Adoptive Family Birth Father Birth Mother Blog

2023 Adoption Tax Credit

2023 Adoption Tax Credit

The 2023 tax filing season is upon us! The Internal Revenue Service recommends taxpayers take time to determine if they are eligible for important tax credits. Many of our adoptive families will be applying for the Adoption Tax Credit. With that in mind, we have compiled some basic information about the 2023 adoption tax credit.

Adoption Tax Credit 101 – for 2023 adoptions (claimed in early 2024)

If you have done any research into adoption financing, you’ve probably heard about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. But what exactly is this credit, and how does it work?

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps families offset the costs of qualifying adoption expenses. Families who paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2023, and owe taxes, may be eligible to benefit from this credit. For adoptions finalized in 2023, there is a federal adoption tax credit of up to $15,950 per child. The 2023 adoption tax credit is NOT refundable, which means taxpayers can only use the credit if they have federal income tax liability.

Parents who are adopting from the U.S. and claiming qualified adoption expenses can claim the credit the year of finalization or the year after they spent the funds. Parents who adopt a child with special needs and are not basing their request on expenses should claim the credit the year of finalization. Parents who adopt internationally cannot claim the credit until the year of finalization.

The credit applies one time for each adopted child and should be claimed when taxpayers file taxes for 2023.

To be eligible for the credit, parents must:

  • Have adopted a child other than a stepchild — A child must be either under 18 or be physically or mentally unable to take care of him or herself.
  • Be within the income limits — Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. For 2023, the adoption tax credit is fully available in the amount of $15,950 if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is equal to or less than $239,230. If your modified adjusted gross income is more than $239,230 but less than $279,230, you will receive a reduced tax credit. If your modified adjusted gross income is $279,230 or more for the year, you are not eligible for the tax credit.

According to the IRS, “qualified adoption expenses” can include items like:

  • Reasonable and necessary adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses related to adoption
  • Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child

If you’re not sure whether you are eligible to use the adoption tax credit or if you paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2023, a tax professional will be able to provide more information.

How Much is the 2023 Adoption Tax Credit?

The amount families are eligible to receive from the Federal Adoption Tax Credit depends on a number of factors and will vary based on their unique situation. Families who finalize the adoption of a child with special needs in 2023 and fulfill the eligibility requirements above, can claim the full credit of $15,950 whether or not they had any expenses.

Other adopters can claim a credit based on their qualified adoption expenses, which are the reasonable and necessary expenses paid to complete the adoption that have not been reimbursed by anyone else. If the expenses are less than $15,950, the adopters claim only the amount of those expenses. However, if the expenses exceed $15,950, the adopters can claim up to, but no more than, $15,950, per child.

The Adoption Tax Credit limit is based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and is recalculated each year based on current cost of living. Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. For the 2023 Adoption Tax Credit, families with a MAGI is equal to or below $239,230 can claim full credit. If your modified adjusted gross income is more than $239,230 but less than $279,230, you will receive a reduced tax credit. If your modified adjusted gross income is $279,230 or more for the year, you are not eligible for the tax credit.

Adoption and taxes can be complicated, and you will likely have questions about the tax benefits available in your specific situation. While we hope you find the information in this post helpful, keep in mind that Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice. Talk to a tax professional for more specific information about how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Future: 2024 Adoption Tax Credit – If you adopt a child in 2024, the credit maximum amount will be $16,810 with an AGI phaseout threshold of $252,150 to $292,150.

Present: 2023 Adoption Tax Credit – If you adopt a child in 2023, the credit maximum amount will be $15,950 with an AGI phaseout threshold of $239,230 to $279,230.

Past: 2022 Adoption Tax Credit – for the past tax year 2022, the maximum adoption credit was $14,890 per child with a phaseout range of $223,410 – $263,410.

Interaction with the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit changed in 2018, there was also a temporary change in 2021. The amount is now $2,000 per child, but only $1,400 of it can become the refundable additional child tax credit (dependent on the family’s earned income), with the remaining $600 a non-refundable Child Tax Credit. This credit will supersede the adoption tax credit when reducing the tax liability.

To determine the amount of the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit a family uses, a family must complete the Child Tax Credit Worksheet in IRS Publication 972. Software and tax preparers will automatically calculate these amounts.

Taxpayers who can answer “Yes” on the last line of the Child Tax Credit Worksheet may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is a refundable credit (meaning they can claim the credit regardless of their tax liability). To claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, parents must complete IRS Schedule 8812.

How Much Taxpayers Will Benefit

How much, if any, of the adoption tax credit a parent will receive depends on their federal income tax liability in 2023 (and the next five years). In one year, taxpayers can use as much of the credit as the full amount of their federal income tax liability, which is the amount on line 11 of the Form 1040 less certain other credits (see Child Tax Credit above). Even those who normally get a refund may still have tax liability and could get a larger refund with the adoption tax credit. Taxpayers have six years (the year they first claimed the credit plus five additional years) to use the credit.

People who do not have federal income tax liability will not benefit this year. We encourage them to claim the credit and carry it forward to future years since the credit may become refundable again in the future.

Claiming the Adoption Tax Credit

To claim the credit, taxpayers will complete a 2023 version of IRS Form 8839 (available at irs.gov) and submit it with their Form 1040 when they file their 2023 taxes. Most tax software will create this form for you. Before filing, taxpayers should review 2023 Form 8839 instructions (will also be available at www.irs.gov) very carefully to be sure that they apply for the credit correctly and to see if anything has changed. The instructions are needed to calculate how much of the credit will be used.

When claiming the adoption tax credit, you’ll want to be ready with documents such as:

  • The final adoption decree
  • A placement agreement from an authorized agency
  • Court documents
  • A state’s determination for special-needs children, if applicable
When Can I Claim The Adoption Tax Credit?

If the child is born in the United States or is a resident alien, you may claim the adoption tax credit in the year after you incurred the expenses. However, if you completed the adoption process in the same year you incurred the expenses, you may claim the adoption tax credit in that year. Also, if you incur expenses in the year after the adoption is finalized, you may take the tax credit in the year you incurred the expenses. In an international adoption, the adoption tax credit can be claimed only after the adoption is finalized.

Other Adoption Tax Credit Questions:

What If The Adoption Is Unsuccessful?

One of the amazing things about the federal adoption tax credit is that eligibility does not depend on whether an adoption attempt was successful. Indeed, expenses incurred with an adoption attempt of a specific child, whether successful or not, may be reimbursed through the credit. The IRS allows you to treat these adoption expenses in the same manner as expenses you paid for an adoption that was not finalized by the end of the year. However, in an international adoption, the adoption tax credit can be claimed only if the adoption is successfully finalized.

What If My Qualified Adoption Expenses Are Greater Than My Tax Liability?

In its current form, Congress rejected the lobbyists’ plea to make the credit refundable. This would have meant that an adoptive parent would receive a check for the full credit whether or not they owed that amount in taxes for that year. Instead, Congress chose to treat the credit as a true “credit” meaning that the credit can only offset actual tax liability for that given year. If the adoption tax credit exceeds the amount of your tax liability for the year, the good news is that the excess amount of the tax credit can be carried forward for up to five years.

