Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Adoption - Beginning Resources to Explore

Friends -

Adoption is a complicated and wonderful process, which has blessed many of my friends and challenged others. First off, I know very little about it, but this post is a result of lots and lots of questions lately.

Lately, in conversations with friends of Forgotten Voices and strangers I meet along this journey of life, adoption has been coming up. Forgotten Voices does not directly deal with adoption, nor do any of the countries we work in allow for adoption outside the country. So, for us as an organization, the adoption question is not in play for our direct ministry. Instead, and some may argue in addition to local people adopting kids in Zim & Zambia, Forgotten Voices is working hard to equip local churches to care for children orphaned by AIDS in their communities --- helping provide some resources of time, money, and tangible products like seed & water to meet the physical needs kids have daily, especially the roughly 300,000 kids that live without an adult in Zimbabwe & Zambia. We equip churches to help a sliver of these so far and you can read about some of our church partnerships here.

But what about adoption? Well, I believe I need to learn more about it personally and professionally. I know I care about kids and I've dedicated my heart to advancing Forgotten Voices' mission, but adoption? I need to learn more. That's one reason why I'm going to Summit VI in 2 weeks (April 28-30) in Minneapolis to come together with leaders from around the world to think critically about how to adopt well, still equip local communities to care for children, and support foster care services, as well. Wanna come? Check out Summit VI --- not too late to register.

Orphan Care & Adoption are not issues to allow yourself a quick "I don't know" or "it's not for me" without consideration. This question about how we defend the vulnerable in our society is SOOOOO important, especially to Christians. In fact, in James, we read this:
"27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 (NIV)

SO... if it's SOOO important that the Bible calls looking after widows and orphans a measure of TRUE religion, where do we begin? Let's start with some honest, practical questions...

One of the biggest questions I get is "why is it so expensive", followed by, "is there help? because there should be help".

Today, in a course on performance leadership I assist with at Harvard's Kennedy School, we are going through a case on adoption, foster care and child protection services. While the case was from quite a few years ago, my classmates were really intrigued by what is involved today to adopt and what current government support is available to help families in adoption. So - where do we go?

The first question - what does it take to adopt? - is complicated, with lots of things to think through. Here is a great list of resources to explore from the Christian Alliance for Orphans, a membership group which Forgotten Voices is proud to belong to and support.

The second question - what financial assistance is out there? - has some answers too. Again, I draw from the Alliance's great leadership. Earlier in April, they posted a blog about current financial assistance.

From the Christian Alliance for Orphans Blog:

Amidst the intense controversy of the health care bill signed into law by President Obama yesterday, there’s at least one provision every orphan advocate can cheer. The adoption tax credit was preserved for another year...and increased in value!

To encourage and support adoption, the adoption tax credit was expanded by President Bush and Congress in 2001. This increased the value of the credit from $5,000 to $10,000, and indexed it for inflation (meaning the credit would increase each year to keep up with inflation.) For 2010, its value had risen to $12,170. However, the 2001 increase was scheduled to “sunset” at the end of 2010. This would mean that any adoptions finalized after December 31, 2010 would be eligible for—at most—a credit of only $5,000.

This sunset has now been extended one year. That means that it will need to be extended again before the end of 2011. For the present, however, this extension comes as very welcome news for families considering adoption or in the adoption process.

Specifically, the provisions contained in the health care bill include:

The current adoption tax credit has been extended until the end of 2011;
The value of the adoption tax credit has been increased from $12,170 to $13,170.
The increase is “retroactive,” meaning that any adoption occurring after January 1, 2010 is eligible for this higher credit.
The credit is now refundable. This means that even families that owe zero taxes can receive the full tax credit in the form of a tax refund to help with their adoption-related expenses.
To read the legalese in the bill itself, see page 903 of 906

This is CLEARLY just the beginning, but quite a few people have stopped me or asked me about adoption lately that I took some time to learn more and draw on some resources out there to help inform all of us. I welcome your own resources and thoughts to guide us further. After Summit VI, I'll surely have more thoughts and resources for you so we can all learn together.

These are complicated matters, but also matters that God asks all of us to consider. Enjoy the journey as you explore how you should help champion the causes of kids that need someone crazy about them --- every kid needs that!

If you are up for it, consider joining me in 2 weeks at Summit VI in Minneapolis, MN from April 28-30, where we'll explore these matters in greater depth. Like I said, I have a LOT to learn. If you can't make Summit VI, join me Nov 5-6 in Hershey, PA for the Mid Atlantic Orphan Summit. More details on that to come, but mark your calendars now. Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with us!

Keep dreaming, keep wondering. Thanks for loving kids with us.

All the best,

Twitter: @forgottenvoices
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brian said...

Ryan thanks for sharing these resources and agreeing to learn more about such an important and biblical issue.

Jenny said...

Excellent resources, Ryan. My in-laws fostered more than 40 babies, many with developmental issues, and they eventually adopted the last one. It's a decision you never regret.

Andrea said...

I just returned from Ethiopia, and have so been praying for a way to get to the Orphan Summit, and it's just not happening. However I can drive to PA! I can't wait to read more about it!
Thank you for sharing.