Adoption & Foster Care


Adoption is a legal process that creates a parent-child relationship between persons not related by blood; the adopted child is entitled to all privileges belonging to a biological child of the adoptive parents. There are three primary types of adoption are domestic, international, and within family.

Foster care is the temporary care of a child who has been placed outside his or her own home in order to give her or him a safe, stable, and nurturing environment during a period of family disruption. Foster parents work with the state agency towards finding a permanent home for the child. In New York State the Office of Children and Family Services evaluates and certifies or approves potential foster parents.

Officers who adopt a child or accept a foster child into their home are eligible for many of the same policies and benefits as parents with biological children.  In addition, the Adoption Assistance Program will reimburse eligible faculty and staff for certain expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child.

Additional informational resources are available through the Employee Assistance Program, including articles on a wide-range of adoption-related topics such as:

  • How to begin the adoption process
  • Costs associated with adoption
  • Key questions to ask an adoption attorney
  • Foster parent adoption
  • Adoption considerations for single parents
  • International adoptions

For more details, visit the Humana/HRI website (username: columbia; password: eap).

Adoption Assistance Program

The University's Adoption Assistance Program assists full-time, benefits-eligible officers and non-union support staff with the often substantial costs incurred with adoption. Eligible officers and non-union support staff are entitled to a reimbursement of up to $5,000 per adoption for qualified expenses incurred on or after your first day of full-time employment. The reimbursement appears in your paycheck. If you adopt two or more children at the same time, you may submit up to $10,000 in expenses for reimbursement.  If both you and your spouse or same-sex domestic partner are Columbia Officers or Non-Union Support Staff members, you are eligible for a maximum of $5,000 each ($10,000 to the couple for the single adoption of one child).


A partial list of expenses covered by the Adoption Assistance Program includes:
  • public or private adoption agency fees permitted or required under the law of the state having jurisdiction over the adoption,
  • legal and court fees
  • fees for medical and hospital services provided to the child (not otherwise covered by insurance)
  • traveling expenses associated with the adoption, including transportation, meals, and lodging
  • immigration, child's immunization, and translation fees
  • temporary foster care charges provided before placement of the eligible child in the employee's home
Please see Benefits at Columbia for a complete list of expenses that qualify for reimbursement, and instructions on how to submit for reimbursement. The adoption of your spouse's or partner's child is not covered under this program.

Adoption and Foster Care Information Resources

The following is a list of websites containing helpful information about adoption and foster care.  Columbia University has no affiliation with these organizations; the links below are for information purposes only.

  • AdoptUSKids: Allows prospective adoptive parents to view photos and learn about children waiting to be adopted.   

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The information on this website is a summary only, prepared for general informational purposes, and is not a complete description of the University's policies and benefits. No decisions affecting your family or your future should be based solely on the information presented on this webpage.