Employer-Provided Adoption Benefits: Types of Benefits

This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway’'

Types of Benefits

Typically, adoption benefits mirror benefits available to new biological parents. Adoption benefits fall into three general categories:

Information resources

Financial assistance

Parental leave policies

Employers may offer one or more of these types of benefits for a single adoption.

Information Resources

Resources made available to employees may include referrals to licensed adoption agencies, support groups, and organizations; access to an adoption specialist to answer questions about the process; and/or help with special situations, such as adopting a child with special needs. Many employers that offer this type of benefit contract with a human resources consulting firm to provide these services to employees.

Financial Assistance

Financial benefits for adoptive families vary. Some employers provide a lump sum payment for an adoption, usually between $1,000 and $15,000. Other employers pay certain fees related to an adoption. Still others partially reimburse employees for expenses. Typical reimbursement plans cover 80 percent of certain itemized expenses up to an established ceiling (about $4,000 on average). Some employers reimburse at a higher rate for adoptions of children with special needs. Most frequently, employer-provided financial assistance covers public or private agency fees, court costs, and legal fees. Employers also might help with foreign adoption fees, medical costs, temporary foster care charges, transportation costs, pregnancy costs for a birth mother, and counseling fees associated with placement and transition.

Some employers pay benefits per adoption, while others pay per child adopted. In most cases, the benefits are paid after the adoption is finalized, although some employers may pay benefits when the child is placed or as the expenses are incurred.

Parental Leave Policies

In many cases, employers are required to grant parental leave to parents who have adopted a child. Federal law requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer both mothers and fathers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. The law ensures that employees can return to their current jobs or an equivalent position, and it requires employers to continue the employee’s health benefits during the leave period. Information about this law, entitled the Family and Medical Leave Act, can be found at

Some employers allow employees to take more than the required 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Employees may be permitted to combine accumulated paid leave (such as vacation or sick leave) with unpaid leave to extend their total leave. Some employers even offer paid leave for employees who adopt a child. Certain employers may be bound by public and private union contracts that have provisions for adoption leave.

In addition to the Federal law, many States require employers to offer parental leave to adoptive parents. To find out about a particular State, check your State’s adoption policy handbook or contact the State’s adoption program manager. Information Gateway’s online National Foster Care and Adoption Directory lists contact information for each State’s adoption program manager:

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Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2011). Employer-provided adoption benefits.’' Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.