It’s true that parents need time with their newborn At CSP, we believe that babies need time to bond with their parents and vice versa. Unfortunately, the current maternity and paternity laws in the United States aren’t friendly for parents using surrogacy. However, we hope that doesn’t stop you from finding a way to take time off when the new baby arrives. Parents need time with their newborns during the first weeks and months. This helps them get to know each other and form an attachment that lasts a lifetime. Exploring maternity and paternity Leave Laws When thinking about the fact that parents need time with their newborn, it’s important to look at laws and regulations for leave. U.S. law doesn’t regulate maternity leave. New parents can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, the employer is not required to offer any benefits beyond that. Nevertheless, many employers offer six or even 12 weeks of paid maternity leave under company policy. An employee may need to meet certain conditions to qualify. For example, they may need to have worked for the company for a certain length of time. Unfortunately, the FMLA doesn’t apply to everyone. Small businesses that have fewer than 50 employees don’t need to follow it. Additionally, the employee can only take up to 12 weeks off per year. They also must have worked for the company for 12 months before they can take unpaid leave. In Canada, maternity leave is mandated by the government. New mothers receive up to 15 weeks of paid time off. Additionally, they can take up to 52 weeks off from their jobs. Parental leave is also available for the father. The parents can split 35 weeks of leave after the baby is born. Unfortunately, there aren’t any provisions for intended parents who use a surrogate to have a baby. In most cases, the surrogate qualifies for traditional maternity leave. However, the intended parents have to take advantage of other paid time off, such as adoption leave or accrued vacation days. We need policy changes because parents need to spend time with their newborn Surrogacy is a relatively new phenomenon, and most employers don’t yet have policies in place to take this type of situation into account. In 2011, a woman named Kara Krill sued her employer Cubist when the company denied her maternity leave after she had twin babies through a surrogate. While she received maternity leave for her first child from the same employer, she was unable to carry another child due to a medical condition. When her twins were born, the company denied her paid leave of any kind. Even though the lawsuit was settled a year later, this case clearly indicates the necessity for a change in policies to include a surrogacy maternity leave. While the employer in Krill’s case pointed out that maternity leave was provided to help the mother recuperate from the physical aspects of childbirth, there’s much more to it than that. Whether you have physically given birth isn’t as important as the fact that you’ll be caring for a new family member. That’s also why many employers offer the same paid leave to parents who are adopting a child, even though the mother is not physically recuperating from giving birth. We know that the first few months you spend caring for your newborn are an incredibly important time for your family. You need to take the time to get to know your baby. Caring for a newborn is an around-the-clock responsibility. It leaves parents exhausted, which is why it’s important for new parents to take time off from work. Parents need to spend time with their newborn for bonding It’s difficult to understand what bonding means until you have experienced it yourself. Bonding with your baby describes the formation of an incredibly intense attachment. The love you feel for your newborn may seem overwhelming at times, but it only grows as time goes on. When you feel bonded with your child, your protective instincts are also activated to the fullest. The ideal time to start establishing this bond is within the first minutes and days of your newborn’s life. But even if you can’t see your new baby right away, you’ll still form a strong bond with your child over time. The best way to do this is to spend as much time with your baby during the first few months as possible. We know that doesn’t leave much time for work or other obligations, but this is how it should be. Make Time Off a Priority Bonding doesn’t always happen instantly for many reasons. Having a new baby is a huge adjustment, and it can take some time until you feel connected to your child. Therefore, we think it’s a good idea if you can discuss the maternity and paternity leave policy with your employer before the baby comes. Even if they’re not familiar with the unique situation that surrogacy presents, they may be able to help you with accumulating paid leave or other benefits that allow you to spend more time with your new baby. This could also be a good time to discuss alternative work arrangements later, including part-time work or working from home. Taking time off to be with your newborn baby is important for all parents. Single parents, gay parents, mothers, dads—all of them need to spend several weeks with their baby free of work obligations. While you can still spend time with your baby after you come home from work, you’ll miss out on a lot of bonding opportunities, which are so important during the first few months.