Using Technology in Adoptions

Like many other family law attorneys, adoption is an issue that presents itself every once in a while but certainly not as often as divorce or custody cases. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, there are 107,000 children and youth in foster care waiting to be adopted and a multiple number of parents desiring to adopt them. We don’t know why, but somehow we missed covering National Adoption Month in November so please forgive us the lapse as we attempt to right this wrong!

We believe adoption is an amazing life change for the adoptive parents, the child, and the biological parents and we support efforts to bring together the parties for the good of all involved. There are international adoption opportunities in Asia, Russia, and Eastern European nations, and domestic adoptions from right in our own backyards. It can be a costly undertaking (from $5,000 to more than $100,000 but averaging around $20,000) to adopt an infant and sometimes a bit less for an “older child”. There’s even an income tax credit for adoption that is set to expire at the end of this year (but it sure is a good one so we had to detail it here). According to the IRS:

“In 2010 and 2011, you may be able to take a refundable tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt an eligible child (including a child with special needs). This means that you could qualify for a tax refund even if you did not have federal income tax withheld. For tax years prior to 2010, the adoption credit is not refundable.”

One of the biggest barriers to adoption is matching an eligible child with eager parents. An average wait time for an eligible child can be measure in years rather than months in most cases, and especially in an international adoption. So one woman in 2008 decided to use technology to speed up the matching process here in the US. Dr. Lori Ingber, PhD, founded ParentMatch.com not as an adoption agency or a facilitator but as an adoption resource for agencies and parents.

According to its website, the Parent Match database is only accessible by registered adoption agencies and not by prospective birth parents or adoptive parents in an effort to maintain confidentiality. There is a monthly fee that agencies pay for access, but it seems nominal given the searchable database they provide that is reportedly the only one of its kind available (and the technology is patent pending). They list the benefits of their service on the website and minimizing cost and time spent on the adoption process receive top billing as they should.

We think it’s a great way to use technology to solve a pervasive problem in the world of adoption, and we are eager to learn more about it. Please share with us your adoption stories – the successes and the frustrations – because even though we’re celebrating National Adoption Month a few days late, celebrate it we are!

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