What Type Of Proof Must I Submit To Take The Adoption Tax Credit?

To take the adoption tax credit, you must be prepared to provide documentation to the IRS showing that your expenses are “qualified adoption expenses.” Therefore, during the adoption process, you should keep all of your receipts, invoices, and financial documents relating to the adoption so that you are prepared to submit these documents to the IRS.

What If My Employer Reimburses Me For Certain Adoption Expenses?

It is important to know that if your employer reimburses you for certain adoption expenses, you are permitted to exclude the amount of the reimbursement from your income. In other words, employee adoption benefit programs are tax deductible. You should inquire into whether your employer offers an adoption benefit program. A typical employer contribution is between $5,000 and $25,000.

In addition to this exclusion, you also are permitted to claim the adoption tax credit for the remaining amount of adoption expenses. The thing to remember is that you are not allowed to claim the tax credit and the exclusion for the same expenses. Again, you should consult with a tax professional to determine the extent of the adoption tax credit and exclusion available to you.

Since The Tax Credit Is A Federal Program, Does My State Offer Similar Types Of Tax Credits Or Deductions For Adoptive Parents?

Some states do and some do not. Since every state is different, you should consult with a tax professional to determine the extent of the adoption tax credit available in your state.

Talk to a Tax Professional about Adoption Tax Credit 2023

This is a lot of information, and you probably have more questions about the tax credit for adopting a child in your specific situation. Remember, Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice and recommends that you talk to your tax professional for specific information on how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Adoptive Family Birth Mother Blog Putting baby up for adoption

All About the Benefits of Choosing Adoption

All About the Benefits of Choosing Adoption

By Brendan Finegan

When some people think about adoption, they often picture the birth mother as the only significant factor in the process. However, the adoptive parent and child play just as equal roles. You will have to consider what the best plans and options are for your child and the adoptive family during the adoption process. If you’re feeling anxious and hopeless trying to balance everyone’s needs during your unplanned pregnancy, do not worry. Adoption Choices of Missouri is here to help you understand the best choices for your child, the adoptive parents, and yourself.

5 Ways to Make Adoption Work for Everyone

Finding the right adoption agency will give you the best choices for both the adoptive parents and child during an unplanned pregnancy. It’s tough satisfying all the needs of every person included in the adoption process, but through careful planning and support, you’ll find exceptional choices for adoption in Missouri. Adoption Choices of Missouri will provide you with the high-quality professional counseling needed to select a successful adoption plan. If you’re worried giving up your child won’t align with their and the adoptive parents’ needs, take some time to familiarize yourself with your options.

1. You Get to Choose Your Adoptive Family

You will be able to closely coordinate with your adoption specialist to choose your child’s adoptive family. Rest assured your baby will be cared for before, during, and after the adoption process; the choice of what happens to your adopted child is entirely yours. You get to decide if the adoptive family has local roots within your community, has a similar ethnic background as yourself, and possesses the same lifestyle and religious beliefs. After you’ve found the adoptive family that you believe will suit your child’s needs, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the adoptive family. You will have the final choice of moving forward with the adoption process.

2. Find the Type of Adoption that will Work for Everyone

You will have the opportunity to decide between three types of adoption for your child: open adoptions, semi-open adoptions, and closed adoptions. With open adoptions, information such as names, phone numbers, and contact info are shared with the adoptive family. You will get to decide the varying degrees of openness with the adoptive family after the adoption process is finalized. The level of contact post-placement typically includes emails, letters, pictures, phone calls, and in-person visits. 

In a semi-open adoption plan, non-identifying information is shared between you and the adoptive family. You can still exchange letters, photos, and emails during a semi-open adoption either directly or through a third party, but in-person visits with the adoptive family usually do not take place. Your child will typically have no direct communication with you.

If you choose a closed adoption, you will never meet with the adoptive family and will know very little about them. Adoption Choices of Missouri will choose the adoptive family for your child. Keep in mind that the adoption agreement made between you and the adoptive family is only enforced until your child reaches adulthood and can make decisions for themselves.

3. You Will be Able to Ensure that Your Child Has the Best Possible Circumstance

Take comfort in the fact that your child can have the home and lifestyle that you believe is necessary after adoption. If you’re worried about financial security for your child, you’ll be able to find an adoptive family that can provide the support for a quality upbringing. Your child can have a home life and stable family. In return, the adoptive family that you select can provide the life for your child that fits both your criteria.

4. You can Gain the Financial Assistance Needed Throughout the Adoption Process

With your adoption plan, you will bear no cost for the adoption. If eligible, you can coordinate with the adoptive family to cover your living expenses. This way, you will gain support from the adoptive family throughout the adoption process. Your child will be going to a family that understands the difficulties of working and possibly lacking family support while pregnant. Have assurance that your child will be going to a loving home that supports you during your pregnancy.

  1. Get the Medical Services that you Need During the Adoption Process

Adoption Choices of Missouri will ensure that you receive timely and effective prenatal care through our adoption services. It is crucial that you have the necessary healthcare for a healthy and successful delivery. Your baby’s health and safety is essential not just for themself but also for the adoption process with your selected adoptive parents. 

Start your Adoption Process

After carefully choosing what will be most beneficial for yourself, your child, and the adoptive parents, you can begin the adoption process. Taking the time to consider what option is best for every party involved will create the smoothest and most effective adoption process possible. Take a look at the steps outlined below if you’re unsure how to start the adoption process. An unplanned pregnancy can be stressful and overwhelming, but we’re here to help.

  1. Contact Adoption Choices of Missouri at (816) 527-9800 to have all your questions and concerns answered.
  2. Meet with an adoption specialist to discuss options, information, and support.
  3. Select an adoptive family for you based on your preferences.
  4. Create a hospital and birth plan so that your baby can leave with the adoptive family after birth.
  5. Receive post-placement counseling after the adoption.

Giving your child up for adoption is not an easy decision, but after selecting the best possible plan, your baby will have the life that will bring you comfort and relief after adoption. Pick from the adoption agencies near you that will get rid of the worries and anxiety of an unplanned pregnancy.

 

Adoptive Family Birth Mother Blog Putting baby up for adoption

All About Adoptive Parents

All About Adoptive Parents

By Mitchell Kennis 

Perhaps the biggest question on a birth parent’s mind before the adoption is: Who will my child be raised by? It is natural thinking when considering adoption – I can’t take care of my baby, so who will from now on? We’ll do our best to answer your questions about adoptive parents to make your adoption as stress-free as possible. Adoption Choices of Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond. 

Choosing Adoption in Missouri

First, let us cover the basics. Essentially how adoption works is a pregnant woman deciding she isn’t parenting ready will contact adoption agencies near me. From there, the agency will assist in the process of “giving my baby up for adoption.” An adoption specialist with consult with the birth mother on what she is looking for with her adoption. Details are taken, such as the type of adoption and what kind of family her child will be raised by. These are the main criteria that are used to sort through the families looking to adopt.

Once one or more families are matched with the birth mother’s preferences, she has consulted again. A birth mother will get the final say on the adoptive parents. After a selection has been made, the pregnancy will proceed as normal. The child, once born, will be put up with their new parents and home. Depending on the type of adoption, the process could end there, or communication between the two families could continue.   

