State House eases adoptions, sets time limit

State legislators voted Tuesday to speed up adoptions in Michigan, moving to set a deadline for some parents who have second thoughts about voluntarily putting up children for adoption and shortening supervision of families with adopted infants.
AP Wire
Jun 5, 2013

One measure in a seven-bill package approved by the House and sent to the Senate would address adoptions in which birth parents choose their child's adoptive parents.

Birth parents could consent to an adoption starting 24 hours after the child's birth, in the presence of an adoption attorney or social worker from a placing agency. They would have no more than five business days to revoke their "out-of-court" consent, and a judge would decide what's in the child's best interests.

No time limit exists under current law, according to supporters.

Backers said the goal is to streamline adoptions in a fair way for everyone involved.

"To break down some of the barriers, to relieve some of the burdens ... this streamlines it and really makes people participants all the way around to see the children get into the home," said Rep. Kenneth Kurtz, a Coldwater Republican and sponsor of one bill.

Other bills would shorten the supervisory period for families adopting an infant from six months to three months — allowing adoptions to be finalized more quickly — create a registry for men who believe they may have fathered a child to be notified of any future adoption process and specify what sort of documentation counts as evidence of fatherhood.

The bills were passed by a range of 103-6 to 96-13 in the GOP-led chamber.

Rep. Pam Faris, a Clio Democrat, said she voted against some of the legislation because she heard from a local probate judge who said it would add another layer of bureaucracy. She also said she is concerned that it could let mothers off the hook on testifying who the child's biological father is.

Tom Hickson, the Michigan Catholic Conference's vice president for public policy and advocacy, said the legislation is a "win-win" for all parties.

"By shortening both the consent duration and the supervisory requirements, this legislation will help to develop a greater sense of permanency. The putative father component of the package is also helpful to ensure the child's father's rights are respected through the process," he said.

 

Comments

Vladtheimp

The margins by which the bills passed, 103-6 to 96-13 in the House, indicate their popularity, and surely reasonable and common-sense measures to make adoptions more streamlined while maintaining protections for the children is a good thing.

In fact, recognizing that adoptions are in the best interest of children and the country, the United States Congress passed laws to provide that adoptive parents are eligible for tax credits to cover expenses directly related to the adoption, such as adoption-related travel, legal fees, adoption fees and any court costs.

Unfortunately, it appears that Obama's IRS bureaucrats don't agree with the benefits of adoptions, perhaps because they believe most families that adopt are conservative and Christian. Just as they targeted groups that had Tea Party or Constitution in their names, these left wing functionaries discriminated against families filing for the adoption tax credit, flagging for further review 90 percent of those who claimed the adoption tax credit for the 2012 filing season. A report by the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service also found that nearly 70 percent of adoptive families — more than 35,000 — had at least a partial audit of their tax return. By contrast, just one percent of all returns are audited.
"The IRS's misguided procedures, and its failure to adequately adjust these processes when it learned its approach was seriously flawed, have caused significant economic harm to thousands of families who are selflessly trying to improve the lives of vulnerable children," according to the report. http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs....

Well, I guess it is important to the current regime that Planned Parenthood's revenue stream not be diminished by adoptions.

Lanivan

Just a few salient points omitted, glossed over, or misconstrued in your comment:

1.) The current IRS audit of tax returns of adoptive families is based on a tax credit addendum as part of Obamacare - yes, a tax credit to support adoptive families that was so "popular" among the House of Representatives, they saw fit to attempt to repeal it 37 times, spending over $50 million in taxpayer money and their precious time.

That law changed the way the IRS handled the tax credit for adoptions. It raised the maximum credit to $13,170 per child and made the credit refundable and retroactive. That meant the credit could boost a family's tax refund by thousands of dollars.

2.) In the past, many families had not qualified for the full credit. But the new rules made more families eligible for larger refunds. A lot of people were able to go back and amend their returns from past years.

The new rules meant the total amount of money refunded jumped fourfold.

For the 2009 tax year, 81,430 taxpayers claimed the adoption tax credit, for a total of $280.6 million. For 2010, 110,591 taxpayers claimed $1.2 billion in credits. In 2011, 51,539 taxpayers claimed $668.1 million in credits.

3.) Most families eventually got their tax refunds, with interest. According to the IRS report, the median refund for the adoption tax credit was more than $15,000.

4.) The IRS has stated that other refundable tax credits had led to fraud and that they were trying to prevent this from occurring with the adoption credit. Implementation of the adoption credit program with an approach that balances the objective of paying legitimate credits in a timely manner with that of ensuring that claims are accurate seems like a logical approach to me.

Bear in mind that this in no way interfered with the adoption process or the protection of the children or their adoptive families. And of course, this tax credit is available to all adoptive families, whether they be conservative, Christian, liberal, atheist, centrist, non-political, of all races, faiths, and yes, even gays. And people who may have used Planned Parenthood for health screenings and newborn baby care are also able to take advantage of the tax credit.

Vladtheimp

Thank you for clarifying that it was Obamacare that caused the Obama administration to determine that adoptive parents would be more likely to cheat on their taxes than, say, those who receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, even though they were wrong.

I guess it makes sense, from your Obamabot perspective, to ignore that "Obama's IRS discriminated against families filing for the adoption tax credit, flagging for further review 90 percent of those who claimed the adoption tax credit for the 2012 filing season. A report by the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service also found that nearly 70 percent of adoptive families — more than 35,000 — had at least a partial audit of their tax return. By contrast, just one percent of all returns are audited.
"The IRS's misguided procedures, and its failure to adequately adjust these processes when it learned its approach was seriously flawed, have caused significant economic harm to thousands of families who are selflessly trying to improve the lives of vulnerable children," according to the report. http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs....

