#AllKidsNeedParents: Give Equal Parental Leaves to Adoptive Parents
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When my children and I go out for a walk, nobody can tell that my daughter is adopted and my son is my biological child. Two-year-old Inaya doesn’t let anyone scold her brother Lakshya. And eight-year-old Lakshya always remembers to ask for more candy for his sister when he gets some.
Inaya rules our family and her laughter echoes in our home all the time.
But things were not like this when we brought her home, six months ago. She was a quiet child who wouldn’t utter a word even though she had already started speaking by then. I didn’t see her smile for at least 15 days.
She was terrified. Her caretakers and friends at the orphanage had been her family for her entire one-and-half-year-long life. She didn’t even know to call me “Mumma”. Instead, for two months, she called me “Didi”, like her caretakers at the orphanage.
This child needed my attention and I was lucky because the organisation where I worked gave me four months of parental leave. I experienced her milestones as she grew: The first time she smiled, the first time she called me “Aeeee Didi” and the first time she laughed out loud. I was there to hold her when she missed her orphanage family and cried. I was there for afternoon naps, and evening walks. But most importantly, I was there to help her understand that I was her mother.
Not everybody is as lucky as me. My friends Neha and Sharad struggled to get adoption leave. This has to change!
Sign my petition to get the Minister for Labour and Employment to provide equal parental leaves to adoptive parents. The currently existing Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act sets the stage for discrimination against adoptive parents and adopted children.
Under the existing act, only a parent who adopts a child of less than three months of age gets maternity leaves. Given the process of adoption, it is very rare to get a child of less than three months of age. And when a parent adopts an older child, they need just as much patience and attention to help them deal with the changes in their lives.
Without the support of the Maternity Benefits Act, any leave is left to the employer’s discretion. Adoptive parents have to negotiate unpaid leave and risk their jobs to take time off from work when their child comes home.
Single parents are in an even more precarious position because they are the sole providers of the family and need to take on higher risk.
Recently, the Central Adoption Resources Authority (CARA) decided to give preference to single women over the age of 40 as potential adoptive parents. This decision further underlines the need to cover all adoptive mothers under India’s maternity benefits. And because most organisations don't offer paternity leave benefits, single adoptive fathers must be included as well.
Unequal maternity benefits for adoption reinforce biases against adopted children.
Both the children and parents involved in an adoption need mental and emotional support in the initial months. The Indian government’s parental benefits must show that it treats adoption at par with childbirth.
Please sign my petition so together we can make sure that all children and parents are treated equally because #AllKidsNeedParents.
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Deepika Ahuja needs your help with “.@Manekagandhibjp @santoshgangwar @rajeevgowda @CEO_CARA #AllKidsNeedParents Give equal parental leaves to adoptive parents!”. Join Deepika and 13,673 supporters today.