Oklahoma companies offer benefits to employees adopting children

Adoption assistance is growing in popularity as a corporate perk, studies show. In Aon Hewitt's 2013 survey of 1,000 major U.S. employers, 52 percent offered an adoption benefit, up from 12 percent in 1990.
by Paula Burkes Modified: January 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: January 19, 2014
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“It's great to work for a company that provides an adoption benefit,” he said. “It's nice to see them put the commitment behind family, no matter how the family is built. Every child deserves a loving home and a forever family.”

‘No expectation'

Robert, an IT professional of Edmond who asked that his last name not be used because of privacy reasons, agrees. His company, GE Oil & Gas, contributed $8,000 each toward the adoptions of his daughter, 3, and son, 7 months.

“I had no expectation to get any financial help from my employer, but it was a great surprise,” said Robert, 44. His previous employer, The Wood Group, didn't offer the benefit, but was acquired by adoption-friendly GE months before his first adoption was finalized.

“Between the assistance and the tax credit, nearly all of our expenses were covered,” Robert said.

Moreover, GE offers up to two weeks' paternity leave, but he instead took a week's vacation after the separate births of his children.

Tax break

If their companies have written adoption assistance policies in place, employees may exclude financial adoption assistance from their taxable incomes, Internal Revenue Service spokeswoman Lea Crusberg said.

The excluded assistance must be applied first toward qualifying expenses, which include reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and traveling expenses, she said.

Any remaining expenses over the amount taxpayers exclude — up to $13,190 in 2014 — generally can be claimed in the form of a tax credit, which is an offset against the taxes owed that year, she said.

Any balance in the credit can be carried forward to the next tax year to potentially offset taxes owed, but the credit can't be given as a refund, Crusberg said.

Taxpayers who have modified adjusted gross incomes of more than $237,880 for 2014 can't claim the income exclusion or the tax credit. Those with incomes under $197,880 can claim full tax advantages and those with incomes in between may claim a partial exclusion and/or credit.

AT&T and State Farm also, upon finalization of adoptions, reimburse Oklahoma workers up to $5,000 per child for qualifying expenses. State Farm Spokesman Jim Camoriano said his company offers the benefit, which was launched in 1998, to full-time and part-time employees as well as agents. Full-time employees receive four weeks of paid adoption leave for the primary caregiver.

“We process 45 to 60 requests per year,” Camoriano said, “and pay out approximately $200,000 to $300,000 annually for this benefit.”


by Paula Burkes
Reporter
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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At a glance

Adoption assistance

Corporate adoption benefits:

Many companies offer adoption benefits to their employees, ranging from financial assistance to cover attorney fees, travel costs and other expenses to paid and unpaid parental leave. Interested employees should contact their human resources managers regarding potential benefits. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption also maintains a list at adoptionfriendlyworkplace.org/employer.

Unpaid job leave:

The Family Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius to provide up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for parental matters, including adoption, foster care and birth of a child. Eligible employees must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave begins.

Other financial assistance:

Adoption grants are offered by several organizations, including the National Adoption Foundation — fundyouradoption.org, showhope.org, helpusadopt.org (offering grants of up to $15,000 regardless of marital status or sexual orientation), damonsdance.com (an Oklahoma fund created in memory of a toddler); lifesongfororphans.org (Oklahoma churches which have partnered with Lifesong to launch adoption funds include Church at Battle Creek in Broken Arrow; Council Road Baptist in Bethany, New Beginnings in Bixby and Wildwood Community/Forerunner Fund in Norman).

Tax savings:

The Internal Revenue Service allows taxpayers, with 2014 modified adjusted incomes of $237,880 or below, to exclude all or part of any financial adoption assistance they receive from their employers from their taxable incomes and claim a nonrefundable credit of up to $13,190 a child for qualifying adoption expenses.

Children adopted through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services:

Generally, adoptive parents are reimbursed for day care until children turn 6 and paid a stipend of roughly $348 per child until they graduate from high school and receive free health care for their children through Medicaid.

SOURCES: Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services, The Internal Revenue Service and licensed social worker/adoptive mom Gidget Warner

Did you know?

More than 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted in the U.S. foster care system. Every year, some 23,000 turn 18 and age out of the system without families.

SOURCE: The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

It's great to work for a company that provides an adoption benefit. It's nice to see them put the commitment behind family, no matter how the family is built. Every child deserves a loving home and a forever family.”

Curtis Corcoran,
Senior project manager in Chesapeake's information technology department

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