Adoption Considerations for Airline Pilots
Congratulations on starting the path to adopt a child (or children)! There are numerous things to consider, such as your home study, financial resources, and time off/bonding time. We’ve put together this handy list to help you get started:
- Start with your employer.
Ask your airline’s Human Resources Department, or equivalent, if they offer any financial assistance or other services specifically related to adoption.
- Research your ALPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Your CBA may contain provisions related to taking time off, usually under Leaves of Absences. Look for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and parental leave paragraphs. Sometimes adoption requires several separate time off blocks. For example, the first block to meet the child, and a second block for the placement and subsequent bonding leave. Determine what you can use for your required/desired time off such as sick leave, personal time off, vacation, kin care, parental leave, etc. Frequently these provisions can be a bit confusing. Don’t hesitate to contact your ALPA Master Executive Council’s family/parental committee or your local council representative for additional guidance.
- Check government/state benefits.
- United States: Don’t overlook any potential state benefits (usually by the state you are based, not where you live). Some states require employers to provide time off for adoption. Various states, such as Colorado, New York, and California, have state-paid family leave benefits programs that provide financial payments to new parents as well as state subsidy programs.
- Canada: Some provinces and territories, such as Alberta and Quebec, provide financial adoption assistance.
- Review laws.
- United States: The Special Rules for Airline Flight Crew Employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act spells out what an eligible airline flight crew employee is entitled to.
- Canada: The Employee Insurance maternity and parental benefits can provide financial assistance to parents.
If you need any further assistance, contact the ALPA Family Assistance Working Group at FamilyAssistanceGroup@alpa.org.
Many pilots have successfully added to their families through adoption. The adoption process is complex, and each family’s experience is unique.
Family Medical Leave
You may be eligible to use up to 12 weeks of continuous unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) during a rolling 12-month period after the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, as long as you have 12 months of service. Visit the FMLA page for more information.
Eligible married employees at the same company may have to share a 12-week FMLA leave for the adoption, or foster care placement of a child. Check with your company for details.
A pilot may be able to use earned paid vacation while on FMLA for the birth of a child, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. Paid vacation will run concurrently with unpaid FMLA leave. Contact your company about using your paid vacation if it is available.
Your company may have eligible bonding leave to use. Check your collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or contact your company for information.
Personal Leave of Absence
Finally, you may be eligible to request an unpaid personal leave of absence (PLOA). Check with your company and CBA for more information.
You may have some benefits paid for a period of time on PLOA, and then have to pay inactive premiums or other insurance. You may also be able to continue non-rev travel benefits, if applicable. Check with your company for details.
State Paid Family Leave
State paid family leave (PFL) is a benefit provided by state law to care for a family member, including bonding. The use of state PFL is governed by the laws of the state where you are based, not where you reside. For more information, visit our page on State Paid Family Leave.
Family Status Change
With a change in family status, do not forget to enroll your child in medical, dental, and/or vision coverage for the current benefit year, as well as add your child to any pass privileges.
Many companies have a benefit to help families with adoption and travel expenses. Check your CBA and company benefits manual for more information.
Pilots are encouraged to consult with a tax advisor or attorney with regards to tax implications, including a tax credit for adoption.