What You Need to Know About the Adoption Process As a Military Family

A large family near a lake

The mobile military life isn't a barrier to adoption anymore. Adoption agencies now know that military families can provide adopted children with wonderful homes. Adoption can be a great way to start and grow your family, yet you should still consider some aspects unique to military life when deciding to adopt.

Here are a few things you should discuss with your partner and the adoption agency throughout the adoption process:

  • Moving — It's best to complete the adoption process at one duty station, if possible. But if you move in the middle of the process, you might have to repeat some expensive requirements, like the home study. 
  • Living overseas Look for an agency experienced in working with U.S. citizens living abroad. You can also look for adoption support groups in overseas locations to help talk you through the process.
  • Deployments You may need to put the adoption process on hold if you or your partner is deployed, since most adoption paperwork requires signatures from both parents. But it's worth checking with your personnel officer to see if you or your service member is eligible for a deployment deferment while the adoption process is ongoing.
  • Background checks Living overseas can complicate the required criminal background check. Check with your agency to see if it can help you get the necessary paperwork, or see if you can get a background check from the military law enforcement office at your overseas duty station.
  • Travel Adopting from another state or a foreign country will likely require multiple trips or an extended travel period. This may be a problem for service members who don't have the flexibility, especially if the adoptive country requires both parents to travel. Discuss your travel availability with your agency early in the process so you can come up with an alternate plan, if necessary.
  • Adoption leave Service members may be eligible for 21 days of adoption leave. If you and your spouse are both service members, only one of you will be eligible for the leave. Check out the Department of Defense policy on adoption reimbursement, and see your personnel office for more details.

Although you'll need to consider these aspects, military life won't prevent you from having the family you've always wanted. A little extra planning can help your adoption dreams can become reality.


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