Make room for baby: Are adoptive parents forgotten? - KCTV5

Make room for baby: Are adoptive parents forgotten?

Becky Poitras adopted her 6-year-old son, Carson, when he was almost 2 years old. (KCTV5) Becky Poitras adopted her 6-year-old son, Carson, when he was almost 2 years old. (KCTV5)

It’s tough for new parents to leave their baby and head back to work, and some have to do it much sooner than others.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 12 percent of United States private sector workers have access to paid family leave, and for adoptive parents, it’s even tougher.

Becky Poitras adopted her 6-year-old son, Carson, when he was almost 2 years old.

“When Carson came, it just felt like, 'OK! This is it! This makes our family whole!'” said Poitras.

It was important to her to have time with her new son, and she was fortunate to have an employer that gave her paid time off.

“For families that don't get that experience, I just feel like they're kind of getting gypped out of the opportunity to actually establish that bond with their child or their children,” said Poitras.

Amy Guyett is an adoption expert for Foster Adopt Connect and an adoptive mother herself. She said most adoptive parents she works with don’t get time off, and if they do, they’re forced to take their own vacation time or go without pay.

“Adoption's forever, and so if we can make those first several weeks of a child entering a home a positive experience, that's going to set that child up for a lifetime,” said Guyett.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take 12 weeks of leave for childbirth or adoption, but employers don’t have to pay them during that time.

KCTV5 News reached out to some of the major companies in Kansas City to see what they’re doing.

Ford, Black & Veatch, Hallmark and Cerner would not reveal whether their leave was paid or unpaid, saying it was a private company matter.

Sprint touted their support for adoptive parents. A company spokesperson said they offer an Adoption Assistance Program to help guide employees through the adoption process.

Sprint also reimburses adoption expenses of up to $5,000 per child for up to two children a year.

According to Forbes, IKEA, Bank of America and Ernst & Young changed their plans last year to offer up to four months of paid leave for all new parents.

Paid leave or not, being a new parent comes with many challenges, but the rewards that come with having that new child are priceless.

“It’s just really exciting that he is ours,” said Poitras about her adoptive son. “We belong to him and he belongs to us.”

During his campaign, President Donald Trump proposed offering six weeks of paid time off to biological mothers through the country’s unemployment insurance. Those on the right worried it would use too much taxpayer money. Those on the left said it discriminated against father and adoptive parents. 

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