updates: the adoption, telling my boss she risks losing me if she doesn’t hire help, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. Talking about my pregnancy at work when I’m placing the baby for adoption (first update here)

Since I sent my first update before I had gone back to work after my maternity leave, I felt like I could give you a quick second one now that I’ve been back in the office (well, working—I wasn’t in the office for very long)! Luckily, my update now is certainly in line with my first one—everyone at work was great. My pregnancy and my leave haven’t appeared to set me back professionally at all; in fact, I received a promotion and a raise earlier this year! Most people seemed happy to see me on my first day back, and some of my close coworkers allowed me to share whatever I wanted about the GORGEOUS baby I gave birth to—and they still do! It’s nice to be able to openly rejoice in my birth daughter’s life and at least refer to the time I was pregnant without having to tiptoe around it. Overall, work has gone forward as usual. I have no complaints at all. I’ve never once wondered if I’ve been discriminated against for having taken leave or for having chosen to place. I have a really wonderful workplace and feel very lucky and blessed to have gone through this huge challenge in such a professionally supportive environment.

Of course, I feel even luckier to have chosen wonderful adoptive parents who are people of their word, and allow me to be a small part of their lives. I get regular updates that are a balm to my soul. She’s a beautiful baby and her parents look very happy. I still have hard days, but one thing I’ve learned in my therapy is that hard days are still only 24 hours long. Overall, I am doing very well and am continuing to rebuild a good life for myself. No regrets.

Thank you again for you & the commentariat’s support and well wishes. They have been felt and remembered in the difficult moments. This isn’t a particularly interesting or dramatic update, but I figured someone may be uplifted by hearing it.

2. How do I tell my boss if she doesn’t fill the empty position I’m covering, she’ll lose me too?

I actually have a couple of updates since I wrote in last year!

The first is that your advice prompted me to reassess which parts of my job were truly, absolutely, medically essential and which were not. There was definitely room for me to cut back in some places and my supervisor was very supportive of me doing so.

The second step I took was to then email my supervisor that there was still sometimes more essential work on my plate than one person can handle. We had a sit-down in which she emphasized that I needed to use the system in place to send my work overflow to another department (they are all qualified but some approach the work with really negative attitudes that I think had stopped me from leaning on them in the past), and helped me come up with strategies to identify which work I should prioritize doing myself versus leaving to others.

Also, at the beginning of the year, I got some good news- that the person who left the position right when I started was coming back part-time to help me out! Her new work is seasonal, so she was only back for a few months.

Around the time she was wrapping up, I got the even better news that someone was being promoted from a different department to fill the empty position! Initially the plan was for her to transition in late April, but with the pandemic that has been delayed. However, my habits have definitely improved even without her- I am taking on less work and actively choosing to take my breaks when I need them. I even scheduled some upcoming days off just to take time for myself!

I wanted to highlight something that had a huge impact on me, and that is the kindness and empathy of the commenters in my original post. I was unfortunately working until very late the day the post went up, so I wasn’t able to engage as much as I wanted to, but I was very, very touched. I think sometimes we can doubt the validity of our own feelings and experiences, and the support from the commenters gave me a lot of confidence to make these changes and made me feel very cared for.

In terms of my future, I am happy with where I am for now, but have started thinking about going back to school in the next few years. Something to look forward to!

3. How managers should communicate decisions they don’t agree with?

My boss didn’t get any better about communicating with us. In fact, when pushed to advocate for us, they started responding, “I have to think about keeping my job.” I got so frustrated that I got into a pretty big fight with them in a meeting, with me saying, “Maybe you shouldn’t keep your job if you’re not going to do it” which is obviously bad bad bad. Very shortly a job opportunity presented itself and I jumped. The administrators are much more proactive, in an organization that is in good shape (at least pre-Covid!), and it’s like night and day. I hadn’t realized how negatively my workplace had been affecting me until I changed jobs and a bunch of nagging health issues cleared up. I more fully realize that individual workers cannot fix a broken system.

{ 71 comments… read them below }

  1. Taylor*

    So happy to hear back from the OP who gave their baby up for adoption. So so happy for you and all of your accomplishments!

