Sally Anne Bowen is in the middle of packing for her family. She is used to this routine. Her husband Kevin, an Air Force major and squadron commander in North Carolina, is being transferred. Like most military families, they have moved before. This time they are moving a few more pounds than usual - the Bowens' adopted son, 3-year-old Bradley.
This is the second time the Bowens are moving with an addition to their family through adoption. When they were ationed in Arizona, they adopted a toddler named Ashley, now 6. Major Bowen also adopted Mrs. Bowen's daughter Layla at that time. "We're not through yet," says Mrs. Bowen. They are hoping to add yet another child to their family. The Bowens are registered with the National Adoption Exchange in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and are waiting to be matched with one of the 100,000 children across the country who needs a permanent home.
Harold and Ernestine Davis, who are tioned at an Army base in Germany, have not been as fortunate. After consulting infertility specialists for years, they decided to pursue adoption as a way to build their family. They have been trying to adopt for 6 years. During that time they have faced a problem experienced by many military families—finding an agency that is willing to work with them knowing how often many military families move. The Davises are never eside longer than 24 months at a time. Unfortunately, they have been stationed in States that have long residency requirements in order to complete an adoption and strict rules about both prospective parents attending orientation and training meetings. "We've tried to explain to the agencies that my husband can't just call and say he can't come to work," says Mrs. Davis. "I don't think they understand that we have to live by different rules than the civilian world."
According to Jodi Nyalko of the National Military Family Association in Alexandria, Virginia, many military families find themselves in the same situation as the Davises, rather than the Bowens. Through her work and as an adoptive mother and a military spouse, she has seen many families desperately wanting to adopt but unable to find an agency willing to work with them. As a result, a valuable resource of families willing and wanting to adopt is not being tapped.
But the environment is changing. As the number of waiting children continues to grow, some social workers are beginning to reexamine their beliefs and to look for ways to accommodate military families.
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