Category Archives: Paid Adoption Leave

NJ Assembly passes Paid Family Leave!

At 6:10 pm (EST) today, the state Assembly voted to pass (!) A-873, the measure that would give six weeks’ paid family leave to care for newborns, sick family members and newly adopted children.

The vote was 46-30 with two abstentions. The Senate this past Monday passed its version of the bill, S-786.

Next — and final — stop before being signed by the governor is ratification on Monday by the full Senate.

For all the details on the measures, including my own passionate (I admit it …) thoughts on why passing this law is so damned important (and no, it’s not just the adoption factor, although that clearly bears substantial weight in my argument), simply explore the Paid Adoption Leave Tab above.

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Vote set on Paid Family Leave in NJ

The full New Jersey Assembly is scheduled to vote tomorrow on A-873 — its version of Senate bill S-786 approved last week — which would guarantee workers six weeks of paid leave for, among other things, caring for a newly adopted child. Click the Paid Family Leave tab above for past posts chronicling the bills, amendments and committee votes.

If approved by the heavily Democratic Assembly, the bill would then need Senate ratification — seemingly a formality after last week’s stamp of approval on its own measure. Since Democrats generally favor the family leave plan, it seems a nod of approval tomorrow isn’t a long shot — quite a change from years past.

Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corszine has said he will sign the bill.

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NJ advances open records, family leave legislation!

It’s been quite a busy week here in New Jersey for legislators and those with a stake in adoption-related laws.

Two bills — which for many years have floundered at various stages of the legislative process — have each made a substantial leap forward, and hold more hope than ever for adoptees seeking open access to their birth records, and new adoptive parents seeking paid time off to care for and bond with their new family member.

The state Senate approved S-611, a bill that would allow adoptees to obtain their original birth records — and therefore their medical histories and heritage — which currently are sealed under New Jersey law.

Adoptees at least 18 years old or the adoptive parents of a child would be able to petition the state registrar for an original birth certificate listing the biological parents’ names.

Birth parents would have one year after the bill takes effect to request their name and address remain confidential. Those seeking to do that, however, would be required to provide a health and cultural history every 10 years until they turn 40, and every five years after that.

Despite the bill’s decades-long battle, the Senate voted 31-7 to approve it without any discussion! The Assembly version of the bill is before its Human Services Committee.

Sen. Joseph Vitale, the bill’s sponsor, said after the vote, “Through this legislation, we’ve taken pains to balance the needs of adopted individuals to know with the needs of certain birth parents to maintain anonymity. For New Jersey’s adopted residents, this bill is about fairness, giving them the same opportunity to know where they come from as non-adopted people.”

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Paid family leave in New Jersey — which includes those having just adopted a child — is now also considerably closer to reality than ever before. The bill, S-786 — which has had its share of tweaking over the last few months, beginning as a 12-week plan, later reduced to a 10-week program, and stands now as six weeks’ leave — was approved 22-16 by the state Senate.

The full Assembly will consider the bill in the coming weeks and, considering it’s a bill generally favored by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, it should do well in the heavily Democratic Assembly. Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he will sign the bill.

This would make New Jersey the third state to allow workers to take paid leave to care for a sick family member or a newly adopted child. Since 2004, California has allowed workers up to six weeks paid leave, and as of October 2009, Washington will allow workers five weeks’ paid leave.

New Jersey’s program would be funded through an estimated $33 a year per employee, taken through payroll deductions. Those taking the leave would receive two-thirds of their salary, up to $502 weekly.

The video of all the proceedings is here — click the March 3 session — about 90 minutes of debate and then the vote on the paid family leave legislation, and then a very fast vote (less than one minute!) on the open records bill.

Hoo-rah!

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Adoption leave, Birth parents, Family Leave, Legislation, Making a difference, Paid Adoption Leave

NJ’s adoption leave bill lives!

Rally your troops. Circle your wagons. Write a legislator.

It’s been a year since S-2249, New Jersey’s paid family leave bill, was introduced and it still has a pulse, folks.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, the measure will face its next test as it comes up for a vote by the state’s Assembly Labor Committee. This summer Gov. Jon Corzine pledged he would sign a family-leave bill into law before the end of this year. You look at a calendar and do the math.

The bone of contention at this point seems to be the number of paid weeks off afforded to workers — it’s already been decreased from 12 to 10, and that number may fall yet again as the state’s powerful business association claims such leave is simply too large a burden for small business to bear.

Thing is — and this is most important — the paid leave program would not be financed on the backs of businesses. I detailed how it would be funded right here some time ago.

And who, exactly, would be covered? Everyone, even those of us employed by a company with fewer than 50 employees (Me! Me! Me! That’s me frantically jumping up and down and waving my arms!) — companies otherwise exempt from current state law affording 12 unpaid weeks of leave and job protection.

Here’s the thing: All newly created or expanded families — no matter how they are formed — deserve invaluable adjustment and bonding time without fearing severe financial detriment. Caring for or financially supporting one’s family shouldn’t be an either-or situation.

You don’t have to be an adoptive parent to care about this. You could know one or love one or … better yet, you could just be … a member of a family. That’s right. This bill affects you, should you ever need time off from work to care for a beloved family member. You’ll care about it then, I can assure you. Thing is, it might be too late by then. So show your support now. How? Read on.

(Not up on the issue? Doesn’t mean you can’t jump in now and show your support. Just take a gander at my previous essays in the Adoption Leave tab above for the history of this bill and you’re good to go.)

If this legislation passes, New Jersey would be the third state in the nation (California leads the pack) to offer such relief to new adoptive parents, as well as those needing to care for an ailing family member.

Find the legislators here (click Labor in the right margin for the actual committee considering the bill), and write these folks to voice your support of paid leave for families.

And if you’re not a Jerseyan, don’t think your voice doesn’t need to be heard. Write these NJ legislators and let them know what this means to families like yours, and then copy it to your own lawmakers.

We’re all in this together, one state at a time.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption leave, Family Leave, Legislation, Paid Adoption Leave, Parenting, Work

Adoption and Awareness

As noted in a comment to yesterday’s post (thanks, Lauren!), not only is November NaBloPoMo, the month also is dedicated to promoting adoption awareness.

Let me be clear. For me, promoting adoption awareness doesn’t mean making people aware of adoption. It means making people aware about the issues in adoption.

This means talking. Talking about the absolute importance of ethics in adoption. Talking about what openness in adoption really means. Talking about open records and giving adoptees access to information that is already theirs. It means talking about using respectful language, about understanding adoption more than a predictable cable television movie. It means getting employers to offer adoption leave alongside traditional maternity leave. It means ensuring that all those involved in adoption are treated with the respect they deserve. It means opening a dialogue.

So this month serves to remind me of all these things. To talk the talk and walk the walk. To continue to correct and clarify every single time it’s needed in my own conversations with others about some facet of adoption. Sometimes it’s not easy. I’ve had colleagues, friends, folks in my family — casually roll their eyes or shrug because I care about syllables uttered and terms used and (try to politely) interrupt conversations to right the wrong when it happens. Those reactions are hard, too, because it shows me they aren’t willing to think about it more than the moment at hand — and this is for a colleague, friend, family member. The nuances matter. They serve to change mindsets, to shed light — and stereotypes.

As wife to an adoptee with no access to his own birth records and story, and as mother to a little girl in an adoption where preserving openness is a top priority, the message in this little video is quite appropos. Although it’s been around a bit, thought I’d share it in case it’s new to anyone seeing it here for the first time.

Watch it, then head on over to youtube and comment. If the piece wins the Dashboard Confessional Video Contest, the piece will air on MTV. And that exposure is yet another step toward enlightening those that only know adoption from bad jokes, bad movies and bad examples.

NaBloPoMo Stats: 2 down, 28 to go.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Adoption leave, Closed Adoption, Discussing Adoption, Family Leave, Making a difference, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Paid Adoption Leave, Parenting

NaBloPoMo 2007

This month marks one year since I began this little blogging spot for myself, with all sorts of goals and fresh-faced optimism at making her a living, breathing entity that would loosely chronicle my experiences as a first-time parent and as a mother and a wife touched by adoption, as well as serving as a place to go after all the mothering and wifering and employee-ing is done. A home for me to focus on clearing the cobwebs from my own mind and resuscitating the writing bug within.

As if all those expectations weren’t enough, it also was a way for me to ensure a written record for Maeve of our life together.

Since sticking my flag in cyberground last year, I’ve found myself continuing to question attitudes about adoption — including my own — and working to strengthen my own approach and confidence in advocating, on a daily basis, for openness in adoption, for ethics in adoption and for proper consideration of all those involved.

During that time I’ve taken on new projects and focuses like my quarterly column and other writing assignments, expanding my involvement in my local adoption group, tracking paid-family leave legislation in the Garden State and even the small-but-very-fun task of continuing to search out good adoption-related children’s books and share them here.

Surely some days, weeks and months at musings:mamahood&more have been more loquacious than others — and I do enjoy the more rather than the less — but here she is still humming one year later and here I am still perched at the keyboard at a very ridiculous hour in the dark of night, and so I figure the best way to celebrate that is by inflicting stringent demands on myself and my time.

That’s right, I’m hopping on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon. Even made myself a little geographic logo-link — a NaBloPoMo shingle, if you will — and hung it in my sidebar. (Don’t know NaBloPoMo? Click and ride.)

While the very idea of committing to write for 30 straight days is uber-exciting, I must admit that the very idea of committing to write for 30 straight days is uber-nerve-wracking.

While I don’t have a plan or theme (although now, as the very-long looking month looms before me it’s sounding like quite a useful idea), I’ll muddle my way through.

And hopefully you’ll continue to muddle along with me. And who knows — we might even find ourselves moving beyond muddling to … amusement! Forging further friendships! Continuing to work toward all our adoption- (and non-adoption) related goals!

And … gasp. Even partaking in some thought-provoking discourse!

Rrrright, I hear ya. Easy mamagigi, easy.

One cyberstep at a time.

NaBloPoMo Stats: 1 down, 29 to go.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Books, Adoption Ethics, Adoption leave, Children, Closed Adoption, Discussing Adoption, Family Leave, Legislation, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Paid Adoption Leave, Writing

Adoption: Employee benefits

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal discusses how increasing numbers of companies are stepping up with adoption benefits, or increasing the adoption benefits they already offer, including longer paid time off or increased reimbursement of adoption expenses.

The article contrasts the bump up in benefits for some with the increasing amount of red tape and restrictions in international adoptions. So, while those adopting overseas now may have a bit more time to spend bonding with their child before heading back to work, it’s more difficult to prepare for the time away from the office, since the restrictions are tighter and more complex, and many waits are longer.

Still, most interesting to me is the increased awareness of adoption and the need for employee flexibility and benefits — issues the article does address, including facts like this: 20 percent of companies offer adoption benefits, up four percent from 2003, according to a study this year of 590 human resource managers.

Good news, but still lots of work to do.

(Oh, and while you’re already surfing the WSJ, here’s an article on the best at-home lead tests for checking up on your children’s toys — and whether they are as accurate as  they could be.)

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