Do Adoptive Dads Rich and Brian Deserve Paid Paternity Leave?
When Seattle husbands Rich and Brian found out they were going to be dads, their initial reaction was panic. "It was so early in the adoption process, we weren't really ready for anything," remembered Brian. "We hadn't read any books, we didn't have a crib, we had nothing... we were going to be dads and the baby was going to be here in a week!"
"I didn't really think about being a parent," added Rich, "and more what do we needed to do logistically, and how we were going to make it all work."
The dads adopted Emerson from birth and raising a girl has taught the dads a lot; they are her biggest advocates. The dads are making sure that they're "raising a girl who feels empowered and able to speak up, play sports, just as anyone else does."
When Emerson first came home with her dads, Brian did not receive any paid paternity leave and had to use all that was left of his PTO. While Rich did have access to paid leave, he was very new to his job and didn't feel as though it would've been acceptable for him to utilize what was available. Both regret not spending more time with Emerson when she first came home.
Brian recalled his lack of paternity leave, "It forced me to not spend as much time bonding with my daughter as I would've liked." And upon returning to work after using PTO, Brian didn't think he was his best self. "I was sleep deprived, I was tired, I was eager to get home every day to be with me kid, and so I really wish they had provided paid parental leave."
"I think it's important for all dads to have paid parental leave," said Rich, "based on the fact that I didn't take the leave I was offered and I feel like I missed out bonding more closely with Emerson." Richard remembers it took a few months to feel like he was Emerson's dad and he believes this is because he didn't have that initial time to bond with his daughter. "When Emerson was an infant, strangers would come up to me and say, 'is she yours?' And my first instinct was to say 'no' because it just didn't seem real, I didn't believe in my head that I was her father, that I was her dad. And I think missing out on that bonding time, building that relationship with her, was something I could've done to solidify that I was her father."
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Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill on October 22, and drive urgency behind this issue.
For those who wish to follow this fight and share their own stories, join Dove Men+Care's Advocates for Paternity Leave on Facebook. It's a private group that is dedicated to inspiring the community with news of policy changes, engaging them in an open dialogue around the issue and their own experiences, and igniting the community to take a stand and impact change in Washington, D.C.