• NCFA Free Webinar Next Week- Talking to those in the Adoption Community with Roots in Russia and Ukraine

    From the National Council For Adoption:

    As the crisis has unfolded in Ukraine, NCFA is aware that adopted individuals with roots in Ukraine and Russia, and their families, are grieving and grappling with how to process these events. Families who have adopted from Russia and Ukraine are impacted in a very real way by what is happening. In this free webinar, NCFA will moderate a panel, joined by several member agencies, to provide guidance and clinical expertise for navigating this challenging time. We will also provide resources for professionals and parents regarding talking with children about these events.

    NCFA is pleased to be joined by:

    Bill Porter, M. Ed., LPC-S-  Bill is Director of Post Adoption and Client Services at the Gladney Center and he is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the state of Texas.  He has 26 years of experience in providing counseling, support and advocacy to at-risk children, youth and families.  Bill joined the Gladney Family in 2013 and he spends most of his time leading his team in providing services to adoptees, birth families and adoptive families.  Bill has been trained through the Trust-based Relational Intervention TBRI® at Texas Christian University.

     Cindy Torchia LCSW, LCPAA- Cindy is CCAI’s Texas Branch Office Director.  Cindy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked in adoption for twenty-years.

    Rhonda Jarema, MA– Rhonda has worked as a counselor, advocate, and educator in the field of international adoptions since 1995. She has worked in many roles at Nightlight Christian Adoptions since 1998, currently as International Program Director in the California office. She has spoken at conferences, written articles and advocated for the adoption of school aged children. Most importantly, she is mom to 5 children adopted from Russia and 1 from Kyrgyzstan.

    Daniel Stevens, LMS- Dan is the Executive Director of Family Connections. Dan has a Master in Social Work from Western New Mexico University, and bachelor’s in Political Science with a Concentration in Law and Justice from SUNY Cortland.  Family Connections has been an integral part of Dan’s life since he was nine years old.  Having an adoption agency founder as a mother has placed adoption social work as a foundation to his personality.  While attending SUNY Cortland, he helped as an administrative assistant at Family Connections for two years before graduating.  Before returning to Family Connections, he had other life experiences that have directed his path back to Social Work. Dan has completed Adoption Competency training with the Center for Adoption Support and Education.

    Register for the free webinar here: https://adoptioncouncil.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_copIGXteRzyV4CgLr575gQ

     

  • ADOPTION 101: Free informational webinar

    In honor of National Adoption Month, NCFA is presenting ADOPTION 101: A free, informational webinar for people considering or just starting the adoption process.

    Monday, November 8th, 2021

    5:00 – 6:00 pm ET

    More information and registration is available HERE or via adoptioncouncil.org/webinars.

    The webinar will include a short time of Q&A with attendees, and the recording will be available afterwards through our online learning library.

    National Council For Adoption

  • Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021

    There have been important changes to the Child Tax Credit that will help many families receive advance payments starting this summer. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for tax year 2021 only.

    The expanded credit means:

    • The credit amounts will increase for many taxpayers.
    • The credit for qualifying children is fully refundable, which means that taxpayers can benefit from the credit even if they don’t have earned income or don’t owe any income taxes.
    • The credit will include children who turn age 17 in 2021.
    • Taxpayers may receive part of their credit in 2021 before filing their 2021 tax return.

    For tax year 2021, families claiming the CTC will receive up to $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17 at the end of 2021. They will receive $3,600 per qualifying child under age 6 at the end of 2021. Under the prior law, the amount of the CTC was up to $2,000 per qualifying child under the age of 17 at the end of the year.

    The increased amounts are reduced (phased out), for incomes over $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return and qualifying widows or widowers, $112,500 for heads of household, and $75,000 for all other taxpayers.

    Advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit will be made regularly from July through December to eligible taxpayers who have a main home in the United States for more than half the year. The total of the advance payments will be up to 50 percent of the Child Tax Credit. Advance payments will be estimated from information included in eligible taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns (or their 2019 returns if the 2020 returns are not filed and processed yet).

    The IRS urges people with children to file their 2020 tax returns as soon as possible to make sure they’re eligible for the appropriate amount of the CTC as well as any other tax credits they’re eligible for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Filing electronically with direct deposit also can speed refunds and future advance CTC payments.

    Eligible taxpayers do not need to take any action now other than to file their 2020 tax return if they have not done so.

    Eligible taxpayers who do not want to receive advance payment of the 2021 Child Tax Credit will have the opportunity to decline receiving advance payments. Taxpayers will also have the opportunity to update information about changes in their income, filing status or the number of qualifying children. More details on how to take these steps will be announced soon.

    The IRS also urges community groups, non-profits, associations, education groups and anyone else with connections to people with children to share this critical information about the CTC. The IRS will be providing additional materials and information that can be easily shared by social media, email and other methods.

    The IRS will provide more information about advance payments soon.  https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/advance-child-tax-credit-payments-in-2021

  • Free Webinar Series for Prospective Adoptive Parents

    NCFA Announces the Spring 2021 Webinar Series for Adoption Professionals and Prospective Adoptive Parents

    • Wednesday, March 10th at 1pm ET: Adoption of Children with Special Needs
    • Monday, March 29th at 5pm ET: Adoption Finance 101 for Prospective Adoptive Parents only
    • Thursday, April 1st at 2pm ET: Adoption Options for Members of the Military **One hour of free CE credit available!**

    All Webinars are FREE thanks to the generous support of Northrop Grumman. 

