What Is Adoption?
How Can I Get FMLA Adoption Leave? [A Guide]
Prospective Birth Mothers and Adoptive Families Can Get FMLA Adoption Leave Through Their Employers.
Giving birth and caring for a new baby are beautiful acts, but they also are exhausting. After pregnancy and the adoption process, birth moms and adoptive families benefit from time off.
So, it’s common for prospective birth mothers and adoptive families to wonder if they are eligible for maternity leave for adoption.
The short answer is, yes, prospective birth mothers and adoptive families are eligible for FMLA adoption leave, but obtaining it may take a bit of work.
If you’d prefer to speak to an adoption specialist about adoption and FMLA adoption leave, you can reach out to us today. But, if you want to learn more about parental leave for adoption, continue reading.
What is the FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) gives eligible employees up to 12 weeks of time off for maternity leave. Some people choose to start their 12 weeks before the baby is born. However, this will take from any time a parent has off after the baby is born. It’s important to understand that each employer determines if FMLA time off is paid or unpaid.
FMLA applies to businesses that have 50 or more employees. Eligible workers must have been at their job for 12 months or more and have worked at least 1,250 hours.
The FMLA also dictates that:
- The employee taking FMLA gets to keep their health insurance coverage.
- The employee’s health coverage cost must remain the same.
- The employee’s employer keeps their job – or an equivalent position – open for when the FMLA time off ends.
Maternity Leave for Adoption and Birth Moms
You may wonder if you’re eligible for FMLA when you place your baby for adoption. The short answer is yes, and you can get FMLA adoption leave. But, you may need to advocate for yourself.
Giving Your Baby Up for Adoption at Birth and Maternity Leave
Although your adoption specialist is dedicated to helping you through the adoption process, placing a baby for adoption is never stress-free.
Pregnancy and planning for your baby’s adoption are emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. You could most likely use a break post-birth and adoption. You are entitled to rest.
Thankfully, FMLA protects a woman’s right to unpaid maternity leave if she meets the previously mentioned requirements. Women who choose to place their children for adoption are still eligible for FMLA if they meet the FMLA requirements discussed above.
In general, most women get the following amounts of time off after giving birth:
- Six weeks for normal vaginal delivery
- Eight weeks for an uncomplicated C-section
Unfortunately, employers can decide if an employee’s FMLA leave is paid or unpaid. For this reason, many women don’t take this time off.
Talk to Your Employer About Adoption Leave Pay Now
Although it may feel awkward to talk to your employer about something as personal as giving birth, it’s important to discuss your maternity leave as soon as you’re able. All employers’ policies are different.
If you’re worried that speaking to your employer about your pregnancy and receiving paid time off may negatively impact your job, we get it. Pregnancy discrimination is real.
American Adoptions, a national adoption agency, recommends preparing a maternity leave letter to bring to your HR meeting. This letter can outline your leave, how others at the company can cover your tasks when you’re gone, and more. It’s best to speak to your employer – and your company’s human resource representative – to fully understand the time off your company will allow and if your company will pay you during your leave.
And it’s important to remember that if you have questions about FMLA and your eligibility status, you can reach out to your adoption specialist for help.
Maternity Leave for Adoptive Parents
Many adoptive parents wonder if they are eligible for paid time off for adoption. Although you didn’t give birth to your child, you’ve spent a lot of time and energy completing the following tasks:
- Applying to adopt your baby
- Getting cleared for adoption
- Meeting your baby’s birth mom
- Preparing your home for your baby
- Traveling to the hospital
- Meeting your baby
And now that your baby is born, you are a parent with parental duties. You most likely need a break and would benefit from time off work. But are you eligible? The quick answer is yes.
Do You Get Maternity Leave if You Adopt?
Yes. According to the FMLA, you can get non-paid maternity leave for adoption (as well as adoption paternity leave) if you work for a covered employer.
In general, your paternity or maternity leave for adoptive parents is similar to a birth mother’s leave. You get this time off to adjust to parenthood and bond with your child.
It’s always wise to talk to your employer about your FMLA well before the prospective birth mother gives birth. Early in the adoption process, make an appointment to speak with your HR representative to find out if:
- Your employer has a specific adoption leave policy
- If your employer also will provide you with paid time off or will only offer you FMLA
As always, some employers will not be as supportive of adoptive parents. That’s why you must understand your FMLA rights. Never hesitate to reach out to your adoption specialist for guidance, and contact an attorney immediately if your employer refuses your adoption leave.
Final Thoughts Concerning Adoption Leave Rights for Birth Mothers and Adoptive Families
Both birth mothers and adoptive families have rights under the FMLA.
A birth mother can take time off to recover from the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of giving birth and placing her baby for adoption. And adoptive parents can take time off to recover from the adoption process and bond with their baby.
If a birth mother or adoptive family meets the FMLA adoption employment guidelines (and the business they work for employs 50 or more employees), they have the following rights and assurances:
- Up to 12 weeks of time off for maternity or paternity leave
- The option to start their 12-week time off period before a baby is born
- Keep their health insurance coverage
- Ensures that your employer doesn’t fill your job while you are on leave
However, remember that each employer determines if your time off is paid or unpaid.
It’s essential for birth mothers and adoptive families to talk to their employers early in the adoption process to clarify their maternity and paternity leave rights. Every employer has different rules, and it’s essential to speak with your HR representative to ensure you get what you need.
Never hesitate to reach out to your adoption specialist. This professional knows how to answer all your FMLA adoption leave questions.
Ready to get started? Contact an adoption agency now to get free information.