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. It 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 have recently adopted a child can apply for reimbursement under the Adoption Assistance Program. The adopted child must be under age 18 when an eligible 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 an employee uses the Surrogacy Benefit, the employee is not eligible to use the Adoption Assistance benefit for the child born of the surrogate mother.

If you leave the University, you remain eligible for reimbursement of eligible 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 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

Eligible 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 program
  • 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

To apply for reimbursement, complete the Adoption Assistance Application Form.

You must submit an application for reimbursement to the Benefits Service Center within six months of the date the adoption becomes final (or when the adoption process is terminated). You will not be reimbursed during the adoption process.

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 has been finalized or terminated. Examples of acceptable documentation include adoption agency statements on letterhead, attorney/lawyer invoices on letterhead, canceled checks (personal or certified), credit card receipts/statements, and money orders. Documentation of a cash payment is not acceptable.

If originals cannot be produced for review, or cannot be kept in your file, notarized copies are acceptable forms of documentation.

If upon review of your claim for reimbursement, a portion of, or your entire claim is denied, you will be notified of this denial in writing, within a reasonable amount of time. The determination of the AVP of Benefits, Central HR, with respect to your claim shall be binding and final. Should you wish to bring a civil court action challenging the denial of a portion of, or your entire claim, you must file any such action within one (1) year following the issuance of the denial notice. In addition, any such action must be filed in a court of competent jurisdiction with venue in New York County.

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, the University reserves the right in its sole discretion to change or terminate, in whole or in part, the Program at any time.