Zillow’s New Adoption Benefits Help Bring Toddler Home

Doug was ready to take advantage of Zillow's benefits when the time came to finalize the paperwork to adopt a child.

At times Doug Foral is still surprised to see three little ones running around his home. Foral, a longtime Zillow employee, and his wife, Maddie, are now enjoying the whirlwind created by a 6-year-old, 3-year-old and their recently adopted 2-year-old, Milo.

Adoption had been a desire of the Forals since their first child, Ada, was born.

“Something about becoming a mother to this beautiful little girl changed Maddie from the inside out,” Doug said.

So when Zillow added adoption assistance to its benefits package, Doug was among the first to take advantage of the offering — to help them finalize the paperwork to adopt a child from China.

The benefits, added to the company’s enhanced family-friendly package in January, extend up to $5,000 in coverage for employees. Eligible expenses include adoption agency or placement fees, attorney’s fees and court costs and required immunizations. Travel and lodging fees can also be reimbursed.

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The couple in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China with Milo. Photo by Doug Foral.

Foral, a general manager and site director at Mortech in Zillow’s Lincoln, NE office, said he was pleasantly surprised to have the additional resources and extremely grateful for the benefits.

“The assistance was very generous,” he said.

Sara Charhon, a representative from Zillow’s human resources department, said the adoption benefit is a great example of the company’s family-friendly culture.

“Zillow is a company that cares about its employees and their families. This benefit allows us to assist employees in their journey to be parents, and relieve some of the financial burden,” Charhon said.

For Foral, two of the most taxing aspects of the adoption were all of the paperwork deadlines, followed by long periods of waiting.

The entire family visits dad at work. Photo by Austin Lehr.

When they received a few photos and videos of their son-to-be, emotions were even higher. Milo seemed quiet but intense, taking it all in — an observer of life — they could tell already. But those photos and videos were only making the waiting harder.

Another major moment came in February, when the Visa application process was completed.

“It just felt so good to roll into bed that night knowing that we could check one of the final boxes in our process,” he said.

In April, he and his wife were finally able to board a plane to China to bring Milo home. Zillow offers up to four weeks of paternal leave within a year of a child’s birth or adoption, allowing the couple to spend 16 days in China.

But Doug admits he checked his email frequently during the trip, emailing his team at odd times to keep them updated.

“I am thrilled to have other Zillowites to share life with, to work for a company that understands work-life balance and an opportunity to live life making an impact on others,” Doug said.

When the family returned home, they spent another week enjoying the transition and addition of their newest little one. Doug’s last week of his paternal leave is being saved for later this summer, when Milo will need cleft palate surgery so he can eat and speak properly.

Milo and his new siblings all wearing Chinese clothing brought home as souvenirs. Photo by Doug Foral.

Milo is “pretty much what we expected him to be like,” Doug said. “He loves to make us laugh. He is always ready with a smile and a hug.”

Mother’s Day and Milo’s second birthday coincided this year — bringing unexpected delight — just weeks after the family returned from China.

Foral said he and his wife are excited for the future and what it holds for their family.

“This particular life experience was another opportunity for us to step out in faith and help completely change the life of our little boy,” he said.

Art imitates life. In the latest Zillow commercial, a couple meets their newly-adopted son.