Policy Manual

Adoption Assistance

The purpose of the University of Pennsylvania Adoption Assistance Policy is to provide financial support to eligible Penn faculty and staff members who are adopting a child. The Adoption Assistance Plan Document governs the provisions of this Policy. The following details supplement the Plan with information to help faculty and staff avail themselves of this benefit.


All University of Pennsylvania ("University") active full-time faculty with a benefits-eligible title, regular full-time staff, and limited service staff are eligible to participate in the Plan after completing their first year of employment. Time as a temporary, part-time, or student worker is not counted toward this one year of employment requirement. To be eligible, a limited service staff member must work at least 35 hours per week for nine or more months of the year. If an employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the employee will be eligible to participate in the Plan only to the extent provided in the provisions of the applicable collective bargaining agreement.


Adoptions are eligible for reimbursement when the following conditions are met:

  • The faculty or staff member meets the eligibility criteria (see Section 413.1).
  • In the case of a foreign adoption, the adoption has been finalized.
  • In the case of the adoption of a child who is a citizen or resident of the United States, the adoption proceedings have been finalized or formally terminated.
  • The reimbursement request is submitted within six (6) months of the adoption's finalization (foreign and domestic adoptions) or formal termination (domestic adoptions only).
  • The expenses meet the definition of "qualified adoption expenses" (see Section 413.3).
  • The child meets the definition of eligible child (see Section 413.4).


The Plan provides reimbursement only for "qualified adoption expenses" (with receipt of payment), which are reasonable and necessary expenses that the faculty or staff member incurs in the form of:

  • Court costs,
  • Attorney's fees,
  • Traveling expenses, including the amount spent for lodging and meals, while away from home, and
  • Other expenses directly related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child.

The following expenses are not eligible for reimbursement under the Plan:

  • Expenses incurred in violation of state or federal law,
  • Expenses incurred in carrying out any surrogate parenting arrangement, and
  • Expenses incurred in connection with the adoption of a child of the eligible faculty or staff member's spouse or domestic partner.


In general, the term "eligible child" means any child who has not attained age 18 or who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care and who is not the child of the employee's spouse or domestic partner.


To obtain reimbursement, an eligible employee must submit all of the following:

  • A completed Adoption Assistance Plan Reimbursement Request Form
  • Documentation of all fees, costs and other expenses incurred in connection with the adoption of an eligible child. You must provide receipts, canceled checks, credit card statements, and/or paid stamped invoices confirming payment.
  • For the adoption of an eligible child who is not a citizen or resident of the United States: 1) a final decree of adoption by a competent authority of the foreign-sending country establishing a parent-child relationship under the laws of the foreign-sending country, as well as 2) evidence that the child has been issued the appropriate visa from the State Department of the United States.
  • For the adoption of an eligible child who is a citizen or resident of the United States: a final decree of adoption or documentation of the termination of the adoption proceedings.
  • Reimbursement requests must be submitted within six (6) months of the date of the documentation of the adoption's finalization (foreign and domestic adoptions) or formal termination (domestic adoptions only).
  • Documentation of all expenses must be submitted at the time you submit the reimbursement request. Additional expenses submitted afterwards will not be reimbursed. 

The reimbursement request form and substantiating documents should be sent as follows:

Intramural mail:
Human Resources
Quality of Worklife
3624 Market St., Suite 1 A South
Mail Code 2615

U.S. Mail:
Human Resources
Quality of Worklife
University of Pennsylvania
3624 Market St., Suite 1 A South
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2615


The University will reimburse an eligible employee up to a maximum of $5,000 of "qualified adoption expenses" may be reimbursed for the adoption of an eligible child or children. There is a limit of up to two adoptions per household for the lifetime of employment with the University. If siblings are adopted simultaneously, this will be considered as one adoption for the household and up to $5,000 of reimbursements is allowed for each child adopted at that time. The $5,000 maximum reimbursement for one eligible child is an aggregate rather than an annual amount, even if the expenses occur over a period of years.


Human Resources/Quality of Worklife will review requests for reimbursement and determine if the adoption costs qualify for reimbursement, up to the reimbursement limits. After all questions have been resolved about the costs and accompanying documentation (i.e., whether the expenses are eligible, appropriate documentation confirms that the adoption has been finalized, etc.), the reimbursement request will be processed through Workday and the reimbursement amount will be added to the faculty or staff member's paycheck.


The federal tax laws addressing adoption assistance plans are found in section 137 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and the regulations thereunder. These benefits may be exempt from federal income taxes, and the University will not withhold federal income taxes. However, tax exemption may not be available (or may be less than expected) for faculty or staff members with personal or joint income levels above certain dollar amounts. In addition, federal law provides a tax credit for adoption expenses that are not reimbursed by an employer or paid under a state or federal grant program. Because individuals must elect between the tax credit and reimbursement under this Plan for the same expenses, and because for some taxpayers, the credit might produce a lower overall tax liability, we recommend that employees seek tax advice regarding this benefit.

Benefits under the Plan are not exempt from FICA, state and city taxes.


The Plan is administered by Human Resources/Quality of Worklife.  For additional information about the Plan, please call 215-898-7372 or contact us online.

Policy Number: 413
Effective Date:  08/31/2011
Last Reviewed Date:  03/27/2019
Revised Date:  07/01/2019
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 413 (7/1/2009)
Applicability:  All active full-time faculty with a benefits eligible title, active regular full-time staff and regular staff in limited service positions
Cross-reference: Policy 115, Policy 412, Policy 616, Policy 631

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