29 Mar #166 – Integrity Idea 022: Adopt Adoption
ESSENCE: Integrity Ideas are specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Adopt Adoption
COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action): Practices
COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt): Highly Covert
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees/Community/Kingdom
Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. “Adopt Adoption” is about adopting practices and benefits that are specifically designed to support employees who adopt a child. It recognizes that adoption should be encouraged because it reflects the heart of God for orphans and the “fatherless”, it is a redemptive response to wreckage of a broken world, it furthers the commandment to love our neighbor, and it aligns with Imago Dei by respecting the value and dignity of a person. It also recognizes that adoption can be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive process, and that families who adopt a child need support just like families that give birth to a child. It is about prioritizing the flourishing of people over profit. “Adopt Adoption” is one way to lead faithfully through business a better way by curating and reinforcing a caring and compassionate organizational culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
Integrity Ideas are specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. You can find more Integrity Ideas at Integrous | Integrity Ideas (integriosity.com)
Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. We believe some are critical (and necessary) steps in the RENEW/RE-ALIGN/RE-IMAGINE/RESTORE process. Others are just ideas to be considered if they feel like a good fit based on what leaders prayerfully discern is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY.
“Adopt Adopting” is an employee benefit, and we believe employee benefits usually fall into the “if its a good fit” category. However, if an organization provides benefits to employees in connection with the birth of a child, then not providing similar benefits to an employee who adopts seems incongruous. A culture aligned with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities certainly should not be seen as supportive of childbirth but unsupportive of adoption.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Adopt Adoption
“Adopt Adoption” is about adopting practices and benefits that are specifically designed to support employees who adopt a child.
It recognizes that adoption should be encouraged because it reflects the heart of God for orphans and the “fatherless”, it is a redemptive response to wreckage of a broken world, it furthers the commandment to love our neighbor, and it aligns with Imago Dei by respecting the value and dignity of a person. It also recognizes that adoption can be a stressful, time-consuming and expensive process, and that families who adopt a child need support just like families that give birth to a child.
“Adopt Adoption” is one way to lead faithfully through business a better way by curating and reinforcing a caring and compassionate organizational culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. If an organization provides benefits to supportive childbirth, such as paid maternity/paternity leave, “Adopt Adoption” is also an act of justice, extending similar support to those who enter the world of parenting through adoption.
There is no doubt that adoption furthers God’s desire for His children.
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction (James 1:27)
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5-6)
Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. (Matthew 18:5)
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (Isaiah 1:17)
Adoption also aligns with the idea embodied in Imago Dei that every human is created with value in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It also exemplifies living out the great commandment to love your neighbor. John Piper sums it up with wonderful simplicity:
Adoption is the visible gospel.
Others have captured the beauty of adoption as a redemptive act in a broken world.
Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in the broken world. (Katie. J. Davis)
Belonging to a family is a natural and vital component of life, and every child deserves to be a member of a loving and nurturing family. (Ronald Reagan)
To adopt a child is a great work of love. When it is done, much is given, but much is also received. It is a true exchange of gifts. (Pope John Paul II)
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (named after the founder of Wendy’s) commissioned a Harris Poll which “highlighted that almost 10% of American adults were adopted, 40% have a close connection to adoption through family or friends and 37% of Americans who have not adopted have seriously considered it.”
For a faithful leader seeking to lead faithfully through business a better way, the question is whether and how to support employees who choose to embark on the redemptive journey of adoption. We think the answer should emerge naturally from whether and how the organization supports employees in childbirth. The United States does not mandate maternity or paternity benefits beyond unpaid maternity leave (but some states do). The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also requires organizations with 50 employees or more, and all public agencies, to grant 12 weeks of unpaid adoption leave.
If an organization does provide additional benefits for employees who have a child, we believe justice demands considering appropriate benefits to support employees who adopt. While it may not be financially practicable for an organization to provide maternity and paternity benefits beyond what is required by law, we believe leading faithfully requires thinking about childbirth and adoption benefits as two sides of the same coin.
The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture. The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.
Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.
“Adopt Adoption” is on the Practices Continuum. It is a practice the organization can adopt to affirm its commitment to the Biblical principles of Imago Deo and love your neighbor, to reflect and reinforce its purpose and values, and to care for its employees.
COVERT-OVERT RATING: Highly Covert
The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.
Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale. Some can vary depending on how they are implemented. We identify “Adopt Adoption” as Highly Covert (An action that would be taken by a secular company) because every organization could and should strive to care for employees during major life events and promote the well-being of employee families.
For the past 16 years, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has published a list of the top 100 companies for adoption-friendly programs. In 2022, the list spanned 22 industry groups, including manufacturers, insurance companies, banks, private equity firms, law firms and universities, among others.
“Adopt Adoption” can also be Overt (An overtly faith-based action known generally within the organization) if the leaders of the organization choose to explain its importance in terms of Imago Dei, loving your neighbor, and caring for the “orphan” and the “fatherless”.
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees/Community/Kingdom
When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.
