February 10th, 2017

Tampa Bay Times Story Regarding Collapse & Bankruptcy of IAC

http://www.tampabay.com/news/adoption-agency-collapse-leaves-trail-of-anguish-raises-questions-about/2312734

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
February 6th, 2017

Independent Adoption Center Closing & Bankruptcy

Almost a thousand prospective adoptive parents received an e¬mailed notice advising that Independent Adoption Center (IAC) was declaring chapter 7 bankruptcy and closing permanently, effective immediately. IAC is licensed in eight states, including Florida, with an office in Tampa. The abrupt closing of all IAC offices and its programs has left many families in dire straits, both financially and emotionally. Those in the middle of an adoption are now hampered in their ability to complete the adoption, and others have lost substantial sums of money which will hinder if not eliminate their ability to adopt.

This is a situation that should never happen. The Florida legislature should mandate that adoption agencies segregate and hold adoptive parent funds in a separate trust account, and prohibit use of adoptive parent money until earned. Comingling hopeful adoptive parent funds with agency operating funds allows the premature expenditure of these monies at the agency’s discretion with little financial oversight. The end result can shatter the hopes and dreams of prospective parents, who seek to create or enlarge their families through adoption.

The Fellows of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys have pledged to assist those families that now find themselves in an untenable situation as a result of IAC’s bankruptcy. The Academy will assist these families in order for them to obtain their files from IAC, or to have them transferred to other reputable licensed adoption agencies. The Academy will also assist in advising those families as to be best way to proceed with regard to their prospective adoptions. There will be no charge for these services. A list of volunteer attorneys is posted to the Academy website at www.adoptionattorneys.org

Jeanne T. Tate

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
February 1st, 2017

Independent Adoption Center (IAC) Closing Immediately

The IAC’s Executive Director and Board President released the following statement today:

It is with deep sadness that we write to inform you that the Independent Adoption Center (IAC) is declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy and will be closing permanently effective immediately. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, but after much discussion, we have come to the conclusion that immediate closure is our only option.

As you may be aware, the climate of adoption has changed in recent years. Societal changes have created an environment in the United States where there are fewer potential birth parents than at any other point in our 34-year history of helping to create families. Simultaneously, due to changing demographics and the closure of international adoption programs, there are more hopeful adoptive parents seeking to adopt domestically than in any other time in recent history.

The IAC has worked tirelessly to adapt to this changing environment, but the many efforts we implemented were ultimately unsuccessful. We therefore cannot sustain the agency any longer.

We recognize that the decision to pursue adoption is deeply personal and that you chose to pursue adoption with the assistance of the IAC after careful consideration. We remain honored that you trusted us to assist you in building your family, and we regret that the IAC was not able to maintain solvency in this new era of adoption.

The agency is filing for bankruptcy and the court will appoint a trustee to administer the bankruptcy estate. The court will notify you of the case, shortly after the bankruptcy is filed and you will have the opportunity to file a Proof of Claim for any refunds you believe are due to you. As everything will be under control of the trustee and the court, IAC will not be involved with determining how any remaining funds in the account are utilized.

We cannot express in writing how sorry we are to be ending our relationship in this manner. It is our most sincere hope that this set back in your adoption path is brief and that your wish to build your family through adoption is achieved in the near future.

The attorneys at Jeanne T. Tate, P.A. and the staff at Heart of Adoptions stand ready to assist these families in any way we can.

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
August 9th, 2016

Florida Begins Issuing Married Same-Sex Couples Birth Certificates Which List Both Parents

The Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics recently reversed its refusal to list the names of both parents in same-sex marriages on birth certificates of children born to the marriage. Last year the Florida Department of Vital Statistics was sued by same-sex married couples who claimed the state was required to list both parents on birth certificates for their children, just like the state did for different-sex couples. For example, when a woman married to a man gives birth in Florida, her husband is automatically listed on the birth certificate unless a court has determined that someone else is the father. In addition, when a married same-sex couple adopts a child, both parents are listed on the birth certificate. Previously, when a same-sex married couple had a biological child, only the woman who gave birth was listed on the birth certificate. Married same-sex couples claimed this was a violation of their constitutional rights and was in derogation of the Supreme Court’s recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision which effectively made marriage equality the law across the nation.

In May 2016 the Florida Department of Vital Statistics announced that children born to a woman whom is married will now be able have both parents added to the birth certificate regardless of the gender of the parents. This means a woman married to a woman who gives birth during their marriage will be automatically listed as the other parent. Last week, the Department announced that it has updated six of its forms to reflect the new parentage label changes which will become effective August 1, 2016. The Department states, “In recognition of same sex unions, portions of the forms for parents’ names now say ‘Father/Parent’ or ‘Mother/Parent’ to accommodate the new parentage labels that may be used.”

