that wants to limit women’s ability to purchase affordable birth control while blocking their access to legal and safe abortions also wants to make it more difficult to adopt the millions of children (American and foreign-born) currently waiting for families to provide loving homes for them. I call that pro-birth, not pro-life.
Capping the maximum tax liability for mega-corporations at 20%, eliminating the estate tax for the uber-wealthy, and raising the deficit by $1.5 trillion in order to give tax breaks to the rich while taking away a one-time, $13,500 tax credit for honest, working-class families who want to adopt children in need is proof that the Republican Party’s philosophy of “compassionate conservatism” is a complete fraud.
If you want to do something in recognition of National Adoption Month, call your Congressperson and tell them to vote against the proposed tax bill and the elimination of the adoption tax credit. And if you’re thinking about adding to your family, please consider adoption. For more information, visit adoptuskids.org or childrenshope.net (the agency we used.)
Happy Gotcha Month, Truman! More pancakes, son?