Not only can couples in the military grow their family through adoption, but they may also be able to receive benefits to help them on their adoption journey. Even under special circumstances, adoption professionals will work with you to help you fulfill your dream of adding a child to your family.
How Does Military Adoption Work?
Adoption for military families works in much the same way that it does for any other family. While the process is the same, military families may need to consider factors like travel and relocation when pursuing their adoption.
Adoption Types for Military Families
There are three primary types of adoption; below is a brief description of each, along with what you may need to keep in mind as a military family.
If you choose domestic infant adoption, a private adoption agency will help to match you with a birth mother. This is a great option for parents hoping to adopt a newborn and having a relationship with their child’s birth mother.
For military couples, travel is an especially important consideration. Regardless of where you are living, be prepared to travel to the birth mother’s state when she is in the hospital. It is also a good idea to work with a national agency, which will make it easier to update your home study if you move.
One of the only things to consider is how long you will be stationed in a particular state, since each foster child is in legal custody of the state. If you know you will be stationed or deployed in the near future, you may want to wait to pursue foster parenting when you settle into your new station or return from deployment.
However, if you are foster parenting and learn of an upcoming relocation or deployment, the foster child will simply move in with another foster family.
If you are interested in adopting a child from another country, you must work with an international child-placing agency that is Hague accredited, due to the Universal Accreditation Act beginning in 2014. You will also need to choose an agency that works with the country from which you want to adopt.
Once you narrow down the type of adoption you want to pursue, you then must determine which adoption professional will best help you match your goals. After you choose a professional, you can move on to the home study.
The adoption process can require extra steps if you have special circumstances. Some of the following situations are common to military couples:
- If one of you is deployed, you can still move forward with your adoption. The spouse being deployed will need to grant a power of attorney to the other spouse; that way, the other spouse can make the legal decisions of the adoption.
- If you are transferred to another state, you will need to update your home study to accommodate the change, and then your adoption process will continue.
- If you live overseas, you can still pursue adoption. You can work with a domestic adoption agency that will help you through the process regardless of where you live. It’s important to keep in mind that you will need to travel to the location of the child when it is time for placement. When you are living abroad, you will also need to take care of any visa and passport requirements for your child.
Military Adoption Benefits
You may qualify to receive many benefits of adopting while a member of the armed forces.
The Department of Defense Adoption Reimbursement Program reimburses military adoptive parents up to $2,000 for qualifying adoption expenses per adopted child for a maximum of $5,000 per year for multiple adopted children. Qualifying expenses include agency fees, home study fees, medical fees, legal fees and more.
Military Adoption Leave is often granted to servicemen and servicewomen after placement of an adopted child, and is intended to provide time for bonding with the child and organize childcare services while he or she is on duty. 2006’s Public Law 109-163 allows up to 21 additional days of leave for military adoptive parents, in addition to regular leave already established. If both parents are members of the armed forces, only one is eligible for military adoption leave.
Health Insurance is often provided to adopted children under the age of 18 who qualify as dependents of military parents. TRICARE provides these health benefits, and for a child to be eligible, he or she must be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Other Military Adoption Resources include:
- Military Child Care – The Department of Defense overseas approximately 800 child development centers around the world, which offer safe and educational child care for parents on military installations.
- Deployment Deferment – Military adoptive parents in the middle of an adoption process may request to defer deployment until after the finalization of an adoption. A single adoptive parent or one member of an adoptive couple may receive up to a four-month deployment deferment if approved.
- 2013 Federal Adoption Tax Credit – In January 2013, congress voted to make the Federal Adoption Tax Credit permanent. The non-refundable tax credit is for a maximum of $12,970 to offset qualifying adoption expenses.
With the help of your adoption professional and the benefits you can receive, adoption can be a wonderful option for military couples to grow their family.