For many couples hoping to adopt, receiving adoption benefits from their employer is a huge advantage. In fact, many people do not even realize that their employer offers adoption benefits until they ask.
This introduces a new question, however. When should you talk to your employer about these benefits, and how should you do it? Today, we’ll explain what workplace adoption benefits typically entail, and provide tips on how to approach your employer to inquire about these benefits.
Each year, Dave Thomas Foundation releases a list of the 100 best adoption-friendly workplaces. The top companies on the most recent list include American Express, Capital One Financial Corporation, NVIDIA, Nielsen, and Liquidnet Holdings, Inc.
Even if your workplace is not on the list, it may still offer amazing benefits for those pursuing adoption.
What Are Adoption Benefits?
An employer-sponsored adoption benefits plan gives employees financial assistance for their adoption or reimburses them for adoption-related expenses. Plus, it provides for paid or unpaid leave for the adoptive parent. (source: www.shrm.org)
Some workplaces even offer information. They can refer you to adoption professionals, organizations, and even support groups. They also provide information about special circumstances, including adopting a child with special needs.
Financial assistance may be available to you through your company’s adoption benefit program. Some employers offer lump-sum payments or partial reimbursements for expenses. Others will cover specific fees associated with adoption, like agency fees, court costs, medical costs, and counseling fees.
Paid parental leave allows you to bond with your newly-adopted baby and ensure he or she has the necessary support. Some workplaces may offer up to 12 paid weeks off. As Rita Soronen, President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, says, “It is vital for adoptive parents to spend time with their children to bond and develop trust. Employers who offer adoption benefits understand that the initial needs of adoptive families are no different than families formed biologically. And family-friendly work environments create strong and loyal workforces…”
Your HR representative can inform you of any restrictions or guidelines you need to know about. For instance, how much time do you have to give your employer to approve your parental leave? Is there a guideline on when you can receive reimbursements for expenses?
When Should You Talk to Your Employer?
For many people, speaking to an employer about adoption happens early on. During the home study, you’ll probably need to gather financial information from your Human Resources Department. When you request this information, you may also ask about potential benefits.
The earlier you inform your employer of your adoption plans, the better. It is important to notify your workplace about your intentions because your employer may need to hire or transition somebody to fill your role when you take parental leave. They will appreciate having more time to make this decision, and may also ask you to train your stand-in.
Ultimately, this is a very personal decision. Some people have waited until they got the call that a child was waiting for them. Others have informed their workplace as soon as their home study was approved. You have to examine your choices to see what makes sense for you.
It’s Normal to Feel Uncomfortable
Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up their adoption plans to their employer. So if you feel this way, you’re not alone! You might worry that once you bring up the process, you will get a barrage of questions you are not yet ready or willing to answer.
In order to bring up adoption, you may have to set forth some boundaries. If somebody asks you how the adoption is going, you may have a pre-determined script in mind.
You can also ask your HR representative to keep your inquiry about adoption benefits discreet. Asking about adoption benefits does not mean that the entire workplace has to know just yet. You can provide information to your co-workers and supervisor on a need-to-know basis.
If you are concerned about when to approach the situation and exactly what you want to say, a therapist can provide you with a lot of support. Your therapist can provide you tools to manage your anxiety if you’re nervous about the situation. They can also help you put together a game plan if you need a script for what to say about your plans to adopt.
You might consider seeking help about this issue in an adoption support group. Many hopeful adoptive parents have been in your situation. While they can’t tell you what to do, they can relay their own experiences so that you can weigh your options and determine which one is most suitable for you. Having the additional support can help you determine exactly what you want to say and when you want to say it.
If your company doesn’t offer employee adoption benefits, you can encourage them to start such a program by reaching out to the Dave Thomas Foundation about their Adoption-Friendly Workplace program. Their mission is to make adoption an affordable option for every employed adoptive parent. Just visit their site at AdoptionFriendlyWorkplace.org or call them at 1-800-ASK-DTFA (1-800-275-3832.)
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”