How to Talk to Your Employer About Adoption: Four Important Topics to Discuss with Work


An important step in beginning the adoption process is discussing your plans and options with your work. Many prospective adoptive parents choose not to discuss their specific adoption match until it is successful because of the risks. Here are some ways you can prepare for your adoption without providing exact details on your case.

Request Income & Benefits Statement

Your Homestudy Report will likely require proof employment, proof of income, health coverage, life insurance, retirement funds, and other related items.  It is helpful to request an income and/or benefits statement from your human resources department to prepare for your Homestudy Report.

Health insurance

If you plan to cover the child under your health insurance, speak with your employer about what is needed to put the child on your coverage.  Often the coverage may begin right at birth, discharge from the hospital, or placement of the child in your home. In previous years, health insurers would require finalization prior to coverage, however, this is now prohibited. Health insurers may not discriminate between adopted and biological children and they must cover the child as soon as those families assume financial responsibility for the child.

In 1993, The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Public Law 103- 66 (OBRA), amended the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to require any group health plan with coverage for dependent children to provide adopted children with the same benefits and coverage as biological children. OBRA eliminated any requirement that the adoption be finalized in court before coverage could begin. The relevant OBRA sections are Title IV, Subtitle D, Section 4301(c). In 1996, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Public Law 104-91 (HIPAA), amended ERISA and extended the prohibition against discrimination between adopted and biological children to governmental employers.

Discuss Options for Leave

Every employer has their own policies for maternity leave and/or paternity leave, and likely has their own policies for adoption cases.  Ask about options for leave, and whether your position is secure after certain times of leave. As an adoption placement can occur quickly, it is important to ask what is required for such leave to be prepared for a placement.  You may be eligible for leave under The Family Medical and Leave Act of 1993, a fact sheet available here. Recognizing the need for family leave around birth of a child, there are grants becoming available, such as the Dove paternity grant program.

Adoption Reimbursement

It is important to check with your employer and human resources department to see if you qualify for any adoption and/or legal service reimbursement. Many employers have adoption reimbursement benefits that are not highlighted in benefit packages or marketing materials.  Make sure to check if you employer has adoption reimbursement, find out the amount, what is required to receive the reimbursement, and how long it takes to receive the reimbursement.  This could also be framed as “legal services” reimbursement.  If your employer does not currently offer adoption reimbursement, request if they would consider creating a reimbursement program.  You can look to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for an article on adoption reimbursement, their free toolkit for employer’s to implement reimbursement programs, and their 2018 list of 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces.

Not sure where to begin? Contact us to schedule your Adoption Legal Consultation to discuss the best next steps in your family building options.

Melissa Alam