Friday, June 27, 2008

Adoption Crusade

As Justin and I have thoughtfully and prayerfully contemplated the matter, we are going to pursue adoption as well as my Lupron fertility treatments. This is the last straw for us as far as fertility treatments go, so we wanted to be proactive with adoption since it can take so long.

We have been learning about the process and researching numerous agencies, talking to people who have gone through the process, and doing a lot of pondering. One of the biggest hurdles is the costs of adoption. We are expecting to spend around $15,000 in this process. It is a huge amount of money for us to come up with basically overnight, but I know that we will find a way to make this happen. The scary thing is that after spending all the money, the adoption is not guaranteed because the birth mother can still change her mind at any point until the papers are signed no sooner than 48 hours after the baby is born.

As I have been researching funding options, I have discovered that nearly 50% of companies in America offer adoption benefits as part of their standard employee benefits package. These benefits will usually cover certain fees--such as agency and lawyer fees--or a set amount of money regardless of the costs. It is not legally mandated, but many companies believe that adoptive parents deserve comparable financial benefits as biological parents.

So my crusade is forge a proposal and lobby my company to begin offering these benefits. I have a supervisor who is enthusiastic and very supportive of this project and is helping expand it by involving more and more people. The more voices that can be heard, the better. I am excited and hopeful about this proposal. Our CEO has strong company values and believes in doing things because "it is the right thing to do."

I am trying to get as many voices involved as possible. If you work at my company and feel this is a cause you can get behind and voice your opinion about, I would greatly appreciate your involvement in this effort.

Again, 50% of companies in America offer these benefits. Mine doesn't. On average, less than 1% of employees use this benefit, so it is a very cost effective way for a company to be more family-friendly and competitive in the marketplace. I've researched local hospitals and ob-gyns. My company (a self-insured company) pays about $9,000 on each healthy birth of an insured employee. I feel that it is fair to ask for the same amount in adoption benefits. Even if my crusade results in less money than that, any amount will help. Most adoptive parents are a lot like me--they have spent a lot of out-of-pocket money on fertility treatments and procedures before turning to adoption.

I am excited with the support I have received so far and I will keep you posted on how my mission goes!

(By the way, if anyone else reading this blog would like to contribute to the Zierke Adoption Fund, I would greatly appreciate it. Any amount will help.)


Groff Family said...

Hey Lara! I think it's great that you are taking this step. My friend here in Reno, Tara, just adopted a baby last summer through LDSFS, and she said that everything, 100% of adoption fees are tax refundable (not just the $12,000). I will give you her email if you would like to talk to her about it. Good luck! I hope that you are able to make some headway with your company and the adoption benefits. I can't believe that they don't offer it, I mean, live in the NOW! Let us know how we can help!

Katherine said...

Lara, you are a true inspiration. Way to make your voice heard. I can see this going places.


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