    1. Mama Bear*

      Same. I’m glad that things are going well overall and it sounds like OP has a good support system.

    2. HannahS*

      Agree, so lovely of her to update us! She has done wonderful things for herself, and a wonderful thing for others. So nice to hear about during these troubled times.

    3. Katefish*

      OP #1’s wonderful update made me tear up! So nice to hear about a good person at a good workplace right now.

    4. No Name Today*

      Dear OP, thank you for keeping us updated. I want to acknowledge that you made a hard choice for yourself but I hope that, as time goes on, any hurting part of your heart can be healed. Thirty-two years ago, another young woman made the same decision as you and the child she bore became my beloved daughter. Her adoption was closed and there has not been any contact but I often stop and think of her and praay that her life became what she wanted it to be. Every year on my daughter’s birthday, I say a special prayer that her birthmother’s heart does not hurt and that she can feel that her child is loved, now even more by her partner and their three adorable little ones.

    5. Happy@home*

      As an adoptive mother twice over, I’m glad that LW1 had such a supportive work environment. For too long, adoption was a dark secret.

    6. LizardOfOdds*

      Agree with the sentiment. I just want to call out that the phrasing “placed for adoption” is generally preferred over “gave up,” especially in open adoption placements like the one here. It might seem like a semantics, but for many of us in the open adoption community, it’s important. :)

  2. LoV*

    Oh dang: “with me saying, “Maybe you shouldn’t keep your job if you’re not going to do it”” (Glad you were able to find a new opportunity where you were happier. )

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I actually love this. I know it’s not generally okay to tango with your boss but sometimes you gotta flex. Then suffer the consequences.

    2. Ermintrude*

      I’m glad somebody said that to the manager though. Congratulations to this OP for taking a leap and landing perfectly, too.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      Yes, I love this. I do agree that sometimes you have to push back. Depending on the person, it could end up being a negative. But sometimes when I’ve pushed back emphatically, I think it earned me some respect in their eyes, and they changed their attitude.

  3. LGC*

    I got so frustrated that I got into a pretty big fight with them in a meeting, with me saying, “Maybe you shouldn’t keep your job if you’re not going to do it” which is obviously bad bad bad.

    It was actually good good good.

    (Okay, I hear you on that it wasn’t the most diplomatic thing to say. But also, your old manager was more useless than [REDACTED BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN], so…like, ain’t nobody should be mad at you for snapping at them. Like, yes, they need to keep their job. But also maybe don’t explicitly tell your subordinates that you value your paycheck more than them?)

      1. Frumple Rock*

        What a nice (and accurate) way to put it. The manager kept using their “job” as an excuse to … not do their job well.

    1. only acting normal*

      I once had a manager tell us it was our job to “watch his back” and his job to do the same for his boss etc. Which… what?
      Needless to say he was a terrible manager, and none of us was the least inclined to “watch his back”.

      1. ArtK*

        First day with a new boss: “You make me look good, I’ll make you look good.”

        He didn’t last long, but I think it was the “If you need drugs, see me” more than the above.

  4. TK*

    I cried reading the first update and cried reading this one, as well! The letter writer sounds like a lovely woman who face a big challenge with such strength and grace. I’m so happy that her employer, coworkers, and baby’s parents have all turned out to be great. The happiest outcome for all!

    1. Jen M.*

      Same! This is the best kind of update to get in the middle of a tough time. I’m so moved by your generosity of spirit, OP #1. I’m glad you’re experiencing that from others as well.

  5. AdAgencyChick*

    “hard days are still only 24 hours long”

    Thank you for that, OP1! I’m going to remember that and use it for sure.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I loved that too. So going to remember that. Thank you #1 for that perfect line for the times. Also fantastic update.

    2. drpuma*

      Was coming here to say exactly that. Thank you OP1, I think you helped a lot of the commentators today!

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      +1, and thanks to AdAgencyChick for starting this thread. I have a whole support group* with whom to share this. (*Not related to childbirth, adoption, or infertilility. Other issues.)

  6. Leah K.*

    “Maybe you shouldn’t keep your job if you’re not going to do it” – might not have been the most diplomatic thing to say, but I bet it was so satisfying.

