my office isn’t acknowledging my adopted baby

A reader writes:

After a long wait, my spouse and I were finally paired with a birth family for an infant adoption and got to bring our son home! This is a complicated situation with work because I work in a position that requires coverage and the nature of the adoption process is unpredictable. Most domestic infant adoption agencies have the birth mother choose an adoptive family so it could be a very brief wait or an extremely long one (ours was on the longer end of normal). I handled it as best I could (I think): I informed my direct supervisors that we were undergoing this process shortly before we were approved and told them ASAP when we had a “lead” that would require some quick movement. I also informed HR that we were waiting, and my team since I am a “team lead” (which means mostly that I am an individual contributor but also mediate communications between my small team and leadership).

We found out that we were chosen to parent our son on a Friday evening—after working hours—but I immediately called my (current) direct supervisor, before even anyone in my family. (My usual direct supervisor is on maternity leave herself, which will be relevant later.) I worked long hours Saturday, Sunday, and Monday because I knew I was going to need to travel on Tuesday to pick him up. I left my work in an honestly stellar place—it was as easy as could be hoped, and much easier than could be reasonably expected, for someone else to jump in and take over my projects. All went well with the adoptive placement and I officially put in for leave.

The thing is, I feel weird about how it’s all been handled at my workplace. First of all, as I was getting the news of the baby’s birth and preparing to drive eight hours to pick him up, my boss texted me to ask the members of my team about something while they were all in the building and I was not. I reminded him I was out and the reason and he told me to text them anyway. (Couldn’t he go talk to them or text them himself?) The work that I did to prep for being out is being redone despite my having shared it with all the relevant people, and there are emails being sent that I am cc’d on basically implying that I left them in the lurch and/or asking me to do things while on leave. Not a single person has sent me a congratulatory or well-wishing message unless it was also accompanied by a request for me to complete a task. It’s definitely not that people don’t know—it was mentioned in our weekly newsletter.

To add insult to injury, when my supervisor was preparing to go on maternity leave, there was a baby shower held for her and everyone who works under her was asked to pitch in and contribute to a group gift. We were also asked to record something for a congratulatory video that someone put together. People also brought in their own gifts for the baby. I don’t need gifts, but it feels weird that just a few months later, I didn’t even get a card stuck in the mail or even a congratulatory email thread in the weeks after my son’s birth and adoption. Two other folks (at lower levels than me) have had babies since I’ve been there and there was no fanfare for them either, but I had hoped the difference in how they were treated was just due to timing (one was RIGHT at the beginning of the pandemic and the other was during a change in leadership). Again, I don’t need the gifts or the party, but I would have appreciated some sort of acknowledgement of being a new mom!

This has sure driven home your opinions about “we’re a family” workplaces and not gifting up, but also it’s weird, right? My spouse’s workplace has done a lot for us and been very kind, so maybe my calibration is off? Am I expecting too much? Should I be reading anything into this? Once I’m back, is there a way to say something without sounding like I’m begging for gifts? I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

You are not expecting too much! Your calibration is not off.

But I don’t think you should read anything into it other than “people are weird and clueless about adoption.” I don’t know why that is; after all, most people understand that maternity leave isn’t just about recovering from the birth but is also about bonding with and adjusting to a new baby, and that a new baby is still a momentous thing even when you didn’t deliver one from your own body (see: fathers). But still, people are sometimes weird and clueless about adoption.

Cluelessness aside, though, I am not happy with your coworkers, and particularly your boss. Sending you work to do while your baby was being born = not okay. Asking you to do more work while you’re on leave = not okay. (And if you’re on FMLA, legally that’s considered FMLA interference, which is against the law. If they’re still contacting you, feel free to point that out — or just simply be unavailable and don’t respond to messages.)

It is interesting that while your office did a shower, gift, and video for your manager, two other lower-level people in addition to you got nothing. You could be right that it was just bad timing for the other two, but it might indicate that this is less about adoption and more about your office being troublingly hierarchical about whose milestones get recognized. (Your manager should have recognized that and either said no to the plans for her or ensured that others got similar recognition.)

As for whether there’s a way to address it when you’re back: probably! Since you’re not the only one who has been ignored, you could frame it as, “I noticed that the way we handle babies has been really uneven. We did a shower, gifts, and video for Jane, but nothing for Lucinda, Cecil, or me. What do you think about standardizing what we do going forward so people don’t feel overlooked or left out?”

You could also try saying to your boss, “Did I need to handle the planning for my maternity leave differently? I let everyone affected know the likely timeline, worked long hours in advance to make sure everything was in place, and thought I had left things in really good shape for someone else to step in on my projects. But people kept trying to send me work despite knowing our baby had arrived, and I got the sense people felt left in the lurch. Was there something I should have done differently, or was there some other communication issue that we should handle differently in the future?” It doesn’t sound like you did mishandle anything on your side, but this would let you bring the problem to your boss’s attention constructively.

Alternately, you could wait until your regular manager is back from her own maternity leave and debrief what happened with her. She might be better positioned to understand and act on your feedback than the “do this task while you’re on your way to pick up your baby” interim guy is.

Congratulations on the baby!

Read an update to this letter

{ 282 comments… read them below }

  1. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Congrats on the baby!
    Believe people when they tell you or show you who they are.
    I have a new job and while the struggles and personalities are real in both places, only the new one handles them like, well, adults.

      1. Letter Writer*

        Thank you! Honestly this is the latest in a long line of things that are making me feel inclined to move on sooner rather than later.

        1. Pants*

          Know your worth. It sounds like you do* and have a great head on your shoulders.

          *If you don’t, allow me to tell you: you are smart, amazing, kind, wonderful, loving, and deserving of all good things in life. Anyone who doesn’t see that doesn’t deserve your presence in their life.

        2. Momma Bear*

          Firstly, Congrats!

          Secondly, I’m not surprised to hear you say that. Having a child really changed my perspective on my old job and gave me the nudge I needed to move on. I took too long and will kick myself for trying to make the best of it for a year, but I don’t regret leaving in the end. If this is the tip of the iceberg, then dust of the resume. I’d feel really insulted, especially if my work was being redone. You might also need to talk to HR about the FMLA interference. Does your office have an official adoption or foster placement policy? Remind people of that. If your out of office allows you to have an internal vs external message, I think it’s reasonable to include that you are on maternity leave in that message.

          I don’t like office baby showers. They feel like popularity contests. I’m sorry you didn’t even get a card.

        3. allathian*

          Congrats on the baby! I hope your manager, who is a parent, is more understanding and sympathetic than the interim guy. But I guess you never know, given how weird some people are about adoptions.

        4. Caroline Bowman*

          Many congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby!

          Your office, to put it bluntly, are aszhats. Yes, that’s right. I’m saying it. You prepared thoroughly, you were totally direct and honest with the nature of the situation, and also, people who biologically have babies frequently are very suddenly unable to work / return to work / placed on bedrest… and a whole host of other unforeseen contingencies. It’s 100% a thing, however one comes to be a parent. Your boss and your colleagues have shown themselves to be really not-great. I’d genuinely be really hurt and upset. It’s not about gifts or cards or parties, but some acknowledgement of a huge milestone event in a supposedly-valued employee’s life when they have gone above and beyond to do things properly re work cover is awful.

          If it were me, I’d definitely say something when I got back to the office, and meanwhile, ignore any work contact at all beyond ”how are you doing? Can we see pictures?” types of communication.

        5. BB8*

          First, congrats! Second, I’m sorry your work was so disappointing on this issue. You’ve made me realize how lucky I was to be the 4th or 5th person at my workplace to adopt, so people at my work were already a bit used to it. Shout out to the person, Rose, who adopted about 3 people before me and got the then-standard crappy adoption leave of just a few weeks, and afterwards pushed for parity with maternity leave. Thanks to Rose, I got a full 10 weeks paid when I adopted my kiddo a few years ago.

          I appreciate you bringing this question here, OP. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear from other working, adoptive parents. My adoption community has gotten a bit spread out in recent years, and I’ve been missing that connection lately.

          Lastly, for any bosses or managers who’d like to learn a bit more about adoption because they have/might one day have an employee who adopts, I’d like, to recommend the book, In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You to Know by Elisabeth O’Toole. It’s specifically meant for people in an adopting parent’s life, and has info on what not to say, and how to be supportive.

    1. Homebody*

      Excellent advice, especially with adoption! Things can fall into place rather quickly with placement, so I hope OP is able to settle in and gets to take advantage of that family bonding time. Congratulations on your new baby boy!

      People can be really weird about adoption. My family adopted several kids, and I found that there is this strange prejudice around it…where since the kids aren’t biological to the parents, they tend to be less significant. (Lots of layers to unpeel in that onion, huh?) Or because you have adopted family there was some “unspoken drama” around the event and people are uncomfortable to bring it up. Most of my coworkers don’t really know how to respond when I talk about adoption. My guess is that what’s happening here to some extent. It’s very silly and I’m sorry you have to deal with it. Know that you’re not being the weird one, OP.

      1. SaffyTaffy*

        @ Homebody would you believe a dear friend of our family, who has adopted & fostered over a dozen children, and just recently lost one to a freak accident, has been told MORE THAN ONCE “at least she was your adopted daughter, not…” and “at least you have so many other children…”
        I had NO IDEA people were like this. Adoption and fostering was so normal in my world, it would never occur to treat it with less enthusiasm than a biological birth. What goes on in people’s heads?

        1. Homebody*

          Oh my gosh, my condolences to your friend! Our family is mixed biological/adopted, so I’ve seen “biological favoritism” (what a weird thing to type out!) where relatives and grandparents treat the biological children better, or have heard people say things like “oh it’s nice that you had biological first” and so on. Often right in front of the adopted kids too, of course. But what on earth are those people thinking?! Ugh, I am so sorry that your friend has to deal with that.

          1. Rose*

            I have a big family with a mix of biological and adopted cousins. I’ve had my adopted cousins tell me “moms likes the boys best because they’re biological even thought she won’t admit it.” It made me really sad for them. Later, the boys (adoption happened to be along gender lines coincidentally) told me “the girls are the ‘special’ kids that mom and dad got to choose, they care about them more and we get it but it hurts.” It was so interesting to see the perspectives. With the grandparents and certain aunts and uncles, there was really blatant biological favoritism. It was hard to watch from people I had thought of as so loving and kind.

          2. Cartoonbear*

            People do this with steps, too, and even halves. DH and I had to have serious conversations with our own birth families when we got married and blended our families, that we regard our stepchildren as our children, full stop, and our daughters are sisters, full stop. (They were all little when we married).

            I grew up the youngest of 6, with all my siblings half siblings. People acted like they weren’t my “real” sibs. Which, BS. My (half) brother died prematurely a couple years ago and I definitely felt like people didn’t think I should be as upset and grieving as I was.

        2. Turtlewings*

          Holy crap, what kind of person reacts to the death of any child with “at least she was only adopted”? I can kind of see the attempted comfort of “at least you have so many others” — there is a certain extra horribleness that comes with the death of an only child, the parents having lost every child they had in addition to that beloved individual — but it’s still a tasteless thing to say.

          1. CoveredinBees*

            The same people who tell the parents grieving the death of their infant, “It’s not so bad. You’re still young. You can have another.”

            1. Spero*

              Lost an infant, this was said more than a dozen times over the past four years. As well as ‘well now that you have a new baby I’m sure it’s not as bad.”
              People are horrifyingly blind to this

        3. Rose*

          This made me feel physically ill just to read. I can’t imagine the strength your friend must have needed to deal with that BS while grieving the loss of her child. Peoples stupidity never fails to amaze me.

      2. Snarkastic*

        Wow! That is so sad. Adoption was so normal when I was growing up and even as a kid, I just knew that meant they didn’t give birth. For me, that was the only major difference. For people to think adopted kids are “less than” is gross. Family is family. Period.

        1. Gumby*


          I have several relatives who joined the family via adoption. We mostly don’t mention method of joining the family since it doesn’t matter, but if we do we are careful about verb tense. They *are* my cousins. They *were* adopted the same way I *was* born. That is the method by which we joined the family and says NOTHING about the position that we now hold within the family. So there are no “adopted daughters” there might be, in rare cases, “daughters who were adopted in YYYY” or something.

