EMPLOYEE ADOPTION BENEFITS

Increasing numbers of forward-thinking corporations now offer adoption benefits as part of their employment benefit package. Corporations such as Apple Computer, Inc., Coca-Cola, Gannett Company, IBM, Time Warner, Walt Disney Co. Wendy's International, and others provide their employees with time off for adoption financial assistance to adopt and other benefits designed to promote adoption.  These and other companies also offer financial assistance, some up to $5,000.00, to defray the cost of adoption.

If your company doesn't offer an Adoption Assistance program yet, now is a good time for you to present the concept for implementation!

Military members on active duty also may now receive reimbursement for up to $2,000 of adoption fees through licensed adoption agencies.



 
     ADOPTION BENEFITS: EMPLOYERS AS PARTNERS IN FAMILY BUILDING

In 1990, a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates reported that 98 of 837 major U. S. employers (12 percent) provide employees with some type of adoption assistance. The numbers may not seem large;
they show, nevertheless, a significant increase over previous years and a growing recognition of the higher priority the workplace gives to family concerns.

Women in the workplace particularly welcome corporate support for their decision to adopt. Traditionally, women have suffered both emotionally and financially after the birth or adoption of a child. A recent study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research reveals that working women who bear or adopt children lose earnings of $31 billion annually. Those who have no leave time benefits available incurred an additional $607 million loss in earnings.

Adoption Benefits Plans

An adoption benefits plan is a company-sponsored program that financially assists or reimburses employees for expenses related to the adoption of a child and/or provides for paid or unpaid leave for the adoptive parent employee. Financial assistance may be reimbursement for specific costs or a set amount of money, regardless of actual expenses. Adoption leave may be paid or unpaid and provides the time following the adoption for the parent to help the child bond and feel comfortable. Some companies offer a combination of financial help and leave time.

Often, companies offer adoption-related benefits, but they are not part of a separate adoption benefits plan. They may be offered under general employment leave or maternity/paternity benefits.

As part of their adoption benefits package, a growing number of companies are contracting with human resources consulting firms to provide their employees with adoption information, support, and referrals to licensed adoption agencies and organizations. An adoption specialist is available by telephone to answer questions about the adoption process, types of adoption, locating and selecting an agency, and managing special situations, such as stepparent or legal risk adoptions. The Partnership Group in Lansdale, Pennsylvania,

Work/Family Directions, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts, Working Solutions, Inc. in Portland, Oregon, and the Dependent Care Connection in Westport, Connecticut, are some of the human resource organizations that provide this assistance. Among the major corporations that offer this benefit are Aetna, AT&T, DuPont,
Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Johnson and Johnson, and Microsoft.

Why Would a Company Offer Benefits?

Equity: Two of the most compelling reasons for a company to offer benefits are equity and fairness. Employees who choose parenthood through adoption should receive benefits comparable to those who
have children biologically. We've always paid excellent maternity benefits, and we felt that adopting parents also have certain needs that we want to meets says Lia Brassord, manager of employee insurance
at Stanley Works of New Britain, Connecticut.

Low cost: Since few workers actually utilize the benefits, the cost to the company is low, assuring compatibility with cost containment concerns. An informal survey of companies shows that fewer than 2
percent of all employees use the adoption benefit. "We have found this benefit to be very well received by employees, and very cost-effective.

We currently experience from two to six adoptions per year. I would endorse the adoption allowance to any employer contemplating it," states Michael McDermott, Senior Director of Human Resources,
G.D. Searle & Co., Skokie, Illinois.

Good will: The company receives a lot of good will and positive publicity for its sensitivity to its employees. In addition, workers tend to feel greater loyalty when given this extra consideration. This may lead to a lower company turnover rate. "Benefits come from the needs of people. With something like adoption assistance, employees appreciate its existence and employers benefit from the good will it creates," says Christine Seltz, Consultant, Hewitt Associates, Lincolnshire, Illinois.

Social benefit: Children and families are the beneficiaries of the company's support of adoption. The benefits may make the difference in a decision to adopt, which can be particularly meaningful for the growing number of available children with special needs who live in foster care or institutions. "Everyone benefits from an adoption benefit plan: the community, the company, and the employees," exclaims B. Miller, Vice President, Human Resources and Compensation, with a Chicago-based communications firm.

