Lesbian Military Parenthood Part 3: Starting your Family – Adoption

Creating a family is a very personal decision between you and your spouse. Some couples decide to try and conceive their children while some decide to adopt. However you and your spouse decide to have children its up to you. For a long time I have wanted to conceive a child through IVF. Although, I know my time is ticking and I am not getting any younger. Lately, I wonder if adoption might be a better way for my wife and I to start our family. I won’t have to deal with my body changing or my hormones being out of wack. Which might not be a bad thing.

“I was Chosen, I was Wanted, I was Cherished, I grew in their Hearts, I was the Missing Piece, I was Loved, I was Adopted.” -Unknown

We live in a time where you no longer have to hide who you love. No longer do you have to feel the need to live in secrecy. Today you can share your love and grow your family in the military no matter what your sexual orientation is. There are so many possibilities and great benefits you can tap into when married to a military personal  you never though would be availability to you family.

Key things Lesbian Military Parents need to consider if planning to adopt

Know the Types of Adoptions in the in the United States:

  • Children now living in foster care.  Birth parents parental rights have been terminated. Contact your local public or private adoption agencies in your area.
  • Fost-Adopt. The child is placed in your home as a foster child with the expectation of the children becoming legally free to be adopted.
  • Infant adoption. Many couples want to adopt infants, however there maybe less infants available to be adopted. Independent adoption are adopt through a mediator like a lawyer, physician or other facilitator rather than through a licensed adoption agency.

Closed vs open adoption: 

A closed adoption is where no identifying information is given or exchanged between the child’s birth family or adoptive family. Once your adoption is final the records may be  to the available to the adopted child when they reach 18.

An open adoption is where the birth parents and adoptive parents along with the child keep in contact.

Adopting your Stepchild

Step-parent adoption is directed by state law. And each state has its own laws!  For example, some states do not require a home study for step-parent adoption.  Most will mandate that a couple be married for a certain length of time, which varies from state to state.

International Adoption

Adopting a child from another country is complicated and expensive.  Some countries have significantly reduced the number of children that are available to be adopted, and others have eliminated international adoption entirely. Nonetheless, there are agencies that can help you with international adoption.

Information referenced can be found here: www.adopt.org

State Laws

Although same-sex marriage is now federally legalized in the United State keep in mind not all state laws are not the same regarding same-sex adoption.

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Research Adoption Agencies in your Area

Things to ask yourself when looking for an adoption agency:

Is the adoption agency LGBT friendly?

Does this adoption agency specialize in working with military personally?

What kind of reviews does this agency have?

Is this adoption agency local accessible to me?

Can I meet a with a branch counselor to discus adoption?

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” – Oprah Winfrey

Learn More about Adoption and Family Dynamics

I found this wonderful article from Answers 4 Families  call Common Issues in Adoption:

Adoption is different than forming a family biologically. The adoption process differs from forming a family biologically and the social and family support may not be as available as they are to families formed biologically. Adopted children enter the family with their own history, genes, and set of circumstances that differ from that of the adopting family. Family dynamics are different for adoptive families.

Mastery and control relate to the sense of personal power that all people seek over their lives. For adoptive parents there may be challenges to mastery and control related to infertility and having strangers become involved in the most intimate decisions of their lives. Children also lose a sense of mastery and control because of all the decisions made in their behalf and the various circumstances they faced in coming into and being a part of the child welfare system.

Separation, loss and grief are experienced by all touched by adoption. For adoptive parents it may be the loss of control, the loss of being able to have children biologically, or the loss of the child they fantasized joining their family through adoption. Adopted children have lost their birth parents and perhaps ties to other significant people in their lives, their community, their culture and everything that is familiar to them.

Unmatched expectations of the adopted child and the adoptive parents are inevitable because the expectations that each person brings to the relationship usually have little in common. Each party to the adoption makes an emotional investment in it and expects some return on their investment.

Bonding and attachment are crucial to adoption. While the bond a child has with birth parents is unique, attachments between adopted child and adoptive parents can be formed. However, there are many challenges to attachment which relate to the earlier experiences of the child, including the type of parenting they received in early stages of development, attachments developed and subsequent trauma, separations and losses.

Entitlement is the sense that adoptive parents and adopted children have a right to one another. The legal right to one another is granted by the court. Entitlement, however, also has an emotional side. Adopted children and families are often challenged about their entitlement, both internally (questioning themselves about whether they deserve their child or deserve their family), and by society which does not sanction adoption in the same way as it sanctions biological families.

Claiming is the process by which the adoptive parents come to accept the adopted child as their own and as a full-fledged member of the family. Identifying similarities between the adopted child and adoptive parents and other family members facilitates acceptance of the child which gives the child the same status as a member of the family as other members. This may be difficult when there are differences in history, appearance, values, interests or behavior between family members.

