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MikeDana37

Employer Adoption Benefits

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Hi,

My husband and I are working through our home study now and eager to get done! We just got word that the small company I work for might be bought by a larger corporation. My first question for my possible new employer, what are the adoption related benefits!?! My current employer felt that it was only right to offer me the same paid maternity leave that he offers all his other employees. However, if the business deal goes through, the larger corporation does not look at adoption the same, and will not offer maternity leave (ie paid leave). The only option is to take time off is unpaid FMLA time.

I just wandered if this has happened with anyone else? Is there really a difference in this type of benefit employers offer based on how the child comes into your life? I think's it's so sad and crazy if it is! I understand that I am not physically having a child, but I would argue that if maternity leave is being offered to women to recover from the physical aspects of childbirth, then what they should qualify for is short term disability (like other people who need to recover from surgery or health problems). My argument in saying this is NOT to discount the need for maternity leave for women, but to say the reason for maternity leave is more than just a women's physical recovery but it is time for bonding and attachment with the child and caring for the newborn. Adoptive parents have this same exact need, but unfortunately it looks like the time off will be there for me but the pay will not.

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Hi there! I work for a larger corp and they also did not have any adoption benefits or paid leave. For both of my children I took 12 weeks off unpaid via FMLA. I agree that it doesn't seem right that because we didn't physically give birth that we don't qualify for paid leave, but it seems that's actually very common.

I made sure to file a written complaint to my company about it and can only hope that one day they change their paid leave policy for future adoptive parents. I remember getting really upset when I learned of my company's policy...feeling that I already was facing infertility and then told that if I am able to adopt I would have to save up even more money to stay home and bond with my child (I did it of course but it certainly would have been better to not worry about making the mortgage payment at that point in time!).

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When we adopted Garrett in 2009, I worked for a very large financial institution and they did not have any paid maternity benefits for mothers birthing or adopting, everyone had to take FMLA.

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Paid leave would be wonderful. In my school district teachers do not get paid maternity leave much less adoption leave. We are told to schedule our pregnancies or in my case adoption around our six week break in the summer. :(

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I work for FedEx and they do not offer maternity leave either. Those giving birth must take sick leave. We saved as well so I could take 3 months of FMLA.

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Here's another thread - Employer Adoption Benefits

I work for a global hotel company and they don't offer the same benefits for adopting mothers/fathers as they do parents who give birth. I met once with the SVP who determines our company's benefits and he explained to me why we're treated differently. It all comes down to dollars and cents, unfortunately. The cost to the company for offering exact benefits to adopting couples outweighs the benefits to the company because so few couples adopt compared to couples who give birth. Fair or not, "it is what it is." Fortunately, we are allowed "bonding leave" and in the state of TN, I was given 4 months of unpaid leave for bonding. I had to exhaust all of my PTO at the beginning of this leave, so I'll return to work with no PTO left in the bank. For Steven's company, they realized the same issues my company realized... but decided to be nice guys and offer a one-time cash reimbursement to offset the lost pay with unpaid bonding.

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I work for a small institution affiliated with a large university --

When we took placement of Gavin, they offered no family leave... only unpaid leave through FMLA. Women who give birth are entitled to use a few weeks of sick leave / short-term disability during their maternity leave, but otherwise all leave was either unpaid or vacation time. While I was on leave with Gavin (I took sixteen weeks -- most was paid, because I saved my vacation time), the institution created a family leave policy. I believe everyone now receives one week at full pay, then up to four weeks of additional time (at a certain percentage of their salary, depending on time with the institution). The family leave can be used to care for children (however they enter one's family), a sick relative, an agin parent, etc.

I don't know anyone who has received a significant amount of paid time off -- i.e., not disability pay, sick time, vacation time.

I was also able to get a small "grant" to cover adoption costs from my employer. But I really had to dig around to discover that this benefit existed... it was offered through the university, and the benefits staff at my institution weren't even aware it existed (until I told them about it). So dig around a bit...

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This is an issue that really enrages me, especially as I have a Catholic employer that claims to have a religious and ethical mission that is not just about dollars and cents. I spoke to the president of our university directly who said he was "open" to granting an adoption leave, but hasn't changed the policy yet. Many universities do grant adoption leave (off the top of my head: Northwestern, Boston College, and some smaller midwestern institutions). When I have more time (and when my job isn't so vulnerable), I plan to advocate for changes to leave policy.

This isn't just about adoption. Right now, people have no paid leave to care for sick children, elderly parents, etc. We are, of course, almost the only country in the developed world that makes people choose between putting groceries on the table and caring for their sick children. Rhode Island, California and New Jersey have all passed caregiver leave laws that now require employers to pay for leave to care for a sick family member, or to bond with a newborn. This would apply to adoptive parents and to all fathers. So if you don't live in one of those states, this is a policy to advocate for.

