The Most Adoption-Friendly Workplaces In America Were Just Announced, & Here Are Some Of The Top Contenders

Last week, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a nonprofit dedicated to finding homes for children in foster care, released its annual list of the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces in America. The Wendy's Company tops the 2015 list (no surprise), paying out up to $25,300 in adoption assistance and up to six weeks of paid leave to its workers. But there were plenty of other biggies on the list, too.

In case you never watched those commercials in the '80s, Dave Thomas was the founder and former CEO of Wendy's. Thomas himself was adopted at six weeks of age, and he devoted his life to advocating for adoption. Although it's now a publicly traded company, Wendy's has kept Thomas' spirit alive by continuing to support the DTFA to this day.

Street Insider reports that the employers on the list offer an average of $7,600 in adoption assistance and almost six weeks of paid leave. Some also offer unpaid leave above and beyond what's mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), ranging from one week to three years. The list also recognized industry leaders in adoption support, recognizing companies who offered their employees additional benefits, such as adoption education, and who provide adoption services as part of their employee assistance programs. Also included in the release are the country's five most foster-friendly employers.

As DTFA President and CEO Rita Soronen told Yahoo, "Employers who offer adoption benefits understand that the initial needs of adoptive families are no different than families formed biologically — it helps ensure all families are treated equally by companies. We are elated to see even more companies in the last year implement adoption-friendly and foster care-friendly benefits."

According to the DTFA, there are more than 100,000 children currently in foster care waiting to be adopted. Every year, 23,000 such children age out of the system, leaving them with no support or resources. While private adoption can often cost tens of thousands of dollars, adoption through the foster care system costs from nothing to $2,500. Foster care adoption is also more flexible on parent qualifications than private adoption — making it an easier option for gay couples and single parents, for example. If you're considering adoption, visit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption's website for more information.

So who made the list, exactly? You might be surprised. Here are some of the more well-known honorees.

Monsanto

Monsanto is an agriculture company that helps support farmers all over the world. It also runs the Monsanto Family Network, which is dedicated to helping employees balance work and family. In total, Monsanto provides adoption benefits of up to $7,500, and 20 days off with pay. In a statement to Businesswire, Jayme Collins, Monsanto Global Total Rewards Lead, said “Monsanto believes in providing employees with benefits that enable the right balance of work and family life – including support for our employees in the process of adopting. We’re honored to be recognized as an adoption-friendly workplace by the Dave Thomas Foundation.”

Hanes

Hanes offers employees $15,000 in adoption benefits, and an additional $5,000 for special-needs adoption. They also provide two weeks paid leave. Annamarie D’Souza, Hanes vice president, human resources global compensation and benefits, told 3BL Media, “Being honored for the fifth consecutive year validates the company’s continued effort to impact the lives of adoptive parent employees. Our adoption-friendly policies give employees looking to adopt the support and benefits needed to move forward in the process of becoming a parent.”

New York Life Insurance Company

New York Life offer $10,000 in adoption reimbursement, four weeks paid leave for the primary caregiver, and one week paid parental leave for the secondary caregiver. In a release on the company's own website, Maria Mauceri, vice president of benefits, said “We are honored to be recognized as one of America’s Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces for the eighth consecutive year and we are especially proud to lead our industry in the rankings for the fourth year in a row.”

AstraZeneca

The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca offers up to $5,000 in adoption reimbursement, as well as seven weeks of paid leave to care for adopted children or foster children. The company's blog quotes sales employee Jason Devine, whose family took advantage of the program in 2008: “I was overwhelmed by the grace and understanding AstraZeneca extended to me during the entire adoption process, including preparation time, travel time, actual adoption, and extended paid leave thereafter. The extended amount of paid leave immediately following the adoption was instrumental in allowing my wife and me to stay at home with our daughter to help reduce any transitional or attachment issues that sometimes occur with adopted children.”

ConAgra Foods

ConAgra offers $6,000 in adoption assistance, and two weeks of paid leave. “It is an honor for ConAgra Foods to be named to this list,” said Niki Theophilus, senior vice president, human resources. “This is great recognition of our efforts to support individual employee needs and help them maintain a healthy work/life balance.”

This is great news for all families looking to adopt — and perhaps looking to change jobs. The recognition these companies are receiving should cause more employers to follow suit. We need to do all we can to make sure that kids looking for families, and families looking for kids, can find each other.

You can check out the full top-100 list of the most adoption-friendly workplaces right here.

Images: ferran pons, Marcel Oosterwijk, John Mitchell, e-Magine Art, Trebz/Flickr