Perhaps the biggest challenge for families seeking to adopt is the challenge of financing an adoption. No matter which adoption path a family chooses, there are required reports, studies, fees—it adds up quickly! Fortunately, the military offers some assistance with these costs. The Department of Defense allows for reimbursement of qualifying adoption expenses through its Adoption Reimbursement Program. The program allows for reimbursement of up to $2,000 per child, up to a maximum of $5,000 per year for families that adopt multiple children. The family becomes eligible to seek reimbursement of adoption expenses when the adoption is final and the child is placed in the home.
Most kinds of adoption qualify for reimbursement: domestic and international adoption, special home findings, foster-to-adopt and relative adoptions are all eligible. Even step-child adoptions are eligible for reimbursement, except adoptions of a service member’s children by a non-service connected stepparent.
To receive reimbursement of adoption expenses, the military family must still be on active duty at the time reimbursement is sought, and must seek reimbursement within twelve months of incurring the costs in question. The family must submit a separate Form DD 2675 for each adopted child, together with proof of the expenses to be reimbursed.
In addition to the Adoption Reimbursement Program, there are a number of other financial resources available to military families. For instance, the family is eligible for an adoption tax credit of up to $13,190 in the year that an adoption is finalized. Families that choose to adopt special needs children may also be eligible for monthly assistance under the TRICARE Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) program, and can take advantage of the Exceptional Family Member Program to ensure the family is stationed where the child’s needs can be met.
In addition to these military-specific financial resources, there are other resources to help defray the cost of adoption. For instance, organizations like HelpUsAdopt and Gift of Adoption Fund provide need-based grants to help offset adoption costs. Websites like Adopt Together help families crowd fund their adoptions by matching them with prospective donors interested in supporting adoptions.
However a family decides to fund their adoption, planning for the costs involved should be a top priority. Budgeting can help a family determine what financial tools make sense for them, and how much support from outside sources they might need to complete an adoption.
In addition to these general health, family support, and financial resources, there are often local resources to help military families during the adoption process. Check with your local military installation, as well as your local United Way branch, to learn what local resources are available near you.