Friends of mine just shared some great news. After years of yearning for a child, they got word they have been chosen to adopt a baby boy in January. They are praying it all happens as expected, and making plans to take time off of work to bond with and care for their newborn.
The mom works at a company with generous benefits, save one: paid leave for adoptive parents. Thankfully, the law allows that she can take unpaid family leave, and she will. But it will be a financial burden as they start their family. The good news is, more companies add benefits for adoptive parents every year. Some offer paid leave. Others also offer to pay part of the adoption expenses. Aside from helping employees through a big financial change in their lives, these benefits acknowledge that adoptive families are just as important as biological families in our society, and that adoptive parents need the same time to bond with and care for babies and older children that birth parents do.
The New York Times reports that the number of companies offering adoption benefits is on the rise, from small nonprofits to Fortune 500 members. Reporter Lynette Clemetson notes that a 2006 survey of 1,000 companies by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption found that 44 percent of respondents offered paid adoption leave, up from 38 percent in 2000. Get this: 83 percent offered some financial assistance for adoptions, up from 70 percent in 2000.
Of course, it’s important to note that companies that respond to surveys like these are more likely to offer a bevy of benefits. And that paid maternity leave is not a given in the United States. A Families and Work Institute study in 2005 found that 66 percent of companies with 1,000 employees or more offer some kind of pay during maternity leave.
Still, even with all the pressures facing American companies today, ignoring the needs of employees who are adoptive parents remains a short-term strategy. Helping an employee at this pivotal point in her life can help foster an even more loyal and productive employee upon return, and give at least one member of the future workforce a start in life every child deserves. Simply, it is the right thing to do.
LINK: Breaking the Biology Barrier [New York Times]