Since 2002, when California passed the first paid parental leave law, paternity leave has become much more common. Now, not only states but many companies strive to ensure that fathers are given the time to bond with their newborns or newly adopted older children. This is an important step forward, and fathers should take advantage of this leave whenever possible. Read on to learn more about the importance of adoptive fathers and paternity leave.
Even though there is no specific adoption leave act, adoptive families are protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). All new parents, whether formed biologically or through adoption, need to have time away from their job and other obligations to bond with their children.
Why is paternity leave so important?
Paternity leave for adoption allows new adoptive fathers the ability to give their children the care they need and the time to adjust to their new family dynamic. Bonding with your baby is not just a joy. It is an important part of creating a solid base for your family to grow and thrive together.
Years ago, it was common for the new mom to take parental leave, but not the dads. Now, we know how important it is for a new dad to have the time to bond with their baby as well. According to the Department of Labor, paternity leave “can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace. Paid parental leave for fathers, as well as for mothers, provides a real advantage to working families.”
What are the benefits of father-baby bonding?
Research shows that “fathers’ leave, father’s involvement, and child development are related. Fathers who take leave, especially those taking two weeks or more, are more likely to carry out childcare related activities when children are young and finds some evidence that children with highly involved fathers tend to perform better in terms of cognitive test scores”, according to studies done in four countries, Denmark, United Kingdom, Unites States and Australia.
The bond created during those early days can impact a child forever.
What are the most effective bonding techniques?
Skin-to-skin contact is an excellent technique for bonding. To practice this aspect of Attachment Parenting, place your baby dressed in just a diaper against your bare chest. You will find this soothing for both you and your baby.
Also, I suggest using a front carrier or sling, not only when you are out and about but when you are at home as well. Your baby will feel safe and cuddled, and you will enjoy having your hands free.
Begin the habit of talking and reading to your baby while you hold them close. Then, as your child grows, you can introduce age-appropriate books on adoption.
Play with your baby. There is nothing like the laughter of a baby. So whether you are playing with toys or lifting them in the air, enjoy this precious time.
Adoptive Fathers and Paternity Leave
Take some time as a new family to stay at home and enjoy spending time with each other. Let friends and family know that you will welcome visitors after you have taken the time to get to know your newly adopted baby or child and have had time to enjoy being a family first.
Today, in the U.S., 9 out of ten fathers take time off work for the adoption of their child. Unfortunately, 7 in ten take ten days or less of leave.
So, make sure to take some time while preparing for your child’s adoption to check in with your employer and find out their parental leave policy. Your company’s policy determine whether or not your leave is paid and how long it lasts. However, parental leave for adoptive parents are protected by the FMLA. You might also want to check with your state’s Employment Development Office for the laws specific to where you live.
However, taking paternity leave is not always possible these days. If it is not feasible for you, focus on making the most of your time when you are home. You may need to prioritize and let some chores hold off for a bit. It’s more important to snuggle with your baby than to vacuum or mow the lawn at this point. Quality of time can often be as precious as the quantity of time. Most importantly, enjoy your new bundle of joy!
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”