Opening Hearts and Homes
Bryon and I have always tried to teach our kids that family is more about what is in your heart than in your bloodstream. Over five years ago, we came to realize just how true that was when my brother Rob and his wife opened their hearts and their home to Ruby, who was just an infant when they adopted her from Ethiopia. I know the process wasn’t easy and it came with so much stress, but I couldn’t imagine our family without this sweet and spunky little girl and her sister, who they adopted a few years later.
It truly warms my heart to know that this is a story shared by many families in South Dakota and I’m honored each year to be able to nominate one special South Dakota family as “Angels in Adoption.” This year’s “Angels” nominee and award recipient is a very inspiring family from Rapid City.
Paul and Dotty Enos have 14 children, four of which are adopted. In 2007, they chose to extend their family by adopting twins, an infant boy and girl. As if that didn’t make their family busy enough, they opened their home to foster children the following year. In 2009, they took in their first foster child, who they adopted two years later. Over the next six years, they fostered more than a dozen children.
A few years after they first became foster parents, a close friend of their daughter’s lost both her parents. Once again, they opened their home and invited this young woman into their family where she was welcomed with love. Without a doubt, the Enos family has earned the distinction of being called “Angels in Adoption.” Of course, if you ask them, they’ll tell you the true angels are the children out there looking for a home.
There are, of course, financial challenges that come any time a family is expanded – whether through adoption, foster care, or otherwise. And while the Enos family has said that when you do the right thing, the finances take care of themselves, I want to do all I can to make adoption more affordable for good families like this.
Since 1997, the federal government has offered a tax credit to help offset adoption fees, attorney fees, court costs, travel expenses, and re-adoption expenses for intercountry adoptions. This is a great credit that has helped many families, but I’d like to improve it further. Currently, families can only apply the benefit if they have an income tax liability, meaning they owe the federal government money at the end of the year. That doesn’t benefit many middle-class families. That’s why I’d like to see the tax credit fully refundable, meaning they’ll receive the benefit regardless of how much they owe on Tax Day.
As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, I have helped sponsor legislation to accomplish this and am committed to moving it through the legislative process. After all, adoption fees should never stand in the way of finding a child a home.
Hanging in the Enos’ home is a sign that reads: “A hundred years from now… it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove … but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” What a testament to their family’s values.
Thank you to all of those who have opened your hearts, your homes, and even your families to a child.The love that is shown to them can and will change our world.