If you’re wondering if adoption is possible for military families, the answer is yes. Whether you’re stationed at home, abroad, or deployed, adoption is still an amazing — and completely doable — way to grow your family.
What are military adoption agencies?
Military adoption agencies are simply adoption agencies that work with military families to help them grow through adoption. While the agency may not work exclusively with military families, it’s important to choose a professional who has a track record of doing so successfully. Such agencies should be able to help you regardless of where you’re stationed or whether one of you is deployed.
What types of adoption do military adoption agencies help with?
Military adoption agencies can help you to complete any of the following types of adoption:
- Private Domestic Infant Adoption – This refers to the adoption of infants born in the United States. Your agency will match you with a birth mother, and you’ll be encouraged to maintain contact with your child’s birth family as he or she grows up. It’s important to keep in mind, particularly for military families, that this type of adoption may involve traveling to a different state when the birth mom goes to the hospital to have the baby.
- Adoption from Foster Care – You can choose to adopt from foster care as well, but this may require more consideration about deployments and moving. Since every child in foster care is in the custody of a particular state, you may want to wait to pursue adoption after moving to a new station or returning from deployment. If you have to move while fostering a child, that child will then have to stay with another foster family within the state.
- International Adoption – Per the Universal Accreditation Act that went into effect in 2014, all adoption professionals that help to complete international adoptions must be compliant with the Hague Convention, which was put in place to ensure the safety of intercountry adoptions. Once you’ve chosen a country to adopt from, you can choose a professional who is experienced in adoptions from that country. At that point, the agency will be able to help you work through the process while navigating you or your spouse’s military career.
What services do military adoption agencies offer?
A military adoption agency should provide all the services that other adoption agencies provide. It may, however, be helpful to ask about the following services as well when researching adoption professionals for your family:
- What happens if we’re stationed abroad? Will you help us to make sure we find a qualified home study professional who meets the requirements of the United States as well as those outlined by the country from which we’re adopting?
- Will you help us to understand what we should be looking for in an adoption attorney located abroad? How do we verify that an adoption completed while abroad will be acknowledged and legal when we return to the United States?
- Is there a different wait time estimate for military families?
- What travel is required of us if we adopt an infant from the United States while stationed abroad?
Can we still adopt if one of us is deployed during the adoption process?
Yes! Having a spouse serving the country does not bar you from adopting. In this scenario, the spouse who is deployed will have to grant the power of attorney to the one who is staying behind. This will allow him or her to make all legal decisions regarding the adoption to prevent delays in the process.
Are there any special military adoption benefits or other military adoption assistance?
Again, yes! There are several ways to help fund adoptions for military members. Some of those options include:
- The Adoption Reimbursement Policy: if your adoption was completed by a state agency or by a non-profit private agency, this policy provides assistance with expenses. This allows a reimbursement of up to $2,000 per child or $5,000 total after the adoption is complete for expenses that include:
- Placement fees
- Legal and court costs
- Medical expenses for the birth mother as well as for the child
- The Department of Defense Child Care: The Department of Defense provides child care at more than 300 sites with more than 900 child development centers and programs for children.
- Medical Care or TRICARE: Your child will be eligible for health care either on base or at civilian medical facilities through the military.
- Deployment Deferments or Assignment Extensions: If a military family has to remain in one state to complete their child’s adoption, commanders are generally encouraged to grant those requests.
For more information about the assistance and benefits available to military families pursuing adoption, locate the Family Service Center on the base nearest you to learn more.