Each year, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption publishes its list of 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces. This year, American Express topped the list for its exceptional benefits it offers to families who adopted a child, including $35,000 in aid for the adoption costs and up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave following an adoption. We at American Adoptions applaud not only American Express but all of the organizations who made the 2017 list for their commitment to making adoption as accessible as possible to their employees.
But the list also got us thinking. We know that many prospective adoptive parents are confused about employer-provided adoption benefits and, therefore, may not be taking full advantage of what’s available to them. We encourage every prospective adoptive parent to speak with their human resources department to determine what kinds of benefits are provided to all parents, adoptive or not. Only once you have done that can you start advocating for the rights already guaranteed to biological parents that you may not have as an adoptive parent.
Bringing a child into your family is complicated and requires a lot of time and effort, and you deserve assistance from your employer to adjust to this new chapter in your life.
Here’s a run-down of what some of these benefits may be:
1. Adoption Information and Resources
When you’re beginning your adoption journey, speak with your employer to see what kind of referrals and information they can provide you. Some employers may offer you access to an adoption specialist or another counselor to determine the best family-building process for you.
2. Adoption Financial Assistance
Some employers provide certain financial assistance for employees who adopt, but the kind of assistance they provide will vary. For example, some employers will provide benefits per adoption, while others pay per child adopted. Most often, financial assistance is provided in the form of reimbursement after an adoption is finalized.
Talk to your employer before you start your adoption process so you’re aware of their policy regarding financial assistance. A typical reimbursement plan covers 80 percent of certain itemized expenses up to an established ceiling. This financial assistance can cover:
- Public or private agency fees
- Court costs
- Legal fees
- Foreign adoption fees
- Medical costs
- Temporary foster care charges
- Transportation costs
- Pregnancy costs for a birth mother
- Counseling fees
Your employer can help you understand what your personal financial assistance will cover and whether it will be paid out in a lump sum, a payment of certain fees or a partial reimbursement.
3. Parental Leave
Federal law requires that all employers with 50 or more employees offer mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Notice the key word here: unpaid.
The best employers will offer paid leave to their employees when they give birth to or adopt a child. You’ll want to talk to your employer to determine what kind of leave is allowable after adopting a child, whether it’s paid, and whether you can utilize accumulated paid leave during this time.
Each employer is different, and so their adoption benefits will be different, too. Make sure to talk to your human resources department early on about any adoption benefits you may receive as you go through this life-changing journey.
If those benefits are less than desirable, it will be pressure from adoptive parents like you that will make a difference. Express your interest in your company expanding their adoptive parent benefits, and suggest your employer research the benefits of doing so for recruitment and employee happiness.