      1. Dr Rat*

        Oh, yes! We need an Ask A Manager Wax Museum with a full wax replica of the Cod-bye letter. This could go in the Great Comebacks wing. It’s down the hall from the Great Diorama room, featuring Manager Note on a Grave and Sneaking in to Horrify Your Employee During Chemo.

    1. Not All*

      I said something similar to a manager once. No regrets! Not even convinced it was bad in that situation!

      (The next level up started the process to terminate him shortly after that…we are federal, he was a minority in an agency under a pick push to recruit more women/minorities, only a few years before being eligible to retire and they still were going to terminate him which says a lot about just how incompetent he was)

  7. Big Al*

    OP1: Big hugs from an adoptive mom. I think about my daughter’s birthmom every day, even 9 years later. I still send her pics once a year and hope that they make her smile. When I see my daughter’s beautiful and generous heart, I know I’m seeing some of her birthmom’s personality showing through. My point is, know that you are loved by your daughter’s adoptive family too.

    1. Big happy extended family*

      It follows for generations. I’ve got an aunt and uncle, numerous cousins, and a best friend who are all adopted. I’m so grateful that they ended up in my life, and do find myself thinking of their birth families warmly from time to time. In the case of one cousin who was not adopted as an infant, she retained a relationship with her birth mother and I got to meet her at my cousin’s wedding. We were all delighted to be there together and meeting each other and I consider her an extension of my family now as well.

    2. No Name Today*

      My daughter also has her birthmother’s generous heart. Right now, she’s an “essential worker” with three small kids and not much money at all. After reading that SNAP (food stamp) eligibility in our state had been loosened a bit, I suggested that she might now be eligible. Her reply : “(Partner) and I are able to feed our kids now so I don’t want to take something away from someone else who might need it more than we do.” I am so proud of her.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        She sounds lovely and you must be so proud! PLEASE tell her that SNAP is an entitlement, not a limited pool of money, and she can get benefits without taking anything from other people who need it. It’s really, totally ok to do and it might make her family’s life a little easier.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      “When I see my daughter’s beautiful and generous heart, I know I’m seeing some of her birthmom’s personality showing through.”

      Don’t forget that you’re also seeing your own loving presence in her life as well :)

    4. Free Meerkats*

      I have a friend who was adopted. She now has two birthdays, her biobirthday and her adopted birthday. At least that’s how she looks at them.

  8. CupcakeCounter*

    Your letter and the updates have been my favorites on here. Not going to lie – I called both my mom and bio mom after your last update and again today. Just to talk because they made it possible for me to do that. So glad the people you chose for your daughter turned out to be the type of people you really hoped they would be.

  9. LeighTX*

    LW#1, some of my favorite people are adopted and on their behalf I want to thank you, and tell you that you’re amazing. I am so glad to hear you’re doing well, and I hope time eases the grief you feel. You did a selfless thing, and you deserve all the support in the world. :)

  10. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    “Maybe you shouldn’t keep your job if you’re not going to do it”–epic! You have no idea how many managers I’ve had that I would have liked to say that to. Of course, at an exit interview, when the HR person asked why I was leaving, I said, “Because if I have to report to [X] for one more hour of my career, I will go out on the parking lot and shoot myself.”

  11. Lady Heather*

    LW2, I remember the anger I felt on your behalf when I read your letter and I’m glad things are better now!

  12. I Need That pen*

    I am so happy about the letter writer and the adoption. There’s no question that it couldn’t have been easy but the ending was what I think we were all hoping for. What a great thing to read about, a real spirit lifter.

  13. Nassan*

    LW#2, great update. I’m happy you made personal progress, have a supportive boss (how often we read of bosses just saying “make it happen”) and are finally getting help

  14. Frumple Rock*

    Commenting simply to add to the crowd who’s so happy to hear from LW #1 that things are going well!! You made a decision that was really difficult, at an age when life is not typically kind no matter the circumstances, when the circumstances were also quite unkind to you. I’m so happy for you and I’m thankful you found support here.

  15. YoungTen*

    op1, Im so glad you are doing well. it sounds like you have found great people in work and parents for your birth daughter!

Comments are closed.