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Virginia Passes Equal Family Leave for Adoptive Parents

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The Commonwealth of Virginia now offers six weeks of adoption leave to state employees that adopt a child younger than twelve months. This is equal to the amount of maternity leave extended to birth mothers. Introduced by state senator David R. Suetterlein (R- Roanoke), the adoption leave benefit bill (originally Senate Bill 1412) passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law on March 20, 2017.

Virginia Parental Leave Benefits Law

The law, which officially goes into effect on July 1, 2018, amended the Code of Virginia by adding a chapter to section 2.2-1209 Parental Leave Benefits. This chapter codifies six weeks of parental leave for full-time state employees that are the adoptive parents of an infant, as well as for the natural fathers of infants. This leave is comparable to the amount of maternity leave currently available to natural mothers. Employees are paid a percentage of their income, based on the amount of leave taken and the number of years in state employment. Before this addition to the Code of Virginia, state-employed adoptive parents and natural fathers were not awarded any kind of paid parental leave.

The Parental Leave Benefits Law is expected to cost the state as much as $839,000 a year. However, this figure estimates the value of the parental leave, not the cash cost of this benefit program.

Impact of the New Law on Virginia Adoptions 

Both adoptive and natural parents have the option to take unpaid, job-protected leave through FMLA for the birth or adoption of their child (assuming they do not fall through any of the law’s many loopholes). However, without paid parental leave, many adoptive parents cannot afford to take time off to bring home a new baby. Even those with vacation days to burn are limited to (at most) a few weeks. This may not even cover the time needed for travel, hospital stays for newborns, and/or court appearances. Virginia’s new parental leave law will lighten the burden for state employees that choose adoption.

It is also expected to encourage both adoptive mothers and fathers to take more time off work to bond with their new child. It can often take a long time and conscious effort to develop emotional attachments in adopted children. Developing secure attachments to adoptive parents is extremely important to the child’s emotional well-being and ability to form healthy relationships in the future. Supporting parents of adopted infants in those first few weeks at home creates happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children. Paid time off also allows state employees that are new parents to work more efficiently, after they have had time to adjust to this major life change. 

Considering Adoption? Call a Virginia Adoption Lawyer 

If you are considering adoption, it is recommended you speak to an adoption lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced family law attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, P.C. are happy to help with all stages of the adoption process. Contact our office in Leesburg, Virginia at 703-997-4982.

Resources:

lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+ful+CHAP0634

lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+sum+SB1412

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