While this is a victory for same-sex married couples, questions still remain regarding the impact of this policy on adoption and all of family law. For example, it is unknown whether same-sex legal parents who are on the birth certificate will be afforded the same presumption of paternity as heterosexual couples. It is possible that the definition of a legal parent in the same-sex scenario may erode in favor of an increased ability for biological parents to assert their paternity over such children, having an effect on adoption, custody, child support, and all of family law. These remain important legal issues that will be changing constantly over the next few years. If you have any questions or have an adoption issue you need help with, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (813) 258-3355.

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
November 2nd, 2015

2016 Adoption Tax Credit

On  November 2, 2015 the IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2015-53 which establishes the maximum amount of the Adoption Tax Credit under Section 23(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for adoptions finalized in calendar year 2016 at $13,460 per child (an increase of only $60 from the maximum in 2015).  In 2016 the adoption tax credit begins to phase out at a modified adjusted gross income of $201,920 and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $241,920 or more.

The maximum credit for a child with special needs is also $13,460 for calendar year 2016.  The maximum amount excludable from gross income is the same, as are the phase out limits related to qualified adoption assistance programs under Section 137 (a)(2).

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
July 16th, 2015

Gift of Adoption Florida

This all volunteer board has been working together as a team since 2001 to put the gift of family in reach for vulnerable, parentless children the U.S. and around the world. As the first volunteer board for Gift of Adoption Fund, Inc., the Florida Board has an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of families. For the past fourteen years they have worked tirelessly as an all-volunteer board to raise awareness and funds to complete the adoptions of otherwise at-risk children in need of loving families.

The magnitude of their personal generosity and devotion of time to the Gift of Adoption Fund 501c3 organization – to impact children’s ability to become adopted has exceeded $750,000. 

These contributions have directly, immediately, and unequivocally improved the lives of  more than 300 children who otherwise would most likely not have found permanent homes and forever families. 

The Board members include:

David Alexander, Mindy  Budzynski, David Conn, Tom Hand, David Jones, Eric Kudzinski, Mike Loparco, Laurie Powell, Tracy Romano, Loreen Spencer and Jeanne Tate

VOLUNTEER DONATE JOIN THEIR EFFORTS 

Gift of Adoption Fund - Florida Chapter

www.giftofadoption.org/chapters/florida.html

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
July 10th, 2015

Foster Care Spike

The number of Florida children in the state’s foster-care system has reached its highest level since 2008 — driven by both a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes and a drop in the number being discharged after a stint in foster care.

In the last 24 months, the number of children in what’s known as out-of-home care has reached 22,004 statewide, up from 17,591 in 2013.

These and other trends are included in a report developed by the Department of Children and Families for a recent meeting of the state’s privatized community-based care organizations, which oversee foster care and adoption services.

There is no better way to stem this unfortunate uptick than to educate and encourage the use of private adoption options for foster care children as outlined in section 63.082 of the Florida Statutes. Birth parents have the Constitutionally protected right to chose adoptive parents and remove their child from the system, which is a win win for all involved. For more information call 1-800-GO-ADOPT

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
June 23rd, 2015

Conservatives Push to Revive Obamacare Adoption Tax Break

Conservatives Push to Revive Obamacare Adoption Tax Break

By Alan K. Ota, CQ Roll Call

Rep. Diane Black has taken the lead strengthening GOP support for a bipartisan plan to revive refundable tax credits for adoption-related expenses that were part of the 2010 health care law but expired.

While the GOP looks to uproot pillars of the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152), conservatives such as Black, R-Tenn., and Trent Franks, R-Ariz., are joining with the likes of Danny K. Davis, D- Ill., to support a proposal (HR 2434) Black says is needed to strengthen families. Black expressed confidence Republicans would support the measure, even though it revives language that was part of President Barack Obama’s top legislative achievement.

“I don’t think most people are even going to connect it to that. But even if they did, it is such and important issue I think that is something that people will find they can support,” Black said.

Black’s proposal and companion measure (S 950) by Sen. Bob Casey, D- Pa., would restore language that made the adoption tax credit refundable for two years ending in 2011. Black said refundable incentives would support adoptions by low-income families, who do not earn enough taxable income to make use of tax credits.

“Almost half of all children adopted from foster care live in households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the poverty threshold. The tax code should work for these families that open their hearts and their homes to adoption — not against them,” Black said.

She and other supporters say the legislation would help to turn homes for more than 400,000 children In foster care into “forever homes” for adopted children. Currently, about 50,000 adoptions are arranged annually by public welfare agencies.

