Sunday, April 29, 2012

Worst Fears


I have a few illogical fears... I'm not afraid of mustard or balloons or anything bizarre like that, but there are a few things that debilitate me just at the mere thought of them. Let me be a wuss, I don't care! Ha ha. My fears have changed since we got Kal, though. Now my fears and worry center around him. I'm definitely a mom now.

One of my more recent "worst fears" comes from a story I heard - something that was supposedly on the news. DON'T READ AHEAD if you are easily freaked out about the idea of something harming your child!

The story was about a parent coming onto their child's room to wake them up... And instead of seeing their baby sleeping peacefully in their crib, they see a huge SNAKE curled up in a corner of the crib, full from a recent meal... A huge bulge in their middle.

Yeah. Absolutely terrifying. A story like that can keep me up at night in a panic. I think as the story went, it was an escaped neighbor's pet snake that crawled in through the baby's window. I would never, ever, ever want a snake in my house for any reason. A pet snake is horrifying to me. Not my thing, sorry. I would be in a constant state of fear.

So, yesterday we had a new neighbor moving in. Zay went and helped them move boxes into their place and when they were all done, the guy gets one last thing out of his car - TWO PET SNAKES!! He brings them over to show us and I just slowly back way with Kal on my hip.

Nope. I don't like it.

We've only been in our new place for 7 months and we've got a year lease... But I think it's time to move. It must be a sign. In the meantime, I'm ready to get some 2x4's and board up Kal's window or have him sleep with us! I'm am fReAkEd OuT!!

*Deep breaths*

Friday, April 13, 2012

Open Adoption Agreements

Open adoptions are a lot of things: beautiful, scary, new, natural, and loving. But one thing they are not is enforceable. I really hope birthparents know this! Because there can be a lot of deceit in adoption. Agencies can use the idea of an open adoption to entice pregnant women into placing their babies for adoption, because it can be comforting to know that you can still see the child and be informed of their development, etc. But agencies can't promise that an open adoption will be anything like what a birthmom imagined or that it will stay open long-term. Anything regarding "openness" that is agreed upon prior to the adoption may or may not happen at all. It all comes down to the honesty of the people involved and how everybody feels afterwards. Feelings can change. But not all agencies are evil baby snatchers and not all adoptive couples suddenly disappear with the baby. Healthy open adoptions do exist... In fact, it's really the direction that adoption in general is and should be headed.

Since there is no one way to have an open adoption, a document can be drawn up stating the terms of the open adoption - including things like how often pictures/information is exchanged and the number of visits birthparents can have a year or whatever. They call this an "open adoption agreement" and adoptive parents and birthparents can sign it at the time of placement. It can get as specific as you want and can extend to other members of the birth family, etc. It can be a really great way to start off an open adoption if everyone involved would like to stick to some sort of plan and have some structure. Open adoption can be muddy territory and an agreement upfront could help everyone to wade through it all with some level of expectation and certainty. The signing of the document could even be done ceremoniously with pictures taken and a copy of it given to both families. It can be a beautiful part of the joining of two families together through adoption.

A document like that can be misleading, though. In reality, after an adoption takes place, adoptive parents can behave like any other parents out there - they can share or withhold information and pictures as they please, they can move wherever they want to, they can change the baby's name, they can do whatever they want to do! The contract itself isn't worth much, legally. Birthparents sign relinquishment papers for a reason - to relinquish any parental rights whatsoever. An open adoption agreement can't undo that.

We have an open adoption with our son's birth family. It's something new to us and new to them, so we really don't know how to go about it other than to do what feels right and treat them just like we do anybody else in our extended family. The important thing is having that line of communication open. We told them beforehand that we wanted an open adoption, but we never put any "open adoption agreement" in writing or decided on anything specific. I don't know if that was wise or not, looking back. At the time, I thought a structured agreement was too formal and unnecessary. But I see the value in it now. We're kind of just winging it, and maybe that will work out the best for us or maybe we'll figure out our mistakes along the way. The great thing about it being an open adoption is that we can always talk to our son's birthmom directly and find out how she feels about things and let her know how we're doing as well. She can always contact us and let us know whether she needs more or less of anything.

That's the beauty of it! But just like any relationship, it's not forced or enforceable.

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to showcase the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. Click here to view other blogs participating in this particular Adoption Roundtable on "Agreements."

Monday, April 9, 2012

*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part IV

I do single braids as well. :)




Friday, April 6, 2012

*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part III

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Adoption Tax Credit

When we were first looking into adoption, we knew it could range from fairly expensive to CRAZY expensive. Agency fees, court costs, attorney fees, travel expenses, etc. can add up pretty fast, especially if you face multiple failed adoption attempts. The Federal Adoption Tax Credit was mentioned in passing in some of the many meetings we attended prior to adopting Kal, but at the time that meant nothing to me. We would still need the money upfront for whatever expenses we incurred throughout the adoption, whether we'd get some of that back in taxes the next year or not. I was worried about having the money now when it was needed. Possible future money was irrelevant...

Fast forward a year - and dang, that adoption tax credit is a huge blessing! Domestic (non-special needs) adoption expenses incurred in 2011 can be claimed on your tax return filed in 2012. And, depending on your income, you can get a refundable tax credit for all your qualified adoption expenses up to a maximum of $13,170 per adoption. The key word here is refundable. It doesn't just lower the amount of taxes you owe (which would do me absolutely no good since my tax liability is relatively nonexistent), but it means it actually all comes back as a refund. Sweeeeeet.

In our case, Kal's adoption wasn't CRAZY expensive and we'll get refunded for every penny we spent. For those who adopted through more expensive agencies or incurred higher attorney fees and court costs (due to a contested adoption, maybe?), they'll be refunded the maximum amount.

I think that is ~amazing~ and I'm glad I went into adopting prepared to have all the costs be out-of-pocket. So now, the tax credit will kind of be taken as a welcome surprise (second Christmas, anyone?!). I know for some, adding to their family through adoption would've been out of the question financially if the adoption tax credit wasn't there to ease that burden. And looking forward, the availability of that tax credit could be the deciding factor on whether a family could adopt that year or not... whether they can afford a child that year or not!

Currently, that tax credit is still up in the air. We adopted in 2011 and can get that refundable tax credit on the refund we're filing in 2012. But unless the government extends that tax credit into 2012, 2013, and beyond... adoptions that take place after 2011 will not be refundable. The latest news is that the tax credit will be available for 2012 adoptions, but it's nonrefundable... and the tax credit won't be available at all in 2013.

That won't be a deciding factor in whether or not we try to adopt another baby this year. But for many families, it may just prevent them from being able to. And that's sad! There's a petition going on right now and you can show your support for adoption by signing it. Also, if you want to stay updated on the status of future adoption tax credits, is a good website (this is a good article, as well as their FAQ page)... you can sign up for their newsletter to get the most up-to-date info on it.

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