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Can You Get Parental Leave for Adopting a Child?

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on November 02, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In recent years, parental leave has become a major employee benefit, and that includes adoptive parents. Adoptive parents stand on equal footing with birthing parents on many parental leave laws, including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and many state leave acts, as well as employer-offered benefits.

If you are adopting a child, read on to find on what rights you and your family are entitled to.


The federal FMLA applies to government agencies, public and private schools, and most private employers with over 50 employees. The law provides the right of eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. During this time, while their job is protected, they are entitled to continuation of all regular employee benefits, including health insurance coverage.

For adoptive parents, they are entitled to take days off before the child is placed in the adoptive home if required by the adoption agency. For instance, if you have to appear in court, work with a psychologist, have a physical exam, travel to a foreign country to complete the adoption, or any other necessity for completing adoption, time off of work is included in this act.

State Family and Medical Leave Acts

Many states extend the FMLA over 24 months instead of just 12, and some allow for unpaid leave for employees that don't fall under FMLA. More importantly, four states offer six weeks of paid family leave for adoptive families: California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. These programs are funded by employee paid payroll taxes and administered through state disability programs. If interested, contact your state employment agency in order to fill out any appropriate paperwork.

Additional Employer Benefits

Some employers provide adoptive parents with benefits that go beyond that offered by state and federal agencies. For instance, Amazon gives adopting parents six weeks of paid leave, which is less than the 20 weeks birth parents receive, but it is a step in the right direction.

In an interesting twist, Amazon allows its employees to share their paid leave with spouses or partners who don't have this benefit at their workplace. You and your spouse or partner could both take three weeks off, either consecutively or concurrently, depending on your preference, to bond with your new child. Other companies, such as Deloitte and Etsy, pay for more weeks. And Netflix tops the list. During the first year after adoption, Netflix employees are guaranteed unlimited paid leave.

If you are adopting a child, and your employer is not abiding by FMLA, file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor. If your employer is not treating you with the same rights as they allow other adoptive parents, contact an employment lawyer today. Justice is blind. Don't let prejudice allow your employer to have a myopic view of your family.

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