Acceptance by companies: More and more companies are offering benefits packages and many want to keep pace with their colleagues. In addition, legal actions have consistently supported the equity  consideration.

An executive at the Xerox Corporation says that company benefits made "a world of difference" when she adopted two boys from Korea 5 years ago.

"When we adopted," says Susan, "the total cost was $5,000, and  Xerox defrayed $2,000 of that. I thought it was great, and a very appropriate ratio for them to cover. It showed me that Xerox supported family values and was serious about helping me to have the family I wanted."

Wendy Starr, Manager of the Life Cycle Programs and Policies at Xerox in Stamford, Connecticut, says, "The program is very well received here. We average about 50 people a year using it. Some years we've even had up to 75 people take advantage of it." In 1979 when the program started, Xerox reimbursed $1,000 of the adoption costs; now they will pick up $3,000 of the bill.

An executive from Xerox's Human Resource Department who adopted says, gAs a personnel manager I was well aware of the benefit program, and I knew that Xerox was extremely sensitive to adoption as an option. The fact that they just increased their reimbursement proves that. They also gave me a leave of absence. I
can't speak highly enough of management's commitment. It's there whether you adopt or have a baby biologically." She adds that, "The company doesn't just send you a reimbursement check, but a very nice
personalized letter. It's an excellent benefit."

Who Is Eligible for Benefits?

Adoption benefits are usually available to all regular employees. In some cases, the employee needs to have worked for the company for a specific amount of time; in others, enrollment in a company insurance plan is required. The designations used by many companies for those eligible are full-time salaried Permanents or "regular" employees.

How Do Plans Actually Work?    What Expenses Are Covered?

Coverage varies widely, with benefit amounts ranging up to $6,000 per adoption. The most common approaches are:

  Reimbursement for specific expenses;

  Specific "set" allowance, regardless of expense; or

  Reimbursement or coverage through the company's medical plan for medical expenses only.

Most often, employees are reimbursed for a given percentage (80 percent appears to be the norm) of specific itemized expenses. Virtually all plans have a ceiling, with the median reimbursement being about $2,000. The most frequently covered expenses are public and  private agency fees, court costs, and legal fees associated with the adoption. Newer policies have broadened coverage to include foreign adoption fees, medical costs, temporary foster care charges, transportation costs, pregnancy expenses for the birth mother, and counseling fees associated with the placement and initial adjustment.

When a specific allowance is offered, employees receive a lump sum regardless of actual costs. Allowances usually range from $500 to $1,000, with more companies paying at the higher end. If more than one child is adopted, some companies pay only one allowance while others pay an allowance per child.

The least common approach covers only the medical costs of adoption through company medical insurance plans. So far, this approach has been used only in specific, limited situations with tightly defined eligible medical expenses.

It may also be possible for companies to provide coverage for adoption-related legal expenses bv including adoption in company-sponsored group legal plans for employees.

When Are Benefits Paid?

In most cases benefits are paid after the adoption is finalized. Some companies, recognizing the accumulating expenses and the need for a child to live in the home prior to finalization, are providing
reimbursement earlier, such as when the child is placed in the home or as expenses are incurred. The reimbursement for the adoption of children with special needs is paid after finalization.

Are All Types of Adoption Covered?

In cases where a stepparent wants to adopt, only about half the companies surveyed in a 1980 study covered adoption costs. Among plans implemented more recently, the trend is toward including all
adoptions.

Some of the companies surveyed by the U.S. General Accounting Office in 1989 (67 companies, 7 Federal Government agencies, and 3 nonprofit organizations), had an age limit on the adopted child that determined whether benefits would be paid. Most of those with age limits specify the child must be under either 16 or 18 years of age.

How Do Adoption Benefits and Maternity Benefits Compare?

While most companies recognize the need for fairness to all  employees, adoption benefits have not kept pace with maternity benefits. Since regulations require that pregnancy be treated as any other disability, reimbursements through medical plans have dramatically. This has not been the case for adoptions, since an adoptive parent is not "disabled" by parenthood. Yet, there are companies that try to parallel maternity benefits by steadily increasing the adoption reimbursement. At least one company, Time, Incorporated, bases its maximum adoption benefit on the latest month average of pregnancy costs in the area.

Are Benefits Taxable?

Currently, adoption benefits in the form of cash assistance are federally taxable. However, there are ways for companies to provide employees with non-taxable benefits related to adoption. Medical and legal expenses may be covered under company sponsored group plans, which are currently non-taxable.