    Information and Registration is available at: https://adoptioncouncil.org/resources-and-training/

  • Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit

    Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit
    By Ryan Hanlon and Becky Wilmoth

    The Adoption Tax Credit can significantly offset the costs and fees of an adoption process, but prospective adoptive parents need to ensure they understand the basics before determining how much it can help them. In this updated Guide to Understanding the Adoption Tax Credit, we explain what the ATC is, how it is different from a tax deduction, how it works, and what the eligibility and qualifying expenses are. We also discuss proposed legislation to improve the ATC’s ability to help more families and strengthen opportunities for more children to thrive in permanent, loving families.

    View Online

    Download PDF

  • Congress Enacts Intercountry Adoption Information Act

    From the National Council For Adoption, October 1, 2020

    Yesterday, Congress enacted the Intercountry Adoption Information Act which is now awaiting the President’s signature to be made law.  The following is a description of this legislation by Congressional staff who worked on this legislation:

    The Intercountry Adoption Information Act would amend the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 to require the U.S. State Department to provide additional information on the following:

    • *Countries that have enacted policies to prevent or prohibit adoptions to the United States;
    • *Actions taken by the State Department which have prevented adoptions to the United States;
    • *The ways in which the State Department has worked to encourage resuming adoptions in both cases.

    This information is critical for American families to adopt from countries that have established barriers to adoption, such as Russia or Ethiopia, or other areas where the State Department has suspended intercountry adoption, such as abandoned children in Nepal. 

    You can read more about the Intercountry Adoption Information Act here.

  • USCIS Averts Furlough of Nearly 70% of Workforce

    Drastic cuts will impact agency operations for foreseeable future

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that the agency will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30 as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.

    USCIS expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of fiscal year 2020. Aggressive spending reduction measures will impact all agency operations, including naturalizations, and will drastically impact agency contracts.

    USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow says, “However, averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs. A return to normal operating procedures requires congressional intervention to sustain the agency through fiscal year 2021.”Anticipated operational impacts include increased wait times for pending case inquiries, longer case processing times, and increased adjudication time for aliens adjusting status or naturalizing. Naturalization ceremonies will continue. Congress must still act on a long-term solution that will provide USCIS with the necessary financial assistance to sustain the agency throughout 2021 and beyond.

    You can read the full statement issued by USCIS at: https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-averts-furlough-of-nearly-70-of-workforce

  • USCIS Adjusts Fees to Help Meet Operational Needs

    The Department of Homeland Security has announced that they are making adjustments to fees for certain USCIS services, to ensure that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is able to continue covering costs.  Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded, and the collected fees account for nearly 97% of USCIS’ budget.

    As required by federal law, USCIS conducted a comprehensive fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by an average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year.

    “USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

    DHS and USCIS are encouraging online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS.

    Effective October 2nd, 2020, the new filing fees will be:

    For Hague Convention Countries
    Request Form Current Fee
    Final Fee Change 
    I-800/I-800A $775 $805
    I-800A Supplement 3 $385 $400
    Biometrics fingerprints $85 $30

    For non-Hague Countries

    Request Form Current Fee
    Final Fee Change
    I-600/I-600A $775 $805
    I-600A Supplement 3 N/A $400
    Biometrics fingerprints $85 $30

    Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after October 2nd, 2020 must include payment of the new, correct fees, or USCIS will not be able to process the documents.

    For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov.

  • Renewal of IAN’s Hague Accreditation

    IAN has proudly been a Hague Accredited adoption agency since April 1, 2008, and we are very pleased to announce that the renewal of our Hague Accreditation has been approved for another 4 years!

    A little more about Hague Accreditation and what it means for adoptive parents:

    The Hague Convention provides protections for children, birthparents and prospective adoptive parents under internationally agreed upon rules and procedures. Under its framework, member countries work together to help ensure that children are provided with permanent, loving homes and that adoptions take place in the best interest of the child.

    In order to become Hague Accredited, and maintain Hague Accreditation, agencies are evaluated by the accrediting entity, Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME). IAAME was created for the sole purpose of the accreditation, approval, monitoring and oversight of adoption service providers providing intercountry adoption services, and assesses an agency’s policies, procedures, communications, recruitment of prospective adoptive parents, child placements, home study services, parent education and support, and more, in order to determine that substantial compliance with the Hague Accreditation standards has been demonstrated.

    While challenging at times, IAN’s Hague accreditation renewal process was a learning experience, and we’ve come through it even stronger, as an agency, which we believe will benefit our adoptive families and their children. It’s not only our job to provide you with information and guide you through the legal steps of the adoption process, that’s the “easy” part.  Most importantly, we are here to prepare and support you and your adopted child on this emotional, life changing journey.

    For more information on Hague – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Adoption-Process/understanding-the-hague-convention.html 

    Please contact us for more information on our programs and how to get started on your adoption with IAN!

  • USCIS Response to COVID-19

    June 4 Reopening

    Beginning June 4, 2020, certain USCIS field offices and asylum offices will resume non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. Application support centers will resume services later. USCIS has enacted precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in reopened facilities:

    • Visitors may not enter a USCIS facility if they:
      • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever or difficulty breathing;
      • Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
      • Have been individually directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider or public health official within the last 14 days.
    • Visitors may not enter the facility more than 15 minutes prior to their appointment (30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies).
    • Hand sanitizer will be provided for visitors at entry points.
    • Members of the public must wear facial coverings that cover both the mouth and nose when entering facilities. If they do not have one, USCIS may provide one or the visitor will be asked to reschedule their appointment.
    • There will be markings and physical barriers in the facility; visitors should pay close attention to these signs to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.
    • Individuals may also have to answer health screening questions before entering a facility.
    • Individuals are encouraged to bring their own black or blue ink pens.

    Appointment notices will include further instructions for visiting USCIS facilities. Please note that USCIS locations are not accepting walk-in visits at this time. You must have a scheduled appointment with USCIS before arriving at a USCIS office. For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Policy and USCIS Office Closings pages.