How’s that for a title. I’m not a tax preparer; this isn’t legal advice, yhada, yhada, yhada. But I have read more than I care to think about regarding taxes and adoption and I can point you to the right places, so lets proceed (btw, if you read Mary’s post last week about adoption taxes and my comments, you’re probably not going to learn anything new, but check out the contest under qualifying child before you leave.

Adoption Tax Credit

The adoption tax credit for tax year 2006 is $10,960 per child. Save all your receipts from the very beginning. If you’re adopting internationally and your child comes home on an IR-4, you get to take the credit in either the year that your adoption is finalized in the foreign country OR the year that it’s finalized (re-adoption) in the US. Some countries (Russia?) don’t finalize the adoption in the foreign country and make you your child’s guardian. In those cases, you have to use the year of the US finalization since you didn’t technically adopt the child in any other year. For domestic adoptions, you’re lucky and get to take the adoption credits in the year that you accrued the expenses.

Why might you want to delay the credit? You only get to use up the credit for 5 years. If you’re adopting more than one child and you can’t use all the credit in 5 years, you can essentially get 6 years to use the credit, by delaying one of the adoptions until the second year (assuming you re-adopt the following year). If you were really trying to maximize your tax credit usage, you could extend it out by waiting even longer re-adopt (although we’ve decided that being done with adoption paperwork is worth whatever benefit we might have in 6 years).

Also, the tax credit is going up in TY2007 to $11,390, so theoretically if your expenses were more than $10,960, you could get a larger tax credit by waiting until next year to take the credit.

Qualifying Child

This is less cut and dry.  Some people claim that you can claim them as a qualifying child in the year they are adopted just like you would if they were born into your family.  I read the rules as being more strict than that (see below).  If you can find an IRS ruling that says otherwise, I’ll give you $100.  My threshold for this is that I believe it enough to go back and refile our taxes claiming Yordie as a qualifying child.

The rules state that for you to have a qualifying child, your child must meet the following 5 cases:

  1. Relationship – their your kid, so no problem here
  2. Age – they’re probably under 18, so OK here too.
  3. Residency – see below
  4. Support – unless you start them off in their modeling business right away, you’re probably OK.
  5. Special test for qualifying child of more than one person – Unless you divorced right after you adopted, you should be fine here too.  Maybe married filling separately would also need to look at this, but I’ve never understood why anyone would do that….seems like twice the work.

Now residency is probably the only issue that adoptive parents are going to have. If your child comes home before July 1st, then you’re set for this one. If your child was born in 2006, you’re set for this one because there’s an exception for that (also for kidnapping and going to school, but hopefully those don’t apply to adoptive parents). Under my reading there is no exception for kids joining your family in the year after July 1st (they still need to live with you half the year, just like a biological child over the age of one would).

But what if your kid comes home in July or Aug? Well, you might be able to claim them as a dependent as a “qualifying relative”. The 4 things required are:

  1. Not a qualifying child test – no problem, that’s why we’re trying to go this route
  2. Member of household or relationship test – their your kid right?
  3. Gross income test – again, the modeling career
  4. Support test – you have to provide more than 50% of the childs support for the year

Since the cost of living is lower in the country you adopted from, you’ll most likely be able to claim your child as a qualifying relative. How late you can go and still claim this, I’ll leave up to you. We were 7 months in Ethiopia and 5 months in the US. I’m pretty sure Yordie’s share of the mortgage alone is enough to make the latter more costly.

Buy qualifying relatives don’t qualify for the child tax credit or the child care tax credit, so you won’t be able to claim those in your first year home.

Claiming them as a dependent should be independent of claiming the tax credit (assuming you’re their legal parent (according to some country) and not their guardian). So you can claim them as a dependent this year and take the credit next year if you’re readopting next year (and came in under an IR-4).

That’s it. Good luck. Make sure you check out all the links; you don’t want to trust a complete stranger who’s a self-proclaimed un-expert.


I’m halfway through reading my feeds this morning and I’ve already seen the headline, “I hate DST” three times.  Well, I’m here to say, “I love it!”  I love the sun.  Sunlight is good.  If the sun rises before I can get out the door (which it was on Friday, even with walking the dogs at 6:15), it’s a big waste.  So what if I had to adjust a few clocks.  So what if I had to walk the dogs in the dark this morning.  It’s just not that big of a deal if it means I can get maximum sun exposure.

