Employee Adoption Benefits

Caucasian parents sitting on a hardwood floor with their firstborn child and a newly adopted infant

Types of employee adoption benefits:

  • Financial assistance
  • Informational resources
  • Parental leave (paid and unpaid)
  • Referral services

Employer-provided adoption benefits continue to be a growing trend. According to SHRM, a human resources membership group, 10% of employers surveyed “offered some form of adoption assistance.” Furthermore, 29% “offered paid adoption leave to parents.”

Back 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).

Thus, it seems employers have accepted that providing adoption benefits creates more satisfied employees and displays both a commitment to social responsibility and the ability to respond to changing times.

Be sure to look into your company’s written plans for adoption benefits; they’re probably in your employee handbook. Also, be sure to ask your human resources department about assistance, if any, with time off, if necessary, for things like an adoption home study.

In many cases, employees think HR questions are limited to parking passes, medical insurance, and Social Security withholdings. But in truth, there are typically plenty of additional resources available to workers. Let’s take a look at some. (Note: Much of this information is based on this helpful adoption resource on employer adoption benefits.

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. Your employer may offer you several of these types of benefits during your adoption.

  • Financial assistance
  • Informational resources
  • Parental leave

However, in addition to these benefits, there are others you may find along the way in the adoption process. There may be federal income tax credits for your eligible child. There may also be tax withholding benefits for qualified adoption assistance programs or employer-provided adoption assistance.

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 & 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.

Finally, 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 employee adoption benefits.

Get More Info Now

If you live outside of the United States, please click here.

“Hi Robin! I just want to say “thank you” for the time to chat yesterday! It’s comforting knowing that we have a dedicated coordinator working on our behalf to match us with birth parents. Please know that you and Lifetime are constant on our prayer list, as well as all of the birth parents, and adoptive families that you are helping. Adoption is such a large part of our lives and the work that ya’ll (I think I can say that since I live in the south?!) do is so, so important. God is using all of you!
While I used to read over the birth mother situations and get somewhat sad that those parents haven’t selected a waiting couple, I now use it as a prayer list… the little details listed give just enough information for somewhat personalized prayers! Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I still want every baby that I read about! : D Thank You again, so much!”



Mardie Caldwell



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