      3. Now a grandma*

        When you said that you learned about the birth after work hours on Friday it reminded me that it was a Friday evening when we learned about the baby we were to meet on Tuesday and take home Wednesday. My boss was one of the first calls and we had to devise an excuse for why I would be missing the company picnic the next day. (We had a nursery to prepare!) She (head of HR!) thought it best to wait until Monday for an announcement when she could notify the folks in Europe for whom we worked at the same time.
        My boss, her secretary, two others on the U.S. side and one or two in Europe knew about the adoption plans well in advance. I would be leaving the job when the baby came to be a FTM; the commute to our distant suburb was long and unpredictable and quality child care, if it could be found, would eat a good deal of my pay. My boss hoped to have my replacement hired and trained beforehand. This was easier said than done since the organization’s budget was public record and subject to Congressional oversight (for real!). Since they could not have two of my position, the plan was to interview candidates and just before hiring, create a new position in the next budget years to promote me to do some other work work while training the new me, thus deflecting Congressional concern. Only the people who needed to know for budget and planning reasons knew and that was okay with me. The timing of our placement was unknown until the right baby for us was fully surrendered to the adoption agency according to the laws at the time. I didn’t want to deal with my colleagues asking the adoption, however well-meaning, during the wait which could possibly be two years.
        On Monday, the announcement was made and, since my replacement was not yet hired, I spent the day getting as much work as possible in order for others to handle and then spent a long night of baby shopping, The next morning we met our daughter and gave our legal agreement to the placment but had to wait 24 hours in case we had second thoughts. I drove back to work and was surpised that afternoon with a baby shower that was put together in a short time. I left work that day sad to leave what turned out to be the best job in my career but excited for the future.
        Our families were pretty happy that we were finally parents after twelve years of marriage. Oddly enough the only congrats card we got that was referred to the baby at adopted came from my mother who never before or since said or did anything that indicated our daughter was not fully ours and part of the family. I guess since she had not yet held her first grandchild, she had not yet fallen in love.

    2. Three Flowers*

      I noticed OP consistently used the gender-neutral “spouse” throughout. I don’t want to over-speculate, but if her relationship is not heteronormative AND she is not giving birth (as far too many people still think women are “supposed to do”), there could be additional kinds of discrimination here that would fit right in with disregarding her leave and ignoring the adoption.

      OP, congratulations to you, your spouse, and your kid!! I hope you have a great time bonding with your new addition and your coworkers welcome you back with good wishes at the end of your leave.

  2. Stella70*

    Nothing to add to Alison’s response except a heartfelt congratulations. You are a mom in every sense of the word and your baby is so blessed to have found you. All the best to your little family!

    1. Hermione*

      Hopping in to also say CONGRATULATIONS. I hope you and baby and spouse are all happy and healthy <3

  3. Spero*

    Can I just say your interim manager filled me with rage. I got a call at the hospital with my second but it was a genuine emergency of stranded staff. I also had two precipitous births several weeks earlier than expected, so I was out with less than an hours notice and did not finish anywhere near the level of preparation you did – and NO ONE COMPLAINED TO ME. I cannot imagine calling one of my reports ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL. I am so mad that they are doing this to you and want to send you extra baby gifts to make up for them :[
    This is a real maternity/parental leave, and I kind of want your only response to anything you are cc’d on to be either an auto message “I’m on maternity/parental leave and will return xx” or “I’m confused about why you’re requesting this when I’m on maternity/parental leave.” With lots of in person or heavily implied single raised eyebrows.
    And it’s real weird to go more all out for the manager than the lower level staff. What happened to ‘gifts flow down?’ That’s true of baby gifts too!

    1. SpaceySteph*

      Yeah this is what I was thinking. Even if you’re the one giving birth, its not exactly a predictable process, I’m 37 weeks right now and even though I worked past my due date twice before I still feel like a ticking time bomb that can drop a baby any moment.
      Plus other kinds of leave, like getting hit by a truck or your parent breaking a hip, are not things you plan either. Its not reasonable to expect people will always be able to tie their work up neatly before they go out for a long time.

      1. Letter Writer*

        Congrats on your upcoming baby!

        Yes, that in particular felt really disrespectful. He wanted me to ask them a simple yes-or-no question, so I can see why he would think it was not too much to ask, but that makes it weirder that he wouldn’t just go up to them and ask, or send the text he asked me to send himself!

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          He’s not equating your mat leave as the same a mat leave of a woman who became a parent by delivering, and that’s just disgusting. And extremely disrespectful to you and your new family.

          1. Ashley*

            I do wonder how the LW’s company treats new fathers and if this is more inline with that treatment. It isn’t good or right but I am amazed how clueless some people who have never given birth are about the entire piece and the point of maternity leave (and why paternity leave is also needed)

            1. Letter Writer*

              I don’t know—legally they’d be required to treat them the same because I do live in a state that has PFL, but no men have had babies since I’ve worked here. The man who interviewed me (now several levels up from me) had a baby whose age was in the single digits of weeks at the time, but I don’t know what was behind him being there.

          2. Green Beans*

            One of my friends just gave birth and is regularly working on her maternity leave, so I think it’s just a matter of people not taking maternity leave seriously in general and even less seriously for adoption.

          3. Turtles All The Way Down*

            Or, in general, he’s one of those people (men) who think that women are just eating bon bons and twiddling their thumbs while the baby is napping when they’re on maternity leave.

        2. Clorinda*

          Congratulations to you on bringing your baby home. If I knew you in person, I’d give you a package of cute onesies. Please accept my virtual but sincere gift!

        3. Beany*

          I meant to ask, reading the original letter: is management by text-message encouraged at this office? Why is this not e-mail? Are you allowed have your phone off? Is it your personal device, or work-owned? If the former, should they even have your number?

          Congratulations on new parenthood!

          1. Letter Writer*

            Yeah, basically anything at all time-sensitive gets communicated by text. It’s my personal device. I know in some workplaces it’s not normal but I find in my field it’s pretty normal. This one wasn’t time-sensitive exactly but I guess he wanted to make sure I saw it? It was a question along the lines of, “Is everyone on your team up to date on X recurring task?”

      2. SPDM*

        I was also going to point out that a lot of leaves have no warning at all! OP prepared wonderfully; the coworkers should be grateful rather than unhappy.

        1. Liz*

          Yes, even maternity leaves! Like women who end up in the hospital on bed rest for the last however many weeks of their pregnancy, or a child getting sick or inured, etc. So many things can happen without any warning.

          when my dad passed away, I had to drive 8 hours on a minute’s notice when he went into the hospital, and was out for 2 weeks, between his death, the arrangements, helping my mom with things, and no one batted an eye. It wasn’t planned, and i literally left work to leave for there.

          1. BubbleTea*

            My maternity leave started five weeks early, and my workplace got less than 12 hours notice, as my waters broke in the late evening. They handled it. I was congratulated and there wasn’t a whisper about how inconvenient it was that I hadn’t wrapped up my work first (and I could take up to a year off, although I’m going back at 9 months pp, so it wasn’t just a short break). This sort of thing really shows an organisation’s attitude to their employees having lives.

      3. FridayFriyay*

        Yup. My baby decided to make a surprise appearance at 35 weeks when my water broke in the middle of the night. I was being closely monitored and had a non-stress test earlier that day with absolutely no sign of labor. I knew I was going on leave prior to that of course but my leave plans weren’t as detailed as they would have been if I’d gone forward with my planned csection at 39+1 and there was one huge task in particular that was pre-scheduled that I ended up missing. My team dealt with it. Aside from a congratulations text from my boss in response to my news that I was going into the hospital and coming out with a baby (and a couple of sweet personal follow ups from her, also a mom of young kids, in the subsequent months I was off) I didnt hear a peep from work until I was back from leave. They even put up an out of office email for me too. It isn’t that hard, people!

  4. Penguin*

    This sucks! I’m sorry OP but also congratulations on your baby. I hope the fact that your colleagues treated you poorly doesn’t take any shine off this amazing moment.

  5. Anonymous Poster*

    Congratulations on your baby!
    I work for a government agency that is similarly weird about adoption. I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. You and your family are awesome. Enjoy your new baby.

  6. Subject_Clause_Predicate*

    I’m a former letter-writer whose letter is actually linked in this post– I placed my child for adoption. I am deeply annoyed on your behalf and wish things could have been different. I hope this gets resolved in a way that is affirming of your new motherhood. Much love to you as you read this new chapter in the book of life. I hope you are able to have a happy, fulfilling, and open relationship with your son’s birth family (whatever the circumstances are/were), and that those in your personal life are supportive and rejoicing with you. Best wishes to you and your little family!

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thank you so much! Our family and friends have been amazing and we’ve been able to text with his first/birth mom at least every other day. We will need to recalibrate expectations once I’m back at work (my wife gets an amazing 20 weeks!) but we are really grateful for her and happy that she plans to be part of his life.

      1. Subject_Clause_Predicate*

        That makes my heart so happy to hear! Birth moms go through a special kind of grief, and for me, being able to see my child loved and adored was one of the best things that contributed and continue to contribute to my ongoing healing. Bless you!

        1. drtheliz*

          I’m so glad you’re still doing well! You did such a loving thing, it’s so good to hear you’re still getting the healing you deserve.

        2. Now a grandma*

          Although my adopted daughter is now in her thirties with kids of her own. I often remember her birth mother and pray that her heart is at rest.I will always be grateful to be the beneficiary of her sacrifice Her decision was informed by youth, no support from the birthfather, and a family unableto help her raise a child. The adoption was a closed one, i.e. we do not know each other’s identities, and to my knowledge, she has not tried to make contact with us. Should she ever make contact, I will follow my daughter’s lead on a response.

        3. Stay-at-Homesteader*

          You guys are all making me tear up as I sit here holding my baby. Your babies are all doubly lucky to have parents (birth and adoptive) like you. Yesterday was a family friend’s Gotcha Day, and a beautiful reminder of how a whole group of people can change an unexpected/less-than-ideal situation into one of love and healing.

          That said, nuts to this company for being such jerks about parental leave, wtf.

      2. allathian*

        I’m so glad your wife gets a more decent amount of maternity/parental leave, and I’m sorry your employer has been crap about it. How are they treating LGBT+ people otherwise? Sounds like homophobia, as well as bio parent bias, to me.

  7. L-squared*

    As someone with little to no experience in this, I’ll take a stab at it.

    First, who typically handles this stuff? Is there like an operations person or something who handles these celebrations? Or is it left to individual team members to do so? If its up to individual team members, well this may be a part of it. Its no one person’s responsibility, and so things like that often fall to whoever thinks about it/has the bandwith/is friends with the person. So its not really being done “at” you, its just kind of fell through because no one was thinking about it. As an example, I’m not sure I’d ever think to plan something like that for a coworker or boss.

    As far as people asking you, I think your boss was the most wrong. Your coworkers? That can depend. It sounds like your boss is out too, so people below you may be having a hard time with who to go to. Even if there is something in place technically, it can depend on the heirarchy at your place. If my boss is gone, I can go to another person she works with at approximately the same level. If they are both out (which has happened more than you’d think) I have to go to the CEO. I try to avoid that at all costs because I both don’t want him involved in my day to day, and he makes things much more difficult. So I can see possibly shooting a quick email in case you happen to be online checking emails anyway. I can see people not wanting to “bother” someone too high above them with something they see as minor.

    Overall, I don’t think you are wrong to feel this way, but I’d also say it may not really be as much about you as it is about others.