“Adopt Adoption” principally serves employees by caring for their well-being and the well-being of their family. It also enriches the community by helping provide a home to a child, and it furthers the Kingdom by supporting a redemptive act of love.
Adoption is the visible Gospel. (John Piper)
Adoption is a beautiful way of building a family and fulfilling God’s call to care for the orphaned and the vulnerable. However, adoption can also be a challenging and stressful process that requires a lot of time, money, and emotional support. Adoption can be a long and complex process that involves legal fees, travel expenses, medical exams, and more. It can also take a toll on the physical, mental, and emotional health of the adoptive parents and their children.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (“DTFA”) is a tremendous resource for a faithful leader considering “Adopt Adoption”. Their website includes information about organizations offering adoption benefits as well as a free toolkit to help employers get started.
Providing supportive benefits for employees going through the adoptive process can be part of curating and reinforcing a culture of caring, compassion and generosity. When considering “Adopt Adoption”, here are a few types of support and questions to consider, largely borrowed from the DTFA toolkit:
• Financial Assistance:
• It is reported that the cost of adoption can range from $20,000-$40,000 for a domestic adoption and up to $50,000 or more for an international adoption, not accounting for costs related to a special needs child. According to DTFA:
Most employers use the IRS definition of “reasonable and necessary expenses directly
related to the adoption of a child,” which may include agency and application fees, home
study costs, attorney fees, court costs, transportation, lodging and immigration.
Some employers also include post-adoption services and counseling.
• DFTA reported in 2022 that “on average, employers that completed the survey offer $12,000 in financial reimbursement, which is up 9.5% from 2021.“
• Care should be taken to consider the tax implications of assistance. The DTFA toolkit provides information regarding how to establish a program that qualifies as an adoption assistance program under IRS regulations so that benefits are not taxable to employees.
• Unpaid or Paid Leave.
• Although certain employers are required by federal law to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for adoption and some states require more, time for a family to bond with a new child and adjust to heir “new normal” is an important benefit to consider.
• DTFA reported in 2022 that, based on employers who responded to their survey, “the average amount of paid leave is 8.3 weeks, which is up 8% since 2021.”
• Other Supportive Benefits.
• In addition to financial assistance and leave, other ways to “Adopt Adoption” include support such as emotional counseling, connecting employees to adoption networks and support groups, providing flexible work schedules as an employee adjusts to their new family, celebrating an adoption in the workplace, educating employees about adoption, providing teaching about how adoption aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
The DTFA toolkit also addresses a number of questions to be considered when implementing “Adopt Adoption”, such as:
• Who will be eligible for benefits? We believe it should align with eligibility for childbirth benefits. Tax benefits impose some requirements and limitations on eligibility.
• What types of adoptions will be covered? For example, will adoption of relatives qualify?
• What expenses will be covered and up to what amount?
• When can financial assistance benefits be received? For example, can expenses be reimbursed at various stages in the adoption process even (e.g., application fees) even before an adoption is finalized.
• In the case of a new program, can benefits be requested retroactively for past or ongoing adoptions?
• What procedures will be put in place to claim reimbursement?
• Will the program be handled internally or outsourced?
• How much leave will be provided? Will it be paid or unpaid? Will it be available to secondary caregivers (like paternity leave for a childbirth)?
Although not addressed by DTFA, a faithful leader must also consider whether the program will be overt about why it aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities? If so, how? Business as usual may say that supporting adoption is good for business because it helps attract and retain employees, strengthens employee loyalty and productivity, and enhances a “family-friendly” image.
For a faithful leader seeking to lead faithfully through business a better way, aligning “Adopt Adoption” benefits with child-birth benefits is simply the right thing to do as part of RE-ALIGNING the culture with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. It is about prioritizing the flourishing of people over profit.
As a point of reference, the organization that ranked #1 in DTFA’s 2022 survey was Ferring Pharmaceuticals, offering unlimited financial reimbursement for adoption costs and 26 weeks of paid leave to adoptive parents.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): When I think about “Adopt Adoption” and caring for “the least of these”, I also think about caring for the unborn, which also includes caring for mothers faced with an unplanned pregnancy. People label themselves “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, but I don’t know anyone who calls themselves “pro-abortion”. I recently heard a talk (and had a long follow-up conversation) with Roland Warren of CareNet. Roland described what he calls “pro-abundant life”.
He explained that often the “choice” faced by a mother is abortion or a life of uncertainty, broken dreams and possibly poverty. For various reasons, the expectation of the “abundant” life Jesus declares in John 10:10 is not one of the “choices” she sees for herself or the baby. Does “pro-life” often disregard this reality that can push a woman toward the choice of abortion? Does “pro-choice” even recognize this third faith-centered possibility that might move a woman toward the choice of “life”?
What do we need to do, as people of Biblical faith, as the “church” and as a society (and, for men, as fathers), to ensure that the “birth” choice facing a mother is one that promises abundant life? Whether you identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, I urge you to listen to Roland describe the current problem with both terms as well as a compassionate path forward (a link to one of his talks is below, but note it is a talk to a group of men). God already designed a “third way”.
Pro-Abundant Life - Roland Warren
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