A few days ago, Teddy and I spent the morning meeting with staffers in the offices of members of Congress, telling them about the Adoption Tax Credit and asking them to make sure their members vote to preserve it. Mike and I benefited from the credit this year and hope to benefit from it again when we start the process all over again to adopt a sibling for Teddy. The credit is due to expire at the end of this calendar year; effective January 1, 2013, if Congress doesn’t preserve it in its current form, it will be reduced by half (from $12,650) and will be available only to families who adopt children with special needs.
Tuesday, June 12, the National Council for Adoption organized an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, setting up meetings for registrants with members’ offices. I’m a DC resident, so I don’t have a voting member of Congress to meet with, but I’m from the other Washington, and my parents still live there, so I had a meeting arranged with their district representative. I was also invited to attend the meeting another advocate had set up with DC’s non-voting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton.
We had so much fun! For one thing, I got to dress up. As a SAHM, I rarely ever put on my office clothes anymore, so I was excited to dust them off (ok, it hasn’t been that long) and accessorize. (Yes, I was bringing Teddy, but I wanted the outfit to be complete, so I donned the jewelry and just dealt with the little grabbing hands.) For another, while any outing is more tiring now with a baby, I still love any and every excuse to get out of the house.
We started our morning with a rah-rah session, hearing about the adoption credit from the president of the Council and getting pointers (lots of newbies in the room) about meeting with staffers. We were drilled on the talking points, including the key words to remember about our ideal tax credit: inclusive, refundable, and permanent. I understand now why it’s important to memorize specific words like that when I’m advocating for something. For one thing, they got the attention of the people I was meeting with. For another, I’m not great about speaking off the cuff, but I easily got myself back on track by remembering those three words.
My first appointment was with Holmes Norton. I was joining another advocate, who would be doing all the talking. As a newbie myself, I was eager to sit in and learn. However, we arrived to find out the staffer had rescheduled. Since we had an hour to kill, the other advocate invited me along to his next meeting, with a staffer in a Texas rep’s office. My pint-sized advocate—and poster child for the tax credit!—was ready to eat, so I was confident we could sit in and not be distracting. The Texas staffer was not encouraging about his member’s stance on making the credit permanent, but he listened to the info presented and asked a lot of great questions. I even got to share part of our story, and Teddy shared his two cents, too, once he was finished with his bottle. If words don’t sway the staffer, maybe a dimpled face and an excited squeal will.
My fellow advocate had another meeting—now set for the same time as the rescheduled Holmes Norton meeting. He asked if I would take it, since he obviously couldn’t be in two places at once. Why not? I was feeling pretty well versed in the talking points and besides, if things went sour, I could just point to Teddy and say, “He needs a sibling!” The Holmes Norton staffer was friendly and inviting and asked a lot of great questions, too. He assured me that Holmes Norton is concerned with local issues, and he took notes about the credit to brief her about this one (plenty of families are waiting to adopt newborns, but the number of foster care children ready and waiting for adoption in the District is staggering).
Our final meeting of the day was with my home state’s office. Teddy was getting tired of being constrained to the stroller, so we headed over early in the hopes the staffer would be available. She was. I gave the spiel and then we made small talk while I fed Teddy again. (I think she felt awkward leaving while I was still there….) She didn’t make many notes, but I know Rep Reichert is supportive of adoption in general.
You don’t have to meet with your member of Congress to tell them to support the adoption tax credit. You can email them, too. Just enter your zip code in the search field on this “Find Your Representative” page and copy paste the sample email from page six of the Adoption Tax Credit Advocacy Kit.
Please lend your voice to the cause. We want this credit to be around for years to come, to help us in our adoption process and all our friends who are also interested in adopting.