Adoptive Parents

You might have already noticed, but we’ll also define “adoptive parents” if you’re planning an Adoption in Missouri. When you choose to adopt out my baby, the easiest path is through the process described above. Within this process, you (the birth mother) provide the basic guidelines for your child’s new family or adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents are either couples in the process of adoption or have already adopted. It is used interchangeably with an adoptive family, which is perhaps more accurate as there can be others besides the parents.     

Who Chooses to Adopt?

What we know is there is no catchall for who decides to adopt. However, all prospective adoptive parents must first jump a few qualifying hurdles before being considered for adoption. This includes background and medical history checks, attending an educational seminar on adoption, and passing a household check. They also fill out quite a bit of paperwork involving what they offer as parents. Through this paperwork, these parents are able to express who they are to searching birth mothers. Factors such as sexual orientation and religion and lifestyle can be expanded upon beyond what is required in bios.  

Women who put my baby up for adoption might be seeking a particular kind of parental relationship, though. You might, for instance, look for a family that has religious values similar to your own. If so, your adoption agency will certainly consider your personal preferences when presenting families to you right now. However, you can feel free to browse a listing of local adoptive parents on our website. 

The adoption process doesn’t discriminate. Adoptive families of all races and genders are represented, no matter their reason for wanting to adopt.  

Why Adopt?

There are many different reasons why a couple might pick adoption. We can’t pretend to know the particular circumstances regarding each adoptive parent. There could be problems with their ability to get pregnant themselves. They could be from an adopted family and want to continue supporting adoption in their own family. Perhaps they are “empty nesters” and need to rekindle the love of parenthood. 

If you are concerned about your adoptive parent’s reasons for adoption, you can ask them about it. Depending on the type of adoption, you will have the opportunity to meet with the family who will raise your child. During that meeting, you can ask what motivated them to adopt to better understand who they are.

How Do I Start the Adoption Process?

The start of any adoption process is asking for help. You can do this by looking for “pregnant adoption help” or contacting any local agency. This help need not only be related to finding a family to adopt your child but anything stressing you out. Agencies like ours are well-equipped to provide counseling and financial support for birth mothers. 

Choosing  the Adoptive Parents 

We know the perfect adoptive family is out there for you. But there is a lot we can do to help find them, too, so contact us at Adoption Choices of Missouri. We’re here for you and your baby, ready to ensure your adoption is a beautiful, faultless process. Adoption Choices of Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond. Please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll-free at 877-903-4488 or, in Missouri, call or text us at 816-527-9800.

Adoptive Family Birth Father Birth Mother Blog

2022 Adoption Tax Credit

2022 Adoption Tax Credit

The 2022 tax filing season is upon us! The Internal Revenue Service recommends taxpayers take time to determine if they are eligible for important tax credits. Many of our adoptive families will be applying for the Adoption Tax Credit. With that in mind, we have compiled some basic information about the 2022 adoption tax credit.

Adoption Tax Credit 101 – for 2022 adoptions (claimed in early 2023)

If you have done any research into adoption financing, you’ve probably heard about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. But what exactly is this credit, and how does it work?

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps families offset the costs of qualifying adoption expenses. Families who paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2022, and owe taxes, may be eligible to benefit from this credit. For adoptions finalized in 2022, there is a federal adoption tax credit of up to $14,890 per child. The 2022 adoption tax credit is NOT refundable, which means taxpayers can only use the credit if they have federal income tax liability.

Parents who are adopting from the U.S. and claiming qualified adoption expenses can claim the credit the year of finalization or the year after they spent the funds. Parents who adopt a child with special needs and are not basing their request on expenses should claim the credit the year of finalization. Parents who adopt internationally cannot claim the credit until the year of finalization.

The credit applies one time for each adopted child and should be claimed when taxpayers file taxes for 2022.

To be eligible for the credit, parents must:

  • Have adopted a child other than a stepchild — A child must be either under 18 or be physically or mentally unable to take care of him or herself.
  • Be within the income limits — Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. The credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $223,410, and it’s completely phased out at $263,410 or more.

According to the IRS, “qualified adoption expenses” can include items like:

  • Reasonable and necessary adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses related to adoption
  • Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child

If you’re not sure whether you are eligible to use the adoption tax credit or if you paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2022, a tax professional will be able to provide more information.

How Much is the 2022 Adoption Tax Credit?

The amount families are eligible to receive from the Federal Adoption Tax Credit depends on a number of factors and will vary based on their unique situation. Families who finalize the adoption of a child with special needs in 2022 and fulfill the eligibility requirements above, can claim the full credit of $14,890 whether or not they had any expenses.

Other adopters can claim a credit based on their qualified adoption expenses, which are the reasonable and necessary expenses paid to complete the adoption that have not been reimbursed by anyone else. If the expenses are less than $14,890, the adopters claim only the amount of those expenses. However, if the expenses exceed $14,890, the adopters can claim up to, but no more than, $14,890, per child.

The Adoption Tax Credit limit is based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and is recalculated each year based on current cost of living. Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. For the 2022 Adoption Tax Credit, families with a MAGI below $223,410 can claim full credit. The credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $223,410, and it’s completely phased out at $263,410 or more.

Adoption and taxes can be complicated, and you will likely have questions about the tax benefits available in your specific situation. While we hope you find the information in this post helpful, keep in mind that Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice. Talk to a tax professional for more specific information about how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Future: 2023 Adoption Tax Credit – If you adopt a child in 2023, the credit maximum amount will be $15,950 with an AGI phaseout threshold of $239,230 to $279,230.

Present: 2022 Adoption Tax Credit – If you adopt a child in 2022, the credit maximum amount will be $14,890 with an AGI phaseout threshold of $223,410 to $263,410.

Past: 2021 Adoption Tax Credit – for the past tax year 2021, the maximum adoption credit was $14,440 per child with a phaseout range of $216,660 – $256,660.

Interaction with the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit changed in 2018, there was also a temporary change in 2021. The amount is now $2,000 per child, but only $1,400 of it can become the refundable additional child tax credit (dependent on the family’s earned income), with the remaining $600 a non-refundable Child Tax Credit.  This credit will supersede the adoption tax credit when reducing the tax liability.

To determine the amount of the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit a family uses, a family must complete the Child Tax Credit Worksheet in IRS Publication 972.  Software and tax preparers will automatically calculate these amounts.

Taxpayers who can answer “Yes” on the last line of the Child Tax Credit Worksheet may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is a refundable credit (meaning they can claim the credit regardless of their tax liability). To claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, parents must complete IRS Schedule 8812.

How Much Taxpayers Will Benefit

How much, if any, of the adoption tax credit a parent will receive depends on their federal income tax liability in 2022 (and the next five years). In one year, taxpayers can use as much of the credit as the full amount of their federal income tax liability, which is the amount on line 11 of the Form 1040 less certain other credits (see Child Tax Credit above). Even those who normally get a refund may still have tax liability and could get a larger refund with the adoption tax credit. Taxpayers have six years (the year they first claimed the credit plus five additional years) to use the credit.

People who do not have federal income tax liability will not benefit this year. We encourage them to claim the credit and carry it forward to future years since the credit may become refundable again in the future.

