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What Are My Military Adoption Benefits?

An Air Force couple smiles with their adopted son. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Stacy Vaughn.)
An Air Force couple smiles with their adopted son. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Stacy Vaughn.)

Dear Questions and Benefits,

My family is getting ready to adopt a child and, as I’m sure you know, it’s a really expensive process. We know there are military adoption benefits and we want to start getting them as soon as possible. Can you help?

Excited New Parent

Dear Parent,

Congratulations on your upcoming adoption!

The good news is that the military does offer a military adoption reimbursement program. The bad news is that you have to wait for the adoption to be final or, if the child is adopted from overseas, for his or her citizenship to be finalized before you can apply for the money.

Read more about the benefit here.

The program is simple: service members can receive reimbursements of up to $2,000 per adopted child with a max of $5,000 per year. That means if you are adopting more than one child in a year, the maximum amount the military will pay is $5,000.

So what can you get covered? Agency fees (including ones from a foreign country), placement fees, legal fees (including court costs and some temporary foster care charges) are all reimbursable. Medical expenses for the biological mother and the newborn child can also be covered as part of this package.

But there is one important thing which may be costing you a lot that doesn’t qualify for reimbursement under this program — travel expenses. If you spent a lot of money traveling internationally or stateside to finalize your adoption, you’re going to have to cover those costs on your own. Also -- no surprise here -- if your adoption is done illegally the military won’t help you pay for it.

So how do you apply for the reimbursement? A form, of course. Fill out this form and submit it through your chain of command. You’ll need court documents showing the adoption, copies of receipts for which you are seeking reimbursement and, if the child is foreign-born, proof of his or her U.S. citizenship. You have one year from the date of the adoption or date of citizenship to get everything submitted. 

Good luck!

Team Q&B

-- Do you have a question about your benefits? Email the Questions and Benefits team at

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