The adoption process can sometimes feel overwhelming. Add in your military status, and you may feel like you just don’t know where to start.
The good news is, adopting while serving our country is possible, and there are many benefits and forms of support you can get in your position (that you couldn’t have gotten otherwise). Plus, to show our gratitude for your service to our country, Lifetime offers military adoptive couples a reduction in fees.
What are my military adoption financial benefits?
Adoption can get expensive. The associated costs are the main reason some families that are otherwise ready to adopt are unable to do so. But keep in mind, there are several ways to fund your adoption, in addition to the unique benefits available to military service members.
Do I get a tax credit?
The tax credit for adoption is currently up to $14,080 per adopted child, with qualified expenses being adoption fees, court and attorney fees, travel expenses, and other expenses directly related to adopting a child. Therefore, the adoption tax credit can be a significant help in offsetting adoption expenses.
Can military discounts help?
Don’t forget about the military discounts available to you. 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.
In addition, if you still hope to complete a degree in higher education, you may qualify for scholarships, many of which are easy scholarships that require no essay and little effort to apply.
What about adoption reimbursement?
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. This means that 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.
What can the reimbursement cover?
There are aspects of adoption that this reimbursement can cover and aspects that it can’t cover. 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
Who is eligible for reimbursement?
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.
When does this take effect?
You can apply for these benefits after the adoption is final. Or, if it is international adoption, you can be reimbursed after the child’s citizenship is finalized. Once you are eligible to apply, you must complete and submit the application within the next two years.
How do I apply?
Work with your personnel office to complete a DD Form 2675. Attach copies of any receipts, documentation from your agency, and relevant court papers. And then submit it through your chain of command within the previously specified timeframe.
Do I have any other military adoption benefits?
Financial support isn’t the only form of military adoption benefits you can receive. There are also parental leave benefits and health care coverage to help ease your transition into life as a new adoptive parent.
What about parental leave?
This year, the Department of Defense expanded the Military Parental Leave Program (MPLP). All Active Duty service members and Guard/Reserve service members on active duty orders are authorized 12 weeks of parental leave following adoption placement or finalization, whichever occurs first. Both parents of a dual-military couple are individually authorized their own 12-week period of parental leave. Parental leave is not restricted due to a Service member’s gender.
Actual benefits may vary by service branch, but in general, these 12 weeks of parental leave start when the child is placed into the custody of the Service member parent(s). Parental leave may be taken in a single period of 12 weeks, or it may be taken in multiple increments. The minimum incremental period is seven days, but it can be longer. Parental leave can be used for up to one year following the adoption. This one year window may be extended due to certain operational requirements, e.g. a TDY of 90 consecutive days or more.
What about health care?
With you as a service member, your adopted child may be eligible for military health benefits as a dependent. When you visit the DEERS office, have the ID health care regulation for your branch of the military in hand, in case any attending personnel is unfamiliar with the military health care regulations for adopted children.
TRICARE should automatically cover your child, but they will no longer be covered after the time specified by your plan. You must submit an enrollment application to continue their coverage.
Is there anything else I should consider?
There are several other factors to consider as a military service member preparing to adopt. Keep in mind that moving during the adoption process can complicate things and may cause the need to repeat some actions. If at all possible, try to complete the entire process in one location.
Living overseas can also potentially complicate things. If this is your situation, seek out an adoption agency accustomed to working with people living abroad. At Lifetime Adoption, we can work with military members serving overseas and have helped many adopt over the years.
Traveling to adopt can prove difficult as a service member with little flexibility. Talk with your adoption agency about this so you can make other arrangements as necessary.
The family center at your installation can prove a valuable resource throughout every step of the process. In addition, they might be able to refer you to an adoption support group and parent support classes. Other places to check for adoption resources include your legal assistance office, your chaplain’s office, or your local church.
You can learn a lot from doing research, but you can also gain some valuable insights by learning about the experiences of others. For example, talk with military families who have adopted about the process they went through. Ask about the types of adoption they had, the costs encountered, and if they would have approached anything differently if they could do it over again.
The adoption process can feel daunting, but many resources and forms of support are available for military adoptive families. In fact, adopting has never been more feasible for military families than it is now. So find out all the benefits and resources available to you in your unique situation. And be sure to take advantage of every opportunity you can to help you through the process of becoming a parent.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 5, 2021, and has since been updated.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.