Claiming the Adoption Tax Credit

To claim the credit, taxpayers will complete a 2022 version of IRS Form 8839 (available at irs.gov) and submit it with their Form 1040 when they file their 2022 taxes. Most tax software will create this form for you. Before filing, taxpayers should review 2022 Form 8839 instructions (will also be available at www.irs.gov) very carefully to be sure that they apply for the credit correctly and to see if anything has changed. The instructions are needed to calculate how much of the credit will be used.

When claiming the adoption tax credit, you’ll want to be ready with documents such as:

  • The final adoption decree
  • A placement agreement from an authorized agency
  • Court documents
  • A state’s determination for special-needs children, if applicable

This is a lot of information, and you probably have more questions about the tax credit for adopting a child in your specific situation. Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice and recommends that you talk to your tax professional for specific information on how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Adoptive Family Birth Father Birth Mother Blog

2021 Adoption Tax Credit

2021 Adoption Tax Credit

The 2021 tax filing season is upon us! The Internal Revenue Service recommends taxpayers take time to determine if they are eligible for important tax credits. Many of our adoptive families will be applying for the Adoption Tax Credit. With that in mind, we have compiled some basic information about the 2021 adoption tax credit.

Adoption Tax Credit 101 – for 2021 adoptions (claimed in early 2022)

If you have done any research into adoption financing, you’ve probably heard about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit. But what exactly is this credit, and how does it work?

The Federal Adoption Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that helps families offset the costs of qualifying adoption expenses. Families who paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2021, and owe taxes, may be eligible to benefit from this credit. For adoptions finalized in 2021, there is a federal adoption tax credit of up to $14,440 per child. The 2021 adoption tax credit is NOT refundable, which means taxpayers can only use the credit if they have federal income tax liability.

Parents who are adopting from the U.S. and claiming qualified adoption expenses can claim the credit the year of finalization or the year after they spent the funds. Parents who adopt a child with special needs and are not basing their request on expenses should claim the credit the year of finalization. Parents who adopt internationally cannot claim the credit until the year of finalization.

The credit applies one time for each adopted child and should be claimed when taxpayers file taxes for 2021.

To be eligible for the credit, parents must:

  • Have adopted a child other than a stepchild — A child must be either under 18 or be physically or mentally unable to take care of him or herself.
  • Be within the income limits — Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. The credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $223,410, and it’s completely phased out at $263,410 or more.

According to the IRS, “qualified adoption expenses” can include items like:

  • Reasonable and necessary adoption fees
  • Court costs and attorney fees
  • Traveling expenses related to adoption
  • Other expenses that are directly related to and for the principal purpose of the legal adoption of an eligible child

If you’re not sure whether you are eligible to use the adoption tax credit or if you paid qualifying adoption expenses in 2021, a tax professional will be able to provide more information.

How Much is the 2021 Adoption Tax Credit?

The amount families are eligible to receive from the Federal Adoption Tax Credit depends on a number of factors and will vary based on their unique situation. Families who finalize the adoption of a child with special needs in 2021 and fulfill the eligibility requirements above, can claim the full credit of $14,4400 whether or not they had any expenses.

Other adopters can claim a credit based on their qualified adoption expenses, which are the reasonable and necessary expenses paid to complete the adoption that have not been reimbursed by anyone else. If the expenses are less than $14,4400, the adopters claim only the amount of those expenses. However, if the expenses exceed $14,4400, the adopters can claim up to, but no more than, $14,4400, per child.

The Adoption Tax Credit limit is based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and is recalculated each year based on current cost of living. Income affects how much of the credit parents can claim. For the 2021 Adoption Tax Credit, families with a MAGI below $216,660 can claim full credit. The credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $216,660, and it’s completely phased out at $256,660 or more.

Adoption and taxes can be complicated, and you will likely have questions about the tax benefits available in your specific situation. While we hope you find the information in this post helpful, keep in mind that Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice. Talk to a tax professional for more specific information about how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

2022 Adoption Tax Credit – If you adopt a child in 2022, the credit maximum amount will be $14,890 with an AGI phaseout threshold of $223,410 to $263,410.

2020 Adoption Tax Credit – for the past tax year 2020, the maximum adoption credit was $14,300 per child with a phaseout range of $214,520 – $254,520.

Interaction with the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit changed in 2018. The amount is now $2,000 per child, but only $1,400 of it can become the refundable additional child tax credit (dependent on the family’s earned income), with the remaining $600 a non-refundable Child Tax Credit.  This credit will supersede the adoption tax credit when reducing the tax liability.

To determine the amount of the Child Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit a family uses, a family must complete the Child Tax Credit Worksheet in IRS Publication 972.  Software and tax preparers will automatically calculate these amounts.

Taxpayers who can answer “Yes” on the last line of the Child Tax Credit Worksheet may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is a refundable credit (meaning they can claim the credit regardless of their tax liability). To claim the Additional Child Tax Credit, parents must complete IRS Schedule 8812.

How Much Taxpayers Will Benefit

How much, if any, of the adoption tax credit a parent will receive depends on their federal income tax liability in 2020 (and the next five years). In one year, taxpayers can use as much of the credit as the full amount of their federal income tax liability, which is the amount on line 11 of the Form 1040 less certain other credits (see Child Tax Credit above). Even those who normally get a refund may still have tax liability and could get a larger refund with the adoption tax credit. Taxpayers have six years (the year they first claimed the credit plus five additional years) to use the credit.

People who do not have federal income tax liability will not benefit this year. We encourage them to claim the credit and carry it forward to future years since the credit may become refundable again in the future.

Claiming the Adoption Tax Credit

To claim the credit, taxpayers will complete a 2021 version of IRS Form 8839 (available at irs.gov in early 2022) and submit it with their Form 1040 when they file their 2021 taxes. Most tax software will create this form for you. Before filing, taxpayers should review 2021 Form 8839 instructions (will also be available at www.irs.gov) very carefully to be sure that they apply for the credit correctly and to see if anything has changed. The instructions are needed to calculate how much of the credit will be used.

When claiming the adoption tax credit, you’ll want to be ready with documents such as:

  • The final adoption decree
  • A placement agreement from an authorized agency
  • Court documents
  • A state’s determination for special-needs children, if applicable

This is a lot of information, and you probably have more questions about the tax credit for adopting a child in your specific situation. Adoption Choices does not offer tax advice and recommends that you talk to your tax professional for specific information on how the Adoption Tax Credit can benefit your family.

Adoptive Family Birth Mother Blog

Gift-Giving and Adoption in Missouri

Gift-Giving and Adoption in Missouri

The Christmas season is filled with the spirit of giving. If you’re involved in an open or semi-open adoption, you may be wondering how to approach gift-giving and adoption without crossing any boundaries. Gift-giving can be a very personal, meaningful way to express your gratitude for someone and let them know that they are special to you. However, giving a gift that goes too far or doesn’t display any effort can be somewhat offensive. Adoption Choices of Missouri has counseled hundreds of birth mothers and adoptive parents before and wants to help you understand how to give good gifts this Christmas. Here are some ideas of what to give and what not to give to the various people involved in your adoption this Christmas season. 