Adoption Leave How Prevalent Is It?

An informal poll of companies shows that many provide adoption leave on an individual basis, at the supervisor's discretion. Often, adopting employees can use personal leave time when the child joins
the family or they may use vacation time even though no formal adoption leave exists.

Organized labor has a great interest in parental leave because of the large number of women in the work force. Unions frequently bargain strenuously for leave benefits and are now negotiating for contracts
that provide both birth and adoption language.

Public sector union contracts are more likely to include longer leave provisions. Based on a review of 85 of 4,000 American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees' contracts, 88 percent of union employees may take more than 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Eighty-four percent of these employees are given leave for up to or more than 6 months.

Other unions have been less successful. The International Ladies Gannett Workers has fewer than 50 contracts with a parental leave policy that includes adoption. Carriers in the airline industry, for the most part, do not specify adoption benefits plans in their contracts.

With the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1992, employers with 50 or more employees, including the Federal Government and the Congress, must offer both male and female employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. The employee is guaranteed his present job or one considered equivalent and the employer is required to continue health benefits during the leave period.

Policies on maternity leave vary from State to State. Minnesota was the first State to require employers to offer parental leave to both the mother and father of a newborn or adopted child. In Minnesota, all   companies with 21 employees or more must offer up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave to both mother and father, who can take the leave at the same time and return to their original jobs or ones with comparable duties and salaries.

Other States that require employers to offer parental leave to adoptive parents include: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts (female employees only), New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin. In addition to these States, Colorado and New York, while not mandating employers to provide parental leave, do require them to offer leave to adoptive parents if they offer it to biological parents. Kentucky parental leave law specifically applies only to adoptive parents.

Types of Adoption Leave

Most companies will allow an employee to take unpaid leave. While companies may offer their employees either paid and/or unpaid leave, the leave may be listed under a heading other than adoption. Paid leave may be defined as: authorized time off, discretionary time, annual or paid personal leave, annual or all-purpose time. The length of paid leave usually depends on the amount of leave time the employee has accrued. In some cases, a maximum duration of paid leave is set by the company.

Unpaid adoption leave may be considered personal leave, child care leave, personal hardship leave, or medical leave. Most companies offer limits ranging from 2 weeks to 1 year, with the median at 6 months. Some companies, however, set no time limits, but prefer to be open or negotiable, depending on individual circumstances.

Typical Company Plans

Given the differences in the size and economics of companies, there is no single adoption benefit plan that fits all companies. The following are examples of typical plans that are presently offered:

Wendy's International, headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, covers eligible adoption expenses up to a maximum of S4,000 per adoption for employees who have completed 1 year of service and participate in the company's Group Insurance Program. For the adoption of a child with special needs, Wendy's will reimburse up to $6,000 per adoption. Financial assistance will cover specific adoption-related expenses, such as licensed adoption agency fees, legal costs, state-required home study and charges for temporary foster care before placement.

A paid leave of absence is available upon assuming custody of the child, with the amount of leave
determined by the employee's length of service. Unpaid leave must be approved by the employee's supervisor and the human resources department.

American National Can Company of Chicago, Illinois, reimburses for 80 percent of eligible adoption expenses up to $2,000 per adoption. The reimbursement covers reasonable and customary public and private agency fees, reasonable and customary legal fees, court fees, reasonable and customary charges for necessary medical expenses not covered under any other available flexible benefits option, and temporary foster care charges when their payment is required immediately preceding the child's placement.

The Campbell Soup Company of Comedian, New Jersey, offers salaried employees financial reimbursement of up to $2,000 for adoption-related expenses, payable when the adoption is finalized. In addition, the company may give some paid leave to adoptive parent employees based on their length of service. Additional unpaid leave is available for up to 60 days with the approval of the employee's supervisor. This plan is available to both male and female regular salaried employees.

General Mills, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, specifies that benefits will be given to regular, active, salaried non-union employees working 50 percent or more of the standard work week with at least 1 year of
service. The company reimburses 80 percent, up to $1,500, for these expenses: legal fees, court and Government fees, agency and foreign adoption fees, birth mothers' pregnancy expenses, travel expenses,
child's medical expenses, and temporary foster care. Coverage includes adoption of stepchildren and private adoption (where legally permitted) in addition to licensed agency adoptions. The company allows for unpaid time off according to the company's parental leave policy.

