I brought the issue to the attention of my union because it was pointed out to me by the administration that the reason I was denied was due to contract language.* Most involved in the union were completely unaware of the distinction that our contract made between adoption and birth. The policy has been there for a while, but few have tested it and all believed our administration had the discretion to offer more leave to teachers if they chose. There was a lot of outrage and disbelief and many apologies.
Well, this was a negotiation year and I just found out that our new contract will include a maternity leave provision for adoption that is exactly the same as that for childbirth. We're not getting much else due to the state of the economy, but this was one language change that our union pushed for and that our school committee completely supported.
What does this mean for me? It means that if DH and I get a placement during the school year, I'll be able to take 8 weeks of paid leave, using 40 of my 120-odd sick days. It means that we won't lose two months of income and DH won't have to work like a dog to make up for that. It means that I won't feel like a second-class citizen compared to my coworkers just because I'm adopting. It means less resentment, less jealousy. It means I will get to spend time with our new child, easing the transition, without worrying about money. It feels like a validation of our way to build a family.
Of course, if we get a placement this summer then I won't have the opportunity to use any of this paid time since I'm already off, but that's a trade I'd be more than willing to make.
*I know there are lots of different opinions about the advantages/disadvantages of unions, but I've always been a union supporter. It's a result of my working-class background. However, I am not someone who has ever worked only to a contract. I take pride in my profession and have always gone well above and beyond what was required, as do all the teachers I know. That's why it felt even more like a slap in the face when the contract language was used as a reason to deny me paid leave.