Family integration identifies the challenge of bringing two different family systems together, that of the adopted child, and of the adoptive family, to form a new family system. Formal and informal rules of family living, which have developed over the years, must suddenly change. New patterns of family interaction and new family roles must be developed so that life can get back to where all family members know what to expect.

Identify formation is an issue for the adoptive family and the adopted child. Identity relates to one’s sense of self that has identifiable boundaries and value. Identity is rooted in family history. For a child with a history different than other family members this can present challenges. The family also seeks to find a new identity as an adopted child gains membership and everyone comes to know what being an adoptive family means. Identity is formed, both consciously and unconsciously, through experiences, interaction with and exposure to other people, and by making decisions concerning who one is and what one will be.”

*For more information visit www.answers4families.org

Know your Military Adoption Benefits

Adoptions qualify for reimbursement only if the adoption is arranged by a qualified adoption agency, or other source authorized to place children for adoption under state or local law.

  • Up to $2,000 reimbursement for adoption expenses up to $5,000 a year maximum
    • the adoption of a child under the age of 18;
    • an adoption by a single person;
    • an infant adoption,
    • an inter-country adoption;
    • an adoption of a child with special needs
    • and stepchildren adopted by the military member
  • Up to 21 days of adoption leave to bond with your new child
  • Health care benefits before the adoption is final

How to Apply for Adoption Reimbursement

Complete the DD Form 2675, Reimbursement Request For Adoption Expenses, and submit it through your chain of command. Attach copies of all receipts, agency documentation, and court papers associated with the adoption proceedings or court-certified copies. In the case of foreign adoptions; certified translations, U.S. currency equivalents, and extra documentation may be required.

 

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For more detailed information check out the this link

The completed DD Form 2675 and substantiating documentation must be submitted for review to the member’s servicing personnel activity no later than:

  •  year after finalization of the adoption; or
  •  year after obtaining U.S. citizenship if a foreign adoption.

 

 Other Great Resources:

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What are your tips for families in the military planning to adopt? Leave a comment!

Lesbian Military Parenthood Part 2: Starting your Family – In Vitro Fertilization

This is a triumphant time in history as Same-Sex Marriage is now legal in the United States. You can be married to the woman you love and have a family all while you or she serves in the military without hiding. So, will it be ICI, IUI, or IVF? And you only thought the military was the only one who used acronyms! There is a lot that goes into conceiving a child for a lesbian couple.

I am considering IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) as an option for staring my family with my wife. Bring another person in the world, who goes inside of you is an experience of a lifetime. Some would even consider this experience alien, for example my wife, but that’s okay. We would be creating our family together.

In this post I will lay out what goes into have a child biologically. I am here to help navigate these choppy waters and sail you to smoother waters with this post.

Where do I start?

Read and research. Check out these great stories lesbian couples share about their experiences on becoming moms.

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Should you consider Freezing your Eggs?

Really freezing your eggs is completely a personal decision based on your own personal needs and wants medically or professionally driven. You maybe almost be at the peak of your career and still need to time to develop professionally or finish your education. Your health could be another factor on deciding to freeze your eggs. Whether its your age, health or career  its okay to wait. Today with modern technology you have options on deciding when is best to start your family.

What is artificial insemination?

Here are some basic terms related to ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) to get you thinking.

AI , or Artificial Insemination – the injection of semen into the vagina or uterus other than by sexual intercourse.

IUI, or IntraUterine Insemination – is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.

ICI, or IntraCervical Insemination – Similar to intrauterine insemination (IUI), it involves placing sperm directly into the woman’s reproductive tract to improve the chances of pregnancy. The main difference is that the ICI procedure places the sperm sample near the cervix, rather than the uterus as in IUI. From the cervix, the sperm travels up the uterus and into the fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg. Since the sperm is placed further away from the fallopian tubes than in the IUI procedure, prices for ICI are typically much lower.

IVF or In Vitro Fertilization – In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.

Now, that you know a little more about the different kinds of ART’s (Assisted Reproductive Technology), how do you decided which procedure to pick? The best advice I can give is visit your doctor and find out. No two women are the same and you may need to use various procedures for your situation and financial means.

Where do I get sperm? 

Getting sperm is easy all you have to do is buy it from a website. However, I think it is best to research the clinic, read reviews, and visit the clinic before purchasing sperm.

Does Tricare cover the costs?

Tricare does not cover artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization or any cost related to donors or sperm bank unless there was a service related injury causing one to become infertile or unable to physically have a child.

Check out these Pins:

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What are my resources?

Don’t fret because lots of clinics around the country offer discounts for Military Personnel for services related to reproductive health care. Here is a list of military discounts for active military duty and veteran families.

