Photos Courtesy of The Bratcher Family
It’s an uncommon employee perk that altered Desert Ridge residents Nick Bratcher and his wife Ashlee’s world and the futures of their three children. Salt River Project, the nation’s third largest, not-for-profit public power utility provides its employees with the Adoption Assistance Program.
Bratcher knows what it’s like to be a child waiting for a family. The 35-year-old control energy management system technician was in the foster system for several of his formative years. He was finally adopted at age 17.
“As a child, I experienced the difficulty of believing that I was alone in life. That’s a lot to face,” says Bratcher. “My wife and I both wanted to make sure a child would never go through that. Our goal was and is to ensure that they know they are deserving of all the love in the world.”
Today, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption recognized, Bratcher’s employer, SRP, for its dedication to help its employees adopt and change lives. SRP ranked fourth in the nation among utility and energy companies and is named as an “adoption advocate” by the organization.
“It is truly an honor to help change lives and support SRP employees who want to adopt,” says SRP Chief Human Resources Executive Geri Mingura. “Offering competitive, flexible, and robust family-friendly benefits is a meaningful way to help our community and attract and retain excellence in the workplace.”
Adoption costs in Arizona can range from $20,000 to $50,000, which often becomes the greatest barrier for adoptive parents. Bratcher had been employed at SRP fulltime for one year when he first took advantage of the adoption assistance program.
“A family created through adoption has the same familial needs — time for bonding, new financial considerations, and a frequent change in routine to provide a loving, safe, and nurturing environment in which that child can grow and thrive to their full potential,” says Rita Soronen, president and chief executive officer of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Bratcher’s eldest son, Gunnar, is 9 now. Since their first adoption in 2013, the Bratcher’s utilized the benefit a second time in 2019 to adopt Booker, who is 3. A year ago, their biological daughter, Magnolia came along.
“SRP played a huge role in our adoption journey,” Bratcher adds. “My employer provided a regular income, medical benefits, support, and money for attorney and agent fees. Without SRP, I don’t believe we would have been able to adopt when we did.”
Bratcher says he and his wife “took on debt” and received help from family members to cover adoption costs and the additional help from SRP came at a “critical” time.
“Adopting children is life changing and the single best thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Bratcher says. “I encourage everyone to consider how much they have to give and teach a child. There is no part of my life that is not better because of my kids. I would have never known how much I could love or with what level of commitment I could pursue my goal without them.”
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated to finding permanent homes for the more than 140,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, who was adopted, the foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs, foster care adoption awareness campaigns, and innovative grantmaking. To learn more, visit davethomasfoundation.org.