Michael Harmon had never thought about adopting a child.
He has four children with his wife Nikki, ranging from 13 years old to 3 years old: Taylen, Rayah, Seattle and Rocky. But after hearing the touching story of a family who adopted a child with special needs, Michael and Nikki decided to do some research.
As the Harmons researched adoption policies and paged through dozens of profiles of children with special needs waiting to be adopted, they kept coming back to a photo of a little boy with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome living in an orphanage in Bulgaria. The little boy, Milo, looked familiar to them somehow.
“I knew there was something special about him,” Michael said. “I felt a longing to do something. [These children] need hope. They need someone to love them, to tell them how beautiful and how wonderful they are, and that they are loved.”
When Michael realized in that moment that he had enough room in his heart to give love to another child, he knew he wanted to adopt Milo.
Milo’s adoption would take a year and a half and require piles of paperwork stacked high. The process is also incredibly expensive, with the full cost of Milo’s adoption reaching almost $35,000.
“We did so many fundraisers,” Michael said. “We would sell necklaces or spread the word to raise money however we could, but that only got us $10,000.”
The Harmon family still needed $25,000, and their fundraising efforts were stifled by the financial need to set up another room in their home to welcome a fifth child. They had almost lost all hope until one night, one of Michael’s previous managers at Adobe texted him about an update to Adobe’s adoption benefits. Previously, Adobe offered $5,000 in the U.S. for adoption benefits, but in 2018, Adobe upped the benefits to $25,000. It was the exact remaining amount needed for Milo’s adoption.
“It was such a wonderful moment,” Michael said. “We had a lot of prayers of gratitude that night.”
Removing the financial stress of adoption was a huge benefit to the Harmon family. Michael said he was able to actually focus on preparing to receive this child with special needs. It helped the family get into the mindset they needed to be in.
“If you knew how difficult adoption would be, there’s no way you’d do it,” Michael said. “But if you knew how beautiful and worthwhile the experience would be, you would jump in and never look back.”
Now, Milo’s world is quickly expanding.
“One of the coolest things is watching Milo experience the world for the first time,” Michael said. “In his orphanage, he was never let outside, so now, everything is so new and so beautiful to him. I watch him experience the world, from tasting new foods to experiencing a playground to seeing rain. I think anyone who has the opportunity to experience the world anew through the eyes of a child like that should take advantage of it.”
The Harmons have Milo in therapy so he can continue to learn and grow. Michael said Milo is learning how to love, what a family is and all about the wider world outside his orphanage.
He is best friends with his new brother, Rocky. Milo and Rocky do everything together. From the moment they wake up, the brothers run into each other’s rooms and start their day of play.
“They said Milo was nonverbal but now he’s like a parrot,” Michael said. “He’s so funny; he tells jokes; he loves to pretend! He was Batman for Halloween. He thought it was Iron Man but he can’t tell the difference.
“He’s flourishing. Yeah, he’s beautiful.”
Adobe’s Adoption Benefits
“Adobe’s mission is to change the world through digital experiences but really, they’re changing the world through more than just digital experiences,” Michael said. “It’s pretty special that a company would help in rescuing children like this. It’s a huge thing.”
At Adobe, we recognize that families are formed in many ways. The U.S. Adoption Assistance Program through Tri-Ad is designed to help offset the costs associated with adopting a child. Adobe employees may be reimbursed up to $25,000 for two separate adoptions for a lifetime maximum of $50,000. Eligible expenses include adoption fees, court costs and attorney’s fees, and travel expenses.
The benefit is available as soon as the adoption is final and the claim for reimbursement is submitted. Furthermore, Adobe’s Leave of Absence Policies allow for more time to bond with a newly adopted child.
“Adobe just made it so much easier to do this process,” Michael said. “But if you can’t adopt, another beautiful way Adobe is helping is by matching donations so they could help others rescue these children.”
Adobe employees can double the impact of their generosity towards adoption agencies through the Matching Grants Program which matches individual contributions up to $10,000 USD per calendar year.
“With Adobe giving so much to allow people to rescue these children, why not?” Michael said. “It is definitely hard but it is worth every moment.”
For more information on the benefits that Adobe offers, browse our benefits website.