News

Air Force offers assistance with adoption expenses

by April Rowden
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - With thousands of children available for adoption in the U.S. alone, and with adoption fees that can reach well into the thousands of dollars, the Air Force is helping ease the initial financial obligations for those military families opting to adopt.

Through the Adoption Expense Reimbursement Program, parents using a legal adoption agency may be eligible for up to $2,000 per adoptive child, with a maximum reimbursement of $5,000 in a calendar year, for qualifying expenses.

"On our first adoption, my wife and I ran up a $1,200 phone bill in the first month, calling from (Misawa Air Base,) Japan to our lawyer in Washington and to the officials in American Samoa," said Lt. Col. David Bringhurst, chief of the Air Force Wounded Warrior and Air Force Family Research programs here and father of three adopted children. "I was thankful the Air Force helped defray the cost."

To qualify for the program, the following criteria must be met:  

* Adoption must be finalized while the Airman is serving on continuous active duty, or full-time Air Guard Reserve duty with orders specifying a period of at least 180 days;

*         Child must be under 18 years of age and physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself;

*         Child may not be the biological offspring of the Airman or a stepchild; and

*         The adoption must be arranged by a qualified adoption agency that has responsibility under state or local law for child placement through adoption; a nonprofit voluntary adoption agency that is authorized by state or local law to place children for adoption; or any other source authorized by a state to provide adoption placement if the adoption is supervised by a court under state or local law.

Airmen have 365 days from the final adoption decree to request the reimbursement.

In fiscal year 2008, Air Force families of 230 adopted children took advantage of this program to help offset the agency fees, placement fees, legal fees and certain medical expenses.

"We distributed more than $425,000 tax free to those families," said Senior Master Sgt. Rhonda Britt, superintendent of the Directorate of Personnel Services Special Programs at AFPC. "This is straight reimbursement for money that was already expended by the family."

Colonel Bringhurst sees this as another stellar example of the Air Force supporting the family.

"We're very proactive in the Air Force, especially when it comes to taking care of our families," he said. "Those who have used this program will tell you that it's a positive boost for the adoption movement."

Now, in the Year of the Air Force Family, the Air Force is focusing on greater improvement of its Caring for People programs, including family support, special-needs children and spouses, Air National Guard and Reserve affairs, deployment support, school support and single Airmen support.

For more information on the Adoption Expense Reimbursement Program, visit your Force Support Squadron or call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102, DSN 665-5000.

From USAF Manpower, Personnel and Services News Release No: 089 dtd July 7, 2009