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Kevin and I work for the same large corporation.

They do not have adoption leave (you get one paid day for finalization).

When we were placed with Alexander, I only had 5 days of vacation left. I managed to attain 10 days home with pay but it was through a lot of negotiating. I had just started in that BU a couple of months before so my boss and I did not have a very open relationship at that point. She did not know of our adoption plans, etc.

Anyway, due to Kevin's schedule, he was able to take 7 weeks of paid leave before I took 4 months of unpaid leave.

Our company offers 6 months of unpaid family leave, so I took 4 months of it. I loved those 4 months of being at home.

The company we work for does offer $5k to help towards adoption related expenses. It's per adoption, not per employee so only one of us qualified for it. It did help us out but I would have rather had 6 weeks of paid leave. Both our bosses at the time try to get the other money for us to help with the unpaid leave time but they were not successful.

When I was working with our benefits department and my boss, I told them that we do not have true 'maternity' leave. They concured and said it's disability leave (which I knew that but I wanted them to admit it). They said that most fortune 100 companies do not offer it but that they offer unpaid leave instead.

One of the things that we have been very active in, is that there is paid coverage for bonding leave for all employees. Kevin and I have not stopped advocating for it through the employees networks at our company.

During one of the discussions at the networks we found out that there has been a push for years. That was one of the reasons the 6 month of unpaid leave came into play. I know unpaid leave is not as great as unpaid leave but it's nice that they will hold your job while you care for your newborn, child, spouse or parent.

I hope in the future it will change but it will take a lot of folks beinig vocal about it.

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This isn't just about adoption. Right now, people have no paid leave to care for sick children, elderly parents, etc. We are, of course, almost the only country in the developed world that makes people choose between putting groceries on the table and caring for their sick children. Rhode Island, California and New Jersey have all passed caregiver leave laws that now require employers to pay for leave to care for a sick family member, or to bond with a newborn. This would apply to adoptive parents and to all fathers. So if you don't live in one of those states, this is a policy to advocate for.

Couldn't agree more. I don't actually believe that employers should provide separate adoption leave, BUT I do believe that they should offer comprehensive family leave programs so that people don't need to choose between their new babies, sick family members, elderly parents and their jobs / mortgages / financial stability.

And family leave should be made available (and used by) women AND men:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/01/the-daddy-track/355746/

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My university also offers a $5K adoption benefit, but when HR informed me that the university's very generous maternity leave policy is only available to mothers who give birth, I felt insulted. The university is self-insured, so pre-natal care, plus a hospital stay, plus a maternity leave would have cost the university somewhere in the neighborhood of $30K. But because I'm infertile they can kick me $5k towards adoption and feel virtuous about it.

In the end, I don't feel like it's about me; it's about the adopted children, who had no say in the adoption plans. Why should children who are parented by their birthparents have time for bonding and financial security that children raised by adoptive parents do not have? Even if some families can save up for an unpaid leave, that's money that could have gone to a college fund or any number of things that could have benefitted the child, instead, families must use it so that adopted children get the minimum of what they are entitled to as human persons.

Thanks for the link to that article, Sarah. I had not seen it. Let's hope that we can all agitate for changes soon.

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I was happy that we were able to qualify for some of the benefits that they offered. We have several friends that have adopted and did not qualify for anything. I would have rather had paid time off but that was not the case, especially since we pay in to the same insurance pool that everyone does. Kevin and I have continued to advocate for change.

One interesting item too that recently came to light, was someone at the company where Kevin previously worked at, had a surrogate carry their baby. It was their embryo but she was not able to carry a baby to full term, so they went the surrogate route.

She was furious when she found out she would not get paid leave. Since she did not give birth, so she was not able to receive 'maternity' leave.

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Thanks to everyone who answered! I did not realize until now that so many companies don't offer paid maternity leave let alone adoption leave that is paid. In my case, the company I may work for does offer a full 6 weeks paid maternity leave which is why I was very upset. After reading through the posts, I completely agree that there needs to be comprehensive family leave time. I was surprised to learn that there are states that have integrated this, and I've already started advocating for paid time off for adoption with local congressmen in PA. Now I have even more to say to them about the importance of family leave in general, and yes for MEN and WOMEN.

Good point about overall cost to the company, certainly mothers giving birth have significant costs through their insurance and then get paid leave (which they deserve!), but much of this expense is not incurred on adoptive families. The company I'm speaking of does offer $2K for adoption, but won't give it to us until the adoption is finalized which doesn't help much when we need it most.

All in all it's just both sad and frustrating. I hope if many of us advocate for change that lawmakers can see it too....