    1. Cascadia*

      To your first paragraph – I wholeheartedly agree. Depending on who normally organizes this sort of thing, it can be wildly uneven. I work at a school with about 200+ employees. Baby showers are handled completely differently for every person, largely because it’s viewed as something that someone in your department (likely your boss) will organize for you. Some of us work in departments of 2 or 3 people, and others have 15-20 in their department. Some people get baby showers thrown for them by their close friends at the school that aren’t in their department at all. Some baby showers are made public and our whole adult community is invited, and some are smaller affairs in which only the department members are invited. I’m in a department of 5 people. For our first department baby, we took the person out to breakfast and we all contributed 2-3 of our favorite childhood books for her, paid for by the department. 1 year later we had a new boss, and another pregnant person. I went to my new boss and basically told him we needed to do the exact same thing for person #2 out of fairness/equity – especially as it seemed he wasn’t going to organize anything. Now it’s 2 years later and I’m pregnant, and I’m very curious to see what, if anything happens. I’m also going to have the baby during summer vacation, which may also affect this. This is all to say, if there’s no primary organizer person for the whole organization you are bound to get extremely varied and mixed responses to this depending on who you are, who your boss is, and how tuned in people are to think about these things. That doesn’t make it right (there should be fairness for everyone!) but it may allow some light as to where it’s coming from and why.

    2. Letter Writer*

      Yeah I think you’re probably right! It seemed like a thing that a few different people came together to plan for my boss, including some people who wouldn’t have known about my situation until I was already on leave. But I honestly wasn’t as bothered by not receiving a shower as like … sticking a card in the mail or sending an email thread wouldn’t be hard, you know? Since I wrote to Alison I did have one person on my team text me to apologize for cc-ing me on a work email without congratulating me first, which honestly was really validating.

      1. L-squared*

        I guess it depends on your coworkers.

        I had a coworker (not my department though) who went out on maternity leave. I think there was a slack mention of it, so I saw it and added my congratulations to the thread. But honestly, even though I knew she was leaving, sending that type of thing just isn’t something I probably would’ve done for a coworker unprompted. Definitely not a card in the mail.

    3. Meow*

      I agree, when I had my baby, there were two people who were coordinating a baby shower for me, but they both left the organization before it could happen. Even though all the other “party people” were aware and supposedly helping with the plans, no one stepped up after the other two left and nothing ever came of it. Granted, Covid happened in the middle of that, so I understand that people’s priorities were in different places, and we couldn’t really have a party. I just thought it might be nice to get a digital card, or *something* acknowledging that I just brought a new human into the world for the first time.

      But to be perfectly honest, even before Covid hit, I kind of suspected that with those people gone, no one else on the Party Team was going to step up for me. I’m just not part of their clique.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and that’s unfortunate. I’m so glad I’m in a culture where it’s completely normal and appropriate for people to host their own events, including goodbye parties for when they’re going on maternity leave.

  8. generic_username*

    Idk if this is US, but I have found that people don’t even think of bonding with baby as worth considering. Look at how Pete Buttigieg was treated for taking 12 weeks to bond with his child (and if I remember correctly, he still virtually attended important meetings, so he worked during those weeks). My parents have roundly mocked paternity leave because, as they say, there isn’t much dad needs to do when the baby is an infant.

    I do think that perception is shifting a little though – paternity leave is becoming increasingly more common, and most of my peers are looking at taking care of baby/bonding with baby as something for both parents to do (although one of my cousins has never changed a diaper for his three kids – either his wife or mother does it…. so maybe the more equal raising of children is just in my bubble)

    1. MsSolo (UK)*

      Something that genuinely puts my husband off having another kid is that because we had our first at the beginning of the pandemic he was out of work for the entire length of my maternity leave. So we had the first 10 months together as a little family, and it was fabulous. He’s really worried that if he was limited to the usual paternity leave available he’d struggle to bond with a second baby in the same way.

      (interestingly, when we mentioned it to a health visitor who was giving us “is daddy baby sitting at weekends to give you a break” kind of ‘advice’ she was so focused on the financial downside of him being at home I don’t think she even really processed how involved he was. God, I miss the lockdown – financially, sure, stressful, but I got to take so many naps! We had time to batch cook! Housework happened!)

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        Which is to say bonding is very important, all parents need time to adjust, even people who ought to really get that sometimes don’t, and once LW is back at work and has the brainspace to manage it (because, hey, new baby!) their employer need to be confronted with how they’ve got this wrong.

      2. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

        The HEALTH VISITOR referred to your other half looking after HIS OWN CHILD as “babysitting”?

        (Sorry for the rage caps …)

        1. Chashka*

          I had the same reaction. Parents looking after their own children is NOT “babysitting!” Ugh.

          1. generic_username*

            Ugh, apparently my sister went out with friends at some point and one of them commented to ask how her husband was going to manage all three kids by himself and said maybe she should have brought the baby so he’d have an easier time with just the two older kids. her response: “He’ll manage the same way I do 40+ hours a week while he’s at work!” Dad’s are just as capable as moms!!! Women don’t have some inherent biology that makes us better parents

            1. Batgirl*

              My sister gets this and she just says “Oh they’re his kids, he’s not a new boyfriend, is that what you meant?”

        2. allathian*

          Ugh, that makes me mad, too.

          I was so sick immediately postpartum that the pediatric nurse showed my husband how to change our son’s diaper, and he showed me later.

          I’m in Europe as well, so my situation was very different from US parents. My husband only took his 2-week paternity leave, but we’d unintentionally timed my pregnancy so that our son was born in late May. I had complications postpartum, and our son spent two days in NICU, but we were lucky to get a family room for 3 days (I spent 6 days in hospital, our son could’ve been sent home earlier). After his paternity leave, he went back to work for a few weeks, and then took July off for his annual leave. By August I’d recovered enough to live my new-mom life with some support from my MIL who’d retired early (my mom was still working), but I was really glad that I didn’t have to go to work at that point.

        3. BubbleTea*

          My health visitor told me not to let anyone else feed the baby as it would interfere with bonding. As it happens, baby doesn’t have a second parent, so I’d like to think she wouldn’t have included them if there had been one, but she said it in front of my mum who was holding the baby and, if I remember right, had just finished feeding him. Sooo… yeah. (We are very closely bonded. It is also excellent that baby will take a bottle from others because mama needs a break sometimes!)

    2. Kate in Colorado*

      I really do hope the perception is shifting. And Secretary Buttigieg has twins! He has two little ones to bond with and care for and in this case….how could anyone say there isn’t much the dad needs to do when the babies have two dads? The amount of snide remarks about his parental leave- part of which he spent working!!- was so frustrating. That is the type of mentality that impacted my husband’s ability to take some time off after our child was born. I needed him longer than just two weeks!

    3. Salyan*

      And it’s not just about the baby – new moms are healing and dealing with New Human 24/7y while doing so – they need help and support and someone to cook so they can focus on recovery.

    4. pancakes*

      What you’re describing isn’t just the views of “people”; these are the views of sexist and homophobic people. It’s not mere coincidence that Buttigieg was mocked for taking paternity leave, or that your parents mock paternity leave but not maternity leave.

    5. It's Growing!*

      Two babies for the Buttigiegs: Penelope Rose and Joseph August. Aww.

      For your darling little guy – aww. Congratulations! Here’s a beautiful thing for a new baby: the Navajo do a First Laugh Ceremony (babies usually laugh around 3-4 months). It’s really lovely. Meanwhile, watch his eyes as you talk to him and he intently follows your voice. Forget the office. Right now, Little Guy is your only priority.

      1. Chashka*

        A First Laugh Ceremony sounds like such a wonderful thing. I wish I had known about this earlier.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, it’s to celebrate the emergence of the baby as a social being. I think it’s a really lovely tradition.

    6. anne of mean gables*

      I think things are changing, slowly. At least in my social circle, fathers are hella involved, and many of them took dedicated paternity leave. I’m not going to pretend like it’s the norm, but I do think we as a culture are succeeding at chipping away at the status quo.

      I truly cannot overstate how important paternity leave was for my family – I spent 16 weeks, and then traded off with my husband while he took his 6 weeks. There’s an inherent inequity in breastfeeding, and if there’s no solo dad time during the infant stage, that tends to snowball into “I don’t know what baby needs/I can’t feed baby/I don’t know how to do it right” – even despite us both really wanting to contribute equally. After my husband took his leave and solo parented for six weeks, I could walk out the door with no warning and babe’s care would be seamless. I don’t, but I could! I don’t have to explain feeding or naps or anything when I leave the kid w/ my husband – it’s liberating.

      1. WindmillArms*

        This is so important! Dads who don’t jump in during the infancy can often carry the learned helplessness into the rest of the child’s life.

      2. Swordspoint*

        Yes. I took 6 months parental leave each time when we had our two kids, and then my husband took 4 months to round out the year (salaries topped up by our jobs). Made financial sense; but also was key in helping us BOTH be capable, caring parents who could bond with the babies and learn how to do all the parent stuff we aren’t born knowing. And it was so much easier for me to go back to work after my six months knowing I was leaving the baby with my spouse rather than daycare. And then daycare at 1 year was a smoother transition. Highly recommend if you have the option (I realize many do not).

    7. Burger Bob*

      It’s so strange to me when people look down on paternity leave or leave for adoptive parents. Like, yes, part of maternity leave is physical recovery from birth and needing to be constantly available for breast feeding if you are doing so. But it seems incredibly obvious to me that part of the need for leave is the fact that infants require SO MUCH care, and in a way that can lead to very irregular schedules, no less. If there are two parents in the household, it only makes sense that they would be sharing these duties to the extent possible. And even if most of the actual care of the baby falls on one parent, somebody still has to take care of the other household needs (chores, caring for any other children, etc.). Why do people assume that a man on paternity leave would just be sitting around doing nothing?

      1. Decima Dewey*

        An infant is virtually the definition of “need”. Someone has to take care of the helpless primate.

      2. alienor*

        Why do people assume that a man on paternity leave would just be sitting around doing nothing?

        Probably because a lot of men (not all! but many) just sit around doing nothing at night and on weekends, too.

        1. alienor*

          To clarify, I don’t mean that men who take paternity leave sit around doing nothing. A man who wants to take paternity leave is obviously invested in being a good parent and isn’t going to treat it as a vacation. But since a lot of men *do* come home from work and go play video games or watch TV while their wives do everything, those men would assume that men on paternity leave would do the same (and probably so would some women).

        2. Autumnheart*

          I was thinking about that too. “there isn’t much dad needs to do when the baby is an infant.” Lol what? I live alone and don’t even have kids, and there’s plenty that needs to be done around the house all the time. Laundry. Meals. Cleaning. Shopping. Helping the mother out because she just had a major medical event. Like what, are these dudes making their wife get out of bed and cook dinner, stitches and all? They might not be breastfeeding, but they live in the house too.

          1. BubbleTea*

            The ONLY thing the non-birthing parent can’t do is lactate, and many times that isn’t even an issue if baby takes a bottle of expressed or formula milk. This kind of attitude is so bizarre and harmful.

    8. Letter Writer*

      That’s honestly infuriating to me—I am a woman married to a woman and, yeah, it’s not rocket science, but caring for the baby takes up a LOT of our time and I would be so overwhelmed if we didn’t give one another breaks! I feel for Secretary Buttegieg.

    9. Annika Hansen*

      We had a baby shower for my male co-worker who was adopting a baby. He took paternity leave even though his wife was a stay-at-home mom. No one (at least publicly) batted an eye. We were all just extremely happy for him. This is in the Midwest US.

      1. generic_username*

        This is heartening to hear. I live in a super liberal city on the east coast, so sometimes I can feel a bit out of touch with the rest of the country.

      2. allathian*

        That’s so lovely! My husband took paternity leave while I was on maternity leave. This is possible in my area, although only one parent can be on parental leave at a time (after the first 100 days).

    10. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

      I hate that working is the only thing that really matters here in the US. Not quality of life, or anything else, just working ourselves into an early grave.

    11. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      I think it is changing, but perhaps only demonstrated in people-friendly jobs already. I don’t know what it looks like in corporate culture. When we had our son, I took maternity leave, then my husband took paternity leave right after me. No one at his work batted an eye, and even threw him a baby shower! (We got an awesome crib loaned to us.) He was working at a nature center at the time, so, a nonprofit staffed by some pretty granola people. (NB: I use “granola” as a compliment here.)

    12. lizcase*

      My former company changed their leave policy a few years ago so that everyone (no matter where you lived, what your gender, or whether you were a biological or adoptive or foster parent) got 3 months paid parental leave. If you lived somewhere with decent parental leave, they’d top-up any government pay to your full salary. It could be taken over the course of a year from having/getting the child, and at least in my office, contacting someone on parental leave was strictly forbidden. The expectation was that everything was handed off/documented as much as possible beforehand, and if something came up, those working would deal with it.

