Adoption Resources and Benefits
Grand Valley State University recognizes that faculty and staff choose to build their families in many ways. To support faculty and staff who are adopting, GVSU provides adoption resource information and financial reimbursement.
Eligibility Requirements All full time and part time faculty and staff are eligible for adoption benefits upon hire. If a faculty or staff member and their spouse both work at GVSU, only one member can utilize the benefit.
An eligible adopted child is defined as being under 18 years of age. Kinship adoptions qualify for this benefit, however stepparent adoptions do not qualify.
Adoption Leave of Absence
GVSU realizes the process of adopting a child can be very time-consuming and difficult. Therefore, faculty and staff members may be eligible to apply for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or a personal leave of absence. Visit the Human Resources website and click on policies for more information on FMLA.
Faculty and staff members are requested to provide their Appointing Officer with as much preliminary information on their request for time off as early as possible.
What Does the Adoption Process Usually Involve?
1. Researching Different Types of Adoptions - information regarding the adoption process, adoption issues, types of children available, costs, etc. can be gathered from adoption organizations, the Internet and libraries.
2. Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney - in Michigan you can use an adoption agency or attorney to facilitate the adoption paperwork. If you choose an attorney, you must still use an agency for the home study and supervision. An adoption agency is licensed by the state in which it operates. State social services agencies usually handle special needs adoptions only.
3. Application and Approval Process - to be approved to adopt, a family needs to participate in a series of interview or group meetings and a home visit by a social worker.
4. Referral of an Available Child - this is often an exciting and anxious time as the wait for a referral can be unpredictable and the family will not know for sure when the adoption will happen.
5. Placement of Child and Finalization of Adoption - Although a child may be placed with a family, the adoption may not be legally finalized until six months to a year later. For inter-country adoption, the child may have to be legally adopted in his/her birth country.
6. Adjustment Period - welcoming a new family member, whether infant or older child, requires a great deal of change and adjustment.
Adoptive Family Support Network (AFSN) - Located in Grand Rapids, AFSN is a grass-roots, community-based non-profit agency offering volunteer parent-to-parent support and information to all members of adoptive families. AFSN does not facilitate adoptions, but provides adoption resource and referral information; a mentor program for adoptive families; a quarterly newsletter; a bi-annual local adoption conference; and training and educational programs.
Warmline - non-crisis telephone adoption information and referral line that is staffed by trained AFSN volunteers. Calls are answered within 24 hours and the telephone line is open 24 hours a day.
AFSN Office - for information regarding the organization's activities, newsletter mailing list and volunteer opportunities.
Qualifying adoption expenses will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $3,000 per child. Qualifying expenses are defined as those that are reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expenses while away from home, and other expenses related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of a child.
Process for Applying for Benefits
Upon formal placement of the adopted child, submit an adoption assistance claim form to Human Resources at 140 Lake Michigan Hall (LMH) along with detailed receipts for eligible expenses. Human Resources will determine eligible expenses, the amount payable for reimbursement and will submit a request to the Payroll Office for payment. The reimbursement will be processed with the next payroll.
Taxation of Benefits
The amount of tax credits and exclusions available to adopting parents vary. Since an employer's adoption assistance is not subject to income tax withholding, GVSU will not determine the extent to which the payment of reimbursement on behalf of each employee is eligible for the exclusion. However, GVSU will withhold taxes only for Social Security and Medicare.
Adding Dependent to Insurance
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At the time of placement, you may add your child to your benefit plans. Any additions or changes must occur within 30 days of the official placement. Contact Human Resources at 331-2220 to add dependents.