Adoption is an overwhelming process for any woman. Not only are you physically exhausted from your pregnancy, you may feel emotionally exhausted trying to take care of your own mental health and well-being — especially if you’re the sole provider in your family. After going through so much, you definitely need a break to recuperate and get back on track. That’s where the FMLA, or Family and Medical Leave Act, comes in.

If you’re placing your child for adoption, you may be confused about what rights you’re entitled to receive during your employment. Here is what you need to know about “giving a baby up for adoption” at birth and maternity leave. As always, your adoption specialist will be readily available to answer any questions that you have about the adoption process, including maternity leave.

How Does Parental Leave work for Birth Mothers Placing a Baby for Adoption?

Pregnancy isn’t easy. When you’ve just given birth, the last thing you’ll want to do is come back into work on Monday morning. But you may be wondering if “giving a baby up” for adoption at birth and maternity leave can go hand-in-hand. They do! Placing a baby up for adoption doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to receive maternity leave, and as long as you meet certain conditions, you can receive just as much leave as any mother raising her baby.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is intended to protect those that have just gone through a pregnancy by ensuring their right to unpaid maternity leave. Eligible employees can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.  However, if you’ve already had to take time off of work due to pregnancy complications, that time may be counted toward your 12 weeks. Additionally, FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees. in addition, you must have worked at your current job for at least a year to be protected.

With that being said, you don’t have to take your entire 12 weeks of leave if you feel that you don’t need to. Sometimes, birth mothers feel that they’re ready to jump back into work right away, and others may feel like they only need a few weeks. You should take as much time as you need to so that you can get back on your feet in great condition.

You’re probably wondering, “Will I get paid during maternity leave?” Usually, you won’t be paid while you’re away from work. This can cause birth mothers experiencing financial strain to not take their entire maternity leave, especially if they’re the only source of income for their family. It’s a good idea to talk to your employer ahead of time to see if they offer paid or unpaid leave and to see if you can accumulate any paid time off that you’ve gained while you’ve been working. Your adoption professional may also be able to provide financial assistance during your pregnancy and maternity leave (see below).

What will My Employer Think of Me Taking Maternity Leave?

Now that you know a little bit more about FLMA for an adoption, there’s just one thing left to do — sit down with your boss. This process can seem a little intimidating for some women, especially if you’re worried that you may lose some of your hours or benefits because of your pregnancy. FLMA is intended to protect your rights during your pregnancy, but it’s not uncommon to hear about workplace discrimination due to a woman’s pregnancy.

It’s extremely important that you don’t wait until the last minute to speak to your employer about giving a baby up for adoption at birth and your maternity leave. Most companies provide leave for a woman needing FMLA for adoption, but you won’t know for sure if your company does until you ask.

The best place to go to is your HR department. Not only will they be able to explain your company’s maternity leave policies, they’ll also be able to advocate for your case if you’re experiencing workplace discrimination. If you think that you won’t need to take the maximum amount of leave for your pregnancy, let your HR representative know. This can help your case if you let your employer and HR representative know that you’ll be back earlier than expected.

Can I Receive Financial Assistance from the Adoption Agency During My Maternity Leave?

You might be in a situation where maternity leave isn’t an option for you, and you’re experiencing financial strain. Maybe you’ve just been let go from your job and you’re having trouble finding another one on such short notice. The good news is that, depending on your state’s laws, most adoption agencies can offer financial assistance after your pregnancy, usually up to four weeks. If you need to take more maternity leave, talk to your adoption specialist ahead of time to see what kind of assistance you’re eligible for.

We all need a break sometimes. If you’re placing a baby for adoption, this is especially important to remember. When you’re ready to learn more about maternity leave, or if you’re looking for advice as you’re talking to your HR department about FMLA and adoption, call an adoption specialist today.