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New $5k benefit helps employees who adopt

The bridge between work and family for some Ohio State employees might be getting a little smaller with new benefits.

For a parent adopting a child, costs can add up, and Ohio State offers a $5,000 employee-adoption benefit for parents looking to adopt a child. The money covers legal fees, agency costs and immigration costs. An employee can also receive three weeks of paid leave as an adopted parent.

Katie Purcell, a work life manager at OSU, said about 200 employees have been helped through this program.

“I think it’s just a way for the university to be inclusive of those parents who choose to start their families this way, and to be supportive of that,” Purcell said.

According to Purcell, the $5,000 benefit comes from the Work Life at OSU benefit budget.

Some students feel that money in OSU’s budget should be put elsewhere.

“It is a good thing, but I feel that Ohio State should invest in a couple other things first before getting into something like this,” said Jana Robinson, a fifth-year in strategic communication.

Robinson said she believes the money should be used to help students.

“It is a school and I feel the students should be a priority,” Robinson said.

Work Life recently received a reward from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption as the fifth-best employer for adoption benefits in the state of Ohio.

“It’s important for the university because we have more engaged and productive employees whenever they feel like they’re able to manage all expectation of them whether it’s at home or (at work),” Purcell said.

For some employees, adoption is an option but there isn’t a need to use the available benefit.

Two years ago, Lucille Talbert, a supervisor for Facilities Operations and Development, had a circumstance that didn’t call for a large fee for adoption.

Talbert’s aunt passed away after battling from symptoms of an enlarged heart and pulmonary hypertension.

“(My aunt’s) wishes were that ‘If anything happened to me, take my daughter and raise her; I don’t want anybody else but you,'” Talbert said.

When Lucille’s aunt, Regina, first got sick, they went to court and worked it out so there would be shared custody of Regina’s daughter, Laytonna, now 12. Talbert said there wasn’t any other paperwork or fees once she gained full custody and adopted Laytonna because there was already an agreement in the system.

“In the midst of me adopting Laytonna, I’ve been working at the university for three years and have recently become a homeowner,” Talbert said. “It feels good having her home and she wanted to come into the home and be accepted into our family.”

For employees who instead go through an adoption agency, the benefit does have additional criteria. The reimbursement does apply for biological relatives of either parent, according to the human resources benefit overview book.

The employee adoption benefit does not cover medical exams or personal items for the parent or child, and also states that the child must be under 18.

“I think what they’re doing is great,” Talbert said. “I just didn’t need to use it.”

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