MARC CHASE: Pence adoption tax credit deserves, well, adoption

2013-12-10T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: Pence adoption tax credit deserves, well, adoptionMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
December 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Adoption is one of the most magical things one can experience. It enriches the lives of adopted children and adoptive parents in profound ways.

But the side of adoption lacking luster — keeping it from the reach of some otherwise worthy would-be adoptive parents — is the price tag, often in the tens of thousands of dollars in the Hoosier state.

For a family earning $100,000 a year or less, expenses associated with a typical adoption can equal a third or more of its annual income.

That's why a recent legislative proposal from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — aimed at softening the blow of the exorbitant legal expenses of adoption — is so worthy of lawmakers' support.

Those who read my column with any regularity know I speak from experience. My wife, twin sons and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our home in June 2012 through adoption. My little Izzy and the happiness she carried with her are worth every penny we spent on the process.

Sadly, other less fortunate families abandon this dream because of the often prohibitive costs.

Some financial help for adoptive parents exists in the federal tax code through a 2014 tax credit of up to $13,190 for families earning $197,800 or less. The credit is for adoption-related expenses.

I don't agree with all of Pence's platforms, but I have to laud his proposal heading into 2014 for an Indiana adoption tax credit in line with the federal credit.

The proposed Hoosier adoption credit was obscured by his other plans for new business tax breaks and funding sources for future state roads.

I agree with the spirit of creating a business friendly climate in Indiana. But adoption is crucial to the success, happiness and well-being of so many children in this state, and Pence deserves praise and support for pursuing a climate equally friendly to potential adoptive parents.

The benefits of such a credit go beyond the adoptive parents and the children involved. Birth parents making the selfless and responsible decision to place their unborn or biological children with loving families also benefit.

Birth parents today take increasingly active roles in selecting the adoptive homes through which their children find the love and future all children deserve. An additional adoption credit on the state level equal to the existing federal credit would likely increase the pool of worthy choices for placement of children.

In full disclosure, the governor's plan would have no financial benefit for me. Our adoption is complete, and the hugs, kisses and laughter I'll experience from my 18-month-old daughter when I get home this evening will justify the expense.

But of all the challenges facing many would-be adoptive parents, the prospects of starting a family $30,000 or more in the hole looms large. Legislative approval of the governor's plan would keep more of this money in the hands of adoptive parents for the good of the children for whom they seek to provide.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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