Military Adoption 101
By: MJ Boice, Staff Writer
Making the leap to grow your family through adoption will be one of the biggest decisions you may ever make. Adopting a child can also be one of life’s most rewarding experiences for everyone involved, including military families.
If your military family is considering adoption, you may be wondering where to start. Each adoption situation is unique, and each will have its own process and procedures. Whether you’re looking into adopting locally, internationally, or through an agency or independent adoption, there are many resources and programs available to military families as they move through the adoption process.
Information on how to start the adoption process, what to expect in a home study, and a break-down of military specific adoption benefits can all be found on the Military OneSource website. In addition to breaking down the information into bite-sized pieces, they can also provide links to organizations and support groups specific to your unique situation. For example, they recognize that adopting a child while stationed overseas can become complicated, and will help connect you with the agencies that are best equipped at walking you through the international adoption process step-by-step. You can also speak to a Military OneSource adoption consultant for free by calling 800-342-9647.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
The Child Welfare Information Gateway is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families and the Children’s Bureau. The gateway provides access to a host of publications, websites, databases and online learning tools to help connect families to the information they need. While their website is designed for all American citizens, they offer information and resources specific to the military community, including adoption information. One such resource is their comprehensive guide for military families considering adoption. It covers military-specific challenges, like what to do if your family receives deployment or PCS orders during the adoption process. The gateway even gives information for service providers to better assist military families who are adopting.
Adopt US Kids
Many families opt to adopt children from foster care, and Adopt US Kids offers free assistance to military families navigating the foster care system. Not only can they connect you to financial resources specific to adoption through foster care, but they can also connect you with adoption and foster care professionals in your area. Adopt US Kids also provides in-depth information about the unique challenges associated with being a foster kid, such as understanding the trauma, loss, abuse, or neglect they may have experienced. If you and your partner decide to adopt a child from foster care, resources such as EFMP can become a lifeline for kids who have been through the foster care system.
Department of Defense (DoD)
Many military families are unaware that the military offers adoption benefits, as well. Service members are eligible for up to 21 days of adoption leave, which would not be charged against their regular accrued leave time. They also may receive health benefits for their child before the adoption is completed.
In addition to leave time, federal law authorizes financial reimbursement for some adoption related expenses. The DoD’s adoption reimbursement program allows reimbursement for up to $2,000 per child, not to exceed $5,000 per calendar year, but there are some limitations and requirements. For example, the adoption of a service member’s step-child would need to be finalized through the U.S. court system before receiving reimbursement. Also, only the service member adopting their spouse’s biological child will qualify in this situation. Expenses related to the military spouse adopting the service member’s biological child wouldn’t qualify for reimbursement.
Posted March 27, 2018