LGBT Friendly Clinic Listing with Military Discounts Available

Not only can you receive a Military Discounts for fertility treatments but you can be assured all of these clinics are LGBT friendly. It’s a big event to starting your family without the stress of wondering if the doctors you meet your needs and give you the help you need as a lesbian couple.

  1. Reproductive Science Center

Features: Here is some information about the discount program:

  • 10% flat fee discount on all IVF procedures
  • Two tiered approach
  • 5% off the first cycle
  • 10% off the 2nd cycle if not successful
  1. Texas Fertility Center

Features: Texas Fertility Center offer a 25% fertility treatment discounts for those in the military (and their spouses) who are currently on active duty, active reserve duty, or retired.

  1. Boston IVF

Features: To show our appreciation for those who graciously serve our country, we are proud to offer a special military discount for active service men and women in need of fertility treatments.Our Military Discount Program offers 25% OFF treatments like: IVF, Donor Egg & Egg Freezing.

  1. Shady Grove Fertility

Features: The discount provides active military and reservists a 25% discount off self-pay rates for services provided by SGFRSC. Discounts do not apply when the fees are paid to an outside service and, therefore, not within our control. If you are interested in one of our discount programs please ask for eligibility criteria.

  1. Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York

Features: 25% discount to males and females active in the military and veterans.

  1. Genesis Fertility & Reproductive Medicine

Features: Genesis can offer a 25% discount off our regular IVF pricing as a  service to those who serve/served our country. In addition we will provide free cryopreservation for 6 months. Genesis has offices in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Hewlett, NY.

  1. Fertility Solutions

Features: With thanks and appreciation for the commitment and sacrifice shown by the men and women of the United States military, Fertility Solutions is proud to announce its Military Advantage Plan – a discounted IVF payment plan. The Plan Includes:

  • In-cycle services including ultrasounds, venipuncture, egg retrieval and embryo transfer
  • Conventional embryology, and in-cycle andrology and endocrinology laboratory services
  • All in-cycle professional medical services of physicians and staff
  1. Reach Parenthood

About: At Reach Parenthood we understand the frustrations and adversity that can arise when trying to start a family as a same sex couple, but we are proud to be a close ally as you embark on a life-changing journey that will bring an immense amount of happiness and joy to both you and your partners lives. At reach parenthood we are more than just an IVF clinic but rather a confidant to help you start your family through one of our many In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) options.

Clinic Listing with Military Discounts Available

Check out this list of clinics who offer discounts for military personal and veterans.

1. Advanced Reproductive Center of Hawaii

Features: 10% off of all services not covered by Tricare (excluding medications.)

2. Michigan Center for Fertility & Women’s Health

Features: We offer a 20% discount to qualifying military families.

3. Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine

Features: $2,300 discount on a single cycle IVF plan vs. fee for service rate. $900 discount on a frozen embryo transfer vs. fee for service rate.

4. Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine

Features: 20% discount for any cash pay service for those without insurance.

5. Washington Fertility Center

Features: Washington Fertility Center is pleased to offer US veterans and those in active duty a 50% discount on any fertility testing or treatment not covered by health insurance. This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women that serve our country so bravely.

*List sourced from:  http://www.resolve.org/support/infertility-and-the-military/

Grants and Scholarships

“Undergoing infertility treatments such as IVF can cause not only physical and emotional stress, but can bring financial strains as well. Fertility treatment costs, particularly IVF, can add up. In order to help couples afford fertility treatments, a number of foundations and organizations provide Fertility Treatment Grants and other financial assistance.”

Check out these great grants and scholarships which can help fund your dreams of becoming a parent. Don’t let money be the reason not to start a family. Use all resources available to you.

BabyQuest Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to grant financial assistance to those who cannot afford infertility treatments such as IUI, IVF, egg donation, and surrogacy. Applications are accepted from heterosexual, same sex couples, and singles.

The Compassionate Corps Program is a patient assistance program for eligible, uninsured veterans who are suffering from infertility due to a service-related injury or their spouses to receive free fertility medicine manufactured by EMD Serono. The Compassionate Corps Program is available for up to 2 cycles per year. Patients must reapply each year.

The Kyle and Samantha Busch Bundle of Joy Fund
The Kyle & Samantha Busch Bundle of Joy Fund is a monetary award for in-need families struggling with infertility.  These funds will assist with the costs associated with infertility treatment through the REACH Clinic of Charlotte.

More Resources:

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Lesbian Military Parenthood Part 2 Starting your Family - In Vitro Fertilization

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Lesbian Military Parenthood Part 1: Deciding to start your family

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Life is full of surprises you never know who you are going to fall in love with until it happens. Usually excessive partying and dating engulf you early on. After the dating dies down and you find your one and only, marriage has a funny way of finding its way to you. Next, your mind is all about being engaged and planning your wedding. Once you’re married and time passes you become spellbound by the idea of possibly starting a family. Sure it might not happen in that order exactly but you get the idea.

