Working parents who build their families by adopting a child face many challenges, including financial (US adoptions can cost up to $58,000), logistical (the paperwork can feel which is endless), and emotional. When employees see their organization as supporting their family as a whole, they are more satisfied with their jobs, more committed to their organizations, and less likely to leave. The authors sought to find out how organizations support adoptive parents in particular by surveying couples who have adopted a child in the past few years. They found different types of support, some more expensive than others, that adoptive parent employees see as meaningful and present five ways leaders can better support adoptive parents. in their organizations.
estimated 100,000 children adopted by parents in the United States each year. While there are less expensive options for adopting a child, namely adoption through foster care, some adoptions can worth $58,000. In addition to the financial burden, people who choose to build their families through adoption face unique challenges that come with the adoption process, such as making life-changing decisions, filling of seemingly endless paperwork, going through the home study process, and enduring the emotional roller coaster of waiting for their child to be matched and the adoption finalized. And when one or both adoptive parents are working, they face all the challenges of balancing the demands of their work.
What we know is that when employees know their organization support their family overall, they are more satisfied with their jobs, more committed to their organizations, and less likely to leave – all great things. So, what can organizations do? The answer is simple: Provide meaningful support for adoptive parents. We aim to understand the benefits of this type of organizational support through survey couples who have adopted a child within the past few years.
The Benefits of Providing Adoption Support
The good news for organizations is that there are different types of support, some more expensive than others, that adoptive parent employees find meaningful.
Some organizations provide financial compensation for adoption-related expenses, paid or unpaid leave, flexible work arrangements, or management support for employees during and after the adoption process. These are all forms of organizational support for adoption (OSFA), which is a deliberate effort on the part of an organization, through financial, environmental, or procedural methods, to support an employee who is in adoption process or have recently adopted a child. the 2022 SHRM Employee Benefits Survey found that 28% of organizations offer paid adoption leave.
In our research, we discovered that OSFA has far-reaching positive effects for employees and the organization. Our study showed that more OSFA led to positive outcomes for employees at work (eg, higher organizational commitment). OSFA also led to more positive outcomes at home (eg, improved family functioning and decreased relationship stress).
But the positive effect does not stop there: Spouses of employees are also more committed to the organization that provides OSFA, a factor that has been shown to important to the employees’ own commitment to their organization. Finally, and most importantly for the adoption community, OSFA has led to increased attachment of the adopted child to the employee and their spouse, a large family – as well as social – benefit.
How to Support Adoptive Parents
Here are five ways leaders can better support adoptive parents in their organization:
Adoptions are expensive. Generally, it costs families $35,000 to adopt a child through a private adoption agency. Employees seeking to build their families through adoption face agency fees, legal fees, medical expenses, and more. Providing financial compensation to help with these adoption costs not only helps with the financial burden of adoption, reducing stress for employees, but it can also encourage more employees to adopt. In a recent study by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, 64% of Americans said that their employer’s financial support for adoption affects their decision to adopt.
Offering paid leave is another way to support working adoptive parents. Many adoption-friendly organizations will offer the same leave benefits to adoptive parents as they offer for maternity and/or paternity leave. As with financial compensation, paid leave plays an important role in whether employees adopt — 68% of Americans claim that access to paid leave affects their decision.
Flexible work arrangements
Managers can also support adoption by providing flexible work arrangements for adoptive parents. The adoption process can be complicated and may require employees to leave work for home studies, court appointments, or even domestic or international travel. Giving employees the flexibility to work outside of normal hours or to work remotely will help them manage their work and family needs throughout the adoption process. As one survey participant told us: “[The organization’s] flexibility is invaluable. It relieves stress in many ways. This has given me the freedom to spend more time with my family but also contribute to my normal work. They really helped me balance things out. “
Connect employees to adoption networks or support groups
Another way to support adoptive parents is to connect them with local adoption networks or support groups. Not only will the support they receive from there be useful, but someone who will connect with them shows that you care about their family and support their adoption efforts, which will certainly go a long way in ensuring the commitment and loyalty of the employee.
Adopting a child is a big event for your employees and should be treated as such. Society is quick to celebrate pregnancies and births, showering the new parents with flowers, cards, parties, and gifts. But adoptive parents are often overlooked. Celebrating your employee’s new family lets them know you recognize the importance of the event.
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Providing support to adoptive working parents doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive. Our research suggests that the return on investment is significant, improving the well-being of employees and their families. In addition, granting OSFA is an important step towards legitimizing adoption as a way to build a family and a new way to benefit society as a whole.