This isn’t a column I ever thought I would write.
At 25, I never wanted any children. I knew I was a workaholic and working in a newsroom makes remaining a workaholic easy. Even though a wife might be able to occupy her own time and accept that reality, children actually require your time.
That’s the only reason I didn’t want children. I loved my nieces and nephews. We had a blast and I sent them home when the fun was over.
That’s probably why my wife was shocked when I told her I felt like our family should adopt a child. It was a long, strange trip from the self-centered and overly confident 23-year old who took over a newsroom to the 40-year old who was ready to take that step.
Our church in Kansas was very mission minded and one of the missions they supported was adoption. That’s right, they saw adopting orphans as a mission for the church to support.
If you are truly pro-life, you are also pro-adoption.
Women who would consider abortion as an option need to know that there is a future for the baby in their womb if they choose to carry the child to term. In my family’s case, Dawit’s mother keeping custody of him would most likely have resulted in his death at three years old.
His birth mother tried, but she didn’t have the ability or resources to care for him. When she finally exhausted all possibilities and relinquished him to an orphanage, he was malnourished and sick with pneumonia to the point that it was believed Dawit would always carry the effects of both conditions. (Good news: Dawit has been with us six years and shows no effect of either malnutrition or pneumonia. He is as healthy and active as any 10-year old I know.)
That being said, adopting from Ethiopia was expensive. Of course there is the immediate question about why we didn’t adopt a kid from Kansas.
Honestly, I don’t know. I can tell you that, at the time and every day since, it has felt like we made the exact right decision for our family. We have friends who adopted children from Armenia and America within months of each other. Fate and the two processes aligned and they were left with virtual twins from half-way around the world. I don’t know why they took either path, but I know they are happy with where they ended up.
I know one thing, whether you adopt a child from Ethiopia or Earlsboro, Okla., the process is difficult and expensive. There are lawyers, law enforcement officers and doctors involved in the process. I was fingerprinted three different times during the process.
The only time I have visited a doctor since 2000 was to get a physical during the adoption. And the only reason I have the life insurance policy I do is because it was required.
We were lucky.
I had a pretty good job and we had incredible support spiritually, emotionally and financially from our friends and our church.
Even with more help than we deserved, the process was expensive. One of the biggest factors to help our family was the adoption tax credit.
With two sets of airfare from Wichita, Kan. to Addis Ababa, we had a bigger credit card balance than we wanted. The adoption tax credit helped erase a lot of that.
I can’t imagine any family that adopted who wouldn’t say that this credit truly makes the process better for them.
Of course, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have proposed a tax plan that eliminates the adoption tax credit. Instead of a few thousand dollars going to families who adopt, the most wealthy in the world will get that tax break and be able to afford another coat of gold plating on their toilets and another offshore bank account to hide from the IRS.
I know what adoption can mean to an orphan and to those who are able to add them to their family. I know that the adoption tax credit was important for us.
I also know we aren’t alone.
If these lawmakers are able to pass this plan and remove this credit, families will decide not to adopt for financial reasons and orphans will be left on their own.
There is no way around it. This is a cynical piece of legislation written as a gift to the donor class so they can add another million to their bank accounts.
The most cynical piece of the legislation is the fact the so many of those voting in favor of it will claim to be pro-life while the policies they enact cause more women to consider abortion and leave more orphans in the world homeless and alone.
If that doesn’t bother you, you aren’t paying attention.
Call and email your Senators and Representatives and tell them you don’t support ending this tax credit that builds families and improves the lives of children who need and deserve their support.