      It was really nice to have this time off normalized. This wasn’t time that mothers took off after giving birth. It was time all parents took when they had a new child.

  9. Loulou*

    Whenever someone has a list of legitimate grievances like OP, I always think it’s important to distinguish between what bothers you the most vs what is actually the biggest deal from a legal/ethical/regulation perspective. So in this case, I’d probably be personally really hurt not to have received any cards or messages, whereas the emails asking me to re-send things would be really annoying but I would probably care way less. But it’s not illegal to not send someone a card, whereas making OP do work on leave may actually have been. So I’d say OP would do well to bring up and foreground the latter rather than the former.

    And as others have said: congratulations OP and family!

    1. Letter Writer*

      Yeah, I feel like the requests to resend things or whatever would bother me less if I’d at least gotten separate congratulatory messages beforehand, but you’re right that it’s actually more important.

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        I also feel this is the area to focus on. Being off means being off. For whatever the reason.
        As far as showers/cakes/cards, it could be something to ask about how these kinds of milestones should be handled, but I wouldn’t make that the focus. I know it feels hurtful to be excluded for these social things, but it’s not what matters the most.

        The focus needs to be on what really matters, which is people getting actual quality time off to spend with the new baby or child. This is a big disruption to anyone’s life, and they deserve that time to do whatever they need to do. I would feel that way if they were going through a major medical treatment too.

        Congratulations on new baby!

  10. Nowwhat465*

    Congratulations! My partner and I are also hoping to adopt in the future as well.

    Some offices are just weird and don’t know how to handle adoption, or they don’t even think of it when it comes to inclusion. A few years back, my HR rep was asking about people’s long term goals/how long they see themselves working for the company (note: I work for an organization where a lot of people stay for life after joining). I honestly told them I would likely leave when it came time for kids because their parental leave practices were not inclusive of my situation. The way the language was written: birth mothers got 12-16 weeks at 80% pay depending on years of service, fathers (regardless of biological relation) got 3-4 weeks at 80% pay. But if you were an adoptive mother, no pay outside of FMLA. They quickly amended it to be equal to fathers, and thankfully the laws in my state recently changed to provide equal parental leave with regardless of gender and biological relation.

    This is honestly very weird, and the fact that your office only celebrated your supervisor’s pregnancy and baby and not anyone else’s. I would agree with Alison’s advice to point it out and push back if they try and contact you on leave. They may not notice the disparity until it is spelled out for them.

    1. AdequateArchaeologist*

      My current employer makes a big deal about our “babies at work” program and schedule flexibility etc. I looked a few weeks ago and we don’t even have paid or semi- paid maternity leave. You can take FMLA for 12 weeks then it’s totally unpaid. And the time off counts in your ratio of billable/admin hours AND it sounds like our insurance doesn’t cover much of the medical expenses. But you can bring your baby to work until they’re 6 months old! I’m not planning to have kids, but this is still wildly irritating.

      1. anne of mean gables*

        oh my god, that’s awful. What in gods name do they think you are going to do with an infant at work? Is there childcare, or do they expect you to just be at 100% productivity with a baby in a pack-and-play?

        1. Child free*

          Not too mention how annoying it would be to many co-workers to have a screaming baby at work for six months. I would really, really hate this policy as an intentionally child-free person.

          1. anne of mean gables*

            I have a baby and love spending time with that baby, but someone else’s baby (or my own!) crying while I’m trying to focus or take meetings? Hard pass.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, I noticed quickly after having my baby that I reacted strongly to any baby cries. I reacted most strongly to my own baby crying, but any baby crying would produce some reaction in me. It’s toned down somewhat now that my son’s almost a teen (I can walk past a crying baby in a pram without feeling the urge to pick them up and hold them), but there’s no way I could focus on work with a baby crying near me. It’s pure biology, humans are hardwired to react to a crying baby, because it’s essential to their survival.

        2. AdequateArchaeologist*

          I honestly don’t know. WFH is more acceptable now and my boss made it work somehow years before I started. But I don’t see how you could swing it in an office. I’m glad they realize bonding is important and separation issues are a thing, but I’m not sure how well this would work (I’m fine with workplace flexibility for parents, Im just not sure how well this would work for most parents). Archaeology is notorious for being family unfriendly and fairly sexist though, so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

        3. Meow*

          We have an infant at work program at my office, although I didn’t get to take advantage of it due to Covid.

          It seems to work pretty well for the newborns that mostly sleep all day. You’re required to name 2 other people to watch them during meetings, and I think it’s expected that your productivity will drop a bit. There is usually no shortage of people who are glad to play with a newborn for half an hour while you do something important. But if your coworkers think the baby is too disruptive, out they go.

          Even if Covid didn’t happen I don’t know what would have happened with mine though… he was colicky so he slept all morning but screamed all afternoon.

          1. Anne of Mean Gables*

            Honestly, this seems like a horrifically bad system, even if it does work out in some individual cases. 1) which babies that sleep all day???? I definitely did not get that model, and 2) Your colleagues having veto-power is straight up daycare Hunger Games. Just give people reasonable parental leave, ffs!

        4. Autumnheart*

          Right? That’s some real “give birth in the fields and then get back to planting” vibes there.

    2. Homebody*

      When my parents adopted, their employers did not allow leave for bonding time with adopted children, so they would accrue PTO in preparation for each adoption. I remember with my youngest adopted sibling, the placement happened unexpectedly. I was in college at the time, so I worked out a deal with my professors to handle lectures and class work remotely so I could help with coverage for my parents. It was a crazy time!

      I’ve noticed things are starting to finally change, but like you said, the going is slow. Best wishes to you and your family :)

  11. Lynca*

    Your calibration is definitely not off! The fact they’re continuously contacting you to work when your on maternity leave is ridiculous.

    I think the generous take is that they’re clueless but that doesn’t help you when you’re taking care of a newborn. In addition to Alison’s excellent advice, (when you’re back, not before) I would pull in someone who’s judgment I trusted at work to give me a sanity check on why things are going so badly when I did everything right.

    There may be something going on that you haven’t picked up on since you’re not in the office. Like some kind of massive communication breakdown, etc.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      The only sort of semi-reasonable excuse I can come up with is that the Normal Manager is out (on their own maternity leave) so the person who is managing now is a full-in, and probably shouldn’t have been selected as the fill-in. So OP may have been the one actually holding everything together – but now they’re off on maternity leave and nobody is running the show……

      But to me that’s an indication of dysfunction, and a polish up the application materials and start looking for a company more willing to treat me like a human with a life and responsibilities outside of work instead of a robot.

      1. Letter Writer*

        The irony is it’s the person above my normal supervisor who is currently running things! But yeah, I do see signs that my absence is causing issues … and you’re right that it shouldn’t be.

        1. Momma Bear*

          If your absence is causing issues despite your efforts to mitigate it sounds like maybe mismanagement is part of it. Why are they redoing your work, for example? I would push back if they continue to say you didn’t do anything.

  12. MisterForkbeard*

    Congratulations! Welcome to being a parent, and your baby is blessed to have you. :)

    My guess is that people are your work aren’t taking it as seriously because you’re not the biological mother (you’re not in labor/recovering so of course we can bug you, just like when you go on vacation!). Which sounds like a real culture problem in the workplace.

    Companies often suck at this stuff, especially for male managers. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, she went into labor while I was in the middle of presenting a meeting. My then-current manager insisted I finish the meeting, to the disbelief of all the women in the room. I finished as fast as possible.

    And then he opened a Q&A session. The first question from a co-worker is “Why are you still here?” and I just apologized for cutting it short and left. I didn’t get written up about it, but I did hear later that my manager was unhappy with me.

    1. Adoptee*

      Hey friend, I love your comment and also wanted to point out that “your baby is blessed to have you” is a really uncomfortable thing to hear as an adoptee. All babies deserve a parent and a home, and adoptees are not “blessed” to receive that which is a right of all children! Often, non-adoptees will use this kind of language to suggest that we shouldn’t speak about about the trauma that is inherent in adoption/abuse and poor treatment we experience at the hands of adoptive families. It’s really best to leave it at “congrats!” :)

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I’ll take that criticism to heart, thank you! My intention was only that it’s wonderful that both baby and momma have each other, and I’m thankful for the constructive criticism.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          After reading the replies, I would say any child is blessed to have MisterForkbeard as a parent. Not because all children deserve a parent and a home, but because this particular child will see some excellent ways to respond to criticism, and learn to model that as well.

      2. Another Adoptee*

        Another Adoptee here. I disagree as well. I was very fortunate to be adopted at 3 days old and my experience was amazing. I KNOW how lucky I am and how things could have turned out. I also know that not everyone has this experience and often children who are older when they are adopted don’t have the same fortune.

        Congratulations!! This is an overwhelmingly exciting time. Knowing what my parents went through to adopt and knowing their story of “getting the call” your story brought tears to my eyes. You all have something very special. :)

        1. ThatGirl*

          I think what’s important to remember is that you’re 100% allowed to feel how you feel, and Adoptee is allowed to feel how they feel, because these experiences are very personal and unique. It was good of MisterForkbeard to take the gentle criticism to heart.

      3. Former Hominid*

        Can I also say as a fellow Adoptee, that implying that all adoption is traumatic/inherently abusive as you just did is also very uncomfortable to hear as an adoptee who’s quite happy that I was adopted? Though I do agree that All babies deserve a parent and a home and said “blessed” phrasing is not really great w/r/t adoption. Thanks.

    2. Also Adopted*

      Also adopted, and not at all offended by anything you said! Please don’t go believing nice thoughts are offensive.

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        Well, I take their meaning – and if I can avoid upsetting someone by using slightly different language then I probably should. But thank you as well – always good to have the additional viewpoint.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Something I read someplace from a parent who adopted “my child grew in my heart instead of under it.” Is this an acceptable phrase?

          1. Adoptee, too.*

            Eh, why do you have to have a phrase that softens it? Why not just say, “my child was adopted” and leave it at that?

            I am 100% with Adoptee. Adoption is traumatic and adopted children are supposed to go through life being grateful for a choice that was made for them that they had no say it. Adoption doesn’t guarantee a better life, but it does guarantee a different life so don’t assume it’s a blessing for the adoptee.

    3. MisterForkbeard*

      …As an addendum to my own ‘managers can be bad at pregnancy’ story, I told my boss shortly after I got back from my minimal paternity leave that I was going to find another position at the company. I moved into management and 6 years later have 40 reports, and I’ve been careful to never repeat a mistake like that.

      Workers (especially women) don’t get enough consideration in the workplace, and I’ve had to block teams from trying to contact my employees on maternity leave, grief leave, and other high-profile times when they shouldn’t be bothered. I’m consistently amazed at people who believe they can contact you during leave/PTO without an emergency.

    4. Veryanon*

      Thank you for sharing this. When I was pregnant with my second child, I went into pre-term labor at 31 weeks and had to drive myself to the hospital because my then-husband’s manager didn’t think pre-term labor was A Thing and refused to let him leave to come get me. I thought this was an outlier story, but it’s validating to know it was not.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Hoping that manager never becomes a parent to girls because, good grief his lack of understanding would be potentially crippling.

      2. MisterForkbeard*

        You know what was nuts? We had a very short labor and if I hadn’t left RIGHT THEN we would have had the kid in the backseat of our car.

        People don’t take this seriously enough. I’ve been asking my employees with pregnant wives to stay home with them so that they can immediately take them to the doctor. Likewise, advising my pregnant employees to try and arrange something similar ahead of time with their husbands’ boss because this is NOT something you want to mess up.

        1. Irish girl*

          My mom did actually give birth to my brother in the back of a minivan so yeah it happens. I joked with my coworkers that they might need to drive me to the hospital if I went into labor at work.

