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A recently released proposal for US tax overhaul included plans to get rid of the adoption tax credit, support for adoptive families that has been on the books for 20 years. The credit provides adoptive families up to $13,570 in tax savings per adopted child.1 Adoption advocates are rallying for the continuation of the credit as it exists for families who may not be able to afford adoption otherwise, a helpful tool in helping children find permeant families of their own. (The amount of the credit, as it stands right now, starts to phase out when families have an adjusted gross income above $203,540 and is off limits once that income exceeds $243,540.2) Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth Chapman, are adoptive parents - this op-ed from them regarding the proposed changes recently appeared in the Washington Post:


In 1997, the fabric of our family was forever altered after Mary Beth and our 11-year-old daughter, Emily, visited Haiti. Emily was profoundly moved as she began to understand the impact of poverty in new ways. She met children in Haiti who, for many heartbreaking reasons, were unable to be cared for by their biological families and had been orphaned.

For Emily, these children were her peers, and imagining life without the family and support systems she knew felt overwhelming and unjust.

That trip was the beginning of our family’s journey. We would soon welcome home three daughters through adoption — Shaoey, Stevey Joy and Maria. Each has brought immeasurable joy, and we are forever grateful to be their family. As the parents of six children, it’s impossible to overstate the profound impact that adoption has had on our family. The journey has been a hundred times harder than we ever imagined, but a thousand times more enriching than we ever dreamed.

It’s one thing to hear that there are 15 million children worldwide who have been orphaned, abandoned or relinquished. But when you are face to face with children who can’t be reunited with their biological family or find a family through adoption, statistics give way to a personal connection — a child with a name and a story, with a desire to belong and be loved.

We have met hundreds of families who want to adopt, but can’t do so because of the significant costs. The average adoption costs between $25,000 and $40,000, and for many families, this is an insurmountable barrier. Additionally, the ongoing expenses of providing adequate services and therapies in post-adoption support can be extensive.

In 1997, with bipartisan support, Congress did something remarkable to address this by creating the adoption tax credit. By providing a one-time tax credit of up to $13,570 to offset adoption costs, more families are able to adopt, helping address the great injustice of children living without permanent, loving homes.

But the adoption tax credit is in jeopardy. The recently unveiled House tax reform proposal would eliminate it.

Losing the adoption tax credit, a vital and practical approach to overcoming the financial cost that prohibits many families from adopting, would be catastrophic for thousands of American parents hoping to adopt and the precious children waiting for a family. 

Thousands of children have been adopted by American families who have used the adoption tax credit, and to these families, this credit has made all the difference. As adoptive parents, we want other families to have the opportunity to provide waiting children with loving homes.

In a divided political and cultural climate, issues like the adoption tax credit should unite us. The adoption tax credit can mean the difference between a child being adopted or remaining in foster care. One thing every American should agree on: We must prioritize anything we can do to help children enter loving homes where they can grow up, learn and thrive in an enriching environment. Without continuing support for this credit, children, families, communities and our society will certainly carry the loss.

If Congress truly wants to reform our tax structure to benefit American families, preserving the adoption tax credit is an obvious step in the right direction.

 

If you are an adoptive family, learn more about the adoption tax credit here, and access community and support for your family by emailing orphans@saddleback.com. If you are considering adoption, visit https://zeroby2020vision.com

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Saddleback Church’s Orphan Care Initiative gathered in May to catch the vision of how mobilized volunteers can collectively end the crisis of children living outside of parental care right here in Orange County. The need of vulnerable children to belong in loving, lasting, and legal families is daunting, but together, there is hope of meeting this need locally by 2020. Accomplishing this vision will depend upon the church, county, and business partners focusing their efforts around the pivotal 3 R’s of permanency where children remain in healthy families, reunite with family, and regain family through adoption or kinship care.

Our local vision of “Getting to Zero by 2020!” was inspired by the model of orphan care adopted by local churches in Rwanda. With the collective decision to close all orphanages in Rwanda, ordinary church members throughout the country, with ongoing support and encouragement of their churches, decided to legally adopt children into their forever families, effectively emptying orphanages in the process! Within four years, thousands of children living in orphanages in Rwanda have been adopted, and the country is well on track to being the first African nation without orphanages. This is the power of the Church championing the cause of families for orphans.

 

Within Orange County there are about 300 children waiting for a family – meaning their parental rights have been terminated and are in need of a new family through adoption. Within the Orange County foster care system there are over 3,000 children who rely on families to care for them until their family of origin again is able to care for them or until they are adopted. The task of “getting to zero” in Orange County may sound like a lofty goal, but through collaboration of church partners, county officials, and other community stakeholders, we believe it’s possible that no child should have to wait for a family!

 

We believe every person can play a role in helping vulnerable children in the foster care system in Orange County. Though not all are called to adopt or become a resource parent, there are so many ways to support those who can. If you are interested in helping accomplish this vision and “get to zero” by volunteering or becoming the family a child needs, contact us at orphans@saddleback.com or 949-609-8555. 

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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Roy Blunt recently introduced the Vulnerable Children and Families Act, which will ensure that intercountry adoption to the United States becomes a viable option for providing safe, stable, nurturing, and permanent families for orphans. If this bill is passed, data on children living without families would be included in the Department of State’s annual human rights report, which would deem the denial of family life through adoption and their unnecessary institutionalization a human rights violation.  If you want more information on the bill click here: About the Vulnerable Children and Family Act

We can be a voice for the voiceless and we have been granted the freedom to do so.  We can be advocates for children being adopted into permanent and loving families!  How can you be an advocate for adoption? Write your congressperson!

Here are a few guidelines to point you in the write (get it? It’s to motivate you to write!) direction:

 

  1. To find your representative go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and enter your zip code in the “Find Your Representative” on the top of the page.
  2. Once you locate your congressperson, there is a list under the “Representatives” tab of all the names and you can find your congressperson’s contact information and website.
  3. On the website you have the option of emailing a message or they will list an address (DC office and district office). A hard copy always makes a statement, but if time is limited, email is always a great option.
  4. Write an email or send a letter!

 

As for the format of the letter:

  1. Address the letter correctly and always include the title of your representative (ex. “Dear Representative _____”).
  2. In the first paragraph state who you are and why you are writing.
  3. The second paragraph should include specific examples and/or statistics, as well as stating what the bill will do.
  4. The third paragraph should state why the bill is necessary and should thank your congressperson for their consideration.
  5. Close the letter with your name and information.
  6. The best letters are courteous and concise; try to keep it to one page.  Make sure your facts are right! Do not demand anything from them, simply urge them to support the bill. Feel free to add something personal that could display empathy.

 

Below is a link to a template for you to follow. If you write a letter, make sure to find your congressperson’s information and to personalize the body of the letter. Your opinions matter to our government and these letters will make a difference. If you could take half an hour out of your day to send a letter, you could be impacting the lives of millions of children.  You can be an advocate for adoption, a voice for the voiceless, and a defender for the orphan.

Letter Template

If you would like more information on how the Orphan Care Initiative works to help children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain family through adoption, email orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care line at 949-609-8555.

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