Employees need more support than they're currently getting when starting and raising a family—and that includes adoption. Employers can better support employees throughout their adoption journey by implementing policies and programs that provide clinical, emotional, and financial care to potential adoptive parents.
Attracting and retaining top talent requires employers to consider salary, employee satisfaction, and benefits that grow with your employees' evolving needs. Family benefits are becoming table stakes—in a recent Maven report, 87% of employers said that family benefits are extremely important to prospective and current employees. Adoption benefits are one of several ways your organization can support employees along their family journey.
These benefits are voluntary employer-funded policies and assistance for employees who want to adopt a child. These benefits take many forms but commonly include financial reimbursement, PTO, and access to coaches, providers, or mental health professionals.
Here, we discuss how people leaders can care for employees along their adoption journey and how this support can provide countless benefits for both your employees and your organization.
What are common paths to adoption?
There are several different routes to adoption, each with associated costs, benefits, and stringent processes. Understanding them can help you provide better adoption support for your employees.
- Domestic adoption: The placement of U.S.-born infants for adoption by their legally-consenting birth parents with an adoptive family of their choosing.
- International adoption: “Intercountry adoption” is when families adopt a child from another country through permanent legal means to live in the adoptive family's country of residence.
- Familial adoption: When a child is placed with extended family members for a long period of time until that family member can adopt them.
- Foster-to-adopt: Adopting a child placed with the adoptive family as a foster is usually facilitated by a state or city social services agency.
- Adoption directly from foster care: Adopting a child in foster care whose biological parents' rights have been terminated by a court.
Roadblocks employees may experience on the path to becoming adoptive parents
Adoption is a costly, time-consuming process. Throughout that journey, there may be several obstacles your employees may encounter:
- Cost. The average cost to adopt a child through a domestic agency is $20,000 to $50,000. Throughout the process, adoptive parents will also have many appointments: home inspections, visits with prospective birth parents, meetings with attorneys, court dates, and travel. Your employees going through the process of adoption may need additional time off and support from your company.
- Timing. Timing is another factor that can prohibit people from adoption. The process for a domestic adoption can take anywhere from six to 18 months, from application to the finalization of the adoption by the courts. International adoptions have a much wider variance: per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, finalizing an intercountry adoption can take one to five years.
- Anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination. LGBTQIA+ families are much more likely to experience discrimination in their quest to adopt than heterosexual, cisgender couples, although they are four times more likely to raise adopted children. According to the American Bar Association, ten U.S. states allow state-licensed welfare agencies to refuse to place adopted children with LGBTQ+ or same-sex couples. Discrimination often makes it more costly and difficult for these adoptive families when raising a child.
Providing support for birth parents choosing adoption
Providing support services for birth mothers and fathers should also be a part of an overall adoption benefits program. For many birth parents that choose adoption for their child, it is one of the most difficult decisions one can make and can be a result of countless reasons including unplanned pregnancy. As a business, you can support in several ways:
- Providing mental health support, such as access to counselors. Offering options to help a birth parent make the best decision for their family.
- Providing additional PTO or flexible work schedules so birth parents can travel to court dates or meet prospective parents.
Providing support by using adoption-inclusive language in the workplace
Adoption is as important and valid for family building as any other method for starting and growing a family. Inclusive language can be crucial to creating an adoption-friendly atmosphere in your workplace. Avoid terms like “giving up for adoption,” which can have negative connotations. Both the adoptive parent and birth parents are “choosing adoption.” Another term to avoid is “real” parents; people build adoptive families in various ways, and each journey is genuine and unique. If the topic comes up, “birth parents” or "birth mothers and fathers" is the correct way to refer to the person(s) that birthed the child.
Education and sensitivity around why people choose adoption also help foster an inclusive and adoption-positive environment. Each adoption story is different—some choose to adopt even if they already have, or can have, biological children. Others choose to adopt due to infertility, while others may be in same-sex relationships and decide to adopt rather than pursue surrogacy or undergo fertility treatments like IVF.
A checklist for successful adoption support programs
Now that you understand the various complexities of adoption, it can better inform discussions on what to provide employees for adoption benefits. Below is a checklist of benefits and support your organization may want to include as part of your adoption support program:
How Maven Clinic can help you develop an effective adoption employee benefits program
Maven, the leading women's and family healthcare company, can be a valuable partner in developing a comprehensive, inclusive adoption benefits program. Through our on-demand platform, employees have 24/7 access to adoption experts, mental health professionals, resources, classes, and expense management and reimbursement. To learn more about how Maven can support your employees as they start and raise their adoptive families, schedule a demo today.
We’re always here to answer your questions—and that starts now.
What is adoption assistance?
Adoption assistance is any combination of services and benefits provided to families considering adoption and/or going through the adoption process.
Why offer adoption benefits?
If you want a truly inclusive organization, that means supporting all employees through their changing needs. Family-friendly benefits translate to real-world outcomes. In a survey of companies highlighted as top family-friendly companies in the U.S., 80% saw an increase in employee retention, 72% saw increased productivity, and 47% reported increased profitability.
Are adoption benefits tax deductible?
Per the IRS, adoption benefits are tax deductible up to $14,890 per calendar year.
How long does adoption assistance last?
Adoption does not start and end with the agency or when the child is legally adopted. How long adoption assistance lasts can vary depending on several factors, but employers can provide additional assistance to make the transition easier. This can include parenting and pediatrics support, classes, access to mental health services for the child, and parental leave during the months following the adoption.