    5. kiki*

      Oh man, people can be so obtuse around new babies!
      My siblings and I were all born by medically necessary c-section, so my father was able to let work know the exact dates and times of our births in advance. My dad’s boss apparently didn’t know much about birth and hadn’t dealt with any employees having children besides my dad. This caused issues for the next employee having a child because my dad’s boss thought scheduling the exact date and time of birth was the norm and tried to tell his employees to be “more responsible like __my_dad’s_name_ and plan ahead.”
      This did not last long.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Wish I could say it’s only guys. I had to put my mom on a Very, very severe information diet during the second trimester of my first pregnancy because what she was saying to me in response to my comments about my pregnancy were so INFURIATING. As a result she did nothing but complain and fume when I wouldn’t tell her stuff about my life – eventually my Dad had to point blank tell her to Shut the Hades Up, because Orchestra is not you, and you are Not Orchestra. She still grumbles, but that comment from my dad made a world of difference for me.

      2. MisterForkbeard*

        Oh wow. That’s an amazing story – didn’t this manager ever see the (otherwise horribly inaccurate) BILLIONS of tv shows where women go unexpectedly into labor?

        What it really shows is that he just hadn’t thought about women’s issues or pregnancy at all. Not that he was intentionally being ignorant, but that it never occurred to him to think about it.

        1. kiki*

          Yeah, it’s wild how much one can get to adulthood and not know. Another oblivious pregnancy story:
          A male coworker of mine announced that his wife was expecting. We were all excited and congratulating him. My manager congratulated him and was like, “We’ll talk more later, but just wanted to let you know we’re really flexible, so don’t worry about trying to plan your exact dates of leave. We understand you’ll be out whenever you’re out for the birth.” The coworker responded, “Oh, well, I mean, I’ll probably be out for the birth for just an hour or two right?”
          This soon-to-be father had NO idea labor could take more than a half hour. And then thought he’d LEAVE HIS WIFE AND NEW CHILD and COME BACK TO WORK right after his child was born.

          1. MisterForkbeard*

            I’m crying and laughing simultaneously here.

            First, this is not how childbirth works, yo.

            Secondly, if you have your baby and your husband says “Well, that was neat! Time to go back to the daily grind, I’ll see you at 7” then your wife is going to have some serious misgivings about your future together. :)

            Third, work is not that important and it’s amazing that he thought it was. Yowza.

      3. FridayFriyay*

        Joke’s on him: I had a nice, responsible csection planned for 39+1 but that sure didn’t stop my water from breaking in the middle of the night at 35 weeks. Best laid plans and all that.

    6. Letter Writer*

      That is incredibly messed up!

      Re: “Your baby is blessed to have you”—I think it can be interpreted different ways. I know a lot of adoptees object to being told they’re “lucky” or “blessed” to be adopted since it can imply some criticism of their birth family or that they were lucky to have been taken from their biological parents. But I hope my son is blessed to have me because I hope I’ll be an excellent parent! I know for sure I’m lucky to have him (and his first/birth mom).

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I admit I know nothing about either birthing or adopting, but I feel like “your kid is lucky to have you as a parent” is something I have seen said to biological parents on many occasions so I’m not sure why it would be any less reasonable to say to adoptive parents? I think even “X person is lucky to have you” is said in many situations for even non parents–your spouse/your friend/your sibling/whatever person is benefiting from your support and love right now.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I sure think my kid is lucky to have me as a parent! No one else would love his stinky bum as much as I do! ;)

  13. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    As I read the letter I wondered if LW was in a couple with another woman or femme presenting person and that was why the adoption/leave planning was ignored, but when I saw that the other two folks also had their new babies ignored. Did your office just start doing in-person work after your manager came off leave? I’m trying to see how the pandemic disrupted the celebrations for the lower level staff, but not the LW’s manager’s

    1. Person from the Resume*

      That’s my read. There’s problems outside this, but not getting a baby shower at work is normal. What was not normal was your boss getting a big baby shower with presents, videos, and cards.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, so far my workplaces have all been “everyone gets a baby shower” (unless they don’t want one) or “nobody gets a baby shower”. Or maybe only your department does one, or whatever. Current one is nobody, although if your department wanted to do a little one over lunch or something they wouldn’t stop us, it would just be clear that it wasn’t on behalf of our workplace.

    2. Letter Writer*

      So I meant more that it was in the height of the first phase of the pandemic so folks had a lot of other stuff they were worrying about and in-person celebrations weren’t possible. The manager’s party was a few months after we all returned to full-time in-person!

    3. Filosofickle*

      My guess is that coworkers were more motivated to “celebrate” boss’s baby. Even if gifts shouldn’t flow up, people often feel pressured to cater to a boss more than a co-worker. Especially if it was a stressful time.

  14. Smithy*

    While I think both the issue of contacting the OP while on leave and the lack of acknowledgement/shower discrepancy are both concerns – my one recommendations would be raise both issues separately.

    The issue of FMLA, parental leave and adoption is one work issue to address – and I would argue that uneven acknowledge of team life events is another. Depending on the OP’s relationship with their supervisor who’s also on leave or other leadership, there might be space to discuss both issues together sensibly, but in a lot of places where I’ve worked they’d end up being mixed together as one complaint regarding “we handled OP’s parental leave wrong”. And it might overly focus on the lack of a baby shower as a way of diminishing other complaints. Or might lump in the baby shower issue as a complaint that can be fixed by just giving the OP a belated awkward on-demand baby shower.

    I think the OP can address the parental leave issues immediately on their return with the person most appropriate. However, acknowledgement of team members life events is helpful if you’re really talking to the right person at the right time. That might be when the budget is being planned for the next fiscal year or in advance of a traditional time to give up (i.e. end of year). At that point the OP can share this experience and flag a desire to think through a more equitable way to ensure all team member life events are acknowledged and which life events will those be (birthdays? marriages/births/family deaths?). And that there is office/team budget if that’s part of it. In particular, if the OP’s supervisor is the one who’d make these calls – it’s also not about making her feel bad for letting this happen passively, if that is the case.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      I agree, these are two separate issues and OP should handle them separately.

      Especially the shower part – you don’t want to come off as “Hey, what about MY baby shower?” even though that’s completely reasonable under the circumstances. But you do definitely risk “a belated awkward on-demand baby shower” as Smithy puts it, which is not better! You’ll likely get better results by framing it as “baby showers in general are uneven.”

      Good luck, and congratulations on the new baby!

      1. Letter Writer*

        Thanks to you both—that’s a really good point. Waiting until a time when it’s not seeming like just a selfish reaction is probably the way to go.

      2. Smithy*

        Exactly – I’d also bet money that acknowledgement of other life events like birthdays, engagements, etc. might also be wonky. By focusing on this issue a little more holistically will both allow the OP to express that this was hurtful and to advocate for their colleagues and team culture more broadly.

        Very often there are impersonal admin reasons for the unevenness – such as those acknowledgements being one person’s job and then when that job goes unfilled for a period, people who have life events during that gap don’t get acknowledged. But the impacts of those gaps can be very hurtful. Someone who’s parent dies during such a gap and gets minimal acknowledgement from work (sympathetic email/card), and then six months later sees someone in a parallel situation get a lot of acknowledgement (flowers, donation made in their name) – it’s incredibly normal to take that personally. And not go, well my dad died while we were hiring for an administrative assistant. While this point hits harder with funerals, to assume that engagements, new babies or even birthdays don’t risk this exact same dynamic is naïve.

        Obviously you’ll have employees who request to opt out or employees who are closer and celebrate one another in different ways outside of work. But I think those dynamics are often excuses for making zero effort for any equity on this and dismissing this as just forcing all kids in the class to get valentines.

        And because of that potential attitude that definitely exists, my recommendation to not include it with the FMLA/parental leave discussions!

        1. allathian*

          Indeed. The one problem with having a person who’s responsible for organizing celebrations of life events is that their own events often get overlooked.

          I’m lucky to be in a culture where it’s completely normal for people to host their own parties, including “baby showers” at work. It saves a lot of hassle. That said, bigger events, like 50th and 60th birthday parties and retirement parties are often hosted by the manager, who issues invitations, orders the cake, etc. But this is because my employer pays for these celebrations, but not for other birthdays.

  15. Adoptee*

    Welcome to adoption! As an adoptee, I can tell you that this is a fight you and your child will face for the rest of your life, even from people you never thought would behave in such a way.
    I disagree a bit with Alison—I don’t think you’re reading too much into it, and I don’t think this is a case where people are “clueless” about adoption—I think this is a good indicator of how our society feels about adoption.
    I would push back a bit here and prepare to push back a bit elsewhere. As your child grows, they will internalize how you speak about them/how you allow others to speak about them. if you haven’t already, I highly suggest following adoptees online! nothing about us without us :) good luck!

    1. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      +++ this. Also an adoptee and it’s a constant Thing, throughout your and your child’s life. People don’t get it and can be (often unintentionally) hurtful in the ways they don’t get it. I second Adoptee’s recommendation to connect with others in the adoption community (and give your son the opportunity to do the same).

      Congratulations on your son, OP! I was also an extremely-last-minute adoptee. My parents found out they were getting me Saturday morning at 8 pm Friday night, well over a year before they were expecting to be matched with a child — cue frantic run to the baby-supply store. When I moved out of my parents’ house my mom gave me a photo album from my infanthood I’d never known existed — including side-by-side photos of baby-me with my foster family, juxtaposed with my mom and dad standing behind this giant, unpacked pile of brand-new baby gear, a combination of compete joy and utter terror on their faces. It meant so much to me to be able to see how many people came together and supported each other to make my family possible. (Important caveat that my family and I had a very positive adoption experience, and even when I deal with hard things surrounding my adoption I’m extremely grateful for how things played out — that’s not true for everyone and photos like this could read very differently to adoptees with different experiences.)

      1. Letter Writer*

        That’s so special that you have that since it is a positive association for you though! We have photos of us with baby, birth mom, and birth grandpa in the hospital, and will definitely keep them for my son in case he wants them one day.

    2. Letter Writer*

      I am following people on all sides of the adoption triad online, especially adoptees, but if you have specific recommendations I’m happy to take them! A lot of the accounts I’ve found have lacked nuance and either been on the “adoption is always 100% wonderful!!!” side or a lot of descriptions of negative experiences that I know won’t apply to my son’s situation (i.e. no knowledge of birth families, neglect or abuse in the adoptive family, etc.) I’d be thrilled to see accounts that show what adoptive parenting should look like.

      1. skunklet*

        adoptee here. adoptive parenting should, generally, look like non adoptee parenting. there are some minor exceptions, but you treat an adopted kid just like a bio kid. he/she is your child, always. no returning, no sending them away, etc.

        1. Former Hominid*

          That’s how my parent’s treated it. I was also never lied to about it- I was always told in age appropriate terms that I was adopted and loved. To this day occasionally folks ask where “my real parents” are after I disclose I’m adopted and it’s really disheartening. My adoptive parents ARE my real parents.

          1. allathian*

            Ouch, that’s really disheartening, and I’m sorry it’s still happening. Knowing about bio parents might be important in some cases, particularly medical history, but regardless of genes, parents are the people who raise you.

            At the same time, many adoptees, even those who are perfectly happy in their families, are curious about their biological heritage, and they’re entitled to that. I suppose that might be more common when the child looks visibly different from their parents. It certainly is the case for the only adoptee I personally know; her parents are Caucasian, she was adopted from Southeast Asia as an infant. She told me once that she only became interested in her biological heritage when she had kids of her own.

    3. Letter Writer*

      I’ve tried to reply to your comment several times but my phone is being weird! Thanks for this and if you have any specific account recommendations I’ll gladly take them!

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Adopted person here!! My childhood was fairly normal, although there was the occasional mean kid at school who tried to pull the “you aren’t your parents real child” a couple of times. Now that I’m an adult is annoying with anything healh related, and I’m tired to explain that no, I don’t know anything about my birth parents health history because of it. The worst incident was at Heathrow Airport, where a border control officer spent five minutes checking my passport because reasons (????) Nobody said anything because I was nervous and my parents were too sleepy to understand what was going on, but if you know, you know.

