Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits
Understanding Adoption Benefits at Work
Employer-provided adoption benefits for adoptive families continue to be a growing trend.
In 1990, a survey by Hewitt Associates found that only 12 percent of companies offered some kind of employer-provided adoption assistance. Since then, the percentage has risen steadily. By 1995, the percentage of employers offering adoption benefits had climbed to 23 percent. In 2004, the percentage grew again to 39 percent, with an average maximum reimbursement of $3,879 for adoption expenses. Finally, in 2008, Hewitt’s survey reported that more than half of the large employers surveyed said that they provide some form of employer adoption assistance.
In his book “Adoption Nation,” Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist Adam Pertman says companies are finding that “providing adoption benefits not only displays social responsibility and an ability to respond to changing conditions, but also makes for more satisfied workers.” Pertman also says that employer-provided adoption benefits can be a relatively cheap investment for employers since only about 0.1 percent of employees with available adoption benefits at work use them.
What Types of Adoption Benefits Do Employers Offer?
Adoption benefits at work are usually similar to benefits available to new biological parents. These employer-provided adoption benefits typically fall into three general categories: information resources, financial assistance and parental leave. Employers may offer one or more of these types of benefits during an employee’s adoption process.
Resources made available to employees may include:
Referrals to licensed adoption agencies, support groups, and organizations
Access to an adoption specialist to answer questions about the process
Help with special situations, such as a special needs adoption
This type of employer adoption assistance may be provided in contract with a human resources consulting firm, as companies rarely have someone on staff who is well-versed in the adoption process and adoption professionals.
Financial benefits take different forms, such as:
A lump sum payment for an adoption, the amount of which will be determined by each employer
Payment of certain fees related to an adoption
Partial reimbursement to employees for expenses
Typical reimbursement plans cover 80 percent of certain itemized expenses up to an established ceiling (about $4,000 on average). Some employers reimburse at a higher rate for adoptions of children with special needs.
Most frequently, employer-provided adoption assistance covers public or private agency fees, court costs and legal fees. Employers may also help with foreign adoption fees, medical costs, temporary foster care charges, transportation costs, pregnancy costs for a birth mother and counseling fees associated with placement and transition.
Some employers pay benefits per adoption, while others pay per child adopted. In most cases, employer-provided adoption benefits are paid after the adoption is finalized, though some employers may pay when the child is placed or as expenses are incurred.
In many cases, employers are required to grant parental leave to new adoptive parents. Federal law requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer both mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. The law ensures that employees have job security and health benefits during the leave period. Read about the Family and Medical Leave Act at the U.S. Department of Labor website for more information.
Some employers allow employees to take more than 12 weeks of unpaid leave and use accumulated paid leave, like vacation or sick leave, to extend their total leave. Other employers may offer paid leave for employees who adopt a child or may be bound by union contracts that have provisions for adoption leave, as well.
In addition to federal law, many states require employers to offer parental leave to adoptive parents. To find out about a particular state, check your state’s adoption policy handbook or contact the state’s adoption program manager, whose information can be found in Information Gateway’s online National Foster Care and Adoption Directory. Guaranteed parental leave can be the most helpful form of employer adoption assistance and is a sign of an adoption-friendly workplace.
Eligibility and Conditions
Eligibility for an employer adoption assistance program may depend on employment status (e.g. full-time versus part-time employees), length of employment or participation in a company-sponsored health plan.
The type of adoption also can affect the employer-provided adoption benefits. For example, some employers do not provide benefits for stepchild adoption. Others offer enhanced benefits for the adoption of a child with special needs.
Employers Offering Adoption Benefits
To find out if your company offers some form of adoption benefits, ask your human resource or personnel department.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption encourages employer benefits for adoption. Its website includes:
Lists of employers that offer adoption benefits like financial reimbursement and paid leave
An annual list of the nation’s “100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces”
A free toolkit and technical assistance for companies wishing to propose or establish an adoption benefits policy
The Holt International website includes an extensive list of employers that provide adoption benefits as well.
Employer-provided adoption benefits can be incredibly helpful for families considering adoption. The adoption process can be long and challenging. Knowing there will be information or financial assistance as well as parental leave from an employer can make the process more manageable. If you would like to speak to an adoption specialist about employer-provided adoption benefits or about starting your adoption process, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time.
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.