As we get further and further along in the adoption process, the more excited we are getting. We cannot wait to be mommy and daddy to a sweet Little One. We cannot wait to hold our baby, love our baby, care for our baby. Simply put, we cannot wait to be parents.
However, the journey so far hasn’t been without it’s bumps in the road. Nothing major, but bumps nonetheless. And one of the biggest bumps we’ve encountered hasn’t necessarily been about the adoption process. The bump has been something we will have to deal with once we have our baby.
When we first started this whole process, I was open with my work, telling them we are adopting, our family is expanding, and I will need to go on maternity leave when we have our baby. Which is all good and well. Except there was some confusion surrounding the laws on adoption and maternity leave. Wait, what?!?! We kept getting conflicting answers from various people, who we assumed would have some knowledge on the issue. Some people said there is no law for maternity leave for adoptive mothers, in the Basic Employment Act. Or the law is not clear, and does not specifically mention adoption and maternity leave. Others said that an adoptive mother is entitled to the same maternity benefits as a pregnant woman. But no one had a definitive answer. All the answers were “This is what I think it is…” This did not help us much.
And then, I came across a blog post, with the cold hard truth. I recently shared a post, asking fellow mom friends for tips/advice and mom-blogs I could follow, as we prepare for our Little One. And the response was amazing – thank you to everyone who shared your tips with me. Some blogs were shared with me as well.
One of these blogs was Shell Shocked Mummy. Laverne Vermeulen is the lovely lady behind Shell Shocked Mummy, who has adopted as well. And the first post I read on Shell Shocked Mummy, just happened to deal with maternity leave and adoption. And it was not what I expected, or what I was hoping for. As Laverne so aptly titled the post, it definitely is true that our government does not care about us. You see, as it turns out, there is no law at all that says an adoptive mom is entitled to any maternity leave at all. None. Nothing. Not one day. It is up to the discretion of the company you work for, to determine if you will be allowed to take maternity leave, and how long it will be. As an adoptive mom, you are not entitled to the standard 4 months leave.
I was horrified to read this. How can it be possible? How is this fair? I may not be pregnant. I may not be having a baby in the conventional, ‘usual’ way. But I am still having a baby. I will still be Mommy to a Little One. Our family is still expanding. We are having a baby. How can I not be granted the same maternity benefits as any other pregnant woman? I need that bonding time with my baby. Just as much as any other new mom needs that bonding time.
On that note, Shell Shocked Mummy is standing up for us. She is taking on the South African government. And fighting to have this law changed. A petition has been started. If you would like to add your name to this petition, you can do that here. I have added my name. Would you take a few minutes, and add yours to the list as well? Every name counts. Every name is one step closer to changing this law.
Thank you, Shell Shocked Mummy, for taking on this fight for us. And thank you to those who have already added their names to the petition.