  16. Miss Muffet*

    First: Congratulations! Welcome to the club.
    My first child came to us through adoption (a little less last-minute, but as you say, still very unpredictable), and my second is biological, and I am also super frustrated in how most of our structures in workplaces (leave, especially) are biased toward mothers-giving-birth. Things are getting marginally better — I think it’s more common for workplaces to offer parity in leave than it was 15 years ago when we came home. I had 1 week of paid adoption leave and the rest was unpaid. As if I was doing anything different caring for that child than my bio child. As if bonding could happen in one week. As if bio mothers spend the whole 6 weeks recovering from childbirth and not doing anything else. As if fathers don’t need to bond with their kids. It is getting better, but it’s a long way away.

    People are weird about adoption sometimes (if I had a nickel for every time someone said “oh I bet you are so excited to have your own” when I was pregnant as if my first was not mine.) But your coworkers who didn’t throw you a shower or send a card or anything are just glassbowls. It’s really not that hard to accept that a new child is a new child and the fact that not one person had a lick of sense about this just speaks about their idiocy and not anything you did.

  17. Katy*

    The biggest congratulations! I’m an adopted person and it is truly wild how many people are clueless about adoption and/or invalidate adoption in general as a pathway to parenthood. (Get ready for questions about “real parents” a lot! I would always just Will-Smith-gesture at my parents, because they ARE my real parents, etc. etc.) I’m so happy for you and your family!

    Totally agree with Alison’s advice – the “no, YOU text them” was particularly egregious. I think a firm conversation about approaching maternity/paternity leave and how babies are celebrated is a great idea, plus may make some of the clueless folks realize their error.

    1. Pants*

      At my last job, they announced the maternity leave and gave adoptive parents half the time as biological parents. It did not go well and was revised soon after.

      Parents are parents. Period.

    2. SansaStark*

      As another adopted person, I would get *really* clueless when people would ask about my ‘real parents.’ Who? You know my mom and dad – they’re right over there. No, they ARE my real parents. I mean, they took me on vacation 3 weeks ago and have grounded me from the phone for a week, so, that seems pretty real to me.

    3. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Hahaha “real parents.” When I was in middle school, I got suspended because a couple girls had been teasing me about being an “orphan” and relentlessly asking about my “real parents.” So I told one of them, “at least my parents chose me — your parents got stuck with you.”

      Probably not the most diplomatic way to handle it, but it was sure effective at getting the teasing to stop.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        I love this, and would 1000% stand behind my adopted kid saying the same thing to mean kids! hilarious!

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*


        I’ve been known in the past to be just as snarky, because unfortunately some people are only willing to listen when you smack them over the head with a “clue by four.”

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        If you had been my child, I would have taken you out for ice cream immediately after you got suspended. Way to stand up for yourself!

        (My best friend, who I’ve known since elementary school, was adopted — she would have done something like this, too!)

    4. Letter Writer*

      Haha we’ll all be ready! I think I’ll go with a simple “Do you mean his birth parents, since we are his parents?”

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, and when your son’s old enough to talk and to interact with people who may be as clueless as Cat Lady’s classmates, you can teach him to say the same thing “Do you mean my birth parents, because they are my parents?”

  18. Pants*

    This makes me so sad! Your coworkers are icky. I can’t make them suck less, but I can say that I’m so so so happy for you and your new addition! Congrats on your new baby! You’re going to be great!!!

  19. SansaStark*

    Speaking as a person who was adopted as a baby, people are freaking weird about adoption. I tend to assume it’s mostly out of thoughtlessness/ignorance but sheesh. When getting their call about their baby (me), my mom had to call someone’s secretary to get my dad from a meeting about 4 hours a way. The secretary didn’t want to break into the meeting except for a “life or death situation.” My mom was like “this is literally the definition of life. Go get him!”

    I second all of Alison’s advice and add that maybe it would be helpful to talk to someone on staff that you’re close to? Not in a confrontational way of course, but more like a conversational ‘hey, do you have any insight why the birth of my baby was barely acknowledged?’ Saying it to your boss/interim boss is one thing but a peer might be willing to give you more info (if there is info) and be more personal about it.

    I’m so excited for you and wish your family all the best! Congrats on becoming a parent!

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thanks! I might do that. I kind of doubt there is more info but it might be helpful just to get that reassurance.

  20. DataSci*

    Congratulations on the baby!

    We got a phone call on Thursday that a birth family had picked us to parent their kid, and we should pick him up at the agency the next day. We’d had a very short wait, and I had not told work about the process – I didn’t want to potentially be sidelined for two years on the expectation I could go on leave at any point. My co-workers were great. My workplace was less so. They offered me two weeks of parental leave, apparently subscribing to the “newborn babies don’t actually require care or parental bonding” school of thought for leave that provides generous time for birthing parents and zilch for anyone else. (They gave ten weeks to birthing parents). I was a star performer and told them that if they wanted me to come back they’d have to do better, and negotiated up to something like one month paid and one month unpaid. (Small company, so FMLA didn’t apply).

    I think the worst, which still hurts nine years later, is when HR explained that the ten weeks off for a newborn only applies if it’s, quote, “your own child”, explicitly and deliberately othering adoptive parents, rather than saying “a child you gave birth to”. The policy sucked, but the “he’s not REALLY your kid” attempt at justification hurt worse.

    1. Batgirl*

      Do they think adoptive parents are pretend parenting, like a schoolyard wedding? Mind-blowing and kind of a sad indictment of the philosophy behind their own childhoodparenting i.e. “I have to love you, you’re real and have my blood”…. Thanks?

  21. Dust Bunny*

    people are weird and clueless about adoption

    Like . . . how, though? You’re having a baby. Not biologically, but the end result is still that somebody now has a new baby. Adopted babies don’t somehow not need all the things that biological babies do. And, OK, adoptive moms don’t weather all the same initial health issues that biological moms do–although I assume they do weather their own special brand of stress–but then they get all the same sleep deprivation, etc.

    1. Rachel*

      And generally speaking, the birth parent is eligible for medical leave specifically for recovering from the medical trauma of birth, which is totally separate from the bonding leave that should be equally afforded to all parents. Personally I think this is good and fair, and it frustrates me when the two are conflated which tends to shortchange one or the other. Everyone gets to bond, plus people get to recover from significant medical procedures before bonding time starts. I think that sounds right.

      1. Subject_Clause_Predicate*

        As a birth parent– can confirm. I got six weeks of short-term disability leave and then took the rest of my PTO for a total of eight weeks off, which was pretty typical for any parent at my company at the time (though post-pandemic they changed the two-week bonding period for parenting parents to twelve weeks, which I think everyone was pretty thrilled about).

        As a delightful surprise, the mother of my baby got twelve weeks, I believe. I know she got at least eight. Some places are pretty good about it (by American standards), but I think there is room for improvement across the board.

      2. Irish girl*

        Same here. 6 weeks for both kids after birth and then nothing but unpaid FMLA for the first and 2 paid company parental leave for anyone including fathers and adoptive parents. The rest was unpaid FMLA. Now my state passed paid FMLA leave and a teammate (man) jsut got back from 12 weeks off with his baby. I am jealous and wish they passed that sooner.

  22. Massive Dynamic*

    Congratulations on your baby!!!! And, I am so sorry you are being treated this way. You deserve better and should definitely job search and leave after you return from mat leave. I had this happen too – was at the tail end of a baby boom in OldJob and the managers above me got lovely baby showers and well-wishes. I got a few verbal congrats, not even a card. There were bigger issues beyond that, and I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to leave.

  23. tessa*

    I think some people just weirdly don’t see adoption as the same as natural birth.

    Years ago, I was new to a job as a restaurant server, and I remember the manager quipping that she and her husband had each brought one son into their marriage, and that they’d each adopted the other’s son, but that “it just isn’t the same.”

    Very occasionally, that BS still finds its way into my thoughts, and those boys are men now, but I’ve never forgotten the sorrow I felt for her husband’s kid, who very likely felt the “it just isn’t the same” vibe from that asinine manager.

    I like Alison’s advice on inquiring about streamlining things moving forward, but I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. On that note, I leave you with a poem I once heard (but don’t know who the author is:

    Not flesh of my flesh,
    Nor bone of my bone,
    but still miraculously my own.
    Never forget for a single minute;
    You didn’t grow under my heart
    but in it.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’ve read and heard a variant of that verse before as well. I always loved it too.

  24. LMB*

    This makes me angry. The lack of acknowledgment and congratulations on the baby coming from people you work with everyday is incredibly rude, but can be chalked up to…well, people are rude. The boss texting about work and colleagues complaining about leaving them in the lurch is not ok on any level. No one should ever, ever have to think about work on the day your baby is born/brought home. No one should be expected to check emails while on parental leave (a lot of companies lock your account and don’t even allow you to check email while on extended leave). This should reported through the proper channels when the LW gets back. I’ll also add that leaving on short notice is not unique to adoption—babies are born early all the time. I was expecting to carry up to 40 weeks but my doctor and I decided it was best to induce at 39–I texted my manager on the way to the hospital to let her know I was starting leave that day. I really have to wonder how the manager/coworkers would have reacted if this were a pregnant colleague who went into early labor or had some other medical emergency requiring them to start leave earlier than planned (and didn’t even have a weekend to prepare).

  25. Relax Relate Release*

    I believe this says a lot about your workplace. When I adopted my daughter, my workplace, including my manager, was very supportive and accomodating to my uncertain timeline and travel plans (foreign adoption). My adoption was not treated any differently than others who gave birth. What you are experiencing is not normal or acceptable, IMO.

  26. oranges*

    Congratulations on the baby!

    Now, enjoy that new baby and F the rest of these people. Don’t respond to texts, don’t check email, and don’t read anything that someone writes about you as a CC. You are on leave, about to start the amazing adventure that is Parenthood. Don’t give that job one single thought while you’re out.

  27. LizM*

    Congrats on the baby!

    Honestly, I probably would have just not responded to any texts once my leave have started. At most, I would have waited a day or two, and then texted back and said, “Sorry, was driving/resting/taking care of baby/whatever, just saw this. Hopefully you figured it out.”

    I’m annoyed with your coworkers, but less so them as with your boss. When I have a team member go on parental leave, I try to make it really clear to the team that they are not to contact that person, and need to go through me if they need something. CC’ing the person on emails related to the project is fine, so they can get caught up when they get back, but no direct questions, and no work texts. The person is told as they’re going on leave that there is no expectation that they check their email as long as their out of office is on. It’s really on the manager to set that tone. If coworkers were trying to figure out, and manager just shrugged and said, “I don’t know, Jane was working on that and I don’t know where she left it,” they’re also in a bad position.

    On a personal note, I have a couple of adopted family members, if you can, I’d suggest finding a network of other adoptive parents. It’s a wonderful way to grow your family, but it definitely has unique challenges that people who have not been through it don’t necessarily understand. Having a strong support system who can help you work through some of those challenges can really help.

    I’m so glad our new policy doesn’t distinguish between birth mothers, fathers, adoptive, or foster parents. Any time a child legally joins a household, the parents are entitled to 12 weeks off. (The only exception is that it’s a total of 12 weeks a year, so if you’re a foster parent who does shorter-term placements, you may not get 12 weeks for each child, depending on the timing, or if you are welcoming more than one child at a time (twins, or adopting a sibling group), it’s 12 weeks total, not per child).

    As to the celebrations, I’m sorry this seems unfair acknowledgement. Since two other employees also got unfair treatment, I’d raise it in the way that Alison suggested, and include yourself, because *of course* as an adoptive mother you deserve the same recognition as the other two.

    1. Batgirl*

      Yeah I think it’s significant that OP felt she had to call her boss before her family when she got this wonderful news. The refusal to acknowledge leave is part of the “we can’t function without you” nonsense. Figure it out.

  28. awesome3*

    To me it’s almost two different issues that might be helpful to separate in your mind. The first, asking you to work while you’re on leave. Even if you don’t qualify for FMLA, this is terrible and I’m sorry it happened. The other part is the no gifts/congratulations, which seeing that it’s happened to other people in the past makes it weird.

  29. EngGirl*

    I agree with all the other commenters here and Alison about your meter not being off!

