Thursday, August 31, 2006

Time Off For Adoptive Parents

Many companies are now offerring adoptive parents time off from work akin to maternity leave:

KATIE LEDBETTER, who is expecting a baby girl late this year, has delighted in the fawning of baby-obsessed colleagues, the cooing commentary on the joys of parenthood and the feigned laments over the loss of social life and sleep.

But because she is adopting instead of giving birth, Ms. Ledbetter, who works for Standard Register, a document services company based in Ohio, was initially told she was not entitled to the six to eight weeks of paid leave offered to pregnant employees.

Then in January, an ebullient manager told Ms. Ledbetter to check her e-mail. Effective this year, a memo to the company’s 3,500 employees read, Standard Register would offer adoptive parents four weeks of paid leave and up to $4,000 in financial assistance. Ms. Ledbetter, her manager told her, would be the first recipient. “It was like a gift from God,” said Ms. Ledbetter, 45, a customer service specialist in the company’s Charlotte, N.C., office. “When you are in this adoption mode, you just come to expect obstacles. I was so very, very touched to know my company backed us.”

With more than 100,000 Americans adopting each year, adoption benefits are becoming a hot new perk in the panoply of workplace benefits. Whether paid time off, reimbursement for costs or both, the benefits help parents defray hefty adoption fees and afford bonding time with new children. Just as important, recipients say, the assistance sends the message that adoptive families are as valued and worthy of support as biological families are.


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