If you’re in the military and pursuing adoption, you may feel overwhelmed by the process. Don’t worry. There are many organizations and resources for military adoption assistance.
Adopting while serving our country is possible, and you can get many benefits and forms of support in your position (that you couldn’t have gotten otherwise).
Military Adoption Assistance Services and Options
Many organizations are devoted to helping prospective adoption families during their adoption process. But it can be challenging to find information geared specifically toward military families pursuing adoption.
Here are some informative military adoption assistance organizations and options worth checking out. Whether stationed in the United States or overseas, these options can help as you get started on your adoption journey.
Family Service Centers
Located on every major military installation, your Family Service Center can give you information and services regarding the various military adoption benefits available.
Deployment Deferments or Extension of Assignments
Once you travel to meet your newly-born son or daughter, you will need to remain in the birth mother’s state as you wait for ICPC to clear. “ICPC” stands for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, and it ensures the safety of placements of children across state lines.
Consider requesting a deployment deferment or an extension of assignment if you must remain in the birth mother’s state. According to DoD Instruction 1341.9, commanders are urged to approve requests for ordinary leave once you bring your baby home. In addition, according to the instruction, single parents (or one spouse) should receive a four-month assignment and deployment deferment right after their child is placed in their home.
Medical Care for Military Adoptive Families
Medical care is available to all military families at military treatment facilities. If you cannot get access to care at a military installation, health care benefits will be provided under TRICARE in civilian medical facilities.
Your adopted child will be eligible for benefits after he or she is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). To get more information, call DEERS at 1-800-538-9552.
In addition, the patient affairs staff at your medical treatment facility may have information. Visit the TRICARE website or call the DoD Worldwide TRICARE Information Center at 1-888-363-2273 for specific details on eligibility and access.
Military Adoption Financial Assistance
Lifetime Adoption has helped hundreds of military couples realize their dreams of parenthood. As you serve our nation, it is our honor to serve you as you begin your adoption journey. No matter where you’re stationed around the world, Lifetime will help you fulfill your dreams of parenthood. It is possible to adopt, even if your husband or wife is serving overseas.
We’d like to thank you for your sacrifice and courage! To show our gratitude for your service to our country, Lifetime offers military adoptive couples a reduction in fees.
Adoption Tax Benefit
Military families should also consider the Federal Adoption Tax credit as they plan financially for adoption. With the tax credit, the cost of adoption can become very affordable. Learn more at the Internal Revenue Service website.
Thanks to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, service members are eligible for up to $2,000 reimbursement per child per year – with a max of $5,000 per year. If you adopt multiple children, you will be reimbursed no more than $5,000 total per year, regardless of the number of children you’ve adopted.
You can be reimbursed for:
- Agency fees
- Placement fees
- Legal fees
- Medical expenses for the birth mother and new child
You cannot be reimbursed for:
- Expenses of travel as you finalize the adoption
To qualify for reimbursement of adoption expenses, you must be an active duty member or reservist. In addition, you must have completed at least 180 consecutive days of active duty. And you must remain on active duty until the adoption is final to maintain your eligibility.
Military OneSource is a program for the military community that provides information, answers and support. Some aspects of adoption are unique to military life. A Military OneSource adoption consultant can help you navigate the process, as they are specially trained in military adoptions. Visit the adoption section of the Military OneSource website to learn more.
Many companies offer special military deals and discounts, including year-round online and in-store shopping discounts, special promotions on patriotic holidays, and discounted monthly bills. In addition, even if you’re not on active duty, you can get military veteran adoption assistance and retired military adoption assistance through these discounts.
You are eligible for discounts on travel, car rental, and even vehicle purchases. You can also get deals at several general retail sites as you stock up on any supplies you’ll need to welcome a child into your life.
The Keys to a Successful Adoption for Military Families
Besides getting assistance from these organizations, there are other key things for military families to know in order to have a successful adoption. These keys will help you overcome some of the specific obstacles you face as a military family during the adoption process:
1. An Optimistic Attitude
Staying informed and optimistic goes hand-in-hand when walking through your adoption process. Understanding the adoption process helps you stay on top of the practical things you need to get done, like finishing your home study and completing your profile.
2. Basic Knowledge of ICPC
The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) is an arrangement between states to ensure they work together for what is best for the children in their state. The agreement helps adoptive families who wish to adopt outside their state. During and after an adoptive placement, the states work together to provide resources for families from other states.
Some military families have heard of the ICPC but may not know that the ICPC is also effective for military bases overseas. Because military bases are considered United States territories, military families may adopt from the states through ICPC. Lifetime can provide you with military adoption assistance in the way of information about the ICPC and how it affects you.
3. An Experienced Adoption Professional
Finding the right adoption professionals to help you navigate your military adoption journey is important. A good adoption professional uses their knowledge and skill to improve your whole experience.
When you’re looking for adoption professionals, here are some suggestions on what to examine:
- The organization should be licensed and accredited in its state.
- They should offer adoption training and education for prospective adoptive families.
- An adoption professional should be quick to respond to your questions.
- They should display an openness to answer any of your questions.
- They should be forthcoming about your options for adoption, financial fees or payments, and state and country programs that could benefit you.
If God has put adoption on your heart, Lifetime is here to help you through the process step-by-step. There’s no need to put off your dreams of having a family. Military men and women make exceptional parents, and we want to see your dreams come true!
Learn more about adopting as a military couple through Lifetime Adoption by calling us at 727-493-0933. We would love to learn about your adoption needs and military circumstances and help tailor an adoption plan to meet your needs.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 6, 2008, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”