The process of adoption can be daunting for anyone. It is often even more daunting when you are a military family. You face frequent moves, deployments, detachments, etc. I work as an adoption specialist in a military town and have had the privilege of working with individuals from all branches of the military. All types are adoption are quite possible to accomplish even while on active duty.
It is important that you do your research. My recommendation is to start the process relatively quickly after relocating to a new duty station. Be proactive and start researching agencies in the area where you will be moving prior to actually moving there. Ask for inquiry packets, narrow down your options, and know where you want to focus your attention. As you know you have many options when it comes to adoption; domestic infant, private infant adoption, international adoption, or adoption through foster care. All are perfectly ascertainable as a military family. From my experience, areas of the country that are used to working with military families tend to have a lot more expertise, wisdom, and knowledge in how to help with this.
Once you have decided on what type of adoption you are looking for and have settled on an agency, then get working on your home study as quickly as possible. Also, you do not have to be living stateside to adopt. If you are a military family who is deployed overseas it is still possible to adopt. You will need to have an agency stateside that you are working with (in the state of your legal residence), but then you can use one of the few agencies out there to have your home study completed while living abroad. Adopt Abroad, Inc. (http://adopt-abroad.com/) is an example of an agency out there that has social workers living in various parts of the world who can complete adoption home studies for you. While there can be some additional hoops to jump through adopting either domestically or internationally while living abroad, it is possible.
Some practical things to consider as you pursue adoption:
1. How long will I be living my current area? This may help you determine what type of adoption you want to pursue. If you were to move prior to a placement then you would need to look into having a home study update completed in the state where you are moving. You may still be able to stay with your original agency (if pursuing a domestic adoption) if they allow it. It would not be a problem if you are adopting internationally. Your home study would need to be updated to meet the state requirements and then sent to USCIS to be updated in their system.
2. Deployments/Detachments – if you are a military family these are a reality. You will want to make sure that you are prepared in case a placement happens when a spouse is deployed. Make sure to have a Power of Attorney in place that is specific to adoption. Also, talk to your adoption agency so that you know what you may or may not be able to take part in. I have done Skype birth parent/adoptive parent meeting and was even able to use Skype so that an adoptive parent could be present for their placement day while deployed in Afghanistan.
3. This is not something that is for the faint of heart. Those embarking on this journey must be completely comfortable in their role as both an active duty military member and the spouse of an active duty military member. Clear communication and expectations must take place. Life-altering decisions may be made by the non-active duty spouse while the other is deployed (like taking placement of a child or accepting a referral).
Adoption is exciting. It is also nerve-racking, emotionally exhausting, an adventure, and a journey. While it can be a roller coaster ride for any family, it can be an even larger roller coaster for a military family. That being said, don’t let the fact that you are an active duty military family stop you. Ask questions, connect with experts. If you live in an area where there are not many military, call an adoption agency in an area with a high military presence as they may be able to give you and the agency you are working with helpful advice. Most importantly, take a moment to step back and enjoy the journey of adoption that you are beginning.