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Foster Parenting and Military Adoption

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Adoption or foster parenting are two options for military families looking to grow their families. Both require thought and planning, particularly for military families. You can support the military family in your life by being aware of the unique hurdles they may encounter and learning about resources that can help smooth the way toward adoption or foster parenting.

Learn how Military OneSource provides support and resources for all parts of the adoption or foster care process.

Considerations in foster parenting and adoption for military families

Frequent moves and deployments are two factors military families should plan for in considering adoption or foster care.

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The adoption process is typically a long one, requiring home visits, background checks and lots of paperwork. Background checks are required at each location where a family has lived, so if the military family in your life has moved a lot, the process may take longer.

It’s best to start the process with ample time before the next PCS move. Moving midway through the adoption process can hold things up, and the family may have to repeat some costly steps in their new location.

Foster families are licensed by the state, so those considering foster parenting should apply well before their next PCS move. Your loved one can learn more by researching state, territory and tribal resources for both adoption and foster parenting.

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Living overseas

Both foreign and U.S. adoptions are possible when living overseas, though it’s a good idea to find an adoption agency that works with U.S. citizens living abroad. The adoption agency or the military law enforcement office at your loved one’s overseas duty station may be able to help with required criminal background checks.

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If deployed during the adoption process, it’s important that your service member keep command informed. Leadership may be able to adjust dates to accommodate adoption or foster care requirements.

The partner at home may be able to use their power of attorney for some parts of the adoption or foster process. Your loved ones can check with their military legal services office about legal requirements.

Adoption information and resources are available through the Child Welfare Information Gateway. The site also has a topic area for foster care, including contact information for state foster care program managers.

Defense Department support for foster parents and military adoptions

The DOD and Military OneSource offer a number of adoption and foster care resources to help make the process go more smoothly.

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Military OneSource adoption specialty consultants

Adoption specialty consultants are specially trained in military adoptions and foster care. They can walk parents through the process for either, provide referrals and answer questions. Military OneSource also offers information about overseas adoptions, adopting children with special needs, kinship adoptions and more. Your service member can schedule a free consultation by calling 800-342-9647.

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Adoption expense reimbursement

The military reimburses service members for eligible adoption expenses of $2,000 per child not to exceed $5,000 per calendar year.

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Military dependent benefits

A service member may enroll adopted or foster children in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Adoptive and foster children are eligible for certain benefits such as commissary, exchange and MWR. Adoptive children are also eligilble for TRICARE health care. Information about enrolling a new family member in DEERS is available through Military OneSource, 800-342-9647.

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Parental leave

Service members may be eligible for 12 weeks of non-chargeable, paid parental leave to welcome a child into their family through adoption or long-term foster care.

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Child development and youth programs

Foster children may participate in military child development and youth programs along with their peers.

If a military family in your life is considering adoption or foster care, your knowledge of the process will allow you to cheer them on along their path and encourage them to tap into adoption and foster care resources that will help them clear hurdles along the way.

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