INTEGRIS Health-OKC reimburses $2500.00 for adoption; They stand behind the FMLA and are a very strong supporter of adoption.

Tile Procter & Gamble Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, reimburses employees for up to $2,000 of eligible expenses at any time after the child is placed in the family's home and considers each child separately
in the case of multiple adoptions, permitting a maximum of $6,000 payable to any one family within a 1-year period. Employees with at least 6 months of continuous regular employment may be reimbursed, up to the $1,000 maximum, for recognized adoption agency fees, placement fees, maternity fees for the birth mother, temporary foster care fees, and legal fees. The company specifically excludes the following adoption-related expense items from reimbursement: transportation expenses, professional counseling to the adopted
child's biological parents, institutional expenses (e.g., orphanage or unwed mothers home), fees related to legal guardianship, fees related to adoption of adults, illegal adoption services or procedures, or contested legal actions.

Xerox Corporation of Stamford, Connecticut, acknowledges that because adoption costs vary depending on such factors as geographic location, the nature of the adoption agency, and income of the prospective parents (or parent), the intent of the program is to provide some level of assistance to employees who wish to adopt.  Xerox  reimburses regular full-time or part-time employees who adopt with up to $3,000 in expenses such as: public and private agency fees, legal and court fees, medical expenses (including physical examinations for adopting parents and maternity expenses for birth mothers), foreign adoption fees, and temporary foster care charges.

Summary

Adoption has become an accepted method of building a family. Employers sensitive to family issues recognize the importance of adoption benefits to those considering adoption. Many companies find
that offering monetary and/or leave benefits has created good will within the company, has incurred minimal costs, and has engendered a positive public image.

The appendices that follow the Preferences" section of this fact sheet provide the following information:

Appendix I: Companies Offering Adoption Benefits

Appendix II: Other Adoption Assistance Programs

Appendix III: Other Adoption Activities for Employees in the Workplace

Appendix I

Companies Offering Adoption Benefits

Appendix II

Other Adoption Assistance Programs

In addition to employer-provided benefits, those who adopt children with special needs are entitled to reimbursement from other sources.

State Reimbursement

A reimbursement for non-recurring adoption expenses (agency fees, legal costs, and transportation) is available through each State for families who adopt children with special children from minority cultures.
Half of the expenses are paid through State funds, the other half through federal funds up to $2,000. The benefit differs by State depending on the cost of the adoption, State rules, and public awareness. For example, California will pay only $400 no matter what the cost of the adoption is, while Oregon has done an extensive advertising campaign to encourage the public to take advantage of its fund. The average amount of money given to an Oregon adoptive family through this program is $669.

Military Subsidies

Military families are entitled to a reimbursement of adoption costs up to $2,000 through the Defense Authorization Bill of 1991. The law provides payment for most adoption-related expenses for infant,
international and special needs placements, although travel expenses are not included. There are bills presently in Congress that would provide the same benefit for all Federal Government employees, but as
of April, 1992 they have not yet been approved.

Tax Benefits

At one time, there was a tax benefit for people adopting children with special needs. However, this tax break was repealed by the Tax Recovery Act of 1986. Over the years, various bills have been proposed that would allow a specific dollar amount as a deduction for different types of adoptions. None has yet passed. Contact the coordinator of legislative affairs at Adoptive Families of America for the current status of any legislation in this area.

Appendix III

Other Adoption Activities for Employees in the Workplace

Today's climate, which supports family values so strongly, provides an ideal setting in which to introduce the idea of adoption benefits to your employer and to encourage visible support and encouragement of  adoption. If your company does not provide adoption benefits to employees and you are considering adopting a child, you may want to bring to your personnel manager information about other companies
that provide adoption benefits and suggest that similar benefits be incorporated into the benefits package of your employer. Bringing this article to him or her would be a good way to start that process.

Sometimes an employer needs general education about adoption in order to make a decision about whether or not to offer adoption benefits. In that case, the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse can provide you with brochures, fact sheets, and other literature that will help.

If your company already has a solid adoption benefits policy, or perhaps to increase its interest in having one, you may be able to convince your company to sponsor one or more adoption-related activities. The following are some ideas. Maybe you can come up with some additional ideas of your own.

