Nicole | Parental Benefits: Unworkable For My Family

By Nicole

When a woman has a baby most times she is able to stay home on maternity leave, this special time is important for both mother and baby to build an attachment, settle into routines and be able to grow and learn together.  This is a time that many parents look forward to and cherish. It can also be a challenging time financially however as maternity leave pay is quite a bit less than the family is used to bringing in.

Now imagine you have been trying for years and years to bring a baby into your family, you finally have been matched with a beautiful 9 month old baby girl (and she’s coming home in 2 weeks). What an exciting and busy time! Now because you are building your family through adoption you only get 9 months of parental leave, not the full 12 months that women who were blessed enough to birth a baby are able to have. This really bothers me, mostly because it does not seem fair that because I was not able to or chose not to birth my own baby and went the adoption route that I should have less time to bond with my new child. Also if you really think about it, adoptive parents often need more time to work on building an attachment. This time is important for new mothers who have birthed a child as well for sure, but they’ve had 9 months “with” that child and they are all their sweet new baby has ever known.

Most adoptive parents aren’t around for their child’s in utero experience and these children experience trauma and loss and therefor need more time and care to build healthy attachments. Even a newborn baby who had a healthy pregnancy and was placed with his adoptive parents right after birth still experiences trauma and loss, many people do not realize this. They are still leaving the only voice, smell and comfort they have ever known. Many children who have been adopted have had less than ideal in utero experiences and often are in the hands of a few caregivers before they come to their forever family (some children experience much worse than this as well). These children and families need as much time as possible to form as a new family and create and build attachments. I feel that adoptive families could often use more than the “standard” 12 months maternity leave but even if we were granted the same time as families built through birth it would be a step in the right direction.

In our situation our daughter came home when she was 9 months old in May 2014 and four months into my 9 months of parental leave, my son came home at birth in September 2014. I had no time to build up more EI hours and did not receive any parental leave with my son. I was due back to work from my parental leave when my daughter was 18 months old and my son was just 5 months old. With high daycare costs, this situation would be unworkable for us. By time I would have paid for care for an infant and a toddler, my salary as an ECE would have been gone. So, I stayed home with my children but financially it isn’t easy.

Our children have often already been through enough without us having to send them off to daycare nine short months after bringing them home. Let’s have our voices be heard and help the government realize that adoptive families should be entitled to everything all other Canadian families are entitled to.