The sun is finally above overhang…off to go open the blinds by my desk.

  About once or twice a month, I’m reminded of my biggest parenting regret.  Actually, since I haven’t been a dad for even 365 days, this is probably my only regret (to date).  Last night we had spaghetti for dinner and I was reminded again: I taught my kids to slurp spaghetti.  I hadn’t even been a dad for a week when I did it.  How was I supposed to know that teaching your kids bad habits isn’t a good idea?  We had just met them and I was trying to bond with them…show them that they had a fun loving, cool dad.  I didn’t even do it on the sly; I got both of their attentions, put the end of the longest strand I could find in my moth, and made it disappear.  Little did I know that it would come back to haunt me every time we have spaghetti.

Now granted, they would have probably figured it out on their own, but at least we would have had a few slurp free meals.  Besides, isn’t that’s what grandfathers are for (sorry Dads, although I’m sure there’s still plenty you can teach them).

valentine’s day candyNow granted, this is our first Valentine’s Day with kids, so maybe this isn’t a shock to the rest of you. But when exactly did Valentine’s Day turn into this gigantic sugar fest? I really don’t remember getting this much candy on Valentine’s Day when I was a kid. Maybe we got a small box of chocolates from our parents or grandparents. Maybe mom shared some of her loot with us. But I never remember the haul being this big.

It seemed that almost every other card had a sucker or other holiday themed candy stuck to it. I started to get worried that the other kids were going to think our kids were cheapskates with their envelope-free mini cards. But when I asked Meron who had given her one of the self-indulgent items, she didn’t know, so I think we’re safe for another year. They finally came down from their sugar highs and crashed about 30 minutes past their bed times. Boy was it a fun night.

It’s going to take us close to a month to eat all this stuff. It’s no wonder our country has an obesity problem.

If you’re going to feed your child in church*, please be advised that they don’t sweep the pews between the masses, so if your child spills raisins all over the floor, please pick them up. It’s rather gross to discover your kid is eating off the floor. And our neighbors at the mass we go to would appreciate it too since it usually results in a very loud child who doesn’t understand why they can’t have “raisins a la dust bunnies”.

*Side Rant: I’m not against feeding your kid in church; whatever you need to do to keep your kid occupied is fine by me. We tried it and it only resulted in a child walking around with a bag of Cheerios, but if it works for you, who am I to complain. But try to do it on the down-low, lest you want my kid joining you in your pew looking for a hand out.

I’ve decided that playgrounds are evil. Why you might ask? Did my kids fall off the monkey bars and hurt themselves? Did a kid punch one of my lovely children for no apparent reason? No, the reason I have a sudden dislike for the playground is that it’s where kids learn stuff from their peers and it’s completely unregulated out there. Two examples from the last couple of weeks:

When Meron comes home, we always ask her how her day was. Her response, “School is boring.”
We asked why. “I don’t know.”
“Do you know what borring means?” “No”
“Then why the heck are you saying it.” “My friends on the playground said school is boring.”

Sitting at the dinner table Meron calmly states, “Estifanos is going to die.”
“Meron, that’s not very nice.” “Why?” she asks.
“Do you know what it means to die?” “No”
I think if we had pressed we could have gotten a vague answer because it turns out they were playing “Superman” on the playground and someone was playing dead, but we decided to not press it so we could give her our view of what it means and why she shouldn’t say it.

Short of hanging out on the playground, I’m not sure what we can do to control her intake of knowledge from her peers. I’m sure part of the misinformation (like the boring comment) comes from kids with older siblings, but obviously we can’t ban her from playing with those kids (and I guess that means Estifanos and Yordie will likely be the facilitators of misinformation). I guess we’ll have to stick with what we’ve been doing, ask lots of questions and correct the misinformation.

Not sure this does him justice, but whatever, it’s my blog:

I have a dream that one day 1/10 of the families in wealthy nations will want to adopt a child and the other 9/10 will feel compelled to support them so that one day there won’t be children living without parents.

I have a dream that one day our country will be more worried about being energy independent and less about where we’re going to get our future oil from; that conservation rather than acumulation will once again come into style.

I have a dream that one day our country will figure out that there are millions of people dieing on this earth from preventable diseases and we’ll actually do something about it.

I have a dream that one day I will have a job where I don’t have to go into the lab on weekends and holidays (sorry had to work that one in there).

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