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Melissa A. Featherston

Adoption benefits for military families

Many military families choose to open their hearts and homes to become adoptive parents of one or more children. Some adopt children from overseas, while others adopt children from here in the U.S.

The military provides a number of benefits and resources for service members and their families who choose adoption as a way to expand their families. If you're considering adoption, there are plenty of places to go for information.

The personnel at your installation family center can provide information on the adoption process for military families. They can also likely recommend adoption support groups, both military and civilian, in your area as well as family law attorneys who are experienced with military adoptions.

Active duty military personnel and their families can qualify for reimbursement of up to $2,000 for adoption expenses per year. That includes the adoption of a spouse's children by a service member. The maximum is $5,000 for multiple children.

A new law was recently passed called the Military Construction and VA Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Among other things, it provides the same reimbursement benefits for adoption services for veterans whose infertility is due to a service-related injury or condition. This portion of the act, however, has not yet been implemented.

Service members also can take up to 21 days of non-chargeable leave when adopting a child in addition to regular leave, at the discretion of the service member's commander. Service members don't qualify for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. When both parents are in the military, only one can qualify for adoption leave as well as reimbursement benefits.

A new law was recently passed called the Military Construction and VA Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Among other things, it provides the same reimbursement benefits for adoption services for veterans whose infertility is due to a service-related injury or condition. This portion of the act, however, has not yet been implemented.

The better prepared you are and the more information you have before beginning the adoption process, the smoother it is likely to go. Having sound legal guidance and a good support system around you can be invaluable as you bring your new addition into your home.

Source: National Military Family Association, "Adoption," accessed Dec. 09, 2016

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