SAP Senior Technical Consultant, United States
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What an incredible benefit to offer families whose dream is to complete their families.
#ThankfulforSAP: adoption benefits help completing families
by Raffi Jehanian
Our adoption journey started with a family trip to Armenia in 2013, with no adoption plans in mind. As the vice-chairman of the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), I wanted to combine sight-seeing with some education for my daughter, Teni, to learn the rest of the world isn’t as fortunate as she is.
Our first stop was The Our Lady of Armenia Summer Camp in Tzagadzor run by the Mother General of the Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Arousiag Sajonian. Every summer, she hosts a free summer camp for more than 1,200 orphans and underprivileged children throughout Armenia. We spent a week living with these children, so Teni could share their experiences first-hand.
An instant connection
On a visit to The Our Lady of Armenia Center, the local orphanage in Gyumri, we met a little girl named Anna Ter-Poghossyan, and we were instantly drawn to her. We couldn’t explain it, but I remember saying to my wife Danielle that we should adopt her. Immediately, we started questioning ourselves: are we ready for this?, how will this affect Teni?, can we afford it?.
After returning to the U.S., we kept thinking of Anna and decided to sponsor her through SOAR. What was immediately clear was that sponsoring her wasn’t enough. We wanted to make Anna a part of our family.
Doing our homework
I looked into the adoption process, the required trips we would need to make, the time off we needed to make this happen, and I got a little nervous that the cash and vacation time I saved might not be enough to make it happen. Imagine my surprise when I started looking on SAP’s benefits website that SAP provides $10,000 of adoption assistance for qualifying expenses and 6 weeks of adoption assistance leave (in addition to the 5 weeks of vacation I already had)!
Our dream of adopting Anna was more realistic thanks to these benefits.
Going for it
Our decision made, I sat down with my manager, and told him about our family’s intentions. It was met with nothing but encouragement, so we started the process officially on January 2, 2015. I needed to make 2 trips to Armenia before the actual, extended trip to bring her home.
During the next 12-18 months, I took some time off to make the trips and was also able to work from Armenia remotely for a few days. This flexibility made the process so easy for us. In addition, SAP’s adoption assistance team did everything to make the process go as seamlessly as possible. At one point, I was getting low on funds but was assured I could provide receipts and get reimbursed immediately. At the same time, I learned this benefit is written “for each adoption attempt”. What an incredible benefit to offer families whose dream is to complete their families.
Bringing Anna home
Two and a half years after we started the adoption process, the time had finally came for us to bring Anna home. Teni was taking a class trip to Armenia at the same time we were going to pick up Anna, and it was incredible to have both my daughters in the same place for this wonderful event.
I took 5 weeks off so I could go to court and finish all the paperwork in Armenia and was told to take more time if I needed to. This couldn’t have taken more pressure off me as an employee, so I could focus on the most important task at hand: to get our Anna.
After 31 months, we brought Anna home on Monday, July 10, 2017.
Without SAP, I am not sure we would have decided to do this at all as we thought we couldn’t manage it on our own. For helping us complete our family, we are #thankfulforSAP.
After 1 year of service, employees may take up to 6 weeks of paid time-off within the 12-month period of obtaining custody.
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