Gift-Giving Ideas for Your Child After an Adoption

As a birth mother you might want to give your child a gift this Christmas, here are a few tips. Before you buy your child a gift, you should check with the adoptive parents and figure out what budget they have for Christmas presents. Trying to buy your child a more expensive or elaborate gift than the adoptive parents is not a great way to maintain a good relationship with them. Instead, work out a budget with the parents and base your gift on that. You may want to get your child a gift that reflects your heritage so that they have an item that will remind them that a part of them will always be connected to you. You could also get them a gift that follows a theme so that in years to come, they will have a collection of special items that they can clearly link back to you. Some examples of theme gifts could be an ornament, a stuffed animal, or a board game. Try not to give your child any gifts that might conflict with what their adoptive parents allow or agree with, such as religious items or media that might be controversial. Overall, be thoughtful with the gift that you choose, and deliver it in a way that aligns with the adoption plan you agreed upon with the adoptive parents. 

Thoughtful Gift Ideas for The Adoptive Parents

If you are a birth mother, you may wish to provide the adoptive parents with a gift to express your gratitude or just to show you care about them. Just like with your child, make sure you don’t send them anything that could be considered offensive or contradict their personal beliefs. Giving a gift to the adoptive parents isn’t always appropriate in certain relationships, but it can be very meaningful if you have a good relationship with them. You don’t need to splurge on them in order to “earn” their approval. The gift you choose for them should just be something that expresses your gratitude for them and will let them know that you’re thinking of them during the holidays. If you don’t feel like you can get them a gift, you could consider writing them a thoughtful letter instead. Giving gifts this Christmas should only be done out of care and gratitude rather than obligation or insecurity. 

What Can I GiveThe Birth Mother as a Holiday Gift?

If you’re the adoptive parents, giving a gift to the birth mother might be something that you wish to do this Christmas. If you have a good relationship with the mother and wish to let, her know that you’re thinking of her, sending a gift is a meaningful way to express this. As before, make sure that the gift won’t come across as rude or offensive, and don’t try to overwhelm her with a gift that might make her feel insecure about whatever she got you (if you’re exchanging presents). You could consider asking her what she might need or want so your gift will be utilized well. Buying a personalized gift may show her that you gave her present some thought. 

Have a Merry Christmas from Adoption Choices of Missouri

Christmas time isn’t meant to be stressful, so only give a gift if you want to and know it will be appreciated. Adoption Choices of Missouri hopes that these tips will guide you as you determine what type of gift to give. If you’re facing unplanned or teen pregnancy, please reach out to Adoption Choices of Missouri. We will seek to assist you as you decide whether or not to place your baby for adoption.

Adoption Choices of Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond, please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll-free at 877-903-4488 or, in Missouri call or text us at 816-527-9800

KylaMeet the author: Kyla’s life has been filled with adventure and transition – both good and difficult. She loves to take on challenges head-on and lead an organized and balanced life. She’s passionate about many different areas and loves how writing gives her the flexibility to engage in research of almost every field of study imaginable. She grew up very involved in theater and music and continues to use her free time to play the piano and sing. However, she is also very interested in how the natural world works and takes any chance she has to spend the day away from crowds, enveloped in the seclusion of nature. Growing up in the Philippines, she’s had some unique experiences that have shaped her worldview and given her a deeper understanding and appreciation for different cultures. She gets excited about research papers, completed to-do lists, and her morning coffee.

Adoptive Family Birth Father Birth Mother Blog

JOURNEY TO MY DAUGHTER

Adoption Story with Author, Jennifer Asher – Now Available for Pre-Order

“I tried so hard at the beginning to force things to go my way. I eventually recognized that I needed to follow the signs when I was headed down the wrong path. When I let go of control a bit, and allowed the tide to direct me, everything worked out as it should.”

A powerful idea. A brave expedition. We hear it constantly on this journey to have a baby, grow our family, or extend our family, right? Don’t force things. Just relax. Go with the flow. Stay positive, have faith, don’t stress… But sometimes hearing it from someone who has actually worn the shoes, been there, done that, and even wrote a book about it – we can listen more closely and too, let go – even if just a little bit – of our control and as Jennifer puts it, allow the universe to conspire.

Jennifer and Marc adopted a baby in 2001 from Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. After multiple miscarriages, their journey through adoption took them across the world and back and ultimately landed in Oklahoma. All they knew from the beginning is that they wanted the entire process to be done quickly. International adoption was their chosen route and specifically, Vietnam, was their destination.

Jennifer details in her book, Journey to My Daughter, the sometimes difficult, often surprising, and looking back hilarious obstacles along the way. Knowing Jennifer and Marc have a beautiful 20 year old daughter doesn’t deter the edge of the seat craving for ‘what happened next!?’ When they say “This child was meant to be our child!” you too, feel it in your soul!

Jennifer first wrote the book, 20 years ago to her daughter. She knew from the beginning to get it all in ink, to remember the details, so she could later share the full report with her. The adoption was no secret and in fact, they maintained an opportunity for an open adoption after placement with the birth parents. Over time the relationship has changed, new relationships have developed, and of course with social media, communication is simple and fast.

After much encouragement Jennifer shares her story in this compelling memoir detailing miscarriage, adoption, and self-discovery. In hopes to be published in December, Jennifer has created a campaign to help reach funding for publishing. If everything feels like it’s going wrong, this adoption story will help you realize you are being led to everything that is right! Plus, pre-order means exclusive rewards!

  • You will receive a personally signed copy of Journey to My Daughter with a handwritten thank-you note.
  • Your name will appear in the Acknowledgments section of the book (“with Special Thanks to”).
  • You will receive early access to the Introduction and some excerpts from the book, with the opportunity to review it and give early feedback.
  • You will have the opportunity to be involved in selecting the cover and author photo.
  • You will be invited to join Jennifer’s Author Community and get behind-the-scenes sneak peeks into the publishing process.
  • And much more!

Place your order for Journey to My Daughter now! <— Click Here!!

Jennifer is offering an exclusive perk for Adoption Choices adoptive families. She is prepared to help you help your child understand their adoption story by helping you create the language for your own personalized book for your child. Most adoptive parents understand the importance of talking to their adopted child about their adoption story and adoption identity. However, no matter how much preparation they do, some adoptive parents still wonder exactly how to talk to their child about adoption in a positive way that they can understand.

With Jennifer’s expertise – which will include a one-on-one consultation – she will help you develop a clear understanding for your child and express your excitement and gratitude about the way your child came into your life. Putting your adoption story in writing provides a concrete story that can be referred to again and again throughout their childhood!

This opportunity is only available to Adoption Choices adoptive families and is only available for a short time!

For more information, you can connect with Jennifer at jenniferroseasher@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Rose-Asher-Author-100593285646703 or @Jennifer Rose Asher
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferroseasher/ or @jenniferroseasher
Twitter: @Jenrasher
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniferroseasher/

Adoption Choices of Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond, please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll free at 877-903-4488 or, in Missouri call or text us at 1-816-527-9800

Adoptive Family Birth Father Birth Mother Blog

Merry Christmas from Adoption Choices

To all of our friends, families, prospective adoptive families, and birth parents who celebrate Christmas, may the magic of the season fill you with hope and peace! Sending you a very Merry Christmas!

