Adoptive parents need parental leave, too—here’s why + how you can help
Whether you give birth or adopt a child, becoming a mama is an expensive phase of life and a lack of paid adoption leave forces employees to choose between a paycheck and time with their child. Adding a new addition to your family is a beautiful thing and families should be fully supported. The sad reality is, most employers do not offer paid adoption leave. In fact, many employers don’t offer paid maternity leave. Instead, they offer short-term disability benefits after someone gives birth.
At the very least, employers should extend the same maternity leave benefits to adoptive parents as they do toward biological parents.
Here are four reasons why adoptive parents need parental leave and what you can do to help:
1. Children need bonding time
Babies are born very dependent on their parents so it’s important to allow bonding time between the adoptive parents and the child as the adopted child hasn’t had nine months of hearing their parents’ voices and laughs. Bonding is especially important for older children as this transition time can be critical to the child’s long-term mental health and feeling of stability.
More so, many adoptive parents adopt outside of their state lines. When that happens, at least one parent needs to stay in the state where their child is until they receive clearance to return home. That process can sometimes take a few weeks, which means that by the time the new parents and child arrive at home, the parents have often already been forced to use up all of their vacation time and they need to get back to work with no remaining time off to take for unexpected circumstances, illnesses, or more.
2. Routines need to be established
Adoptive parents also need time to emotionally adjust to life with their child and all the associated changes, and kids need time to adjust, too. One of the most important things parents can do is create a routine so children feel safe and protected in the new environment. Establishing a new routine and rhythm with a baby or child—waking up, eating, going to sleep at the same time—minimizes anxiety and stress the child might feel.
3. Siblings also need to adjust, too
Bringing a new child into a home is a big change for siblings. Older brothers and sisters need their own time to adjust and they also need their parents to be available to help them through this transition.
4. Childcare arrangements need to be made
Adoptions can often take place at the last-minute or with relatively short notice so the adoptive parents may not have had a chance to line up childcare or make new work arrangements. Many day care facilities have lengthy waitlists so preparing for this should begin as soon as parents discover it is a need. If a family plans to hire an in-home caregiver, they’ll need time to search for and interview candidates. Even if they are lucky enough to have family members who are available to help, those relatives will often need time to adjust their schedules.
Adoption is important, and it’s so beneficial to bring awareness to the lack of parental leave in this country.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Even if you aren’t planning to adopt, contact the human resources department at your employer and ask if there’s a paid parental leave policy for adoptive parents. If there isn’t, explain why it’s so important.
Here are a few phrases to say:
- “By offering a paid parental leave program for adoptive mamas, you are sending a clear message that you care about the health, well being and quality of life of the people and families that power your business.”
- “Paid parental leave reassures mamas that you value and support their lives outside the office. I have a few ideas that address ways we can work towards getting this leave for all parents.”
2. To take things one step further, contact your local senator and representatives and educate them on the issue.Here’s a sample letter that you can edit to suit your needs.