LGBTQ+ couples who have decided to adopt a child in California have far greater adoption benefits than those available to similar couples in neighboring states. As one of the nation’s leaders in LGBTQ+ focused legislation, California provides adoptive and biological parents with many of the same parental rights regardless of physical characteristics, including gender and sexuality.

What are the benefits of adopting a child as a same-sex couple?

The benefits for same-sex couples looking to adopt include various opportunities to;

  • Share your lives and experience parenthood.
  • Develop special relationships with the child and their birth parents.
  • Provide a safe and loving home to a child in need, and
  • Raise more empathetic and open-minded children to situations outside of expected social norms.

On the national scale, California has been a leader in creating legislation protecting the equal rights of the LGBTQ+ population. Therefore same-sex couples looking to adopt a child are virtually treated the same as heterosexual couples in the eyes of California Family Law.

Adoption Benefits: Subsidies

In California, families who adopt a child from the foster care system may be eligible to receive adoption assistance benefits. For the most part, the policies and practices regulating the allocation of adoption subsidies are dependent on the foster care state the child was in before the adoption.

Parents in California who are in the process of adopting a child with special needs from the foster care system are encouraged to apply for adoption subsidies. Depending on the history of the specific child being adopted, federal and state adoption assistance programs may help parents meet their adoptive child’s unique and often high costly needs.

Adoption Assistance Program

The California State Legislature created the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) to provide stability and security of a permanent home for children through adoption. The AAP is an entitlement program that provides medical and financial coverage to aid the adoption of children who would otherwise remain in the foster care system long-term. Children who are AAP eligible may receive benefits funded either federally or non-federally as determined by state guidelines.

Adoptive parents may claim AAP benefits by completing a request before the adoption is finalized. Further, adoptive parents are not required to claim or receive the AAP benefits simply because their child is eligible. If the adoptive parents wish to deny the benefits, they are encouraged to sign a deferred agreement to suspend the benefits. However, adoptive parents still retain the child’s eligibility should the parents decide to request them at a future time.

How much Can I Receive from Adoption Benefits?

Under the AAP, the negotiated amount of the benefits a family will receive are based on the child’s needs and the financial circumstances surrounding the adoptive family. The benefits amount might not exceed the child’s amount for their care if they had remained in the foster care system. The reasoning behind this is due to the program’s nature. Adoption subsidies support adoptive parents in meeting their child’s long-term needs. However, there are several other benefits the child may receive. Examples of the AAP benefits that an AAP eligible child may receive are below:

  • Medicaid coverage through Medicaid or Medi-Cal
  • A negotiated monthly stipend
  • Up to 400 dollars in reimbursement of nonrecurring adoption expenses per child per adoption
  • Payment for eligible out of home placements
  • Payment for eligible Wraparound services
  • Depending on the circumstances, benefits may continue in subsequent adoptions
  • Regardless of the adoptive families country or state of residence, benefits will continue, and
  • If the child is eligible, benefits will continue until the age of 21

If the adopted child is eligible to receive AAP benefits but requires a higher level of supervision and care, they may accept an additional Special Care Increment (SCI). Likewise, children who are eligible to receive California Regional Center services and are developmentally delayed may be eligible to receive the dual agency rate in addition to the qualified supplemental rate. Overall, each adoption subsidy that a family receives is based on the child’s eligibility and needs. The parents’ sexuality does not influence the amount that LGBTQ+ couples can receive in adoption subsidies.

Employer Offered Adoption Benefits

Typically, the benefits offered by employers to adoptive parents are the same as those provided to new biological parents. Generally, employer-provided adoption benefits fall into three categories: Financial assistance, parental leave, and information resources. Depending on the employer, several benefits may be offered to adoptive parents.

Financial Assistance

Financial benefits provided by an employer can take various forms. Most commonly, employers use one of the following approaches:

  • Payment of certain adoption-related fees
  • Partial reimbursement for adoption-related expenses
  • A lump-sum payment for an adoption. In these instances, the amount is determined by the employer.

Most frequently, employer-provided financial assistance covers adoption agency fees, legal fees, or court costs. Some employers may even cover the costs associated with foreign adoptions, medical bills, transportation, pregnancy (if applicable), counseling, or temporary foster care charges. On average, reimbursement plans cover approximately 80% of itemized expenses up to a certain amount. If the adopted child has special needs, some employers provide employee reimbursement at a higher rate. Typically, the employer will determine whether the financial assistance will be based on the number of adopted children. While some employers may reimburse their employees as adoption costs occur, most California employers will pay the benefits upon completing the adoption.

Parental Leave

Federal law requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon adoption or the child’s birth. Some employers even allow employees to take more than 12 weeks of unpaid leave. This will enable them to use any accumulated paid leave they may have such as paid vacation or paid sick leave. Thus, extending their leave period after becoming a new parent. Other employers offer paid leave for employees who have adopted a child or are bound by a union contract. In addition to the federal requirement, many states have laws relating to parental leave and its application to adoptive parents. Uniformly, California law allows adoptive parents, regardless of their gender or sexuality, to have 12 weeks of family leave per year.

Information Resources

Lastly, employers may provide their employees with the following information relating to the following resources:

  • Referrals to adoption agencies, organizations, and support groups
  • Access to knowledgeable adoption specialists
  • Employer-provided assistance with special adoption situations.

Employers tend to partner with a human resources consulting firm to provide information resources to their employees Nonetheless, employer-provided adoption benefits are not exclusive to heterosexual couples. There may be some differences in comparison to same-sex couples. However, most California employers provide the same benefits regardless of sexuality.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has more questions regarding Adoption Assistance Benefits, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further inquiries. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.