Adoption Choices of Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond, please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll free at 877-903-4488 or, in Missouri call or text us at 1-816-527-9800

Adoptive Family Birth Mother Blog

An Adoption Story – A Life-Changing Decision: Amy Hammack

A Life-Changing Decision: Amy Hammack

“Living an experience is to know it. For the birth mother, however, living the experience and understanding the totality of the experience may take a lifetime journey.” — Donna Portuesi, from  “Impact of the Birthmother’s Experience, Then and Now

You’re 16. Six months pregnant. No one knows. You had done your best hiding the reality of a new life growing inside you. Even from your parents. The due date was quickly approaching, and you know you want to make a plan for adoption, but nothing’s prepared yet. You don’t feel like you can tell anyone because of the shame, but soon you won’t be able to hide anymore. What do you do?

For Amy Hammack, this was the beginning of her adoption journey. The moment in her life when everything changed. I had the privilege of hearing Amy’s story, and marveled at her strength and bravery. What she went through to give her son the best life possible is a rich example of a mother’s love.

The following interview is used with Amy’s expressed permission, including the use of her name. Her son, Robb Dow, has also given consent to the use of his name. Other names of friends and family, however, have been altered for the sake of privacy.

RR: When did you decide to make a plan for adoption?

AH: I was doing a lot of babysitting at the time. I babysat for this woman named Caitlyn. She had her child at a young age, too…she had had her first kid at 16, and her second three years later, and I saw her abuse them from time to time. I was more of a mother to her kids than she was…they used to call me “mommy.”

I babysat for another woman, and I could see she was a very loving mother. That’s when I decided I wanted to choose adoption.

I hid my pregnancy for the first six months. I didn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed. For your first pregnancy, it takes a while for you to show. I was just starting to show a baby lump, and I started wearing baggier clothes. My mother worked a second shift — both my parents, actually — so they didn’t see me much. Then, on the weekends, I tried to stay at friends’ places.

RR: How did you go about telling your parents?

AH: How I told them was through a friend of mine. I hadn’t been to the doctor because I was so freaked out, and he confirmed it there. He said, “You are this far along” and started to give me options. Did I want to keep the baby? I was Catholic, so I didn’t believe in abortion. He talked to me about adoption, which I kinda already knew about.

So, after that, I ran away. I didn’t go to school, and moved in with my friend. My parents didn’t know. I called and said I wasn’t coming home. They told me that no, I needed to come home so we could face this together.

I didn’t tell them on the phone that I was pregnant. My dad had told me once that, “if you ever get pregnant, I’ll kill ya.” And, you know, that sticks in your mind. He wouldn’t really, but I was still scared.

My friend was the one who ended up telling them. She said, “We went to the doctor today, and Amy is six months pregnant.” Just like that. Matter of fact. I had already decided I was going to move out and give the baby up for adoption. My dad said, “No, we need to talk about what the next few months are going to bring. If you want to give the baby up, that’s up to you. I understand the situation you’re in, and I kinda know what you’re going through.”

My mom and I were curious about this, so…I’m thinking maybe I have other siblings. My dad played around on my mom a lot.

Then my dad cried and said, “I’m glad you’re doing this.”

RR: Did you ever feel pressured to choose adoption, or was it completely your choice?

AH: It’s something I always wanted to do. I felt like I had nothing to offer. Once you have a kid, you’re responsible for a kid in so many different ways, and I was just a high school student.

I had nothing to offer. I was a high school student. I hadn’t even begun to live my life. I had to get through graduation. I had finished my junior year and still had senior year.

RR: Did you feel stigmatized for your choice?

AH: I was afraid I was going to be labeled as “slut,” or any of those other ones. I hid my pregnancy from everyone. Only three friends knew, and one of them didn’t even go to my school. They didn’t say anything.

RR: What was your path to adoption like?

AH: I babysat for a lady, Vicky, who had adopted a child. She knew my son’s adoptive aunt. She saw me walking one day, and wondered why I wasn’t in school. She hadn’t seen me in a while, and asked me what was going on. I was within six to eight weeks of delivery at this point. She said she knew of a family who was trying to adopt, and asked if she could make a phone call to them.

Within a few days, the adoptive parents took me out to lunch, and that’s the one and only time I met them. I can’t remember the place, but it was somewhere downtown Seattle and they brought their attorney. They wanted to make sure I understood that this was going to be a closed adoption, and that I was going to be taken care of. They offered to buy me a car so I could make it to my doctor’s appointments. (Laughs) A car. I didn’t even have my driver’s license, so that wasn’t going to work.

Closed adoptions is just what you did in 1981. If there was a choice otherwise, I wasn’t aware of it.

RR: What was the hospital experience like?

AH: When I got to the delivery room, I was crowning. Then they put something in my IV and told me to start counting backwards from one hundred. They put me completely out for the birth. Back then, they didn’t want you to remember anything. I understand why now…all the emotions…it makes it harder to give the baby up. Doctors didn’t want women to experience the birth. All they wanted was to get the baby out.

The same thing was done to my mom, even though she never gave a child up. It was believed then that it was best for you and the baby, but I think it had a lot to do with the doctor you got, too.

Afterwards, they put me in a different area of the hospital entirely. I was put in the burn unit. This was so I wouldn’t have any chance of seeing or being close to my baby. They said it wouldn’t have been safe to bring my baby there anyway, because the burn unit attracted bugs.

“I want to see my baby girl,” I told a nurse. I didn’t know what I was having, actually.

“It wasn’t a baby girl,” the nurse said. She was very nice. “It was a healthy baby boy.”

Another nurse came up. “Shh! It’s an adoption! You’re not supposed to say anything!”

They said I wouldn’t remember anything, but I remember that part.

RR: After the adoption, how did you process and grieve?

AH: I went numb. I can’t explain it. You know you’ve had a baby, now you can go back to school. And then…going back to school…everyone is like, “Where have you been?” But what do you say? I just told them I was sick, and didn’t want to talk about it.

It was hard on my parents, too. They were losing a grandchild. So, we didn’t talk about it. We acted like we completely forget about what happened. I think it was harder on my mom, because she had wanted me to keep him. Dad had made it clear from the beginning, “It’s Amy’s decision. It’s not up to you. We need to respect her decision.” This made me feel like they really accepted me and respected my choice.

Because my friend had been getting me my homework, I didn’t fall back behind in school. The only thing I had to do when I went back was earn extra credits so I could graduate. Every day after school, I would take the bus and stay at an elementary school for an hour to an hour and a half. I would grade papers, take kids out a recess, read to them — whatever the teacher wanted me to do.

To keep my mind off things, Vicky said that joining a pageant would help. So, I was part of the Miss Auburn Pageant. It didn’t make me forget, but it helped keep me distracted. The thing about being in the pageant was that you have a very strict schedule you have to abide by. You have to act in a certain way, there are events you had to go to…you had to be a good girl. Four days a week I was learning how to walk in heels, how to model, the proper ways to do makeup and hair — all the stuff I wasn’t into.

I had four brothers. I was your typical tomboy. My mom would put me in a dress, and by the time I got to school the curls and bun were pulled out. I played in dirt. My nickname was Mugs. If there was dirt, I would find it.