    Your post actually caused me to think about the way we look at expectant fathers in our culture (US) as well. When a woman is pregnant I think there’s a lot more I guess warning or prep time from some perspectives. Like you find out your coworker is pregnant and then there’s a physical change happening that mentally signals “Oh hey, Sansa is going to be on maternity leave soon, so I best prepare for that” even if the birth is early, you usually have that frame of reference. We have a couple of expectant fathers in my office right now and I couldn’t tell you when their kids are due! At some point I’m going to walk in and be told they’re out of the office for a few weeks (although our company doesn’t have a paternity leave policy so it’s usually 2 weeks max), and there is definitely an extent to which many of us here will be unprepared, and I can almost guarantee that more than one person will text or call them about work.

    I think we’re getting better as a society but we’re not there yet, and I’m wondering if some of the “out of sightness” of this.

    I would also have thought that perhaps your office was holding off on any celebration until your new arrival was safely in your arms and any waiting period had expired. I’ve heard too many horror stories about planned adoptions that fell through at the last minute, but the fact that they didn’t do anything for your other coworkers suggests otherwise.


    1. Letter Writer*

      With that last point, this actually did happen to us a while back, although I didn’t mention it in the letter. I would have given them credit for that if it hadn’t been enough time that there isn’t any concern about it at this point!

      1. EngGirl*

        Oof, I’m so sorry that happened to you!

        I can 100% see that playing especially if you’ve had it happen to you before!! Ideally if you had a closer friend at the office who would help with organizing this kind of thing for you they could have spoken to you about a timeline and when it was “safe” to celebrate. Especially since the laws on these types of things are not widely know by those not trying to adopt.

        I don’t know if you’re back in the office yet, but if not there is still a chance they’re waiting until you come back to celebrate.

  30. Adoptive Parent*

    At my (virtual) workplace, baby showers are definitely common, but they are never officially organized by the company. They are always “hosted” by someone who is friends with the new parent. This leads to really wide variation — sometimes they are elaborate with themes, group gifts, cards, etc. Other times they are simply a Zoom call where everyone brings a drink and toasts. And, there are certainly times (as when I became a parent) where no one steps up and hosts. It has never bothered me personally, but this letter sure does make the differences stand out. Thank you for addressing it, LW.
    Enjoy your new family adventures!

  31. Birth Grandma To Be*

    I have no advice from a workplace standpoint, but my daughter will be giving birth in the next few weeks and placing the baby for adoption. We just chose the family yesterday, so adoption is very much top of mind for me right now.

    And I think you’re absolutely right to be annoyed that your workplace hasn’t recognized this for you. You’re welcoming a new person into your family – that’s huge! I know it’s not the same from an internet stranger, but I’m sending you congratulations and best wishes on behalf of this birth family. You’re doing a wonderful thing.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Thank you so much and I hope your daughter’s baby’s adoptive family appreciates her and the rest of you as much as we appreciate our son’s birth family!

  32. Jean*

    Mazel tov OP. I’m sorry your workplace is being so shitty about this. I would be hurt too, if this happened to me. Not to mention pissed that people were stepping on my leave to ask me to do work stuff. Can HR get involved?

    1. Letter Writer*

      Perhaps but I was especially annoyed by the rude tone HR took on asking me for “documentation to excuse my extended absence”—?!?!—so I am kind of doubtful they will. Thanks though!

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        What the actual F—? Your company sounds horrendous, frankly. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all this!

        And huge congrats on your baby!

      2. quill*

        Okay, I retract my previous statements: every update from you makes me certain that these people suck.

      3. DataSci*

        Would baby pictures suffice as documentation, or would they like to be sent all the poopy diapers?

  33. Mugs*

    I’m just here to say as loud as I can CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW BABY BOY!! I wish I could send you all the hugs, balloons and granola bars!

  34. anonymous73*

    Congratulations on the baby!

    I wouldn’t worry too much about them not doing anything for you in celebration, since it seems that your manager got the shower but others did not. Now if all the pregnant ladies got showers and they did nothing for you, you would have every right to be bothered.

    As far as how they’re treating you, your interim manager sucks. It doesn’t matter if you have a coverage based job. You gave them a heads up on what to expect and prepared your work for everyone once you knew you would be out. How would they have handled it if you were physically pregnant and went into early labor? You’re being treated differently because you didn’t bring forth the tiny human from your own loins and that is not okay. If you’ll be back at work before your actual supervisor, I would consider reporting your treatment to HR. If you come back after your actual supervisor and you have a good relationship with her, I would talk to her about everything and maybe still consider going to HR.

  35. Budgie Buddy*

    I’m maybe a little more miffed than OP at the other two coworkers not getting acknowledgement for their new babies. Alison is right that it’s not a good look for only a manager to get a baby shower. OP mentions reasons why neither of the other two got acknowledgement (pandemic and change in leadership), but I’ll bet if OP asks for an explanation, there are “reasons” in OP’s case as well. It may have taken OP being in their shoes for her to notice a pattern, but it definitely is a pattern.

    I especially feel bad for the one who had a baby at the beginning of a pandemic. That’s already a rough time to have a new kid. They would probably have really appreciated a gift card to a place to buy baby stuff online and have it delivered.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Oh no I was a little confused at the time but REALLY mad on their behalf once my normal manager had her baby shower. You’re right—it’s just wrong!

  36. For the Moment*

    Congratulations on your new baby! That’s so wonderful!

    I’m sorry your current coworkers are being clueless and rude, and I hope you can spend the time you need to care for and bond with your precious little bundle. Jobs come and go, and Allison’s professional advice is spot on. Your child will be important long after the work stuff changes.

    There were multiple disasters at my workplace while I was out on leave that affected my staff and were handled to the best of everyone’s ability without me. At one point, I was on the phone with one of my people and they asked if I wanted to know how it was going. “Only if it’s positive.” was my answer. They thought for a bit and gave what I consider to be one of the most politic and sweet responses I’ve ever heard, to stay within that constraint. “We -really- miss you.”

    It sounds like your people miss you too, and they should be glad to get you back when you can return your attention to them. Until then, adults can take care of themselves.

  37. 404_FoxNotFound*

    Congratulations on your new baby LW!
    I agree that your calibration is not off, and am very grumpy to hear about yet something else that is a perfectly normal life thing that people discriminate/are weird-bad about. I really hope you’re able to full disconnect to take the time off you have with your new kiddo, and that your boss/coworkers behave better starting yesterday.

  38. Portland*

    Did all of your coworkers have a way of knowing that you had adopted a baby outside of the newsletter? Because no one reads newsletters….

    1. Letter Writer*

      That’s fair, but it’s also a really small org (<25 employees) so my absence is REALLY noticeable. The people who work closely with me were informed either by me or directly by the big boss.

      1. quill*

        Ah, small orgs. That may indeed be part of the problem – I’m guessing that whoever makes / finalizes plans when people are going to be on parental leave hasn’t ever dealt with adoption before and a large number of people thought “oh, someone else will fill in / answer my Llama shampoo question / give us a week’s notice before OP will be out.”

        That’s not to say that their expectation that you’d be more available during parental leave, or retrieve your baby at a time convenient to them doesn’t suck, because it does. But it could easily be an inexperience and suckitude sandwich.

  39. bee*

    I’m not adopted/an adoptive parent, but my siblings are adopted, and I can confirm that people are indeed Weird About Adoption. However, I think the “left in the lurch” feeling from your office is mostly due to the zero-to-baby nature of adoption — even though you had 3-4 days to prep, that’s still way different than people seeing you visibly pregnant for months. They might not register it consciously, but every time they see you or talk to you, they have that reminder of “Oh, OP will be gone soon” and so even if the baby comes early or there’s an emergency, they still knew it was coming. Which isn’t to say that their behavior is fine, just an explanation for why I think it’s happening.

    And congrats on your new baby!

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I think this has a lot to do with it. I keep a stash of cards, for example, in my desk for Birthdays, Sympathy, and Thank You, but I don’t keep New Baby ones, because in all my years of working I have never been surprised by a baby.

      I hope you and your new baby are doing great OP!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Except that’s what coworkers experience around prospective fathers, and not all companies ignore them. (My husband’s old office had a “baby on the way” celebration of the sort that my friends call “any excuse for cake”.) And his new place gets baby clothes for any new parents.
      So this company really disgruntles me!

  40. Emilu*

    Oof, my parents were treated better when they adopted me and this was over thirty years ago. Sorry to be blunt and/or crass, OP, but your workplace sucks and you deserve better. Congrats and best wishes to your family.

  41. Jessie J*

    Congratulations on your new son!!!

    Adopting is an amazing gift. You deserve the utmost of respect and congratulations from your company and team.

  42. Blaise*

    I’m wondering if OP is a man… it could be totally gender-related reasons why OP is ignored. Since OP’s partner’s work congratulated them, I’m wondering if OP’s partner is a woman, or even another man just in a better workplace. But if OP is a man, this seems pretty likely to me

    1. Kit*

      No, OP has said upthread that she is a woman married to a woman – this is definitely her workplace being terrible.

  43. HannahS*

    I don’t know how much latitude other workplaces have for this, but when I went on maternity leave, I set detailed away messages on my work email (I am on leave. If you need X contact this person at this phone number, if you need Y talk to your this person, this email is not being monitored) and then I closed my computer and will not be looking at it until I go back to work. I recommend this for anyone who can possibly do it.

  44. Little Pig*

    I could see some workplaces making a bigger fuss over new mothers than new fathers. We don’t know OP’s gender of course, but if he’s male, it’s not hard to imagine “visibly pregnant woman” getting a different reaction than “adoptive father.” It’s like a double whammy of gender double standards and birth/adoption double standards. Neither SHOULD be a consideration but people are often thoughtless

  45. Aphrodite*

    I suspect the lack of an acknowledgement for you and two who did not get parties had something to do with this: “. . .
    everyone who works under her was asked to pitch in and contribute to a group gift.” I’d resent the hell out of that and maybe others did too and properly made complaints to HR.

    1. quill*

      That stood out to me too. Everyone beneath her could have been asked to “pitch in” to set up / clean up a small celebration, but for a gift? TACKY.

  46. My own boss*

    This is bringing back so many feelings. When I talked to my former HR director about adoption leave, he said that if we had short notice, I could just work for a couple of weeks after the baby was born since my partner’s job was easier to step away from than mine. He figured that I wasn’t going to be exhausted from giving birth, so I should be able to parent a newborn and keep doing my job.

    1. allathian*

      From your nick it sounds like you’re a freelancer or run your own business. Was this crap the last straw?

      Sure, you weren’t exhausted from giving birth, but you were still getting used to and bonding with a new family member, and probably not getting enough sleep…

  47. Scarlett Johnson*

    I SO feel your pain. I adopted three children and not one party/shower to be had. I’m not gonna lie…that hurt. It helped to really acknowledge that and not downplay it to myself. It felt like just one more thing with “traditional” motherhood that I was missing out on. I finally realized people don’t “get” adoption and all that goes with it. It doesn’t make it hurt less.

    As for work, I agree with Allison’s advice. Talk to your employer about some guidelines around celebrations. This is something that can/does hurt morale for sure because it really feels personal.

    Congrats on your baby! Adopting is such a unique and rewarding experience!!

  48. The Prettiest Curse*

    OP, your employers suck. My employers were more supportive and flexible with me when I had to go and bring home our rescue dog than yours were when you had to go and pick up your baby. Congratulations on the baby, and I’m sorry that your company was clueless and awful.

  49. Rebecca*

    Yeah people are weird about non-bio, traditional children and families.

    My sister and I became mothers in the same year – I was about 9 or 10 months ahead of her – and she got a ton of fanfare and help and support and celebration and I ….did not. Because I became a stepmother, I didn’t give birth. I equally suddenly started letting a small child who I was responsible for and had to learn to love and form a relationship with live in my house and dictate my decisions, but she got help and congratulations during that transition, and I got nada. People still forget how many grandchildren my mother has, I am still left off all the extended family and workplace mother’s day posts etc, people will be breathlessly cruel when they say, “I thought you meant a real son.”

  50. Policy Wonk*

    Congratulations on the new member of your family! Enjoy your wonderful son!

