If you’re hoping to adopt, receiving adoption benefits from your employer provides a huge advantage. But the fact is, most people do not even realize that their company offers adoption benefits until they ask.
However, this brings up a new question. How should you approach your employer about these benefits? When should you request to talk with them about benefits? Today, we’ll describe what employer-provided adoption benefits typically involve, and present tips on how to ask your employer to about these benefits.
Every 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, NVIDIA, Bloomberg, and SNAP, Inc.
Even if your company didn’t’ make it on this list, it may still offer incredible benefits to employees pursuing adoption.
What Are Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits?
An employer-sponsored adoption benefits plan may provide employees with financial assistance for their adoption. Or, the benefits plan may reimburse them for adoption-related expenses. Benefits plans also provide paid or unpaid leave for the adoptive parent. (source: www.shrm.org)
Some companies even offer adoption information. This includes referrals to adoption professionals, organizations, and support groups. The adoption information they provide may also include special circumstances, including adopting a child with special needs.
Through your employer’s adoption benefits program, you may be able to receive financial assistance. Some employers will cover specific fees associated with adoption, like court costs, agency fees, medical costs, and counseling fees. Others may offer lump-sum payments or partial reimbursements for expenses.
Paid parental leave gives you a chance to bond with your newly-adopted baby. Some companies may even offer up to 12 paid weeks off. Says Rita Soronen, President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, “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.”
Ask your HR department for information about any restrictions or guidelines you need to know about. For example, do they have guidelines on when you can get reimbursements for expenses? How much time do you need to give your employer to approve your parental leave?
When Should I Talk With My Employer?
For many, sharing their adoption plans with their employer about adoption happens early on. When you gather documents for your home study, you’ll probably need to obtain financial information from your Human Resources Department. So when you request this information, you might consider also asking about potential adoption benefits.
It’s best to inform your employer of your adoption plans as early as you can. Your employer may need to transition someone to fill your role when you take parental leave, so it’s important to notify your workplace about your intentions. They will appreciate that you’ve given them more time to make this decision, and may also request that you train your stand-in.
Ultimately, sharing adoption plans with your employer is a very personal decision. Some adoptive parents have waited until they got the call from their agency that a birth mother selected them. Others let their workplace know as soon as their home study was approved. We encourage you to examine your choices so you can see what makes sense for you.
It’s Normal to Feel Uncomfortable
Many hopeful adoptive parents find the prospect of bringing up their adoption plans to their employer to be a daunting task and one that makes them feel uncomfortable. So if you feel this way, know that you’re not alone! You be might worried that once you share your news, you will get tons of questions about adoption that you are not yet ready or willing to answer.
You may have to set some healthy boundaries in order to bring up adoption. For example, if a co-worker or higher-up asks you how your adoption is going, you may have a pre-determined script in mind.
If you’d like to keep your inquiry about adoption benefits discreet, consult with your HR representative. Just asking about adoption benefits does not mean that the entire company has to know just yet. If you’d like, you can provide information to your co-workers and supervisor on a need-to-know basis only.
What if My Company Doesn’t Offer Adoption Benefits?
If your company doesn’t offer adoption benefits to its employees, you might encourage them to start a program. You can do so by contacting to the Dave Thomas Foundation about their Adoption-Friendly Workplace program. This non-profit organization’s mission is for every employed adoptive parent to be able to afford adoption. Get info online at AdoptionFriendlyWorkplace.org or by calling them at 1-800-ASK-DTFA (1-800-275-3832.)
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.
Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.
Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.