So, the [Miss Auburn] Pageant helped, but when it was done I had time to think. Everyone tried to keep my mind off it, but I thought about him — especially on birthdays and holidays.

RR: Tell me a bit more about your son’s adoptive parents.

AH: Rob’s mom was never able to have kids. She had something happen when she was 20 years old, and she had a hysterectomy. But, she’d always wanted children. She was in her early 30s, and her husband was much older.

She was a hairdresser, and he owned a boat company. I knew what they did, and their names. When I babysat for Vicky, I found pictures of Robb, and I took one. I knew it was him, because I recognized the mother holding him and the father and his big smile.

RR: Did you pick Robb’s name, or did his parents name him?

AH: Robb was named after his father’s dad, Robert. This is ironic because, if I had kept him, I was going to [pick the same name, and have his middle name after his birth father].

RR: Did Robb’s birth father know that he had a son?

AH: His birth father knew about him. He called me a “dirty little slut,” then completely disappeared. He was in the army, married with two kids. I thought I was in love, but I had just turned 16. I didn’t know what love was. Here I was with daddy issues, and my dad was drinking. When my dad finally paid attention, it was too late.

I had never had someone pay attention to me in that way. He gave me attention, bought me clothes and dropped me off at school. Even offered his credit card, but I never took him up on that. It was a lot like Pretty Woman.

Years later, I found out he got kicked out the army and did what he did to me to someone else. He had picked up a friend of mine to take her home, and then I found out that he’d had sex with her that day, too. She ended up marrying a woman. I realized then that I had been pretty much raped by him. That he had groomed me. He got what he wanted, and then he moved on.

The attorney that came with Robb’s parents published an announcement in a newspaper just to go through the proper channels. They knew that Robb’s birth father would never respond. He had told me he didn’t care, and to never contact him again. When I signed the papers at the hospital, the attorney explained that they had chosen a newspaper nowhere near us, because they were trying to protect me. Since they knew his birth father wasn’t going to come forward, the distance kept anyone at my school from seeing it.

It was a no brainer to me. I trusted Vicky, and knew that she would make sure I was well taken care of.

RR: How have you found healing?

AH: I went back to school in 2003 and took a Psychology class, where I learned how much I had been punishing myself over the years. In high school, I explained that I chose adoption because of all the things I wanted to do. I was going to go into the military, but never did. I had good intentions, but — honestly — my biggest fear was getting pregnant again. One thing I always did was with every relationship…I was very open and honest about [Robb’s adoption]. I felt like that was the right thing to do. Being baptized and doing Bible study helped, too. It helped me not be afraid to admit who I was. But, inside, choosing adoption was still the hardest thing I ever did.

Until my Psych class, though, I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself. That I never gave myself time to heal. That’s an important process. Healing. One of the ways I learned I could do that was to write about it and let it out. So, in either 2004 or 2005, I found Donna’s article on the website, “Silent Voices Unheard.” It touched me and started the healing process. I tried to not think of Robb’s adoption. It hurt too much not knowing him or if I would ever meet him again, and thinking about it made me very emotional. This article is what inspired me to educate myself, and is what woke me up.

RR: What advice would you give birth mothers or adoptive parents looking to adopt?

AH: (Pause) You brought up a memory when you asked that. Going back to the Miss Auburn pageant…there were other girls who were pregnant and wanted to talk about it. I didn’t think I was the best person for them to come to, and said they should go the counselors. But I told them, “Here’s my story. This is what I did.”

It’s a big decision, and a life-changing one. It will change who you are all the way around. Make sure you do your research. Only you can make this decision for your life.

Having Robb and choosing adoption was a blessing. I’m glad I decided to make a bad choice into a positive decision. He has even told me, “Thank you for giving birth to me.” This makes everything worth it.

 

Adoptive Family Birth Mother Blog

An Adoption Story: The Selfless Choice: Michelle Guykema

The Selfless Choice: Michelle Guykema

“A birth mother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart.” 

~ Skye Hardwick

When it comes to making a plan for adoption, birth mothers face a lot of pushback. Stigmas surrounding their choice claim they are irresponsible or just looking to take the easy way out. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Choosing adoption is an excruciating and selfless journey. It is not something that can be decided flippantly, and it isn’t for the faint of heart.

For Michelle Guykema, she’d always wanted to be a mother. It was her ultimate life goal. But, when she became pregnant unexpectedly at eighteen, she didn’t have the resources or lifestyle to adequately make her dream come true. Hence, her path to adoption began.

The following interview is used with Michelle’s permission, including the use of her name and that of my birth father. Names of others involved have been left purposefully nondescript for the sake of privacy or legal reasons. There were so many details shared that not everything was able to make it into this article; however, Michelle has voiced the desire to write a book about her adoption journey, which she hopes to have published one day.

Disclaimer: Please note that the following worldview illustrated in this interview is a reflection of my birth mother’s beliefs and her experience. Adoption Choices Inc. is a non-faith based adoption agency, and ensures clear communication with all parties from beginning to end. 

RR: What was your path to adoption like?

MG: So, when I found out I was pregnant, I was very surprised because I was on the pill. Your birth father and I had a good relationship for a while, but then when he got into drinking and doing drugs, it changed the dynamics of our relationship. He became abusive. He didn’t want you, so I asked my mom and my stepdad if they would help. They were just newly married, though, so they couldn’t do anything about a new baby coming.

I was only working part time and still living with my mom and stepdad. I talked to the pastor of my church — I was working in the daycare, working Sundays and Wednesdays — and he said that he knew of somebody that could help me through the adoption process.

We hired an attorney. I can’t remember who recommended the attorney. If she was recommended by my pastor or not, but through the course of my pregnancy, I was having a really hard time because I didn’t want this. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I felt like I didn’t have a choice. That I didn’t have the means to take care of you, and I was still living with my parents. Bob wasn’t any help; he didn’t have a job, no money and still living with his parents.

The attorney said she would help us find a family. My pastor was active in the process as well, and said that he would also help us find a family. We met with the attorney several times and she encouraged us to sign the adoption papers right away, but I wouldn’t. Bob signed the papers a couple months later, in March, but I was still holding on for some kind of miracle that I was going to be able to keep you.

RR: How did you select the adoptive parents?

MG: I was given several packets of biographies from different families — I think either seven or nine, but can’t remember — and I read through each one of them. I was like, “I don’t know how to do this. I have no idea how to make this decision.” But I remember sitting on my bed and just praying and crying…I was so overwhelmed. It’s like, how am I supposed to pick who I’m going to give my child to? I don’t know any of these people, and people can put anything down on paper.

So, I turned all the profiles upside down and shuffled them around on my bed. I prayed over every single one and said, “Ok, Lord. You’re picking the family, because I don’t know who they are and You can see what’s going on. I have no idea, so I’m putting my total trust in you.” I closed my eyes, reached down, and took a deep breath. In that moment, I was thinking, “Ok, if I don’t like the person or their name, I can just throw them back in the pile.” (Laughs) But no…I trusted God and chose the packet I picked up, and it was your adoptive parents, Mark and Patty.

