written by Lisa Johnson, family support services program manager
One of my Program functions is to process adoption reimbursement requests for Coast Guard families. This consists of sending paperwork and emails back and forth with the member receiving up to a $2,000 reimbursement per adoptive child. Upon completion of the reimbursement, my communication with the member is typically over. I often don’t have the opportunity to hear about their journey to having adopted in the first place.
Five years ago, as I was writing my annual National Adoption Month blog, I reached out to Coasties in the adoption reimbursement program to see if they’d be willing to share their stories. The response was tremendous and their stories touched my heart beyond what I could have imagined. This has since become my favorite blog and I am inspired and in awe of each of their unique journeys.
“The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Academy have been tremendous in working with our request to adopt our 3rd child from South Korea last fall (2018). We welcomed Joseph to our family and he has transitioned very well with the help of his older brother and sister Jaehoon and Hannah. He has brought such joy to our family and we look forward to watching him grow. Yvonne and I encourage other CG members to really consider adoption or foster care as so many children need forever homes. ”
“We’re the McMillan family and have two boys, one biological who is 5-years-old and one through adoption who is now 16-months-old. He joined our family at a week old and has been a true blessing to our family. We recently renewed our home study and are currently waiting to adopt again. We know each adoption story is unique and we look forward to what God has planned for our family as we take this journey again alongside our extended family and church family.”
“We were in the international adoption process for over four years when our journey took a major turn. When we were stationed in Washington, D.C., we became aware of a medically complex baby boy in Dallas, Texas. We knew he was who we’d been waiting for all along. After 14 chaotic days of re-doing paperwork, scrambling for approvals and filling out documents, we were standing in a hospital room to meet our new son. His medical needs were huge, and the command and co-workers rallied with full support and understanding to give our family time to adjust. Adoption has brought more joy, growth and challenges than we could have ever anticipated, and we are grateful for the support and assistance the CG provided.”
“On June 18th 2019, I not only got married to a wonderful man, but we also adopted our beautiful son Jerean. Having a family is one of the most important things to me. Some people live for their careers, others for self, but for me, my own family was always the goal. As a gay man having children seemed out of reach for two reasons; one being the laws that prevented me from adopting and the other being the cost of surrogacy. Due to the recent changes of the laws in Puerto Rico, the LGBTQ community and allies fought and stopped the government or any adoption agency from discriminating against applicants based on sexual orientation, making my dream a reality. The Coast Guard reimbursement program helped with my legal fees, which alleviated most of the financial burden that usually goes along with adopting. I never thought I would be able to live in my truth, but here we are a family.”
“We began the adoption process in 2017, two years after we adopted our first son. We were selected by a birth mother in January 2018 for an infant adoption of twins. What a blessing to not only adopt one child but two! The boys were due to be born in Macon, Georgia in May 2018 but they came a month early. We received a call late in the evening and my wife Aubrey hopped on a flight to Georgia the following day. I’m thankful for my command at the time, because they allowed me to drive down from CT to Georgia to welcome these boys to the world. On November 28, 2018, our adoption was finalized and we added two bundles of joy to our growing family.”
“We are blessed by the opportunity to adopt our twins. We wanted to keep close to my wife’s heritage so we decided to adopt from Vietnam. Adjustments have been challenging at times; we are first time parents while they a learning a new culture and language after 10 years in their homeland. As with any parental situation, having a strong support network of extended family and friends has eased much of the strain. We also are grateful to the assistance provided by the Coast Guard. I have an understanding command that afforded me the time to travel overseas and also parental leave to bond with my children. The adoption reimbursement program has helped cover some costs and TriCare gave us access to specialists for their unique needs. It is amazing to witness their growth over the past year; our lives are forever changed and enriched.”
“Last year our family grew by one. We knew that we always wanted to adopt…someday. As the years passed it became increasingly easy to find an excuse not to, whether it was the financial obligation, job status, or one of a hundred other excuses. We finally said enough was enough, and we will make it work. As we went through the emotional roller coaster of a process we were overwhelmed. However, when it seemed like we were at our breaking point that was the time we received another grant, or an anonymous donation. It was incredible how it worked itself out. We highly encourage more families to throw their fears aside and try to help change a little one’s life!”
“My husband, Robert, and I looked to become parents for about a year before deciding to adopt. While it was a tough decision, we were thrilled with the myriad of support offered by the Coast Guard during this time in our lives. We were able to take advantage of the CGMA grant that covered all of our home study visits, which was super helpful as we prepared to be matched with a birth family. Then on January 9th of this year, we got the awesome news that we had been selected by a birth mother to be parents to a baby girl….due in just five weeks! My colleagues were so supportive, they threw a baby shower during the untimely government shutdown, gave us tons of new parent advice, and were simply there for us when we needed it most. Additionally, the Coast Guard provided me time off to be there for the birth of our daughter and primary caregiver leave to allow me to bond with our daughter. The adoption reimbursement support was helpful as we completed the legal requirements to make our daughter’s adoption final. We are thrilled to be parents! Parker is a feisty, charismatic and interesting little girl, who has brought such joy to our life. We are so grateful to the Coast Guard for all the support they provided during this excited time.”
The below resources can provide assistance with the adoption reimbursement process:
1. Adoption Reimbursement Program: Coast Guard active duty members and reservists on active duty for at least 180 consecutive days are eligible for reimbursement of up to 2,000 dollars per child per year and a maximum of 5,000 dollars in any calendar year.
2. Coast Guard Support Program or CG SUPRT: Assists Coast Guard personnel and their families with adoption resources. They can be contacted at 855-CGSUPRT or 855-247-8778.
3. Coast Guard Mutual Assistance for adoption: Coast Guard Mutual Assistance offers two types of assistance directly related to the legal adoption of a child: an interest free loan up to 6,000 dollars for qualified expenses relating to the adoption, and a grant, not to exceed 3,000 dollars for the cost of a home study fee.
To help promote and support National Adoption Month visit the Health and Human Services website or click here to learn the history of National Adoption Month. To locate the work-life staff at your health, safety and work-life regional practice, dial 800-872-4957.