Having grown up with adopted siblings, I understand the joys that come from welcoming children who were born to other parents into the family.

I also understand there are challenges.

To help address these challenges, many states offer adoption subsidies. Some subsidies are provided when a sibling group is adopted together or when a child has unique medical or physical needs.

While these adoption subsidies are generally available to all families who welcome an eligible adopted child, the funds often come with certain reporting requirements to maintain the child’s eligibility. Most require evidence that the child is in school or is being educated in a manner recognized by state law.

Proof of Education

For homeschool parents, the adoption-subsidy annual-reporting requirements can occasionally create unique challenges.

Many adoptive parents believe that the best way to incorporate the new member of the family into their home is to include them in their homeschool program. If their state law requires annual notification, parents can often provide verification of their notice as sufficient proof of education to continue to receive their subsidy.

However, if a family happens to live in a state where annual homeschool notification is not required, they may struggle to renew their subsidy.

Situation in Oklahoma

For instance, for the past few years, I have written several letters on behalf of a member family in Oklahoma about their adoption subsidy for at least one of their children. Because Oklahoma does not require a homeschool notification and instead simply requires a parent to provide “other means of instruction” to their children, the family has not been able to obtain any verification from local school officials about their homeschool program.

In addition, since the child was adopted from a state outside Oklahoma, the family has not been able to provide the adoption-subsidy information requested by that second state. The homeschool laws are different there.

However, with our help, the family has been able to document their homeschool program and continue to receive the subsidy that their child is eligible for.

No Notice Required

In another situation, an HSLDA member family in Indiana received notice that their adoption subsidy for their 10th-grade son was going to be terminated by officials in Tennessee. The Department of Children’s Services, the agency that oversees adoption assistance in Tennessee, argued that their son was no longer attending high school full time.

I wrote a letter to the Office of Administrative Appeal and documented what state law requires when homeschooling. While Indiana doesn’t require notification when homeschooling, I pointed out that a homeschool parents are considered to be legally operating a non-accredited, nonpublic school.

Along with the parent’s documentation at their appeal, we were able to demonstrate that their student being homeschooled in Indiana is attending high school full time. Thankfully, the appeal was successful and the family’s adoption assistance was reinstated.

Over the years, all of the attorneys here at HSLDA have been happy to help adoptive families with these issues. If your child’s adoption subsidy is threatened simply because you are homeschooling your child, please contact us so we can see if we can help you!