Being a birthmother can be difficult, and one part of that difficulty can be navigating the minefield at work. How to discuss it with your co-workers? How to discuss it with your boss? Are you entitled to the same benefits as your co-workers who do not place their child for adoption?
A mother who places her child for adoption is still entitled to the same benefits at work as a mother who does not. Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act signed into law in 1993, all parents get certain rights and privileges in the workplace, including:
- Pregnant women are to be treated like any other worker with a disability during the course of their pregnancy. Reasonable accommodations need to be made for any physical need that comes up.
- You can get up to 12 weeks unpaid leave during the year after your child is born.
- Your job must be waiting for you when you get back.
All of these apply to you if your employer has more than 50 employees and you have worked there for a year or at least 1,250 hours over the past year.
You also qualify for whatever maternity care coverage is under your employer’s health plan. You cannot be excluded because of your adoption plans.
Some states and localities have even more benefits for working moms.
Some employers go above and beyond what is required of them by law. Bethany Roberts, a restaurant server in Seattle, discovered she was pregnant at 23. Though she had a positive relationship with the father of her unborn child, they did not wish to marry, and she did not feel prepared for single parenthood. When Roberts chose to make an adoption plan for her child, she immediately informed her bosses and was met with surprising support.
“They were very understanding,” Roberts recalls. “Later in the pregnancy, they were careful to help me with any physical tasks that would be difficult for a pregnant woman. They sent me flowers in the hospital when [my son] was born and were supportive throughout the pregnancy and afterwards with advice and comfort.”
In short, mothers who place their child for adoption still have the same legal protections as any mother in the workplace.