Military Families and Adoption
Does American Adoptions work with military families?
American Adoptions has helped many military families realize their dreams of parenthood. As these families serve our nation, it is our pleasure to serve them and aide them as they begin their adoption journey.
While working with military families does come with special considerations, our staff is fully qualified to answer and address any of these situations as they arise.
What if a spouse is deployed during the adoption process?
The deployment of a spouse does not stop the adoption process. The spouse being deployed will simply need to grand a power of attorney to the other spouse, thus allowing them to make all legal decisions regarding the adoption for the other spouse while they are away.
What if we are transferred to another state during the adoption process?
Many families, both civilian and military, need to move during the adoption process due to job relocation or other reasons. The waiting family will need to get a home study update or a new home study, depending on your home study provider. This may postpone the adoption process, as a fully updated home study is required for all adoptions. Until your home study is completed or updated, we will be unable to present your profile or match you to an expectant mother. Once this step is completed, your profile will once again be shown to expectant mothers and your adoption process will continue forward.
What resources within the military are supportive of families in general and/or might assist families in their adoption pursuit?
Adoption Reimbursement Policy U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 1341.9, issued by the DoD Washington Headquarters Services' Directives and Record Division, is posted online. This instruction outlines the policy and responsibilities for the reimbursement of qualifying adoption expenses. Up to $2,000 per child (or up to $5,000 per year) for qualifying expenses is available to military families whose adoptions were arranged by a qualified adoption agency. Benefits are paid after the adoption is complete. The National Military Family Association (NMFA) has a fact sheet, DoD Adoption Reimbursement Program, with further information on allowable expenses. A child is considered a dependent in determining travel and transportation allowances (Public Law No. 102-190, section 621, reference (d)). Check with your Judge Advocate General (JAG) if there is a question about this instruction as interpretation varies from installation to installation.
Child Development Programs are available at approximately 300 DoD locations, including 800 centers and approximately 9,000 family child care homes. The services may include full day, part-day and hourly (drop-in) childcare, part-day preschool programs, before- and after-school programs for school-aged children, and extended hours care, including nights and weekends. Not all services are available at all installations.
Deployment Deferment or Extension of Assignment are options military families may request if they need to remain in one state to finalize an adoption. According to DoD Instruction 1341.9, commanders are encouraged to approve requests for ordinary leave once a child is placed in the home of a member. The instruction states that single members or one member of a military couple shall receive a 4-month assignment and deployment deferment immediately following the date a child is placed.
The Exceptional Family Member Program within the military provides many services, including assisting families who need to be stationed in areas that provide for specific medical or other services that might not be available in remote locations. It should be noted that the military definition of special needs is more narrowly defined to mean "persons with physical or mental disabilities or severe illness." This differs from what adoption professionals often refer to as children with special needs - more broadly defined to include children who may be healthy but are older, in sibling groups, or members of a minority group.
Family Service Centers located on every major military installation can provide military families with information regarding adoption reimbursement and other familial benefits. Medical Care is available to military families at military treatment facilities, and health care benefits are provided under TRICARE in civilian medical facilities if access to care is not available at an installation. TRICARE is the military medical benefits program that replaced CHAMPUS. An adopted child, including a child placed in the home of a service member by a placement agency, is eligible for benefits after the child is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)-phone: (800) 538-9552. The patient affairs personnel at a specific medical treatment facility may have information. Specific information on access and eligibility is available on the TRICARE Web site or by calling the DoD Worldwide Tricare Information Center at (888) 363-2273.
Family Advocacy Program provides individual and family counseling services for military families. Most of the programs are geared toward prevention and the development of a healthier lifestyle. The New Parent Support Programs available at some military installations are one component of the Family Advocacy Program. These programs are available to all families (birth or adoptive) with children ages 3 or under. The MFRC has a New Parent Support Programs in the Military fact sheet that provides more information.
