Employee Adoption Benefits

Adoptive parents can receive employee adoption benefits
Employer-provided adoption benefits are a growing trend. In 2009, a survey by Hewitt Associates found that more than half of the 940 major employers offered some type of adoption benefits (up from only 12% in 1990). It seems employers have found that providing adoption benefits displays social responsibility, the ability to respond to changing times, and creates more satisfied employees.

What Kind of Adoption Benefits Do Employers Provide?

Adoption benefits are typically similar to the benefits accessible by new biological parents. They can be grouped into three categories: financial assistance, informational resources, and parental leave. Your employer may offer you several of these types of benefits during your adoption.

Financial Assistance

This type of benefit may take different forms. For example, a lump sum between $1,000 and $15,000 may be given for the payment of adoption services. Or, your employer may pay certain fees related to your adoption, or partially reimburse you for adoption expenses.

Reimbursement plans typically cover 80% of certain itemized expenses up to around $4,000 (on average). Some employers will provide reimbursements at a higher rate for a special needs adoption.

Employer-provided financial assistance often covers your agency fees or legal fees. Your employers also might help you with medical costs, travel expenses, birth mother assistance, and counseling fees.

Some employers choose to pay benefits per adoption, while others prefer to pay per child adopted. Employer-provided benefits are granted after the adoption is finalized in most cases.

Informational Resources

Your employer may provide you with the necessary information, such as referrals to adoption agencies, support groups, and organizations. Employers might also help you access an adoption specialist to help answer your questions about the process.

Employers that offer information resources may contract with an HR consulting firm so they can provide these services to their employees.

Parental Leave

Per law, most employers are required to grant new adoptive parents with parental leave. Employers with 50 or more employees are required to offer both parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the adoption of a child. The law also requires that employees maintain job security and health benefits during their leave. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor website for more information about the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Some employers permit employees to take more than 12 weeks of unpaid leave and use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, to extend their total leave. Some employers may be bound by union contracts that also have requirements for adoption leave.

In addition to the Federal law, your state may also require your employers to offer you parental leave when you adopt. Check your state’s adoption policy handbook to find out whether this is true in your state. You could also reach out to the state’s adoption program manager. They can be found in the online National Foster Care and Adoption Directory.

Conditions and Eligibility

In order to be eligible for employee adoption benefits, you might need to be employed full-time or have been with your employer for a certain amount of time. Some employers may also require that you participate in the company-sponsored health plan.

Does My Employer Offer Adoption Benefits?

Just ask your human resource or personnel department to find out if your company offers any form of adoption benefits. If your employer doesn’t provide any adoption benefits, you can encourage them to begin by reaching out to the Dave Thomas Foundation. They’ve designed an Adoption-Friendly Workplace program to make adoption affordable for every employed adoptive parent. Just visit their site at AdoptionFriendlyWorkplace.org. On the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption website, you can find a free toolkit and technical assistance for companies who’d like to propose or begin offering adoption benefits.

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