The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 5, 2013

Our View: Going from bad to worse

The Joplin Globe

— Whittling away an adoption incentive the state of Missouri currently offers is bad public policy.

Right now, the state gives parents a tax credit of up to $10,000 per child to cover legal expenses and other costs.

It’s not much, given the investment some of these families make to adopt, but now even that is at risk for many families.

State Sen. Jolie Justice, a Kansas City Democrat, doesn’t think the state should subsidize the cost of overseas adoptions, or for that matter adoptions for children who live in other states. In other words, no help for children from Korea to Kansas.

Justice would keep the tax credit on the books but only for Missouri parents who adopt children from Missouri.

Her argument: “With 10,000 to 11,000 kids in the state of Missouri that need to be adopted, if we are going to incent people to adopt kids, we would be incenting them to adopt kids in the state of Missouri and not outside.”

Justice’s proposal, however, is shortsighted.

What difference should it make if a child getting a chance for a new life comes from old Mexico, New Mexico or Mexico, Mo.? Whether they’re from Lebanon in the Midwest or Lebanon in the Middle East? From ancient Carthage or modern Carthage?

It shouldn’t make any difference at all. What matters is what is best for the child.

As for Justice’s real agenda — helping children in Missouri — a better solution would be to provide an incentive for adoptive parents so that if they adopt a Missouri child, the state will waive tuition and fees to a Missouri university for the child. That $10,000 tax credit is no match for the $50,000 to $100,000 cost of sending a child to college in Missouri.

A better solution would include expediting a process that give biological parents too many chances and leaves children in dangerous situations for too long, sometimes to their detriment, undermining the likelihood they will be adopted.

There’s a lot that needs to be done, senator.

If you’re serious about it, we applaud you, but we don’t see your proposal  — eliminating incentives and putting up barriers — as a serious solution.