Eric Doden, Rep. Tim Wesco Op-Ed: Indiana Should Lead on Protecting Life with Zero Cost Adoption

Indiana should lead the nation in protecting life. Mothers who choose life and families who choose adoption should receive the support they need to provide safe and loving homes to Indiana’s children. That is why we have called for the creation of a Zero Cost Adoption system for the state of Indiana.

In Indiana, today, approximately 13,000 children call foster care home. While the foster care system provides needed safety and stability for many children, its function should be temporary with the long-term goal of providing permanent homes for foster children. For children who do not have the option to return to their parents, there is no better way to achieve this goal than by placing them in adoptive homes.

Sadly, combined with government red tape, seemingly endless delays and the emotional toll of the process on all parties, the financial burden of adoption can far too often represent an immovable obstacle for prospective families. In fact, currently, the national average cost of foster care adoption is $2,744, and according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, an independent adoption can cost anywhere from $15,000-$40,000. Worse yet, these costs do not account for the post-adoption costs of care including counseling, therapy and other services that are often needed.

Additionally, in Indiana, the average time for placement of a foster child is nearly a year. While an improvement from the past, the process is still too cumbersome and far too slow. These emotional and financial costs have limited the number of willing adoptive families, reducing the availability of eligible loving homes for foster children.

House Bill 1115 creates a fund that will provide financial assistance to families who seek to adopt. Additionally, the proposal would allow for a 50 percent state tax credit against the state tax liability for taxpayers who contribute to the fund. By creating this fund and incentivizing charitable contributions from generous taxpayers, we can promote a culture of adoption in our state. This path is the right thing to do.

For Hoosier taxpayers, this path is also the prudent one. Sadly, the instability many of these children face have long and costly consequences. Children raised in unstable environments face many challenges including a lack of access to quality education and health care. In their formative years, the absence of this much-needed support can lead to failed educational outcomes, mental health challenges and substance dependency. While these sad and long-term circumstances are most costly to the children we fail, the costs to taxpayers are also immense.

We have joined together on this important and innovative proposal to protect Indiana’s most vulnerable children and we are hopeful the legislature will act this session to enact it. It will strengthen families and communities, and most importantly, give every Indiana child access to a safe and loving home whether adopted at birth or through foster care. The first-of-its-kind Zero Cost Adoption Fund will make Indiana a national leader in promoting a culture of life and can be a model to our fellow states on how to tackle these tough challenges in a loving and practical way.

Rep. Tim Wesco is a Republican State Representative from Osceola and the author of HB 1115 which creates Indiana’s Zero Cost Adoption Fund. Eric Doden is a Republican businessman and conservative candidate for Indiana Governor who has called for the implementation of a Zero Cost Adoption system in Indiana.

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