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Inside the Stagecoach
December 15, 2021

Adoption benefit supports modern families’ paths to parenthood

Wells Fargo financially assists employees with about 70 adoptions per year — including Kathleen Leary, who’s adopted three boys, and Matthew Klingelhutz, who adopted a boy from his native Korea.

Kathleen Leary, 2nd from left, is wearing a white shirt and tiara and smiling. She is with her three children and her husband.
Kathleen Leary, adoptive mother of three, always wanted to be a mom — and didn’t let medical issues get in her way of that dream.
Inside the Stagecoach
December 15, 2021

Adoption benefit supports modern families’ paths to parenthood

Wells Fargo financially assists employees with about 70 adoptions per year — including Kathleen Leary, who’s adopted three boys, and Matthew Klingelhutz, who adopted a boy from his native Korea.

After two rounds of chemotherapy, Kathleen Leary knew getting pregnant wasn’t in the cards for her — but that didn’t diminish her desire to be a mom. Three adoptions later, Leary and her husband have a bustling family of five and relish the moments, both big and small, of parenthood. “I don’t know what I would do on a Friday night now if I wasn’t having pizza and ice cream with the kids at grandma’s house,” said Leary, a communications leader in Wells Fargo Public Affairs.

Matthew Klingelhutz, who adopted four-year-old Hudson from South Korea two years ago, finds similar pleasure in the simple things.

“Being a dad has given me a whole new perspective on life. Going for a walk after work; going to the playground on a Friday night; things I never would have imagined would have kept me content and fulfilled — those are the things I cherish and enjoy now,” said Klingelhutz, a project manager in Diverse Segments, Representation & Inclusion at Wells Fargo.

Matthew Klingelhutz stands with his wife and their son Hudson. They are each holding one of Hudson's hands and swinging him.
Adoptive father Matthew Klingelhutz finds joy in the simple things — like going for walks as a family.

‘A surprising and delightful benefit’

Adoption can be a compelling path to parenthood for individuals and couples, and Wells Fargo supports employees with up to $5,000 in financial assistance per child.

“It’s really a surprising and delightful benefit. Adoption is not inexpensive,” Leary said.

“The best thing about being a dad is literally just being a dad. It is the day-to-day experiences I get to have with him and as a family. It’s irreplaceable. He’s my little buddy.” — Matthew Klingelhutz, Program Manager

Terri Morris, a benefits consultant for Wells Fargo’s adoption program, finds joy in helping families grow through adoption.

“Supporting all the diverse pathways to parenthood is a very rewarding job because we have so many constellations of the modern family. It’s just so nice to be able to support people who want to have a family in whatever version that family needs to be.”

Many kids want a place to call home

Being from large families — Leary was one of seven children, her husband one of four — the Learys “were always open to as many children as we would have been blessed to have,” she said. Yet after fighting breast cancer and Hodgkin’s disease, she said, “It was just so clear that if we were going to have a family, we were going to do it through adoption.”

Today, the Learys are proud parents of Matthew (6), Teddy (3), and James (2), all adopted at birth.

For Klingelhutz, adoption was always part of his life: he was born in South Korea and adopted by an American family. “Being a Korean adoptee myself, I always kind of felt the pull to pay it forward,” he said.

He couldn’t be happier with his decision to adopt Hudson. “The best thing about being a dad is literally just being a dad. It is the day-to-day experiences I get to have with him and as a family. It’s irreplaceable. He’s my little buddy.”

While adoption may not be for everyone, Klingelhutz encourages those open to the idea to look into it. “There are many, many kids out there in circumstances through no fault of their own. Their only want and goal in life is to be in a family with loving parents and in an environment they can literally call home,” he said.

Kathleen Leary, left, stands with her family.
Kathleen Leary feels supported as an adoptive mother and finds it “heartening” that Wells Fargo helps employees with adoption.

‘The love is absolutely the same’

In addition to helping Leary and Klingelhutz, Wells Fargo financially assists employees with around 70 adoptions per year. Program enhancements now include coverage for adopting step-children and grandchildren and for spouses/domestic partners to adopt employees’ children.

Though reimbursement covers only part of adoption expenses, Leary said the benefit “shows me Wells Fargo cares about adoption and understands this as a valid way of forming a family. It’s really heartening to feel seen as a mom who chose adoption to form a family.”

The benefits of adoption to the parents and children are obvious, yet Leary said birth mothers should also “be remembered and honored. Adoption is an amazing thing for women going through pregnancies at times in their life where it could be very difficult for them. Someone placed that baby for adoption for very selfless reasons.”

As for being an adoptive mother, Leary said, “adoption is just the way in which our family was built. I don’t think our family is different than any other family. The love is absolutely the same.”

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