While emphasizing the benefits for low-income families, advocates like Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., say they are trying address concerns raised by deficit hawks about the potential for fraudulent claims for refundable incentives such as the earned income tax credit and child tax credit. “There is a lot of fraud out there, and there have to be consequences. But on this one, I think the chances for that are minimal, because of the nature of the process. And it is not a recurring benefit,” Tillis said

In addition to playing down fraud concerns, Franks has made the case that the refundable adoption credit would help to curb federal spending over time. “Keeping children in families saves society money by breaking children out of a cycle we know for so many, often leads to homelessness, welfare, incarceration or other tragic outcomes,” Franks said.

Families now may claim a credit for up to $13,190 for expenses related to adoption, including travel, legal and placement fees and other costs. The benefit was first enacted in 1996 (PL 104-188), expanded in 2001 (PL 107-16) and made permanent by the 2012 fiscal cliff deal (PL 112-240).

In coming weeks, Black and Casey say they’ll work with the 130-member bicameral adoption caucus, and they say the legislation could move as an add-on to must-pass legislation at the end of the year. Casey said he doubted the measure would be part of a potential business tax overhaul, but that it could be added to a package of tax break extensions.

“I think it will be in the context of extenders, or it could be a stand-alone bill,” Casey said.

Becky Weichhand, executive director of the Congressional Adoption Coalition Institute, an education and support group, said that the fate of adoption tax credit would hinge on the ability of lawmakers to build consensus in both parties, particularly within the GOP’s right wing.

“A lot of conservative members are supporting because they have spoken out about the moral obligation to support children living in families,”

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
June 12th, 2015

Adult Adoption Story

             John Romano’s Tampa Bay Times June 7, 2015 Column:  Adoption was in the cards for Foster teen beautifully illustrates the adoption journey of precious Mariah Boyd, and how Mariah and her soon-to-be adoptive mom, Amy Foster, came into one another’s orbit. Exquisite outcome and a testament to perseverance and belief, never lose hope.

             Mr. Romano’s column also shines a welcome light on adult adoption, a lawful-in-Florida and long-on-the-books statutory mechanism for establishing one’s “forever family”, the exact path, in fact, now embarked upon by Mariah and Amy.

             Under Florida law, Mariah, like many foster kids who “age out” of the system,  may still be adopted, just as adults.  It is a relatively straight-forward court proceeding with due deference given to the wishes of the adult adoptee. No home study is required and no legal parent of the adult adoptee has veto authority over the adult adoption.  All that Florida law requires is that notice of the final adoption hearing be provided to any legal parent(s).

             Adult adoption is a viable and very much alive mechanism by which “forever families” are made.  Your readers should be mindful of this option.  Precious young people like Mariah Boyd and Davion Only are waking up in our state each day, still filled with hopes and dreams of finding a “forever family to call her/his own.  Even after “aging out,” those hopes and dreams remain, be it a flicker or a flame.

             Let Mariah and Amy’s poignant story be inspiration and motivation for each of us, everyone.  Adopt a child, adopt a young adult, be enriched, be ennobled, be that special adoptee’s “forever family” for time immemorial.      

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.
June 11th, 2015

Scholarships For Children in Foster Care or in Out-of-Home Care

Step Up For Students has scholarships for children in foster care or in out-of-home care.

You can call  877-735-7837 or click here https://www.stepupforstudents.org/income-based-scholarship/for-parents-guardians/children-in-foster-care-or-out-of-home-care  for full details, but here are the high points:

Students who may qualify

A student who is/was placed at any time in foster care or out-of-home care during the current OR previous state fiscal year may be eligible (The state fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.)

  • A child in foster care is defined by the following:
  • A child in out-of-home care placement is defined by the following:
  • “Foster care” means care provided a child in a foster family or boarding home, group home, agency boarding home, child care institution, or any combination thereof, as defined by s. 39.01(29).
  • “Out-of-home” means a placement outside of the home of the parents or a parent, as defined by s. 39.01(48).
  • “Out-of-Home Care” means the placement of a child in licensed and non-licensed settings, arranged and supervised by the department or contracted service provider, outside of the home of the parent, as defined by DCF Rule: 65C-30.001 Definitions. (91).

Longevity of scholarship

  • A student who initially receives a scholarship based on eligibility due to placement in foster or out-of-home care remains eligible until the student graduates from high school or attains the age of 21 years, whichever occurs first. (Once in, always in.)
  • In cases such as reunification or adoption, etc., the child may maintain the scholarship regardless of the household income level.

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Posted By: Law Offices of Jeanne T. Tate, P.A.