Growing up, the only thing I knew about National Adoption Month was from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption signs I would see in the Wendy’s drive-thru. Admittedly, I ate a lot of Wendy’s in college.
But several years ago that all changed when I made the decision to become an adoptive parent. Those fast food public service placards didn’t prepare me for the intensive home study process, the rigorous parental trainings, and especially not the wait.
My international adoption journey started in early 2020. When I chose the country of Haiti, I had no idea what pain and turmoil that special slice of the world was about to endure. An assassination. The pandemic. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
And escalating gang violence.
Not surprisingly, Haitian adoptions have been interrupted by this chaos. I often wonder if I’ll ever get my child. Or if my child is already born and if so, what their life is like living in such instability.
Caring for Your “Waiting” Coworkers
When you’re waiting for a child match, there are no baby bumps or ultrasound appointments. Without these obvious signs, you might feel like your workplace doesn’t remember what you’re going through. Here are four ideas to support “waiting” coworkers:
- The adoption process requires lots and lots of reference letters. Do what my amazing Alloy colleagues did and offer to write letters for your coworker.
- Consider using observances like November’s National Adoption Month to spotlight adoptive and waiting parents in the same way that your company does for Mother’s/Father’s Day.
- Check in to see when it would be appropriate to hold a shower. Just remember that timelines, genders, and ages are often in-flux, sometimes making it difficult for the parent to know exactly what they’ll need.
- Be Flexible because sometimes the adoption process can move really slowly and other times it can move very quickly. Your colleague may need to fly to another state or country last minute.
- Ask! Don’t be shy about checking in every few months to see how the process is going.
Being an Adoption-Friendly Workplace
It’s estimated that 1 to 2 million adults in the U.S. are currently waiting to adopt. This isn’t an insignificant number when you consider that 6 million women are pregnant at any given time in America.
Therefore, employers should make sure their benefit programs are inclusive of adoption. Things to consider when reviewing your parental leave policies:
- The Family Medical Leave Act states that parental leave begins when the legal finalization of adoption occurs, but it does not cover the time adoptive parents must spend traveling to visit/receive their child. For example, some states require you to stay within their borders for up to two weeks before bringing the child to an out-of-state home, and if it’s an adoption-at-birth situation, you could be waiting in the hospital for days before being able to leave. International adoptions can be even more complicated – Haitian law requires parents to spend two weeks in the country for an extended supervised visit after matching with a child.
- Adoptions cost anywhere between $20,000 to $100,000. That’s why some corporations now offer adoption assistance programs to help with “reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the adoption of a child.”
Adoptive children and their families have beautiful and unique life experiences that they bring with them to the workplace, making it more inclusive and vibrant. At Alloy, several of our crew members are also members of the adoption community. I asked them how being a part of an adoptive family has shaped them as a professional and here’s what they said:
When my mother was adopted, she left her siblings and her home country for a better life in the U.S. Her adoption gave me the freedom to choose. The choice of who I wanted to be as a person, the career path I wanted to take and even the hobbies I want to enjoy. I’m thankful for it every day.
My son was adopted at birth and we were matched two weeks before he was born. The hecticness of getting prepared meant that I was not able to fully focus at work. Working for a company that allowed me to be flexible with my time, supported me during the process, and offered a good paternity leave benefit made it all a little less stressful.
Alloy is consistently named one of the best creative agencies to work for, in part because our robust benefits package is inclusive of all parents. Instead of artificial perks, we offer meaningful benefits – check them out here.