Along the way you or your wife joins the military or she was already in the military when you met. Life happens and you now both can get married legally in the United Stated in all 50 states. The months are rushing by and you are finally settling into your life, your career and your relationship.

I have created a quick list of things you can think about when it comes to deciding if you are ready and want to have a child. No two people or couple will have the same answers but it’s always good to evaluate your situation when considering bring a new life into the world.

Take inventory of yourself

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You have to really consider what it will be like to have another person completely dependent on you. Ask yourself is there anything you want to do before having a child? It can be anything from going on a trip to finishing your college degree or getting a promotion at work.

As I was growing up I could see myself having children and then when I figured out I was gay things became a little foggy in the children department. I threw myself in my career in manufacturing and later cosmetology. For me as time passed, there was always this little ticking or itching to have a child probably my biological clock saying, “Hey when are you going to have a baby?”

Taking personal inventory of yourself and where are in life is a great way to see if you’re up for the challenge of raising a child.

  • Why do you want to have a child?
  • What is your state of mind? Physically, spiritually, and emotionally can you be present in your current relationship and raise a child?
  • What is your lifestyle like right now?
  • Are there things you want to still do?
  • Will you regret not doing something if you have a child?
  • What are your abilities when it comes to taking care of child?

Take inventory of your relationship

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There are so many other questions to ask when deciding to start a family. The first question really you have to ask is, do you and your spouse want to have children?

I am at this point in my life and relationship where I am good with everything. I am going to turn 31 in December, my wife and I went to the Bahamas last year and next year I am going on a family trip to Sweden. I kind of always knew I would be and older mother just because this world is so big and I want to see it. I feel like right now I do not want to have a baby just yet. I want to give myself an opportunity to do things that I still want to do.

I will say my wife and I have being going back in forth about having children for the past two years we have been married, mostly because I keep going back and forth on whether or not I want children. When you are a lesbian there are no chances of “oops” aka unplanned pregnancies in your relationship. I will say the more I think about have a child is you will probably never be 100% sure of everything and that’s okay.

You and your wife decide it’s time to start a family but when? How? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Who will carry the baby? Will you both carry a baby?
  • Will you adopt?
  • Do you already have children from a previous relationship? How do you parent your spouse’s child?
  • Are you both ready?

Take inventory of your finances

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There can also be a huge financial burned when trying to conceive as well that most who are dreaming of a baby forget about. Think about what you currently spend your money on. Do you go to coffee shops, the movies or mall? I do love me some Starbucks. Do you have student loans, a new car payment, or just regular month bill? Where does your money go now? Its very important to know where your money is going because raising a child can cost your a lot of money.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will you keep your job or quit it?
  • Will you use daycare if you both work?
  • Will you or your spouse stay home and raise your child?
  • Do you an emergency fund plus saving built up?
  • Have you saved for purchasing of sperm?
  • Can you financially support a child at this time? 

Knowing where you money goes now and budgeting is something you must be good at if you are planning on having a child in the near further. Check out this awesome First-Year Baby Costs Calculator and see if you can afford a child right now on what you and your spouse make.

A Network of Support

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Support is a huge thing when it comes to raising a child. As a new mother you need to take care of yourself as well as your new baby. Do you have a friend or friends who could babysit while you sleep, catch up on a book or go on a date with your wife? Or maybe you need to go to the spa or get a massage or maybe you like going to the gym. Never stop taking care of yourself because when you take care of yourself you can take care of your family more fully.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What does your support system look like in you life right now?
  • Do you have family support? If not how will you cope?
  • Are there programs you can join in your area to beat the postpartum blues?

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Are you planning on having a child soon? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Lesbian Military Parenthood

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I decided I am going to create a 4 part blog series on Lesbian Military Parenthood  for National Military Family Month next month to help you get different perspectives on parenthood. Look for posts coming in November!

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Here is a little bit about me:

My wife and I have been together for 4 years and married 2. I come from a pretty big Hispanic family and I grew up always thinking I would have a family of my own. As time passed, I grew up and figure out I was gay. The dream of having my own family might have been jaded a little when I came out to friends in 2005, 19 states banned same sex marriage. I always knew I wanted to me be married and possibly have children. It’s amazing to think in just 10 years time when I came out to now in 2015 same-sex marriage is legal in all states – it’s the law of the land. My wife and I are still figuring out if we want children or not.

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Come along with me and explore the different ways you can become a parent while in the Military and what it will mean for you and your spouse or partner.

Check out My blog Posts on Lesbian Military Parenthood.

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What are you thoughts on having children while you are in the Military? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas.