Paid adoption leave: Baby step forward

As I discussed in detail here, and then again here, New Jersey Senate bill S-2249 provides 12 weeks’ paid leave to care for newly adopted children. Well, folks, the bill has cleared a Senate committee and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

This is more than a decade in the making. Bills like this have come and gone (into oblivion), and have never made it this far before. Now is the time to again voice your support in providing all families — no matter how they are formed — the invaluable adjustment and bonding time they deserve. This is about embracing families and making their health and happiness a social priority.

Although New Jersey and federal laws already allow 12 weeks’ unpaid leave, many families cannot afford that option — especially after handling adoption costs. So adoptive parents have their children placed into their arms only to have to leave them so they can hurry back to work to pay the bills rather than risk further financial hardship. Bonding be damned. (Silly mamagigi, these tricks are only for people who give birth to their children.)

Perhaps the times, they are a changin’?

Under the bill, workers on leave would receive a weekly amount similar to what they’d get for a temporary disability — it would come from the state’s temporary disability fund workers already pay into. That’s the same fund that assists working parents who physically delivered their children into the world, allowing them paid time off. The bill would require all employees pay a tax up to $94 annually to support the program.

The bill’s future is uncertain — especially because the state’s powerful Business and Industry Association opposes the plan. So continue to contact your legislator (and the committee chairmen below) to voice support of the bill — and all families.

And those of you reading but not residing in the Garden State, your e-mailing Committee chairman Bernard Kenny and co-chairman Sharpe James to give your nod to the notion itself wouldn’t hurt either. Parents everywhere should be heard. The larger the group, the louder the voice, the blurrier the state lines, the more unified the message nationwide. (Then, send your legislators a note too!)

If passed, New Jersey would become the second state, after California, to offer paid family leave. Two down, 48 to go.

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8 Comments

Filed under Adoption, Adoption leave, Children, Community, Family, Legislation, Making a difference, Parenting

8 responses to “Paid adoption leave: Baby step forward

  1. reunionwritings

    Ok that’s good, I’d like to see free childcare in the work place and in schools too. I’d love to see us as a society make it easier for women to be mothers.

  2. Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. I don’t know much about adoption and I had no idea that I was lucky enough to live in the only state that has this kind of leave law.

    I just sent this off to the 2 NJ legislators and to my US Senators. (The first paragraph was only to my reps though.)

    ********************************
    I have just learned about New Jersey Senate bill S-2249 and, while I’m glad that Californians already have this benefit, I am confused as to why this is not the law of all the land.

    I am a Californian and a parent. I have no personal experience with adoption. I believe that all parents should have paid leave time when they bring their new family member home, whether they are biological parents or adoptive parents.

    In today’s world there are lots of people willing to adopt children with and without special needs. I cannot be the only mother who heard when her child was 3 days old that, surprise!, he has Down syndrome and, surprise!, he will need open heart surgery to correct the major defect he was born with. As his biological mother I was given the time and resources to cope with this. But suppose that I was an adoptive mother? What if I had just had a stranger’s newborn put into my arms and 3 days later, when it was time for the birth mother to sign away her rights to me, I was told this heart-breaking news? Where would the support for me be then? Would I have the ability, both emotionally and financially, to go through with this adoption?

    These are the kinds of things that weigh on my mind when I hear of adoptive parents not being treated as parents. That is what they are first and foremost. Please add my voice to those crying out to treat them with the same respect that biological parents get. It would be great if all 50 states had a law that allowed all parents the time to bond with their children by giving them paid leave.

  3. reunionwritings

    Same respect as biological parents? What planet have you been living on Kyouell??

  4. Oh man. I tried to get something like this for adoptive moms at my workplace both before and after we adopted Nate, and I got nowhere. Tried and tried, but nothing worked. It was frustrating as all get-out.

    Actually, my workplace is WAY behind the times because there’s really no maternity leave at all. There’s 6 weeks of paid sick leave for women who give birth but that’s only if they have that sick leave accrued. It’s really bad. The rest is unpaid, and not many people can afford that. I saved up a lot of vacation over several years so I was able to take 3 months (and that was including the 2 weeks of travel to Vietnam) — that’s only because I get 4 weeks of vacation/year. If I was a civil service employee and only got 2 weeks of vacation/year, I don’t know how many weeks I would have been able to save.

    This country just does not put children first. It’s terrible.

  5. I think kyouell means same respect as bio. parents as far as leave for when the baby arrives. Bio mothers here at least get some paid leave, as piddly an amount as it may be. Adoptive mothers get none. I used up vacation which I shouldn’t have had to do.

  6. mom2one beat me to the punch — I was going to say the same thing. I agree that’s what kyouell meant — the majority of women physically birthing their children receive some sort of time off from work. Granted, some of this time is to heal and rest, but I will forever argue that 12 weeks, for example, is much longer than needed to heal and that’s because the time is also about bonding with your child and adjusting to parenthood. So, in that context, women who adopt should be granted some period of time off as well so they can get their bearings and bond (something especially important when you haven’t carried the child in utero for some 40 weeks). Ultimately, I think we all agree it should be easier (in the workplace) for all women to be mothers. And kyouell, I was very pleased to see you sent that note out. It’s wonderfully proactive and just what needs to be shown to those in legislative power — that we are paying attention and expect them to do the same to us, their constituents. If we’re not asking for it, how can we expect them to ever get to giving it?

  7. The company I work for whom I cannot name, even though I’m about to say something wonderful about them, offers paid parenting leave – period. They don’t make a distinction between if you’re a mom, a dad, medical leave, adoption leave, whatever. It’s just called parenting leave. They can afford to do that though because they are a huge corporation.

    I really love the idea of the funds for this coming from the state disability. That helps smaller businesses who maybe would like to offer this but can’t afford it. $94 annually isn’t going to break the bank.

    You’re right, it is only a baby step, but it’s a good one in the right direction.

  8. Pingback: NJ’s adoption leave bill lives! « musings:mamahood&more

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