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Melissa already touched on it in her post above, but my company also does not offer paid adoption leave. I don't believe they offer paid maternity/paternity leave either. They allow you to take FML time for "family bonding" with adoptions, and that time must be taken within the first 12 months of placement. We do have to go through our paid time off for the year before it starts unpaid time off though. To be honest, I haven't looked into my company's "traditional" maternity/paternity leave policy, but I don't believe they treat adoptive parents any differently.

They also offer a pretty generous reimbursement after finalization has taken place. It would be really nice to have it for the initial costs, but after having unpaid time off, it's nice to know that it will come in to help rebuild savings.

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Anybody working for a small employer.... Nada, nothing. No adoption reimbursement, no paid time off (unless you use your vacation time). Sigh

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Sara - thanks for the post and link to the artible about paternity leave. It was good information, alot of things I never thought about when it comes to women in the workplace. After reading that, women must feel a lot of pressure to be working and keep their employers happy or risk losing their position or job, and at the same time are expected (by society, not by me) to be primary caregivers for their children. This isn't our plan, we really plan to split duties in the home and take care of things as equally as possible. But I do now see that by allowing fathers to take leave for their family and not be scrutinized for it, helps families to be equal at home with duties and spend quality time with their family. From the outside, I would have thought it would be worse for the work force with both mothers and fathers taking leave for birth, but I definitely now see how this actually keeps women more engaged and in the work force which benefits everyone in the long run. I'm certainly planning to take time off when we are blessed with a child, but i really feel for both men and women the family leave time should be there and be paid! Good job to CA, RI, and NJ for putting the most important things first which is FAMILY.

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Mike,

Thanks for your post.

My husband, Kevin, due to his schedule was able to take 7 weeks of paid leave off when Alexander was first placed with us. The 3 of us were together for 2 weeks before I had to go back to work.

We really did not want Alexander to attend nursery till he was 6 months old. We were able to achieve that because we were able to stagger our times off (I took 4 months of unpaid leave and then additional vacation time, when the new year started).

Kevin really did relish the time he spent with Alexander when he was a newborn. He loved that he was able to stay home with him.

I agree with you, I hope that one day in the very near furture, we are all able to take paid family leave.

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Hi everyone,

I just started a lobbying effort on this topic! I'm pasting the email I sent to my company's President/CEO below. I'm not stopping there. I'm contacting my state's Congressional delegation and state legislators as well. This is a matter of equality. If a company allows paid leave for those who have biological children, it should afford the same benefits to those who adopt!

Feel free to steal my letter and use it to light your own fire!!!

***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Dear Mr. ??????

As an employee of ???? for more than nine years I’ve been grateful for the generous benefits offered by the company. Those benefits have only improved under ?????’s ownership. I’m hoping that means the company will be open to exploring adding benefits for adoptive parents. I’ve recently learned that while I will be able to use the Family Medical Leave Act to spend time with a newly adopted child, the leave will be unpaid – unlike leave that would be afforded to me if I gave birth to a child.

Many successful companies offer different types of adoption benefits to their employees. The Dave Thomas Foundation recognizes them every year: https://www.davethomasfoundation.org/what-we-do/adoption-friendly-workplace/2013-best-adoption-friendly-workplaces/2013-best-adoption-friendly-workplaces-top-100/

There are many reasons adoption benefits make sense, not the least of which is establishing equity. Such programs also build employee loyalty and goodwill even though studies show less than one percent of an employee population takes advantage of them.

Adoption is expensive. My husband and I have learned we will have to find a way to finance $20,000 (on the low end) to as much as $40,000 or even $50,000 to complete a domestic adoption. Having our family recognized in the same way “traditional” ones are in terms of employee benefits would certainly help us make this dream a reality.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Great letter!

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good for you for writing this letter...

and definitely talk to your employer. i was very vocal about expressing my displeasure at the lack of paid family leave for ALL parents right before the birth of our second (jayden). we previously had a system whereby all employees were entitled to fmla (sixteen weeks of leave guaranteed, though it would be unpaid if the employee didn't have vacation time). mothers who had given birth were entitled to use some sick and disability leave, which wasn't an option for me (or for any father). personally, i think this is perfectly reasonable -- i didn't, after all, need to recover from delivery or a c-section.

i don't think i can necessarily take the credit for it, but my employer did switch over to a family leave policy, whereby all new parents were entitled to four weeks of paid leave. i think the plan was in the works for awhile, but my situation just put it to the top of everyone's mind. (any additional time off had to be "paid" for with vacation time, or taken unpaid). so, definitely have a frank conversation with hr... you never know :)

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Sara,

That is awesome! I was very vocal and so was my husband (we work for the same company) but they have not changed.

Anyone can take up to 6 months of unpaid leave for adoption, new baby, care for a sick parent, etc which is good but paid leave would have been nice.

We told them we all pay into the same system but they did not even think about changing.

Hopefully, with time policies will change.

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