Tax Benefits for Adoption, Internal Revenue Service Publication 968, is available online. A tax benefit is available for all adoptive families. While military families do not qualify for services under the Family Medical Leave Act, they do qualify for this tax benefit.
Services Available to Military Families Stationed Outside of the U.S.
No matter where your family is stationed, American Adoptions can help you fulfill your dreams of parenthood. Our agency has worked with couples from across the globe.
Important Facts for Military Families Stationed Outside the U.S.
Step 1: The Adoption Home Study
A home study is required for each adoption. This study is a basic overview of your life - including criminal background checks, your finances and even your personal relationships. It is used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for a family to receive an adoptive placement.
Military couples abroad must ensure that their home study meets the regulations of the country they reside in. Couples are encouraged to first research the home study requirements of their country prior to beginning the home study process. The agency will also require the home study be translated into English. Additional supporting documents needed to activate with our agency will also be required to be translated, such as reference letters, physician reports, criminal clearances, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc. Translation services are not provided by our agency and are at your expense.
Depending on the country, the home study may either be completed by a government agency, a licensed private social worker or a licensed adoption agency. Military couples should refer to the Social Services Department of the base they reside at for help in finding a qualified home study provider.
Once the home study is complete, American Adoptions will work with the home study provider to ensure the study meets all United States requirements. Depending on the laws of the country you reside in, there may be limitations as to where the home study is valid outside of your country. Please speak to your home study provider to learn if this will affect you.
Step 2: Legal Representation
American Adoptions strongly recommends that couples living outside of the United States speak with an adoption or immigration attorney in the country they reside in to discuss any legal issues that may affect the adoption process, as well as any immigration or citizenship issues that may affect your adoption. Military families should consult with their local JAG office about their adoption plans prior to beginning the adoption process. Couples should seek to retain an attorney with specific knowledge and experience in the steps that will be necessary to bring a child from the United States into the country they reside in. Our agency will require written verification from either legal counsel or an adoption authority in your country verifying that your adoption will be accepted and valid in your country.
Step 3: The Adoption Process
Once American Adoptions verifies that your home study meets all United States requirements and we have received your Preliminary Application, your Adoptive Family Profile Kit and your Adoption Planning Questionnaire, you will become an active family with American Adoptions and your profile will begin to be shown to expectant mothers. Your adoption process will then proceed as all other American Adoptions' cases from the time you are active with the agency until being matched with an expectant mother and the placement of the child.
Step 4: Placement/Finalization
Military couples living abroad will be required to travel to the United States for the placement of the child. You will need to apply for a passport for the baby prior to being allowed to return to your country of origin with the baby. This process can take an average of 2-4 weeks. American Adoptions and/or your legal counsel will guide you through the steps for this process. This process may require you to travel to another part of the United States to physically appear at one of the passport agencies that can assist in expedited passport services. Additionally, couples may be required to travel back to the United States for the finalization of the adoption, which typically occurs approximately six months following the placement of the child.
Military couples living abroad will be responsible for meeting all citizenship, immigration and passport requirements for the adopted child. Couples should note that procuring a passport for their adopted child may require lengthy steps. Couples are encouraged to seek the services of an experienced immigration or adoption attorney in the country they reside in to ensure that all immigration requirements are met. Attorneys should have specific knowledge of the requirements necessary to bring a child from the United States into the country you reside in. Military couples should also consult with their local JAG office for more information on obtaining a passport for the adopted child and any other travel concerns that may arise when traveling from the U.S. to the overseas military base you are stationed at.
All post-placement supervision visits must be done according to United States requirements and the requirements of the state where the adoption occurs. Since American Adoptions will not yet know in which state the adoption will occur, military couples must ensure that their post-placement provider is prepared to meet these requirements. Our agency will give your post-placement provider further assistance at the time of the supervision so they know how many visits to have, how to write the reports, where to send them and more. If you plan to stay in the United States during the post-placement supervision time period, please prepare to contract with a post-placement provider in the United States. We can assist you with this further on a case-by-case basis once you have received your placement.