Northwestern College – Adoption-Friendly Workplace

For the 12th year, Northwestern College has been named to the Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces list compiled by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Northwestern was recognized as an adoption advocate and ranked fifth in the education industry for 2024⎯ behind only Yale (first), University of Notre Dame (second), Baylor University (third) and Emory University (fourth).

“Receiving recognition as an adoption-friendly workplace is an affirmation of Northwestern’s commitment to supporting employees and their families,” says Mindy Stichka, Northwestern’s associate director of human resources. “Being able to provide financial assistance and time-off benefits is truly a reflection of our mission to pursue God’s redeeming work in the world.”

Northwestern has continued to adapt its adoption benefits to accommodate the needs of employees, including adoption of adults. Dr. Valerie Stokes, director of Northwestern’s social work program, and her husband Mike, director of audiovisual services, made use of the benefit when their foster son asked if they would adopt him at age 21.

“Northwestern’s adoption benefit made all the difference in our adoption of Jose. The policy was flexible and understood the diversity of family situations,” says Valerie Stokes. “Without it, it would have been a hardship to pay all the legal fees and court costs of adoption. The adoption policy was such a gift to Jose and his forever family!”

Northwestern offers financial assistance of up to $2,000 per adoptee to faculty and staff, with an additional reimbursement of up to $1,000 for the adoption of someone with special needs. The funds can be used for home studies, agency and placement fees, legal expenses and court costs, medical expenses, and transportation and lodging. Adoptive parents can also take advantage of Northwestern’s parental leave benefit, which offers six weeks of paid leave to full-time and three-quarter-time employees after 12 months of employment. Additionally, Northwestern employees who adopt are eligible for up to seven days paid leave beyond the six-week parental leave benefit.

Rankings for the Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List are determined by surveying employer benefits across the United States, scoring participants on the amount of financial reimbursement and paid leave given to families who adopt, as well as the percentage of employees eligible for those benefits. In addition to ranking the top 100, the foundation also ranked employers by size, industry, paid leave benefits and impact.

More than 140,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are waiting to be adopted. The release of the annual Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List helps the Dave Thomas Foundation increase foster care adoption awareness while celebrating those organizations that support adoptive families. Find more information at