Everything to Know About the Military Adoption Process
How American Adoptions Can Complete Your Military Family Adoption
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 as they begin their adoption journey.
Our staff is fully qualified to handle any military adoption situation. The following guide will provide you information about the military adoption process, benefits, and some additional military family adoption topics:
Adoption Process for Military Families Stationed Abroad
American Adoptions has worked with hundreds of couples around the world as they grow their family through our military adoption program. We are proud to be a military-friendly adoption agency. No matter where your family is stationed, American Adoptions can help you fulfill your dreams of parenthood.
The adoption process is a little different for military adoptions, as described in the following steps:
Step 1: Complete the Adoption Home Study
Required in each adoption, an adoption home study is an overview of your life, including criminal background checks, your finances and even your personal relationships. It is then used by the courts to assess if a stable environment exists for an adopted child.
Couples stationed abroad who are pursuing a military adoption are encouraged to research the home study requirements of their country. The agency will require supporting documents such as reference letters, physician reports, criminal clearances, marriage licenses and birth certificates that are all translated in English.
Depending on the country, the home study may 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 where they reside for help finding a qualified home study provider.
Once the home study is complete, American Adoptions will work with the home study provider to ensure it meets all United States requirements.
Step 2: Obtain Legal Representation
American Adoptions strongly recommends that couples adopting a child in the military speak with an adoption or immigration attorney in the country where they reside to discuss any legal immigration or citizenship issues that may affect the adoption process.
Military families should consult with their local JAG office about their adoption plans before they begin 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 where they reside. 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: Become an Active Family and Wait for Placement
Once American Adoptions verifies that your home study meets all United States requirements, and we have received your preliminary application, adoptive family profile, adoptive family video profile and your Adoption Planning Questionnaire (APQ), you will become an active family with American Adoptions.
Don’t worry; an adoption specialist will help you complete all of these necessary steps on your way to complete a military adoption.
Once you are an active family, your profile will then begin to be shown to expectant mothers, and your adoption process will then proceed as all other American Adoptions' cases from the time you are active with the agency until you find an adoption opportunity with an expectant mother.
Step 4: Complete Placement and Finalization
This phase of the military adoption process can involve several steps, depending on the unique details of your situation. During placement and finalization, you can most likely expect to do the following:
Travel – 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 before you can return to the country you are stationed in with the baby. This process takes an average of two to four weeks.
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.
Citizenship – Military couples living abroad will be responsible for meeting all citizenship, immigration and passport requirements for the adopted child. This is required even though you and the child will be American citizens.
Couples should note that the process of procuring a passport for their adopted child may be lengthy. Hopeful parents who are adopting a child while in the military are encouraged to seek the services of an experienced immigration or adoption attorney in the country where they reside to ensure that all immigration requirements are met.
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.
Post-Placement Visits – All post-placement supervision visits must be completed according to U.S. requirements and the state where the adoption occurs. Since American Adoptions will not know which state the adoption will occur ahead of time, military couples should make sure that their post-placement provider is prepared to meet these requirements.
If we are unable to complete the post-placements visits, 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 and where to send them.
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 receive placement.
Adoption Process FAQs
What happens if a spouse is deployed during the adoption process?
The deployment of a spouse does not stop the process in a military adoption. The spouse being deployed will simply need to grant power of attorney to the other spouse, which allows him or her to make all legal decisions regarding the adoption.
What if we are transferred to another state during the adoption process?
It is common for both military and non-military families to need to move during the adoption process. In these situations, the family will need to update their home study or apply for a new home study, depending on their 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 help you find an adoption opportunity, but once completed, your adoption process will continue as usual. This is an unfortunate, but potentially unavoidable, challenge to adoption for military families. But don’t worry — a delay is not the end of the world. Your adoption can still continue, and your adoption specialist will help you understand the steps you need to take to move forward.
Military Adoption Benefits
Couples who are adopting a child while in the military could be able to access several unique benefits. The following are some of the most helpful resources and adoption programs for military families:
The Adoption Reimbursement Policy
The Adoption Reimbursement Policy allows up to $2,000 per child, or up to $5,000 per year, for qualifying expenses to adopting military families whose adoptions were arranged by a state adoption agency or a non-profit private agency.
Fees that can be reimbursed include adoption fees; placement fees, including fees for birth parent counseling; legal fees and court costs; and medical expenses, including hospital expenses of the biological mother and her newborn infant. Benefits are paid after the adoption is complete.
For more information, call the Adoption Exchange Association at (303) 755-4756 or visit www.militaryfamily.org.
Child Development Programs
Child development programs are available to families built through military adoption at approximately 300 Department of Defense (DoD) locations, including 800 centers and approximately 9,000 family child care homes. The services may include full-day, half-day and hourly 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 Deferments or Assignment Extensions
Deployment Deferments or Extension of Assignments may be requested if a military family needs 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 parents or one member of a military couple shall receive a four-month assignment and deployment deferment immediately following the date a child is placed.
Exceptional Family Member Program
The Exceptional Family Member Program assists families who need to be stationed in areas that offer special medical or other services that might not be available in remote locations.
It should be noted that the military definition of “special needs” is "persons with physical or mental disabilities or severe illnesses," while some adoption professionals define special needs as not just children with disabilities, but also older children, sibling groups or minorities.
Family Service Centers are located on every major military installation and provide information and services regarding various military adoption 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 a military installation.
An adopted child is eligible for benefits after he or she is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). For more information, call (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 website or by calling the DoD Worldwide TRICARE Information Center at (888) 363-2273.
The 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. These programs are available to all families with children ages 3 or under.
Adoption Tax Benefits are available for military families through Internal Revenue Service Publication 968. While military families do not qualify for services under the Family Medical Leave Act, they do qualify for this tax benefit.
American Adoptions is proud to offer services and guidance through every step of the process as a military-friendly adoption agency. To learn more about infant adoption for military families through American Adoptions, contact an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION or request free adoption information to get started.
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