Adoption benefits on the rise

U.S. companies increasingly are turning to new and uncommon benefits as a way to recruit and retain employees. Climbing the list? Family support, particularly for adoption and fostering. 

As more companies offer paid parental leave and extended family leave, a growing number also are providing paid time off for adopting and fostering children. Those offering paid adoption leave rose 6 percentage points to 34%, and those giving foster child leave climbed three points to 25%, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2023 Employee Benefits Survey. 

“What we hear from employers is that it really is an issue of equity,” Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, told HR Dive. “It is as equal of a family if it’s formed through adoption and still needs those kinds of supports in the workplace, whether it’s financial leave or just flexibility.” 

Companies that offer adoption benefits are upping their offerings as well. Employers provided 24% more financial reimbursement for adoption costs in 2023 than the previous year, offering an average of $14,381, according to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a nonprofit working to find permanent homes for foster children that publishes an annual list of the 100 best adoption-friendly workplaces. Employers also increased the amount of paid time off available to adoptive parents to nine weeks, up 8% from last year.

Financial reimbursement typically covers what the IRS deems “qualified adoption expenses,” which includes court costs and attorney fees, travel and agency fees. 

While most companies offer a set amount of financial reimbursement, a few stand out by providing unlimited financial support, Soronen said. Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical group, and NVIDIA, a technology company, took the top two spots, respectively, on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s 100 best list this year. Both offer unlimited financial reimbursement. Ferring also provides 26 weeks of paid leave for birthing and nonbirthing parents. 

“It is really substantial support. They set the bar pretty high,” Soronen said.