If Charity Begins at Home, Why Do We Go Searching Abroad? Why the Federal Adoption Tax Credit Should Not Subsidize International Adoptions
Gossett, DeLeith Duke
Currently, nearly half a million children reside in United States foster care, some “aging out” without ever having been adopted. As incentive for placing children from foster care in permanent homes, Congress passed a series of legislative measures, including a federal adoption tax credit, that were intended to promote adoption from foster care. However, recent years have seen a cultural trend, led by the unlikely pairing of celebrities and evangelical Christians, towards international adoption. Although the federal adoption tax credit was originally intended to benefit domestic orphans, those who adopt internationally are now receiving the same tax benefits as those who adopt from foster care. This Article examines the historical trends of domestic and international adoption, as well as the current international adoption movement. It looks at the issue from an intermediate approach to social distributive justice theories and asks whether American taxpayers should be underwriting international adoptions when more than 100,000 available children await adoption at home. Ultimately, Professor Gossett concludes that the federal adoption tax credit should not be used to subsidize international adoptions while the very ones who were the originally intended beneficiaries of the legislation — those “lost in the system” — remain there.