Your heart is open to having a child in your lives or adding to your family. You’ve talked about it and agreed that adoption is the route you want to take. You may be a single person who wants to share your life with a child. Arm yourself with information before you even call an adoption agency. There is a lot to learn about the adoption process. Search out other military families in your community who have adopted. Ask lots of questions:
- Should we try a domestic or foreign adoption?
- What agency or law firm did you use? Who should we avoid?
- What did it cost?
- What would you have done differently or smarter?
You may be able to find out from your installation family center about an adoption support group on your installation or in the community outside the gate. You’ll be surprised once you start asking how many families have adopted. While you are at the center, ask where new parent support classes are provided. These classes may be able to be used as part of your training once you are in the process. Also check with the chaplain’s office, your own church, or the legal assistance office to see if they have a list of local resources for adoption.
Couples should be prepared for a long adoption process and to build that into your plan. While information exists on those unique military benefits, most of your interaction will be with civilian agencies navigating home studies, social workers, background checks, and state and foreign requirements. It can be helpful to build a team to work with and support you before, during, and after the adoption is final.
It helps to know the language – read up on the adoption process. A good overall background can be obtained at the Child Welfare Information Gateway. This site, run by the US Department of Health and Human Services, will provide non-biased information about the process, different types of adoption, different agencies, and a glossary of terms. This knowledge will be helpful in your planning and in understanding the process when you do start talking with adoption agencies. Another helpful resource is a publication from the Children’s Bureau and AdoptUSKids called Answering the Call – Wherever My Family is: That’s Home! Adoption Services for Military Families. Published in 2007, it contains information for both adoptive parents and for adoption professionals who may not be familiar with the military lifestyle, as well as checklists and timelines to help you plan.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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