Adoption Aid, From Employers

When Tim Huval and his wife decided to adopt, they got financial aid, moral support and legal counseling from a seemingly unlikely source: his employer.

“Never once do you feel like you’re in a separate bucket because you’re adopting” rather than having a biological child, said Huval, a senior vice president of card services at Bank of America Corp. With company benefits to ease the way, Huval is now the adoptive father of a daughter and a son.

His case isn’t unusual. Last year, 47 percent of about 1,000 major U.S. companies offered financial aid for adoption, up from just 12 percent in 1990, according to the human resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates. As the prevalence of adoption grows in the United States, more companies are offering employees benefits to lessen the financial and emotional toll the experience of finding a child can take.

Other benefits commonly offered by employers include paid time off and referral services.

Companies that offer adoption benefits do so out of a sense of inclusiveness, and to make themselves more competitive employers.

Offering generous adoption benefits gives a company a more family-friendly image, even among those who aren’t directly affected by adoption, said Rita Soronen, executive director of the Dave Thomas Foundation, which funds initiatives for and raises awareness about domestic foster care and adoption.

“A large percentage of Americans are touched by adoption; it’s not an uncommon topic in employees’ minds and hearts,” Soronen said.

Starting next year, Bank of America plans to expand benefits for birth and adoptive parents-to-be to 12 weeks’ paid leave, up from the current eight weeks. Employees can also get up to $8,000 in aid for adoptions and can ask consultants to help navigate legal issues.

A supportive environment at Bank of America was also one of the intangible benefits for Huval.

When he got the unexpected call one morning that a baby girl available for adoption had been born, his managers and co-workers rallied behind him.

Everyone at work was pulling “for us to go get that baby and bring her home,” Huval said.
(Tags: Adoption, Business, Benefits)

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