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Growing Your Family with Stanford’s Adoption Assistance Benefit

“Adoption is extremely expensive, which is unfortunate,” says Dr. Joseph Kim, clinical associate and chief of pediatric hospital medicine in the School of Medicine. “Money shouldn’t be an obstacle to providing a home to a child who needs one.”

Dr. Joseph Kim and his family
Joseph Kim and his family.


Joseph and his wife had always wanted to adopt a child and were matched domestically with their newborn son, Jace, in 2015. “With the Stanford adoption assistance benefit and the government tax credit, we were able to subsidize a significant cost of the process.”


Stanford offers benefits-eligible employees adoption assistance that reimburses up to $10,000 per adoption for qualified adoption expenses. To utilize the benefit, faculty and staff must work at least 50% full-time and have an assignment that is scheduled to last six months or longer. The adopted child must be under the age of 18 at the time the adoption expense is paid or incurred.

In 2015, the cost of an international adoption averaged $42,000 and a domestic newborn adoption averaged $38,000 (source). In that same year, the Federal adoption tax credit was $13,400, which leaves a substantial financial burden on the adopting parent. This does not include the cost of travel expenses. Aside from the cost to travel to your child, you may have to stay longer, in many cases to await a hospital duration, health check-ups, paperwork processing or legal timelines.

Shannon Silva, business and program manager in the School of Humanities & Sciences, shared her experience with the program.

 “We spent Christmas in China that year,” recalls Shannon. “It was two weeks of finalizing paperwork before we were able to bring Maddie home.” Shannon and her husband had been trying to grow their family, and were experiencing fertility issues when she overheard a coworker share her adoption story. “I remember how she said it completed her family. It was at that time that I learned about the adoption assistance benefit that Stanford offers,” Shannon says. “The benefit allows you to grow your family without assuming a lot of debt.” 

The Stanford Adoption Assistance Benefit can be used on two adoptions with a maximum benefit of $20,000.


Shannon Silva and her family in China
Shannon Silva and her family in China.

“We thought we were done,” Shannon says. “Then, my husband and I started discussing growing our family again and Maddie, who has albinism, expressed wanting a sister who looked like her.” Shannon’s second daughter, Emily, has been home three years in January. “The whole family was able to travel to China to bring her home,” she says. “With the adoption assistance, we really only had to cover travel expenses.”

After the rigorous and emotional experience process of adoption, both Joseph and Shannon expressed their happiness with the process of using the adoption assistance benefit. “I was surprised at how easy and smooth it was. It was one form with a receipt attached, then the benefit was in my paycheck,” describes Joseph. “It was refreshing how little red tape there was.” He adds, “I hope more employees take full advantage of this. It’s a tremendous benefit and I appreciate that Stanford encourages adoption and supports you and whichever way you grow your family.”

Shannon agrees, “It doesn’t matter to Stanford how you do it, they are going to support you.”

To learn more about the Adoption Assistance Program, visit the Cardinal at Work website or schedule a one-on-one consultation with the WorkLife office.

Footnote: changes to the taxability of the benefit are currently pending.

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