At Hilton, we believe in family. We pride ourselves on creating an environment where Team Members can thrive at work, and at home with their families. We recognize families can form in many ways, including through adoption. That’s why last year we launched the Hilton Adoption Assistance Program, supporting eligible Hilton Team Members through the adoption process.
We sat down with Senior Director of Sales, Rick, who recently adopted two little boys with the help of Hilton’s Adoption Assistance Program, to learn more about the process, his advice for families looking to adopt and how he finds work-life balance as a new father.
Q: Tell us about your Hilton career journey.
A: I was initially hired to assist the pre-opening team for group business at the Hotel Austin. Shortly after the hotel opened in 2004, I moved into Global Sales and relocated to Chicago, but eventually found myself back in Austin where I’ve had the privilege of working remotely for over 10 years.
Q: When did you first decide you wanted to adopt?
A: It wasn’t long after moving back to Austin that I met my partner and now husband, Adam. From the beginning, Adam and I talked about family all the time. We both grew up in families where so much emphasis was put on children and family. We both wanted children of our own, but knew we couldn’t do it alone. I guess you’d say it was a match made in heaven!
Q: What’s something people don’t know about adoption?
A: Once we were approved, we actually adopted quite quickly! However, the approval process to become adoptive parents is usually a lengthy, grueling process. While every state is different, the list of requirements is long and daunting. Adam and I had to do everything from an FBI background check, to vaccinating our dog, to opening our home for routine social worker visits and so much more. In addition, the cost to adopt usually ranges between $20-$45k, which is why the Hilton Adoption Assistance Program is so helpful. The program offers a $10k grant to eligible employees, which makes a significant impact.
Q: Tell us about the moment you learned you were going to be parents.
A: Our adoption moved quickly. We had anticipated a two-year wait, but only 10 days after we completed our paperwork with the agency, we got our little boy, Benton! I’ll never forget the moment I received the call and learned that Adam and I were going to be parents. It was a Thursday, and they said we need you here next Tuesday to pick up your son. Talk about a shocking call! When I shared the news with my boss at the time she said, “Go get that baby! We’ll figure out the rest when you get back.”
I’m not sure we would have been able to complete the adoption process or continue to balance parenthood and full-time career without the support of our Hilton family. Actually, I know I wouldn’t!
Q: How has being a parent affected your career?
A: I’ve had to shift my work style in many ways since becoming a parent. I know I need to be more productive at work because working evenings is difficult. Each minute counts during the day! As a leader and fellow Team Member, I’m so much more understanding and supportive. Now, when I hear a Team Member has a sick child at home or is a single parent, I’m the first to jump in and ask if I can do anything to help. Children are so rewarding and I wouldn’t change anything, but having my own kiddos has definitely opened my eyes to challenges that people have around me every day. I’m still learning how to thrive while at work and home. Balancing work and family and finding time for myself is difficult, but I’m grateful for a job that not only allows flexibility but encourages taking care of yourself.
Q: You recently adopted your second child. Can you tell us more about that?
A: Nothing can truly prepare you for parenting, but Adam and I loved being Dads from the beginning. Then, last fall, we received a call from Benton’s birth mom letting us know that would have the opportunity to adopt again. We were thrilled to learn that Benton would be blessed with a brother.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about adoption?
1. Shop around for the adoption agency that feels right. There are plenty to choose from in each state. Adoption is a stressful process, so it’s important that you’re working with someone that you like and feel comfortable with. It’s also very common to have more than one agency working on your behalf. You never know what will present itself.
2. Consult a pediatrician to understand the unknown risks in adopting. Ask as many question around substance abuse and risky behavior. The goal is to be as accepting to as many cases as possible in order to get a baby placed with you sooner rather than later. Know what you’re willing to accept.
3. Get to know the adoption laws in your state. Each state is different and you must familiarize yourself with the timeframe a mother has to legally consent to the adoption, as well as what’s required before you can finalize your adoption. You should also consider what agreements you’re open to committing to with the birth mother. Studies have shown that some type of interaction, even limited, help the child accept adoption in a positive manor. But only agree to what you’re comfortable with.
4. Different adoption agencies have different policies and approaches, specifically around who they work with. Ask questions to ensure that the agency you are working with aligns with the values of you and your partner.