MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
According to childrendefense.org in January 2011, there were 418,422 kids in foster care awaiting adoption in the United States.
For a military member who may be looking to expand their family, adoption maybe an option to consider. The Boykins family decided that adoption was for them and took three young girls out of the foster program and welcomed them into their home.
The Boykins took on the responsibility of raising three biological sisters, Abigail, 8, Bethany, 6, and Samantha, 4.
"I found out it would not be possible to have children of my own so my husband and I decided that adoption was something that we wanted to do," said Staff Sgt. Denne Boykins, 23rd Medical Operations Squadron pediatrics NCO in charge. "Now we have three beautiful girls and I enjoy every moment of being part of their life."
Some people have to wait several years to adopt a child. In the case of the Boykins, they were selected to adopt twins in 2006, but a judge told them they would have to also adopt their two siblings as well.
They had to decline because they were not ready to take care of four kids said Boykins.
In 2007, two other opportunities arose for the Boykins to adopt but because of outside circumstances, they chose to decline.
"It's not a quick or easy process." said Boykins. "The hardest part is waiting, but if it's something you want to do don't hesitate. It can be stressful, but eventually things will work out for the best."
They waited a few more months without any luck, so they decided to take a break from the process. In 2008, while searching for other options, they were selected to adopt Abigail, Bethany and Samantha.
"We had a hard time making a choice, because we knew it would be hard to take care of three kids at once," said Boykins. "But we decided to brave it and try visitations and we have loved them ever since."
The Boykins went through the state for adoption. They had to go through 30 to 60 hours of training and education on adopting and fostering children. They had a full background investigation, home study and interviews with a social worker. Then in June 2011, the adoption process was finalized.
According to http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_milita.cfm
, a home study can take as long as three months.
Not only is there sometimes a long wait to adopt but the cost of adoptions can vary from virtually nothing to more than $40,000.
But there are several options to help defray the cost of adoption for military members. Federal law authorizes reimbursement for certain expenses associated with adoption to a maximum of $2,000 per child and not to exceed $5,000 per calendar year. Reimbursement information can be found here
Military members are also authorized 21 days of non-chargeable leave. Details about leave are available here
Military members who are interested in adoption can find more information at Family Advocacy, Airman and Family Readiness Center, http://www.militaryfamily.org/resources/links/adoption.html