I guess that having to comply with all of the IRS "directives" in responding to an audit is simply part of the price of adopting a child these days, and that it in no way interfered with the lives of adoptive parents.

Your comment is not in line with the sentiments of an actual adoptive parent: As an adoptive family, it’s sometimes difficult to describe the immense challenges in gathering paperwork, opening your lives to social workers for home studies, then expensive travel to sometimes-corrupt foreign locales to then launch a new life with a child you love immensely but who is also experiencing his or her own culture shock and adjustment. All of this places a great strain on family finances and emotions. To then face an audit on the other side? All so the IRS can collect a whopping 1 percent additional revenue? It’s beyond the pale. If the IRS is concerned about fraud, it can audit random samples, not the vast majority of adoptive families claiming the credit.

Carneyvan, you're better than this.

Lanivan

The tin man has a heart! I think we have found yet another area of agreement in that adoption is a major commitment of time, energy, resources, and love, and should be encouraged at all levels. Going a step further, I think I'm safe in saying we both approve of this recognition of a major commitment of many American families by Obama, and the inclusion into Obamacare of the expansion of the Adoption Tax Credit.

Your argument that Obama commanded the IRS to target and audit the tax returns of these adoptive families after providing significant tax credits is inherently weak (as well as irrational and paranoid).

I certainly don't support perceived targeting based on political motives, which is why I wasn't thrilled when the IRS, under Bush, audited the California Episcopal Church after an anti-Iraq sermon prior to the 2004 election (while conservative churches, specifically two in Ohio were mobilizing voters for Bush's re-election, were apparetnly not audited); or auditing the NAACP after they publicly criticized Bush for being the first president in decades who hadn't formally recognized them; or the Greenpeace audit after an ExxonMobil-funded watch group complained about them. By the way, all these audits were terminated with no fines or penalties.

Adoption is full of pitfalls and set-backs, and I can only imagine how frustrating an audit can be, on top of everything else. My own father, as a small business owner, was audited three times in twelve years, with everything showing up in apple pie order each time. The third agent actually apologized, saying that the nature of my father's business was an IRS red-flag, and was the reason for so much scrutiny.

I ask the same questions regarding the IRS as you: Why the lack of organization, the apparent lack of universal standards, the steady cut in funding by the House?

Again, another source of agreement - our state representatives' recognition of the importance of adoption and the implementation of the new law that will hopefully ease the burden for adoptive families.

Lanivan

"(while conservative churches, specifically two in Ohio were mobilizing voters for Bush's re-election, were apparetnly not audited); or auditing the NAACP after they publicly" - so much for that golden education... :<

Vladtheimp

Since I don't believe your original comment intended to mislead, a clarification:

In fact, the adoption tax credit (non-refundable) was made permanent in H.R. 8 (112th): American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 sponsored by Michigan's own Dave Camp (Republican). The bill passed the House 256 -171, with 170 Democrats voting against the adoption credit. Republicans supported tax relief for adoptive parents, they did not vote against it as you suggest - they voted against Obamacare that raised taxes and resulted in a government takeover of the private health care system.

Under Obamacare, the tax credit was refundable only for 2010 and 2011 - in 2012 (year IRS started targeting adoptive parents) the credit is non -refundable and in the same maximum amount as the Taxpayer Relief Act.

I never suggested Obama commanded the IRS to target and audit the tax returns of these adoptive families - who told the IRS employees to break the law will only be uncovered after extensive investigations and probably offers of immunity. I do find it interesting that these federal employees decided to target conservative groups without any apparent fear of punishment by their career supervisors or political appointees. I do believe that Obama, Baucus, Schumer, Franken, etc. caused such a corrosive attitude to exist at IRS and EPA (discrimination in the charging of FOIA fees to conservative groups vs. waivers for liberal groups). I'm pleased we can agree on the basics you noted.

Lanivan

"In fact, the adoption tax credit (non-refundable) was made permanent in H.R. 8 (112th): American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 sponsored by Michigan's own Dave Camp (Republican). The bill passed the House 256 -171, with 170 Democrats voting against the adoption credit. Republicans supported tax relief for adoptive parents, they did not vote against it as you suggest - they voted against Obamacare that raised taxes and resulted in a government takeover of the private health care system".

A question and a clarification:

Could you explain the voting record you provide when I can only come up with: "The House passed the bill without amendments by a margin of 257–167 at about 11 p. m. EST on January 1, 2013.[14] 85 Republicans and 172 Democrats voted in favor while 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats were opposed". I can not find where Democrats voted against the specific adoption credit, as you claim.

As for your last sentence of the paragraph, a clarification: Regardless of their reasons for attempting to repeal the ACA 37 times, the fact remains they attempted to repeal 37 times a law that included an expansion of the adoption tax credit that was (significantly) both retroactive and refundable, in effect expressing their disapproval of the expansion.

Perhaps those employees who apparently took it upon themselves to review only conservative groups (which they didn't - liberal groups were reviewed as well) were acting out passive-aggressive hostility towards the conservative House budget decreases in IRS funding.

And I'm pleased that you are pleased.

Vladtheimp

1. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/...

2. They way you initially expressed your factoid, it appeared you were saying that the Republicans voted against making the adoption tax credit permanent. I merely thought you would be interested in clearing up that misapprehension. Sorry if you intended to leave that impression.

Lanivan

1. I don't know why I'm hooked on this, but I can not reconcile the numbers provided on your link. Very strange. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/...

2. I was referring to the fact, that, as a provision in the ACA, however temporary in structure at that time, the 37 symbolic House repeal attempts were in fact expressing disapproval of the entire reform bill. I am not aware that the House made the 37 symbolic repeal efforts on the ACA minus the Adoption Tax Credit.

Thanks for your concern about misapprehensions on my part regarding Republicans.

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