Adoption is an arduous process for any family, in any location, with any lifestyle. This may feel especially true for certain families in different situations, particularly military families. With constantly shifting variables such as moving homes and parents leaving to serve, adoption might not even seem like a viable option.
In reality though, such a dream is absolutely feasible. There are benefits and opportunities provided to such families and, for that reason alone, it is necessary to be educated before entering the process. We here, at Adoption Network, want to set you on your way, so here are a few facts to help guide you!
The Home Study
Typically the home study process, or the family assessment, is similar no matter if the family is a military one or a civilian one. In some cases though, a few parts of the process may vary.
For instance, many military families may have lived in multiple states and background checks may be required from each, which will take more time and feel more extensive.
Similarly, and according to The Child Welfare Information Gateway, in order to adopt a child or infant living in another State, your adoption professional must check that State’s requirements as well before completing your home study. Moreover, families overseas must have a home study completed and approved by a social worker licensed in the United States to do family assessments.
Two such agencies licensed to place U.S. children with overseas families are Adopt Abroad and Voice for International Development and Adoption. Also, the International Social Service has social workers in 140 of the countries where the United States has military installations for your help!
Military service members who adopt a child under 18 years of age, including step-children, may be reimbursed for qualified adoption expenses up to $2,000 per adoptive child. There are, however, a few key things to note:
- First, only a total of up to a $5,000 is applicable if more than one child is adopted per calendar year and a separate form must be filed for each child.
- Second, if the family contains a dual military couple, then only one member will be able to claim expenses for each adopted child.
- Third, the specified service member must be on active duty when filing for the reimbursement. For more details on forms and related procedures, help can be found with the National Military Family Association.
Although it might be necessary for a service member to be on active duty when they file for reimbursement, there are opportunities for leave under different circumstances. While service members are not eligible for adoption leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, thanks to legislation passed in 2006, they are permitted up to 21 days of non-chargeable leave, in addition to regular leave, to be used in connection with the adoption.
Also important to note is that leave under any circumstance still must be granted at the discretion of the commander, and only service members who are eligible for reimbursement of adoption expenses are eligible for this leave.
Additionally, and again, similarly to the circumstances surrounding reimbursement, the same goes for dual military couples in the way that only one service member is allowed this special leave. Ultimately, each of the Services has issued a regulation or policy concerning adoption leave. Your family’s conditions and opportunities may vary.
In such instances where a child under the age of 18 is placed in the home of a service member by a placement agency for adoption professional, those children are considered dependents. Then, with a court order for the placement, an adopted child may be eligible for military health benefits. Again, rules and regulations range between Services.
In the end, it may seem like the process is even more complicated for military families. In some instances that is undeniably the case; however, being educated and prepared can save your family from a lot of those potentially difficult situations. Ultimately, the benefits and opportunities that are in place are not meant to be convoluted but rather, complementary. Reimbursements, health care, and leave are supposed to make the transitory process of adoption easier for active service members and their expanding families. Military adoption might appear arduous, but a professional will guide you in order to receive the most benefits of the resources available.