Transitioning to parenthood through adoption is incredibly complex and emotional, requiring more support than a traditional family-building endeavor. The adoption process can be emotional and complicated, making it difficult for employees to remain motivated and fully engaged in the workplace. Human resources (HR) professionals and benefits administrators have a unique opportunity to help ensure that your employees have a less stressful adoption experience.
Showing compassion and taking proactive steps to provide inclusive family-building support can help alleviate potential stressors so your employees can focus on creating the type of families they desire―regardless of traditional roles, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
In the United States, in 2019, there were approximately 115,000 domestic adoptions, according to the National Council on Adoption study “Adoption by the Numbers 2019-2020.” These statistics are combined with domestic adoptions and foster-to-adoption cases but do not include intercountry adoption. Other types of adoption are also not included in these numbers, such as step-parent adoption or relative adoption.
According to a study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, nearly 60% of Americans have had personal experience with adoption, meaning that they themselves, a family member, or a close friend was adopted, had adopted a child, or had placed a child for adoption. In short, your employees are likely impacted by adoption, and HR Professionals are encouraged to provide support for these life-changing events.
This blog post will explore the best practices for successfully guiding your employees through the adoption journey.
Introducing the Topic of Adoption and Explaining the Role of HR Professionals/Benefit Administrators
Adoption is often a challenging yet rewarding experience for those who undertake it. It can be an emotionally-charged journey, with many steps parents must follow to ensure the best outcome for all involved.
The HR professional or benefits administrator is a key figure who plays an essential role in this journey, helping to guide employees seeking adoption through benefit offerings and supporting the employee through their family-building journey.
These professionals ensure that employees and their families who wish to adopt have access to the resources and support they need throughout the adoption process. Benefits administrators must be aware of employer plans that cover certain costs associated with adopting a child, which include pre-adoption expenses such as home studies and post-adoption costs like counseling services for the adoptive family.
“Adoption is expensive—costs for domestic adoption range from $25,000 – $55,000. Should a family decide to adopt internationally, those expenses can reach as high as $65,000 depending on the country and travel costs.” – Kelly Ellison, Your Adoption Finance Coach
Finally, HR professionals must be knowledgeable about the adoption process and how disruptive it can be to an employee’s life.
At the beginning of the process, there is a great deal of paperwork, home visits, and doctor’s appointments when the employee completes their home study. An employee may need to take time out of the office to meet with doctors, travel to local offices to gather paperwork and work with the social worker on the home visits.
If they choose an intercountry adoption, they’ll have even more paperwork and require more time off for travel, as some countries require more than one trip and extensive stays.
Compassionate Support for Employees Pursuing Adoption
Compassionate support can include providing reasonable time off for medical appointments, completing paperwork, parental leave, or attending court hearings.
It is essential to provide time and support to employees during and after the adoption process. Allowing employees to work from home or have flexibility in their schedules is ideal. Maintaining communication with the employee about expectations and understanding how you can support them on this journey will go a long way in helping the employee know they are supported.
Many companies now support employees pursuing adoption with a financial reimbursement and/or time off, which can help the employee to maintain a proper work-life balance. The Dave Thomas Foundation highlights and acknowledges top corporations like Nivida, PwC, VMLY&R, and others that offer generous benefits to employees adopting. These measures will ultimately benefit employers and employees alike, as they can help build strong relationships based on mutual understanding and trust.
Practical Steps to Ease Stressors for Employees During the Adoption Process
These practical steps can ease the stress of employees going through the adoption process.
- Offer flexible work hours or telecommuting options. Flexibility allows parents to balance their work and home responsibilities.
- Provide financial reimbursement and paid leave. Adoption is costly and different from the biological process of having a child. Allowing ample time for the employee to bond with their new child is crucial.
- Educate your employees about the adoption process. Providing information about the process can help ease fears and anxiety about the unknown.
- Be understanding and supportive. The adoption process can be emotional and complex, so employers must be compassionate and sensitive throughout the journey.
Support employees through the adoption process with Vesta benefits for inclusive family building
Vesta benefits for inclusive family building make the adoption process much less stressful for employees.
When employees have questions about which path is best for their family, Vesta Coaches can assist employees to envision their future family and provide support and resources for how to get there.
Our experienced and knowledgeable coaches guide employees through the process of adoption by providing education about the different types of adoptions, costs and budgeting, and many other resources for their family-building journey.
To learn more about how Vesta for Families can provide compassionate support to your employees throughout the adoption process, contact us today!