Every child deserves to grow up with a safe and loving family, with the care and support of their community using military veteran adoption assistance. The Defense Department knows that adoption and foster care are great ways to start or grow your family and offers support to military families that are fostering and adopting family members. You are also eligible for substantial financial support from Uncle Sam and the DOD when you adopt. This includes assistance with adoption costs, tax credits and other benefits.
Benefits, Processes and Other Considerations
Adopting a child can take several months to years and can cost thousands of dollars. But the happy returns of a child are limitless. The mobile military life is not a barrier to adoption and foster care, and service members have several military adoption benefits.
There are many resources that can connect you to the resources and information you need to make decisions with respect to adopting or fostering a child. For example, whether you are beginning the process or have additional questions during the process, add Military OneSource, AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway to your list of contacts.
There are several aspects of foster care and adoption you’ll want to discuss with both your partner and your adoption or foster care agency. You can call 800-342-9647 to connect to a Military OneSource adoption consultant. They are specially trained in military adoptions and foster care essentials and will help you navigate the process. Consultants provide customized guidance for your unique family situation, including beginning the adoption or foster care process, understanding military financial assistance and much more. Consultations are free, and consultants can assist you with:
- Learning about adoption and foster care. The adoption process is a journey; each journey starts with a first step. There are several adoption options available to you, and consultants can assist you with understanding the differences.
- Moving. It’s easier to complete the process at one duty station. If you move during the process, you may have to repeat some steps. Getting deployed could put things on hold. Understand the timeline and financial ramifications of PCS and deployment, so there are no surprises.
- Living overseas. Look for an agency used to work with U.S. citizens living abroad. Living overseas also can complicate required criminal background checks. Your agency or military law enforcement office at your overseas duty station may be helpful here.
- Traveling issues. If adopting from another state or country, you’ll likely need to travel. This can pose an issue for service members who may not have as much flexibility. Discuss this early with your agency to come up with a backup plan.
- Reducing expenses. Thanks to the Defense Department Adoption Reimbursement Policy, you can claim up to $2,000 per child and $5,000 per calendar year in reimbursement for certain adoption expenses.
- Obtaining leave. Service members may be eligible for 21 days of non-chargeable adoption leave.
- Getting health insurance. Children are automatically covered under TRICARE, but after a certain amount of time — the time period varies based on your TRICARE plan — the parent must submit an enrollment application to maintain coverage. This applies to both adopted and foster care children who are part of your family. Adoption consultants can assist you with understanding these details and timelines.
- Getting a tax credit. Families adopting a child may qualify for a tax credit (up to $14,440 per child) to help offset adoption costs. If you can’t use all the credit in one year, it may be carried forward for up to five years.
Whether you’re just starting to think about foster care or adoption, or you have already grown your family and have questions, you can depend on Military OneSource for 24/7 assistance. Connect with an adoption specialty consultant today. Military OneSource adoption specialty consultations are available to active-duty, National Guard and reserve service members (regardless of activation status) and their immediate families.