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Adoption Assistance Program

Columbia University offers the Adoption Assistance Program to help with the costs incurred by adoptive parents. Full-time, regular Officers and full-time, regular Non-Union Support Staff are eligible for this program.

The benefit reimburses up to $5,000 per adoption provided you are a full-time eligible employee, and is available for incurred expenses on or after your first day of full-time employment.

If you adopt two children at the same time, the maximum reimbursement is $10,000 for the combined expenses. If both you and your spouse/same-sex domestic partner are eligible Columbia Officers or Non-Union Support Staff members, you are eligible for a maximum $10,000 reimbursement per adoption ($20,000 for a simultaneous adoption of two children).

The reimbursement appears in your paycheck. No federal, state, or city taxes will be withheld. In accordance with IRS requirements, however, FICA and Medicare taxes will be withheld.


Full-time, benefits-eligible Officers and Non-Union Support Staff who are in the process of adopting, or have recently adopted a child can apply for reimbursement under the Adoption Assistance Program. The adopted child must be under age 18 when a qualified expense is paid or incurred. Further, he or she may not be the child of the Officer’s spouse or same-sex domestic partner.

If you leave the University, you remain eligible for reimbursement of qualified expenses that you incurred while you were employed at Columbia. You must submit your claim within 31 days of your employment end date.

Eligible Adoption Expenses

Qualified adoption expenses are: reasonable and necessary adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses directly related to, and whose principal purpose is for, the legal adoption of an eligible child (whether or not the adoption is finalized). These may include:

  • 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

Qualified expenses do not include:

  • Any expenses that violate state or federal law
  • The costs of carrying out any surrogate parenting arrangement
  • Expenses for the adoption of your spouse's or same-sex domestic partner's child
  • Costs paid using funds received from any federal, state, or local progra
  • Expenses allowed as a credit or deduction under any other federal income tax rule
  • Expenses already paid or reimbursed by another employer or other party
Applying for Reimbursement

To apply for reimbursement, complete the Adoption Assistance Form (PDF/Word). You must submit an application for reimbursement within six months of the date an adoption becomes final (or when the adoption process is terminated) or you will not receive any reimbursement.

Acceptable documentation of eligible expenses consists of original itemized bills accompanied by receipts or canceled checks, along with paperwork that demonstrates that a legal adoption is under way, or has been finalized or terminated.

The HR/Benefits website is intended only to provide information for the guidance of Columbia University Officers, staff and union employees. The writers of the content have exercised their best efforts to ensure accuracy of the information, but accuracy is not guaranteed. If there are any discrepancies between the information on the website, verbal representations and the Plan documents, the Plan documents will always govern. The information is subject to change from time to time, and the University reserves the right to change or terminate these Plans at any time. The information contained on the website is not intended to replace the plan documents, nor is the information in any way intended to imply a contract.