After that, I contacted my pastor and he contacted the attorney, and then…I honestly don’t remember a lot of all the moving pieces because it was so emotional for me. This was the hardest decision I have ever made. But we went through the process of what it was going to be like.

RR: Was it your choice to have a closed adoption?

MG: When I talked to my attorney, I told her that I would like to get pictures of you, see who you were, watch you grow up from afar and to have a relationship with you. Stuff like that. I asked her if that would be possible. She told me that your adoptive parents — the interested party — didn’t want to have an open adoption. It needed to be closed. I guess closed adoptions were popular back then, but anyways…I didn’t really feel like I had a choice. It was something I had to agree to.

RR: What did you know about adoption starting out?

MG: I didn’t know anything about adoption. My brother was adopted, but I didn’t really understand what that entailed and it never mattered.  He was my brother and I loved him like he was my natural brother. I hadn’t researched ahead of time because frankly, I really didn’t know where to start. Because of that, I hadn’t educated myself to the degree that I should have to understand all the ins and outs. Adoption also wasn’t talked about back then as it is now.

RR: Did you ever feel stigmatized or judged for your choice?

MG: So…not many people knew. There was my mom and stepdad, and a few family members, Bob’s family and a few of his friends but for the most part, I kept it quiet and hidden because I didn’t want people to know. What would people think of me? The thought of people not liking me because I gave my child up? Yeah, that was scary to me because you get judged as, you know, you don’t love your child or whatever…those people don’t understand what birth parents go through. I loved my daughter more than I loved myself.  I wanted her to have a better life with parents who could afford to give her the best life possible, employed, a stable and loving home, who would have more children and older than eighteen years old. That is why I had to do what I did, to give her the best life possible.

So yeah…I think that I was pretty nervous to tell people. Not only nervous but it was going to be painful to relive my decision over and over when people asked me, “Well, I thought you had a baby. Where’s your baby?” It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

RR: How did you keep your pregnancy hidden?

MG: When I was with Bob, my circle of friends didn’t like him too much, so that was easy not telling them, because I didn’t see them anymore. We mainly hung around Bob’s friends and family. Bob had his own group of friends that he ran with, and I sort of incorporated myself into that. He was like the leader, and all of his friends were very protective of me.

I lived with Bob at his parents house for a few months and when we weren’t camping, we stayed in a lot. We were always at his house or at his best friends’ house.  Then, during the 2nd term of my pregnancy, we rented our own house on Education Hill. We were only there, though, for probably two or three months because we couldn’t pay rent.

RR: Were your parents supportive when you told them you were pregnant? What was their reaction?

MG: Their first reaction was shock. They started asking me all these questions, like: how are you going to do this? Do you know how much a baby costs? You don’t even have your own place yet. You know, typical things like that. Next was concern. Saying, “Ok, you’re pregnant. You’re going to have a baby. You need to move back home with us. You need to start eating healthy. You need to start taking prenatal vitamins.” Stuff like that.

They did not like Bob. They tolerated him towards the end of my pregnancy because I kept hoping he’d change his mind and want to keep you

At one point, though, after the shock wore off, I think I was 3 months along when I told them I was pregnant, my mom and stepdad became very active in my pregnancy. They went to Lamaze classes, they went for walks with me every day, made sure I was eating healthy and taking my vitamins. Went to my doctor appointments with me and even sat me down and said that they wished they could help. That if there was any way they had the finances, they would take care of you. But, because they were newly married and had just bought their first house, they were financially strapped.

I was 6 months pregnant with you when Bob signed the papers. I started hanging out with my parents more. I moved back in with them, and they were there for me through everything.

RR: How did you process and grieve after the adoption?

MG: After I signed the papers, on the day you were born, my attorney told me I had three days to change my mind. No one ever told me that it had to be in writing. Just that I had three days after I signed the papers. So, on the third day, I called my attorney. I was freaking out, and told her I had changed my mind. She basically told me that I had run out of time and that because it wasn’t in writing, there was nothing she could do. Calling her was a knee-jerk reaction. I didn’t actually know what I was going to do if I got you back. All I knew was that I hurt so deeply, missed you so much and I had to figure out a way to stop the pain.

I spent three months in my room at my parent’s house. Sobbing uncontrollably, and rocking myself like I was holding you on my bedroom floor. I got really depressed. Saying goodbye to you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I isolated myself, and didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t even talk to Bob or make an attempt to see him. My heart broke when he signed the papers 3 months before you were born, and broke again when I had to give you over to the nurse so she could take you to your new family. In my heart, Bob and I were over then. Although, we didn’t officially break up until the December after you were born.

I couldn’t work at the church nursery for a good three or four months. My pastor told me that the adoptive parents he’d found for you were part of his church, so when I did start at the daycare again, every single baby…I wondered if it was you. I asked my mom if I would be able to recognize you. If I would know I was holding my own child. She told me that we wouldn’t have the same connection, but that it was probably possible that I would. So, I never stopped looking. Every time I saw someone pushing their baby in a stroller, or walking down the street with their daughter. I would always wonder if I’d catch a glimpse of you. I thought about you every day. Prayed for you. Celebrated your birthdays with you. Never gave up hope that one day I would meet you.

RR: How have you found healing?

MG: No one tells you the amount of strength you’ll need to get through this…to continue to go through life. It’s like a death. But, in some aspects, death would be easier. Because while I was grieving the loss of not having you, I knew you were out there with somebody and I couldn’t see you. I couldn’t know what was going on in your life. It was hell.

There’s no way I could have done this without God. He was my focus. My center. He was the reason that I was able to put you up for adoption. I didn’t believe in abortion. That wasn’t even an option. It never crossed my mind. I encompassed everything in my life around God. Listened to Christian music, started going to church a lot more, and became even more active than I had been before. I also read my Bible, and grew my relationship with Christ. Without Him…I didn’t want to be here…so, He is how I got through it.

RR: What was the most challenging aspect of your adoption journey?

MG: I feel that my attorney didn’t give me all the information I should have had. I feel like because I was young, she didn’t think this was any big deal for me. That I wasn’t given the full picture of what things were going to look like. Also, that she was doing this more because it was a job. She wasn’t looking out for my best interest.

Because this affected me so deeply, I really believe that this is why I have a difficult time with trusting people.  Why I have to ask a bazillion questions first. Giving up a child is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to go through, and you want to have people that you can trust. Your attorney should be the one person you can trust the most, because they are supposed to be representing you. I don’t feel like she did that for me.

RR: If there was one, what would be a highlight of your adoption journey?

MG: The Lord honored His promise. He put you with the best family, and they took care of you and loved you as their own. So, in my mind, that makes them amazing parents. And, you’re beautiful! You are just so amazing, and I’m so blessed that I can have you and your parents as a part of my life. The Lord is faithful! He promised, and He took care of you.

RR: What advice would you give to other birth mothers looking to place, and other adoptive parents looking to adopt?

MG: For birth mothers…seriously, do your research. Get as much information as you can. Absolutely make sure what the laws are, and your rights. If you have questions, ask. Don’t leave any holes open. This will affect you the rest of your life.

To adoptive parents…protect your heart as much as you can until you know the child is yours. The risk of falling in love with the child, and things falling through is there. Whether the birth mother changes her mind or something else happens. Always be prepared.