Christian leaders decry plan to scrap adoption tax credit

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, holds a briefing for reporters on the Republican tax reform plan on Capitol Hill. | Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein

Christian leaders are calling on Republican lawmakers to reconsider the plan to scrap the adoption tax credit, which eases the financial burden of families who have adopted children.

On Thursday, Republican lawmakers released the details of the proposed tax reform legislation that includes a plan that would eliminate the adoption tax credit, which reduces the tax bill for adoptive families and allows them to claim $13,750 in adoption expenses.

The provision has drawn opposition from pro-life advocates and Christian leaders, such as Southern Baptist spokesman and adoptive father Russell Moore.

"The adoption tax credit is not just one more policy issue. Vulnerable children ought to be a priority for us all," Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted.

The ERLC noted in a statement that the adoption tax credit has been used by hundreds of families since 1997 to make adoption financially feasible.

"Adoption can be very expensive. There are a number of different variables, which means there is no 'average' cost of an adoption. But intercountry adoptions can easily cost more than $60,000 or $70,000. For many Americans, the adoption tax credit can make a huge difference and in some cases determines whether a family will be able to afford to adopt," the statement added.

Rep. Kevin Brady, the principal author of the tax overhaul plan, argued that the adoption tax credit was "not working," and removing it would allow Congress to increase the child tax credit available to most taxpayers by $600 to most taxpayers whether they adopt or not.

Former Obama White House staffer Michael Wear, who worked to make the adoption tax credit a permanent part of Obamacare, encouraged churches to speak up in support of the credit.

"If we think it should be valued by society--especially because we have so much influence with this president--we should make it clear that we don't want tax reform to come at the expense of families who are adopting children," he told CBN News.

Wear and other adoption advocates have argued that the credit helps encourage adoption and could also save the government from spending more money on foster care.

A study conducted by federal Children's Bureau has found that government saves between $65,000 and $127,000 for each child who is adopted rather than placed in long-term foster care. Other studies indicated that the adopted children are they are 76 percent more likely to be employed and 54 percent less likely to be delinquent or arrested, compared with foster care children.

Wear said he is hopeful that bi-partisan adoption support could encourage lawmakers to bring back the adoption tax credit with an amendment.

Meanwhile, GOP staffers have told the Catholic News Agency that there are efforts underway in Congress to eliminate the provision that would repeal the adoption tax credit as the tax reform bill moves forward.