Military Adoption Benefits

By: Paula Green

Two special occasions are acknowledged during the month of November.  One celebration is Veterans Day, which is held annually on November 11.  It is commemorated on this date because it marks the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I, which was formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. 

Another noteworthy observance is the month of November is National Adoption Month.  Adopting a child is a major life changing decision and it can be a prolonged process as well.  It is fortunate that through the Department of Defense military personnel are eligible for some monetary benefits adopting children from state or local agencies.

Federal law authorizes reimbursement for certain expenses associated with adoption to a maximum of $2,000 per child and not to exceed $5,000 per calendar year.  Of course, there are requirements and limitations you must be aware of.  The adoption must be arranged by qualified adoption agencies or a source authorized under federal law.  Private and stepchild adoptions must be finalized in a U.S. court.

The military could also provide a $1,000 monthly stipend for children adopted with special needs.  Each state agency has its own definition of “special needs” used to identify children eligible for adoption assistance.  Once the adoption of a child with special needs is finalized, military members should enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program.  The program matches families with the appropriate military locations that have the proper resources for special needs children.

Parents are usually paid after the adoption is complete.  In addition to the stipends families can also be repaid for agency fees, legal fees, placement fees and medical expenses. Once the adopted child is placed in the new parents’ home, service members can receive military medical coverage for their child.

In order to qualify for the reimbursement, service members must be serving on continuous active duty for at least 180 days and the adoption must be finalized while on active duty.  In addition, the claim must be submitted while on active duty and within one year of the date that the adoption was finalized.

More information is available through the various military branches family support and finance departments, and personnel or legal assistance offices.  Military chaplains can also be a good place to start gathering information for your application.

The thorough adoption process can be well worth it.  Families who adopt can feel a sense of satisfaction for adding a new addition to the home while at the same time providing a loving environment for a child at a disadvantage.