Try to Persuade your company to become an adoption advocate.
Write or help them develop an article on adoption for the company newsletter. Such an article might feature an employee who has adopted.

Ask the editor of the company publication if he or she will agree to  begin a Waiting Child column featuring children in your State waiting for permanent families. The National Adoption Center in Philadelphia,   Pennsylvania, can help by providing photographs and information on appropriate children.

Get permission to design a special recruitment or adoption education program for your company, including posters, brochures, films, and speakers.

Ask your employer if it would be possible to incorporate an adoption message on company products or services. Examples include slogans printed on shopping bags and packages, place mats to distribute in   family restaurants, and inserts.


     THE FAMILY LEAVE ACT

From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access
[wais.access.gpo.gov]
[Laws in effect as of January 24, 1994]
[Document affected by Public Law 104-1 Section 202(c)(1)(A)]
[CITE: 29USC2611]

TITLE 29--LABOR
CHAPTER 28--FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE
SUBCHAPTER I--GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR LEAVE
 
Sec. 2611. Definitions

As used in this subchapter:

(1) Commerce

The terms "commerce'' and "industry or activity affecting commerce'' mean any activity, business, or industry in commerce or in which a labor dispute would hinder or obstruct commerce or the free flow of commerce, and include "commerce'' and any "industry affecting commerce'', as defined in paragraphs (1) and (3) of section 142 of this title.
 
(2) Eligible employee

(A) In general

The term "eligible employee'' means an employee who has been employed

(i) for at least 12 months by the employer with respect to whom leave is requested under section 2612 of this title; and

(ii) for at least 1,250 hours of service with such employer during the previous 12-month period.

(B) Exclusions

The term "eligible employee'' does not include

(i) any Federal officer or employee covered under subchapter V of chapter 63 of title 5; or

(ii) any employee of an employer who is employed at a work site at which such employer employs less than 50
employees if the total number of employees employed by that employer within 75 miles of that work site is less than 50.

(C) Determination

For purposes of determining whether an employee meets the hours of service requirement specified in subparagraph (A)(ii), the legal standards established under section 207 of this title shall apply.

(3) Employ; employee; State

The terms "employ'', "employee'', and "State'' have the same meanings given such terms in subsections (c), (e), and (g) of section 203 of this title.

(4) Employer

(A) In general

The term "employer"

(i) means any person engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce who employs 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year;

(ii) includes

(I) any person who acts, directly or indirectly, in the interest of an employer to any of the employees of such employer; and

(II) any successor in interest of an employer; and

(iii) includes any "public agency'', as defined in section 203(x) of this title.

(B) Public agency

For purposes of subparagraph (A)(iii), a public agency shall be considered to be a person engaged in commerce or in an industry or activity affecting commerce.

(5) Employment benefits

The term "employment benefits'' means all benefits provided or made available to employees by an employer, including group life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, sick leave, annual leave, educational benefits, and pensions, regardless of whether such benefits are provided by a practice or written policy of an employer or through an "employee benefit plan'', as defined in section 1002(3) of this title.

(6) Health care provider

The term "health care provider'' means

(A) a doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is authorized to practice medicine or surgery (as appropriate) by the State in which the doctor practices; or
 
(B) any other person determined by the Secretary to be capable of providing health care services.

(7) Parent

The term "parent'' means the biological parent of an employee or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a son or daughter.

(8) Person

The term "person'' has the same meaning given such term in section 203(a) of this title.

(9) Reduced leave schedule

The term "reduced leave schedule'' means a leave schedule that reduces the usual number of hours per workweek, or hours per  workday, of an employee.

(10) Secretary

 The term "secretary'' means the Secretary of Labor.

(11) Serious health condition

The term "serious health condition'' means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves

(A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or

(B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.

(12) Son or daughter

The term "son or daughter'' means a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is

(A) under 18 years of age; or

(B) 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.

(13) Spouse

The term "spouse'' means a husband or wife, as the case may be.

(Pub. L. 103-3, title I, Sec. 101, Feb. 5, 1993, 107 Stat. 7.)

Effective Date

Subchapter effective 6 months after Feb. 5, 1993, except that, in the case of collective bargaining agreements in effect on that effective date, subchapter applicable on the earlier of (1) the date of termination of such agreement, or (2) the date that occurs 12 months after Feb. 5, 1993, see section 405(b) of Pub. L. 103-3, set out as a note under section 2601 of this title.

