The road to adoption is almost always long, stressful, and expensive. And when adoptive parents do (finally!) welcome a child into their home, the stress frequently continues thanks to a lack of support in the workplace.
It's no secret that the United States is not particularly generous when it comes to maternity and paternity leave benefits. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires private-sector employers with at least 50 employees to offer 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child. But the law doesn't help workers at companies with fewer than 50 employees or those who can't afford an unpaid leave.
In an effort to be more family-friendly and retain talented employees, some companies are going above and beyond FMLA, but adoption benefits continue to lag behind.
Imagine adopting an hours-old infant and not being entitled to any paid leave. New parents may be forced to use vacation days, sick days, or even just head back to work quickly, sometimes within days of their adoptive child's birth. Even for parents who adopt older children taking time off to bond is crucial, especially for kids who are coming from abroad or from multiple foster homes.
One reason it may be tough for adoptive parents to take unpaid leave is that adoption is expensive. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a U.S. government service, adopting can cost up to $40,000.
The good news is that some companies are stepping up and offering more generous adoption benefits to their employees, including offering financial assistance. Today, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption released its Top 100 list of Adoption-Friendly Workplaces. Companies applied for a spot on the list, reporting their maximum amount of financial reimbursement and weeks of paid leave for families who adopt.
If you think of a hamburger when you hear the name Dave Thomas, it isn't your stomach playing tricks on you. Thomas was the founder of Wendy's, an adoptee himself, and a lifelong advocate of adoption. He formed the foundation in 1992. Although Thomas died 10 years later, the foundation continues its mission to find permanent homes for the more than 100,000 children in foster care.
You'll recognize companies on the foundation's list like Domino's Pizza at #80 ($6,000 in reimbursement and four weeks paid leave), American Express at #30 ($10,000 in reimbursement and six weeks paid leave), and T-Mobile at #14 ($13,400 in reimbursement and three weeks paid leave). Many companies are smaller and/or less-recognizable, such as law and technology firms. But they are all forging a path that other companies hopefully will follow.
The Top 10 most adoption-friendly workplaces: