Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thanks for nothing

MEMORANDUM
TO: My Boss
FROM: Your infertile employee who has worked her ass off for you for the last 10 years
RE: Denial of paid leave

I just wanted to say thank you for your recent letter denying my request for paid adoption leave.

Thank you for pointing out that I will not be giving birth, which means I won't be "sick," which explains why you won't allow me to use any of my 110 sick days when I bring our child home, unlike every employee who has a child the "natural" way. I appreciate your archaic point of view that a woman who gives birth is disabled and needs to take 8 weeks of sick days to recover, as opposed to you granting her paid time to take care of and bond with her child.  I personally know of several women who were out running errands within a week of leaving the hospital, but I guess they were still "disabled."  

I will try to remember that I am not pregnant so I will have no morning sickness, no fear of fifth disease, no doctor to "write me out." I will also have no labor from which to recover. I will be transitioning a child into our home who has experienced trauma, but that is not the same as pregnancy or childbirth and certainly not worthy of the same amount of paid time off. . .or any paid time off.  Thank you for reminding me that building your family through pregnancy and adoption are completely unrelated and that one is clearly less than the other.

Thank you for informing me that DH and I had better start figuring out how we're going to live on one income for a few months. I appreciate you adding in financial stress to all the other stress that adoption brings with it.  Did you know that less than 1% of all employees will need adoption leave? It's not like it's going to break you. By the way, how much did it cost for those team-building sweatshirts that you gave everyone at the start of the year? I bet it's less than it would cost you for my substitute. If I get people to dig them out from the back of their closets and give them back, will you let me have a few sick days?

Thank you for making me feel even more isolated and resentful because of my lack of fertility. I will try to not to think about how much paid time several women with whom I work have taken off  due to their pregnancies alone.  And I'm not talking reasonable time off, I'm talking milking it for all it's worth and leaving others to pick up the slack.  I will try not to point out that, in addition to using an extraordinary number of sick days during pregnancy, each of those women also took her full 40 sick day allotment after the baby was born.  I will try to refrain from calculating how much all that time has cost the district in comparison to my simple request. 

Thank your for making me feel like I'm an idiot by requesting that you to use the discretion that I know is at your disposal to grant me some sick days.  I understand your desire to ignore that discretion and stick to the letter of the contract. In the same way, I am sure you will understand when I use my discretion to stick to the contract in the future. I'm not talking about in my classroom because I will never compromise there. But all the extra time I've spent making life easier for the administration suddenly seems like an exercise in masochism.  What a fool I was to think that going above and beyond would count for something!  I have accumulated 11o sick days because I often came to school when I felt unwell.  When I had my ovary removed, I came back at the earliest possible time even though I felt like crap.  I didn't take whole days for any of my IUIs.  I didn't stay home after ER or ET.  Thank you for teaching me a lesson about what you really value.  Now I know.

Thanks for everything.  Thanks for nothing.

Respectfully yours,

K

28 comments:

Lost in Space said...

Karen, this is seriously messed up on every level. Is there not some kind of family medical leave act in your state? I am guessing you have already looked into it, but this just seems very wrong to me. I'm sorry and so beyond pissed off for you right now.

Wendy said...

Oh, Karen. Many, many hugs to you. That just sucks.

Karen said...

Brenda, we do have FMLA but that's unpaid time. That's basically what my district is offering me. However, if I gave birth to a child, I could use 40 sick days which would essentially mean it would be paid leave instead. So fertile=40 paid days to bond with your child. Infertile=no paid days to bond.

Lost in Space said...

Wow, that is so messed up. I sent you a message on FB. This really just has my blood boiling so I can only imagine how angry you are.....

Reggie Boppy said...

Karen- My district is the same way. It's discrimination if you ask me. I am allowed 5 days for an adoption and it comes out of our sick time! You and I know that 5 days is not enough time when dealing with ICPC. FMLA is nice, but it would be nicer if it was paid.

We are trying to not only pay for adoption but also save enough so I can stay at home for 2-3 months. If needed, we're going to tap into one of our 401ks. It's ridiculous that we would have to of course.

Thanks for nothing school districts!

G & H said...

I am so mad for you and I wish you could give her that letter although it is to kind to her! Stay strong and do what is best for YOU and YOUR FAMILY!

Praying for you!

Beautiful Mess said...

Isn't there someone you can go to about this? It just doesn't seem right. It pisses me off, so I can only imagine how pissed off you are. I hope there's some type of resolution for you about this. Thinking of you and sending you hugs!

kittyquilt said...

That makes me SO mad!! I can't believe they would just deny your request like that.
I'm so sorry that you have one more obstacle to overcome on your path to becoming a mom. Think it would help if we all wrote angry letters to your boss?
(((hugs)))

Yoka said...

Is this legal? That really stinks!!! I hate your boss.

Anonymous said...

I am utterly shocked that you were denied - makes absolutely no sense. Geez, who knew giving birth could be so fiscally lucrative. Just absurd...

I really wish you could send that letter.

Natalie said...

OMG just absurd! How dare they place more value over birthing a child than adopting? WTH? And after all you've done for them, all the times you have busted your butt to NOT use that sick time. Assholes. Seriously. I am furious. This country needs to wake the fuck up and realize that mothers and families are important enough to support, not dismiss.

WaterBishop said...

*&%&^$^*%$%^&*&!!!!!!!
I am freaking seething with rage for you. Ridiculous. I would seriously petition to change that policy. it IS discrimination.

Barb said...

Holy SHIT, what a horrible boss!! It's ESPECIALLY bad considering he works for CHILDREN. AAAAAAARGH. I'm so so so sorry. That's one good thing about big corporations (one of the few), they are generally more pushed to do adoption time b/c of how they're viewed. Could you write to administrators or something? I know it may not do your case any good, but at least it would open their eyes maybe?

BT said...

I agree that this is absurd. However, as absurd as it is, it is not at all uncommon. Time to get politicized. Even if you can't change it for you, maybe you can save other adoptive parents from the same hearache. Are you unionized? If so, your union should address this in collective bargaining. It is blatantly discriminatory. Short of getting it fixed, is there any way you can get yourself diagnosed with any "sickness" (e.g., stress) once you adopt so that you can be out on sick leave?? That is what absurd discriminatory policies do: they lead to people taking advantage.

Shelby said...

Wow. I cannot get over how incredibly discriminatory this is. I mean, there should be laws beyond FMLA for this--civil rights laws, if you ask me. I am so upset for you. Grrrr!

Me said...

That's COMPLETE bullshit.

Hummingbird said...

Karen, this sucks! Was it your principal or someone in HR who made this decision?

Do you have a certain amount of time you are allowed to take off without a doctor's note? For us, it's 3 days. So I would take those 3 days, show up for one, take another 3, show up...etc.

Or do the mental health thing! Yeah, stress over being misunderstood with the adoption. Go with that!

Hugs to you!

Erin said...

Paging union representation... union lawyer??

This is complete garbage. Fight it.

Cindy Nguyen said...

This really makes me want to go kick someone's ass.

Coming2Terms said...

I'm aghast that an employer can be so blatantly disagreeable and unwilling to contemplate that there's an important and delicate adjustment period for *all* children -- regardless of how they arrive.

Unbelievable...simply unbelievable.

birthmothertalks said...

I am sorry you are being treated this way. It really stinks, but you won't be the first person who had to take unpaid leave for a baby. Although I do see your point that you are being treated different compared to the other women at your place of employment.

nh said...

I'm left wordless - that is stupid. I can't believe that you aren't allowed paid time off. Just to make a comparison in the UK; you are entitled to the same time off for adoption as you are for maternity leave! You get statutory adoption leave for 39weeks - ok it's not a fortune but at least it's something!

Vinnie and Becky said...

This is flat out discrimination and it is wrong. Many lawyers will provide 1/2-1 hour free consultations to see if they may be able to help you. I would suggest possibly looking into a lawyer who specializes in adoption. He/she may be able to give you some advice or even write a letter to your boss/district. If nothing else, maybe you can start a petition amoungst other teachers...hopefully some of THEM have their heads screwed on straight and see how ridiculous this is!

RaizenBoyz said...

There has to be a way around this!!! So wrong!

Sara said...

Oh my god, that SUCKS!

It makes me sick just to think about it. It must make you feel pretty sick too. Like sick enough to take 40 sick days starting the day that you adopt. Seriously. Those bastards deserve it.

Can you go over your boss' head? I agree about contacting your union and HR. That is really fucked up, (even by the bizarro standards of fertiles), and I'm sure that most reasonable people would agree. How about a phone call to the local paper?

I was working (at home) less than a week after giving birth. Disabled my ass.

That's total crap. I'm so sorry.

Nic said...

I say when you get your child, call in sick every day. Oh and they suck. It is not right and I think you should contact the ACLU or something.

Kellie said...

Absolutely ridiculous.

S said...

I'm so angry for you. Not that you need any more anger. This is just f**ked up, on so many levels!

(I essentially got fired for my IVF - after my last miscarriage which they knew about- even though I was entitled to medical leave, was making my budget and essentially being an excellent employee).

Adoption leave is compulsory here. Paid adoption is usually available at those workplaces that have paid parental leave. I hope you are able to look into this shitty discrimination further. They shouldn't be allowed to discriminate like this.

Arrgh.