(a) In general

(1) Entitlement to leave

Subject to section 2613 of this title, an eligible employee shall be entitled to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following:

(A) Because of the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and in order to care for such son or daughter.

(B) Because of the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care.

(C) In order to care for the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition.

(D) Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.

(2) Expiration of entitlement

The entitlement to leave under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) for a birth or placement of a son or daughter shall expire at the end of the 12-month period beginning on the date of such birth or placement.

(b) Leave taken intermittently or on reduced leave schedule

(1) In general

Leave under subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(1) of this section shall not be taken by an employee intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule unless the employee and the employer of the employee agree otherwise. Subject to paragraph (2), subsection (e)(2) of this section, and section 2613(b)(5) of this title, leave
under subparagraph (C) or (D) of subsection (a)(1) of this section may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. The taking of leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule pursuant to this paragraph shall not result in a reduction in the total amount of leave to which the employee is     entitled under subsection (a) of this section beyond the amount of leave actually taken.

(2) Alternative position

If an employee requests intermittent leave, or leave on a reduced leave schedule, under subparagraph (C) or (D) of subsection (a)(1) of this section, that is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment, the employer may require such employee to transfer temporarily to an available alternative position offered by the employer for which the employee is qualified and that

(A) has equivalent pay and benefits; and

(B) better accommodates recurring periods of leave than the regular employment position of the employee.

(C) Unpaid leave permitted

Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, leave granted under subsection (a) may consist of unpaid leave. Where an employee is otherwise exempt under regulations issued by the Secretary pursuant to
section 213(a)(1) of this title, the compliance of an employer with this subchapter by providing unpaid leave shall not affect the exempt status of the employee under such section.

(D) Relationship to paid leave

(1) Unpaid leave

If an employer provides paid leave for fewer than 12 workweeks, the additional weeks of leave necessary to attain the 12 workweeks of leave required under this subchapter may be provided without compensation.

(2) Substitution of paid leave

(A) In general

An eligible employee may elect, or an employer may require the employee, to substitute any of the accrued paid vacation leave, personal leave, or family leave of the employee for leave provided under subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (a)(1) of this section for any part of the 12-week period of such leave under such subsection.

(B) Serious health condition

An eligible employee may elect, or an employer may require the employee, to substitute any of the accrued paid vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave of the employee for leave provided under subparagraph (C) or (D) of subsection (a)(1) of this section for any part of the 12-week period of such leave under such subsection, except that nothing in this subchapter shall require an employer to provide paid sick leave or paid medical leave in any situation in which such employer would not normally provide any such paid leave.

(C) Foreseeable leave

(1) Requirement of notice

In any case in which the necessity for leave under subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(1) of this section is foreseeable based on an expected birth or placement, the employee shall provide the employer with not less than 30 days' notice, before the date the leave is to begin, of the employee's intention to take leave under such subparagraph, except that if the date of the birth or placement requires leave to begin in less than 30 days, the employee shall provide such notice as is practicable.

(2) Duties of employee

In any case in which the necessity for leave under subparagraph (C) or (D) of subsection (a)(1) of this section is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment, the employee.

(A) shall make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly the operations of the employer, subject to the approval of the health care provider of the employee or the health care provider of the son, daughter, spouse, or parent of the employee, as appropriate; and

(B) shall provide the employer with not less than 30 days' notice, before the date the leave is to begin, of the employee's intention to take leave under such subparagraph, except that if the date of the treatment requires leave to begin in less than 30 days, the employee shall provide such notice as is practicable.

(C) Spouses employed by same employer

In any case in which a husband and wife entitled to leave under subsection (a) of this section are employed by the same employer, the aggregate number of workweeks of leave to which both may be entitled may
be limited to 12 work weeks during any 12-month period, if such leave is taken.

(1) under subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(1) of this section; or

(2) to care for a sick parent under subparagraph (C) of such subsection.

(Pub. L. 103-3, title I, Sec. 102, Feb. 5, 1993, 107 Stat. 9.)



 
     INSURANCE BENEFITS FOR THE ADOPTED CHILD/REN

The following is a sample letter that may be used to present to the Benefits Coordinator of your employer.
 

