Here is some very helpful information from the North American Council on Adopted Children for your 2012 taxes:
The adoption tax credit is refundable for both 2010 and 2011. Under current law (which could still be changed), the tax credit is as follows in 2012 and 2013:
2012 — The tax credit will be $12,650 per child. Families who adopt children with special needs will be able to claim the full credit regardless of their qualified adoption expenses. Other adopters will have to have qualified adoption expenses.
The credit will NOT be refundable, meaning that families can benefit only if they have federal income tax liability. Just as before 2010, families will claim the credit with their 2012 taxes, use what they can that year, and then can carry any remaining credit forward for five additional years until the credit is used up or time runs out.
We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to claim the credit even if they will not benefit in 2012. It is possible families’ tax situations will change in future years or that the credit might become refundable again.
2013 — Only families who adopt special needs children from foster care will be eligible for up to $6,000 in the adoption tax credit. However, the credit will be based on expenses so families would need to have qualified adoption expenses to claim any credit. The credit will not be refundable, so families can benefit only if they have federal income tax liability. The income limits for the credit will also be reduced significantly in 2013, meaning that families with higher incomes will not benefit.
The adoption credit was made permanent for special needs adoption when the credit was first created. Credits for other adoptions are time limited and are scheduled to end by December 31, 2012.