“I had people at work even tell me I didn’t deserve to be tired because I wasn’t his ‘real’ mom.”
Taking leave from work to welcome a new child isn’t easy for a lot of parents — and LGBT families often have to navigate policies that were designed with cisgender, straight couples in mind.
The US is one of a handful of nations that doesn't mandate any paid parental leave. When employers do provide paid time, it's frequently funded through short-term disability policies that only cover parents who give birth. Adoptive parents of any gender often get less time to bond with their new additions.
Under a federal law called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers over a certain size have to provide 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave, though not all employees are eligible. The law states that someone who acts “in loco parentis” — i.e. takes on the responsibilities of parenting — is eligible for leave, even if they don't have a biological or legal relationship with the child.
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“We are so, so fortunate to work for large companies that recognize both of us as parents and give us both leave.”
We have a son who will be 2 in August and I am currently pregnant with our second child. Both were conceived with anonymous donors through intrauterine insemination (IUI) with the help of a reproductive endocrinologist.
I had a C-section with my son, so I got eight weeks of paid maternity leave and two weeks of paid parental leave. It will be the same with baby #2. My wife got two weeks of parental leave through her company and will get the same with baby #2. However, her company now offers unlimited paid vacation time so she may take more time off. We're obviously very lucky to have such generous options.
We all know leave in the US is abysmal. That being said, my 10 weeks for a C-section delivery and my wife's two weeks for non birth parent leave are quite generous. I know I should be grateful and I am. But taking a 10-week-old infant to daycare for eight-plus hours a day is so hard, not to mention still trying to get over major surgery. I wish my wife could have been there for more than two weeks, and I know she did too.
We are so, so fortunate to work for large companies that recognize both of us as parents and give us both leave. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to not have maternity leave available.
—Jamie, 31, lesbian, works in business sales, US (Florida)
Provided to BuzzFeed
My wife and I used a sperm donor, and we have a 7-month-old daughter. After giving birth I had six weeks of paid maternity leave, then another six weeks of unpaid leave. We then decided that it would be cheaper for me to stay home than to pay for child care.
My wife was not able to get paid leave through her job, despite working with the company for almost three years. She took one week of unpaid leave beginning the day before I had to be induced. It was very hard for me to care for a newborn baby by myself when she went back to work. It was completely unfair that she didn't get any paid maternity leave when it was her child too.
After trying for so long to conceive, our daughter was our little miracle. It's just ridiculous that one of her mothers got so much time with her and the other so little before returning to work.
—Alice, 25, bisexual, works in banking, US (Maine)