Date

To Whom It May Concern:

The purpose of this letter is to confirm that the insured, (name of adoptive couple), are anticipating the adoption of a newborn infant. The birth of this baby is expected on or about (due date)

Upon the moment of birth, the baby will be released to (name of adoptive couple), and will become an immediate dependent of the insured.

The baby will be released from the hospital directly into the custody of (name of adoptive couple.

In accordance with the code section mentioned below, the minor child should be immediately coveted by the adoptive couple's health insurance as a dependent.

California Health & Safety Code, Section 137S (c) states in pertinent part:

(c) Every plan contract which provides coverage to family members or dependents of the subscriber or enrollee shall grant immediate accident and sickness coverage, form and after the moment of birth, to each newborn infant of any subscriber or enrollee covered and each minor child placed for adoption from and after the moment the child is placed in the physical custody of the covered subscriber or enrollee for adoption.
 
No such plan may be entered into or amended if it contains any disclaimer, waiver or other limitation of coverage or insurability of newborn infants of, or children placed for adoption with, a subscriber or enrollee covered as required by this subdivision.


These laws are designed to give adoptive parents and children the same insurance protection as parents have when children are born to them.

Be sure to check for any exclusions in your benefits policy relating to pre-existing conditions. (Note: Many large corporations have self-insured medical programs which may not be subject to state law.)

     FEDERAL TAX CREDIT OF UP TO $5000 FOR ELIGIBLE ADOPTION EXPENSES

An adoption tax credit of $5000 - $6000 has been passed by Congress and is available for expenses incurred after January 1, 1997, if your family's adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less. The credit is gradually reduced for those earning over $75,000, and no more than $115,000. Consult your tax advisor for more information.
 
Complete and file IRS Form 8839 with your 1997 Federal Tax Return

SEC. 6401. CREDIT FOR ADOPTION EXPENSES.

(a) In General. Subpart A of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 is amended by inserting after section 25 the following new section:

SEC. 25A. ADOPTION EXPENSES.

(a) Allowance of Credit. In the case of an individual, there shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this chapter for the taxable year the amount of the qualified adoption expenses paid or incurred by the taxpayer during such taxable year.

(b) Limitations.

(1) Dollar limitation. The aggregate amount of qualified adoption expenses which may be taken into account under subsection (a) with respect to the adoption of a child shall not exceed $5,000.

(2) Income limitation. The amount allowable as a credit under subsection (a) for any taxable year shall be reduced (but not below zero) by an amount which bears the same ratio to the amount so allowable (determined without regard to this paragraph but with regard to paragraph (1) as (A) the amount (if any) by which the  taxpayer's adjusted gross income (determined without regard to sections 911, 931, and 933) exceeds $60,000, bears to (B) $40,000.

(3) Denial of double benefit. (A) In general. No credit shall be allowed under subsection (a) for any expense for which a deduction or credit is allowable under any other provision of this chapter. (B) Grants. No credit shall be allowed under subsection (a) for any expense to the extent that funds for such expense are received under any Federal, State, or local program. The preceding sentence shall not apply to expenses for the adoption of a child
with special needs.

(c) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

(1) Qualified adoption expenses. (A) In general. The term qualified adoption expenses means reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses (i) which are directly related to, and the principal purpose of which is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child by the taxpayer, and (ii) which are not incurred in violation of State or Federal law or in carrying out any surrogate parenting arrangement. (B) Expenses for adoption of spouse's child not eligible. The term qualified adoption expenses shall not include any expenses in connection with the adoption by an individual of a child who is the child of such individual's spouse.
(2) Eligible child. The term "eligible child" means any individual (A) who has not attained age 18 as of the time of the adoption, or (B) who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself.

(3) Child with special needs. The term "child with special needs" means any child if (A) a State has determined that the child cannot or should not be returned to the home of his parents, and (B) such State has determined that there exists with respect to the child a specific factor or condition (such as his ethnic background, age, or membership in a minority or sibling group, or the presence of factors such as medical conditions or physical,
mental, or emotional handicaps) because of which it is reasonable to conclude that such child cannot be placed with adoptive parents without providing adoption assistance.

(d) Married Couples Must File Joint Returns, Etc. Rules similar to the rules of paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) of section 21(e) shall apply for purposes of this section.

(b) Conforming Amendment.

The table of sections for subpart A of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 25 the following new item:

Sec. 25A. Adoption expenses.

(c) Effective Date. The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 1995.