In honor of this new publication, the President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption, Rita Soronen, kindly offered to answer a few questions about adoption and foster-to-adopt benefits for mie.
Mie: What can average employees do to impact the adoption benefits their employer offers?
Rita Soronen: This is a great question. Simply asking for the inclusion of adoption benefits is the first step. Many employers do not know that they can offer this to their employees. And then make the case for these benefits – they are cost-effective, build employee loyalty, and enhance a company’s image of being family-friendly. Offering benefits to families who are formed through adoption or through birth is the right thing to do. We make it easy by providing the templates, toolkits and information for employees and employers.
Mie: As an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent, where could I go to get more information about benefits available to my family?
Rita Soronen: There are many excellent resources for families to get information about adoption benefits. The variety of resources continues to grow and includes workplace benefits, adoption tax credits, adoption subsidies (for children adopted from foster care), education assistance for adopted youth, adoption assistance from private organizations, and benefits for military families who want to adopt. The following is a selected list of contacts, but the Foundation can help with additional resources:
- Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (workplace benefits) www.davethomasfoundationforadoption.org
- North American Council on Adoptable Children (subsidies) www.nacac.org
- Internal Revenue Service (adoption tax credit) www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html
- Military adoption assistancehttp://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/Home/Benefit_Library/Federal_Benefits_Page/Adoption_Assistance.html
- Education assistance for adopted youth (scholarships, vouchers and waivers)www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/adopt_people/assistance.cfm
- Individual adoption assistance (helping with the costs of adoption) www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/adoptive/funding.cfm
Rita Soronen: Some of the benefits listed above – the adoption tax credit, education assistance and individual assistance are not as well known. Of course, every adoption is different and the family needs vary, so the best any parent can do is learn as much as possible. We can help connect individuals to the national resources available.
Mie: In your experience, what are the biggest obstacles people claim prevent them from adopting (from foster care)?
Rita Soronen: There are some key misperceptions that may cause individuals to either stop or not engage in the foster care adoption process. First, we know that there is a perception that it is simply too expensive to adopt. Although other forms of adoption (domestic infant or inter-country adoption) can cost tens of thousands of dollars, to adopt from foster care costs little to nothing. Second, there is a misconception that once a child is adopted, a birth family may file further legal action to regain custody oftheir child. In the child welfare system, once a child has been permanently freed for adoption, all legal paths are closed to the birth parents; the adoption is final and the child is a member of the adoptive family. And finally, there are so many misperceptions that surround the children waiting to be adopted – that they are too old for new families, that they are “unadoptable” or not able to fit into families. Nothing could be further from the truth. These children have grief and loss issues, and many may have trust or attachment challenges, but every child waiting to be adopted deserves a safe, nurturing and permanent home and the opportunity to grow and thrive in the
birthright of every child – a family.
As we began the adoption process we had great friends who were able to help explain some of the basic adoption benefits available when adopting through foster care. I've found that unless you have some close friends or even more so unless you actually go through the process it is hard to really get a good understanding of the benefits available to you as an adoptive or foster-to-adopt parent.
Workplace benefits has become an extremely important topic to mie since prospective adoption became very real with our 4th placement (Summer) and the drama surrounding her brother's subsequent adoption. We went from adopting a fully-supported sibling group to adopting a single, unsupported child, then back-and-forth between two unsupported children and a myriad of combinations in-between. Though we entered the adoption process thinking our expenses would be largely covered, we were suddenly in the position of figuring out how to pay for one or possibly two adoptions that we weren't planning to pay for. In the end, I found my company offered some minimal but appreciated adoption benefits and my husband's didn't appear to offer any, at all. I also began researching possible benefits out there and found that many companies to a GREAT job! As an adoptive mom and leader in the HR-ish field, the meaning of adoption-friendly intrigues mie.
I applaud these employers and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for their work in supporting adoption-friendly workplaces. Personally, anything I can do to support all of these organizations is worth it to mie as together we support finding every child a permanent, loving home and family.
On behalf of Letting Go of Mie, I want to sincerely thank Rita Soronen and her team at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for not only doing all the work to put this together but for giving mie the opportunity to share their message here on my blog.
President & CEO
The Dave Thomas Foundation
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of the more than 134,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s® founder Dave Thomas who was adopted, the Foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national signature programs, foster care adoption awareness initiatives and research-based advocacy efforts. To learn more, visit davethomasfoundation.org, or call 1-800-ASK-DTFA.