My husband and I are in the middle of our home study for an international adoption. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, and yet weren’t sure we could in the military. We had so many questions:
- Would the moving and deployments hinder the process?
- Would we even qualify as a military family?
- Would our lifestyle be a deterrent to an agency?
- Could we afford it?
- Does the military offer anything for families who adopt?
As we jumped in and decided to pursue this route, we found that the military life was actually a benefit to a lot of this process. From compensation to time off, both your company commanders and your agency can help with bringing your child home.
Reimbursement: The military offers reimbursement for adoption expenses. Both domestic and international adoption expenses can be eligible for up to a $2,000 per child, up to $5,000 per year. All military families are also eligible for any tax credit towards adopting.
Stay on base: Depending on where you travel to, you may be able to stay on post/base for your trip while visiting or picking up your child. Your agency can usually help with this if it’s an option.
Insurance: Your child is immediately covered by Tricare after being adopted. As of the date of this post, all pre-existing conditions are covered as well.
Deployment: If your spouse is deployed during the process, he or she simply needs to leave you a Power of Attorney to continue with all adoption decisions. Make sure to try to have an agreement on any major decisions that might come up during a time you aren’t able to reach him or her. Your agency can help you with knowing about these ahead of time.
PCS: You can request Deployment Deferment or Extension of Assignment if your PCS come up before or immediately after you bring your child home. This allows the adoption to finalize in the correct state. If you have to PCS, depending on the timeframe you may have to complete a new home study in the new state. Be sure to check with your agency before starting this to see how long your country usually takes to place a child with you and if that might work with your orders.
Family Leave: The military member is able to take 21 days of uncharged leave after the adoption of a child. Although this leave must be approved, it almost always is. This allows for you all to bond for a few weeks before a lot of upheaval. Many, many agencies and sites recommend at least one parent take several months off to allow the child to adjust before another big change.
Special Needs: For families who adopt a child with special needs, the military can work with families who need to be stationed in areas that provide for specific medical or other services that might not be available in remote locations. Please note that the military often defines a special need differently than an agency might. Often siblings and older children are considered special needs to allow them to be adopted quicker – but the military does not consider that a special medial need.
Not only did we qualify for international adoption, we found that our lifestyle actually made some of this process a lot easier – as you can see above.
This is an amazing, yet overwhelming at times, journey. Be sure to look into all the options, military and civilian, available to your family and through your agency. Ask lots of questions. Attend seminars, conferences, or webinars (online conferences). Ask your friends to see if they know people using the agencies you’ve thought about, the countries you’re considering, or people who have adopted recently.