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Bill offers more family leave to adoptive parents

By HEATHER GANN, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Legislation awaiting a vote in the Alabama Senate would update the state’s family leave laws for adoptive parents, bringing them more in line with what’s allowed biological parents.

Senate Bill 31, by Sen. Andrew Jones, R-Centre, copies federal law in requiring that employers offer the same unpaid 12 weeks of familial leave to employees that adopt children as they do to those who give birth to children. Adoptive parents would be able to take this leave up to a year after the adoption. 

The bill also allows state employees to donate their leave to another employee for an adoption as existing law does for birth mothers.  It requires employers give adoptive parents either the equivalent paid leave they offer for birth parents or give up to two weeks paid leave, whichever is lesser. This would exclusively apply to adoptive children under a year old.

“We need to bring the benefits more in line with what we do for a birth because we want to incentivize and encourage adoption in this state,” Jones recently on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal.

The bill has faced some resistance due to a possible perception that adoptive parents don’t need familial leave since the mothers do not have to recover physically from a birth. Jones said this time is still necessary so that adoptive parents have vital time to bond with their children in the same way birth parents do. 

“We need to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to extend those benefits and encourage and incentivize adoption so that we can make a way for those children who need a good home,” Jones said.

The bill was approved earlier this month in the Senate Children, Youth and Human Services Committee and could get a vote in the Senate when the Legislature’s regular session resumes in early February.

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