    In my workplace, whether you have a celebration depends on whether you have a planner or not. If you have someone who loves to do that kind of thing, celebrations are a snap. If you don’t, it’s a whole different story. As a government manager, I can’t tell someone to throw a party, someone has to volunteer. You know your workplace. If you think this was because of rank, you are probably right. I’d guess the big celebration for your boss was organized by someone trying to curry favor – and who made sure the boss knew who organized it. Ditto the no card or anything. I have had to drop hints to others in my workplace on that – did someone get X a card? if so, I’d love to sign it. But without the hints it often doesn’t happen.

    As to the bothering you on leave and adoption, again, you know your workplace. But we’ve seen plenty of stories on here about clueless bosses bothering people while they were in the hospital so it might not have been because it was an adoption. I am particularly incensed on your behalf about the implication that you left them in the lurch. Something similar happened to me, but when I got back all these people who thought they knew better than me and had to “fix” my work (one trying to demonstrate that he should get a particularly high profile portfolio instead of me) couldn’t wait to hand it back when I returned. Guess what? It was a lot harder than they thought.

    You will find people being weird about this not really being your child, particularly if the child is of a different race or ethnicity – unfortunately I’ve seen this before with friends who adopted from China. Prepare your comebacks – of course he’s my son! – and the like.

    Again, congratulations and every happiness to you.

    1. allathian*

      I work for the government, although not in the US, and fortunately our taxpayers are more understanding that even government employees are entitled to some perks as a show of appreciation. We’re also unionized, so we have very good vacation and other leave benefits and great job security, even if the salary is probably smaller than I’d get for doing the same job in the private sector. I’m also lucky enough that culturally it’s both acceptable and expected for people to host their own birthday and last day parties, on their own dime, although on company time. Exceptions are 50th and 60th birthday parties and retirement parties, which are usually hosted by the report’s manager, because the employer pays for the catering.

      Would it be totally out of line for you as a manager to get the card for one of your reports, and ask people to sign it?

  51. A Teacher*

    First Congrats!

    Second: Adoptive mom as well. People are weird about it. My own family was weird about it. My grandmother gave elaborate gifts to my cousins with children born to them. My daughter got nothing. My school district only allows for 1 week off at adoption with a child “because it doesn’t effect your body.” People kind of suck about it actually. Its like they don’t understand what adoption is therefore they don’t need to learn about it.

    I’m sorry this is your experience.

  52. Velocipastor*

    Congratulations Letter Writer!!! We are expecting our first this spring and my company still does not HAVE a maternity leave policy in writing and I can envision all of this happening while I’m in active labor. No real advice, just lots of solidarity and well wishes for you and your growing family!

  53. Mulder She Wrote*

    Congratulations! I’m an adoptee, and I have to say: people are just so, so weird about adoption, as unfortunately you and your child will further find out. I do, personally, actually think it is worth calling people out on this to a degree. A few “That’s an odd thing to say” or “What do you mean?” to certain comments can go a long way.

    Again, congratulations. What you are doing is just as hard and just as worthwhile.

    1. Rebecca*

      Yes, I have learned to make a pointed comment and then move on to get mired up in a discussion.

      “Yes, my stepson IS my real son, what beer did you say you thought I should try?”

      “Ahh, yes I see the confusion. I’ve never been pregnant, but I am a mother. How was your holiday last weekend?”

      It makes the point but doesn’t derail the interaction, and doesn’t end with it getting twisted into me defending my position while other people at the table aren’t sure if they need to take sides or just look into their beer.

  54. Snaffanie*

    Congratulations! What a joy for your family! People can be so horribly weird when it comes to adoption, as others have mentioned. It’s almost like it doesn’t even cross their minds to give cards, throw parties, etc. It’s hard not to take personal, but the fault is in the system/how society approaches adoption. Your feelings are valid and I hope you’ve surrounded yourself with some people that are utterly delighted for you!

  55. Maternity Leave Interrupted*

    My boss contacted me a couple weeks into my maternity leave asking if I could handle communications for the team about a building problem. My response at home, half-conscious (because, newborn), was “WTF? I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t know why you’re talking to me at all.” I think just texted her “No. Someone else should handle that.” I was too exhausted to manage more explanation, not that I should’ve had to give one. It was all made more ridiculous by the fact that someone was filling in for me and there was an office staff who normally handled communications anyway.

    I left that company when my daughter was still young because it turns out they were really bad at working with parents (despite being parents to young kids themselves!). That texting incident, though minor, should’ve been a red flag. I’m not saying you should job search over this, but I’ve since worked for two companies who were much more flexible and understanding of the work-life balance. It would’ve made my daughter’s infancy and early toddlerhood so much easier if I’d known there were companies who will help you with the demands of parenthood and not punish you because of it.

  56. Jasmi*

    Congratulations on the new baby! It’s sad that your office hasn’t acknowledged your new addition, and it might well be worth bringing that up that this would be something you’d like to see change in the future for adoptive parents. I’m sure this was down to thoughtlessness rather than intention, but that doesn’t make your feelings of being left out and not acknowledged any less valid. I guess it might just be down to there being (from your colleagues/managers ‘ point of view) more visibility of a baby’s impending arrival when it’s the employee having the baby – pregnancy announcement, gender reveal party, growing bump etc, whereas things can happen more last minute with an adoption and maybe (from your colleagues point of view) seem to have less of a build up. Of course that doesn’t make it any less real or important for you and I still think they could have at least arranged a card or some flowers or something by way of acknowledgement of your happy news (and not sent you work!!) Many congratulations once again and wishing you all the happiness in the world with your new little one!

  57. TessNYC*

    I sadly discovered where I stood at my workplace when I was basically ignored after having my first child. No card or gifts, although I got congratulatory text messages from a couple people. I worked with these people for more than a decade and the employees who had a baby before me where all lavished with incredibly expensive gifts from the higher ups, baby shower, etc. In my case, I believed it was all due to favoritism and I never got over it and is definitely part of the reason I quit. Once you find out where you stand with people, it hurts.

  58. Elaine Benes*

    How explicit have you been that you are not just out, but out on parental leave? Is it in your out of office message etc.? I can see the message having been passed down unevenly or just generically “LW is out” from your boss/hr, so these other people might not all necessarily know a baby is why you’re out/that you’ll be out for a good long while.

    Either way, that sucks and your boss and HR really dropped the ball. You deserve all the celebration and congratulations, enjoy your new addition to the family!

  59. quill*

    Congratulations on the baby, I think your office was just very disorganized / forgetful about the entire process. When a baby decides to be born, business will not stop it.

    I think they were probably thinking something along the lines of “oh, it will take longer than if OP were the one giving birth, we will know days in advance about it” not realizing that you would have to go and get the baby basically right away, which is why your immediate team was confused. That doesn’t excuse anybody higher up, who should have been the ones doing planning for your coverage though!

  60. The Tin Man*

    Congratulations! I hope my work handles things well – my wife and I are going through the (non-infant) adoption process so I’m going to be testing how my work handles this. Quite a few coworkers have become parents in my tenure here but I am not aware of any coworkers who were not a birthing parent taking the full four weeks off that are allowed (birthing parents get twelve weeks at 100% pay). I plan on taking all this time for our family so will have to report back.

    I don’t know if they have done anything like cards or gifts so I guess I wouldn’t know if things on that end were any different for me.

  61. hmbalison*

    Congrats from one adoptive mom to another!

    I think Alison’s advice is excellent.

    I will say that sometimes adoption can throw people for a loop. My son had to go to the hospital two days after we brought him home. I remember calling HR to inform them about our baby and was told I had no insurance coverage for him since he wasn’t my biological child. Fortunately, this wasn’t true, but it does reveal how adoption sometimes unfortunately falls into a gray area in terms of company policies–and how people act.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Ugh, the health insurance issue! We ended up paying out of pocket for his first two pediatrician visits. I also realized in an email exchange with Alison that when HR told me I didn’t qualify for FMLA as an adoptive parent (which would potentially have allowed me to take a longer unpaid leave), that was … just not true.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, you 100% qualify for FML! But, as I have recently learned, HR departments are really confused about FMLA sometimes.

      2. Faun*

        If your company has under 50 employees (as you said in another comment it has under 25), it wouldn’t be covered under FMLA. Title 29 Subtitle B Chapter V Subchapter C Part 825 – (6) Excludes any employee who is employed at a worksite at which the employer employs fewer than 50 employees if the total number of employees employed by that employer within 75 miles of that worksite is also fewer than 50.

  62. The Rafters*

    I’m so sorry about how you were treated by your office! Mine always has gatherings for baby showers for fathers and for mothers, and a couple of times even for a grandparent. The only difference we’ve ever made for them is that 2 of our employees didn’t want a pre-birth shower. For them, culturally, simply was not done. So we waited until after the children arrived, then had a party. The parents were very pleased with that solution. Heck, we even once held a small gathering for someone who adopted a new puppy, so I can’t imagine not doing something for a parent whose child wasn’t “theres.”

  63. Sad Desk Salad*

    Unpopular opinion maybe, but I would go so far as to say that baby showers at work are just weird. Like, it’s nice that you get gifts and all, but I don’t even like going to baby showers for my friends, let alone colleagues. All that aside, though, I can’t tell if LW is more upset at the inequity among baby-havers, or the way they were treated while on leave. Ignoring a person’s approved leave, to me, is the worst part in this scenario. I don’t care if you’re on leave to pick up or birth a baby, or if you’re on leave to go surfing. It’s your day off, it was approved, you notified everyone you needed to notify and prepared them for your meager time off and they steamrolled you. That’s not okay no matter what the family situation is.

    I’m not sure we can point at adoption (though many posters have very eloquently pointed out how weird people are about adoption) given that other people have had bio babies and were treated unequally as well. The inequity and the flouting of leave are what get to me.

    1. Letter Writer*

      I agree that baby showers are unnecessary and don’t love them. If I were in charge, I’d probably just do a card with maybe an optional gift certificate buy-in. Honestly my boss’s shower was awful for me because a) I hated being reminded of how slow the adoption process was going and b) I had work to do! If someone asked if I wanted a celebration, I’d’ve said no. It’s the inequality makes me uncomfortable, as you said, especially because one of the previous baby-haters is an admin. The inequity based on the org power structure feels super weird.

      I think I’m more angry about the leave interference and more hurt by the lack of acknowledgement, if that makes sense, but they are also kind of coming together in a weird way. A few people have added congratulations to their work texts or emails, and one apologized for emailing me about work things without mentioning it, but there have also been a few messages that had me like “… so you’re not even going to acknowledge I’m on maternity leave?”

    2. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I am with you, Salad. I would focus on the work/leave part of this situation and how it was handled (or mishandled), and not on the gifts, shower, etc. I have seen a huge variety in the way a workplace and co-workers respond to a co-worker’s seminal personal event (babies, weddings), from holding a big party, to doing absolutely nothing. At most of my workplaces, a baby shower and gift were only given if a particular co-worker takes initiative and organizes it. I have never worked at a company where showers were managed at a company level and done for all eligible employees–although that may exist, it isn’t standard everywhere. As for congratulating you… Well, if you are *close* to your co-workers or work very closely with them consistently, that would be unfeeling, in my opinion. But if you aren’t close to your co-workers… eh, if it were me, I would let that go.

  64. 2 Cents*

    Congratulations, OP!

    Your small office acted weird, your manager’s manager is a turd, and there’s no time like now to brush up the resume and join the Great Resignation to find something more family friendly.

  65. Momtofour*

    We adopted 4 times – 15-20 years ago. The first time, I worked in a fairly large office and I got adoption leave, adoption assistance and the office threw me a baby shower. I changed jobs to a small office that is blocks from my home – no adoption leave, no adoption assistance and no shower – just expecting me back at work as soon as our feet hit the ground at the airport. Even the church we attended didn’t do anything – they had a big shower for a lady having her 4th child about a week before our adoption and nothing for us. It definitely hurts to be on the end of the double standard. People who should get it – just don’t.

  66. Just Me*

    Congratulations on your baby, OP! I’m sorry the reaction from your work has been less-than-enthusiastic. I’m happy for you and sending warm thoughts to you and your family!

  67. BA*

    Congratulations! That is absolutely the most important thing I came here to say! I’m so happy for you.

    I scrolled down to comment immediately after reading your letter so please forgive anything that might have been said previously.

    Your workplace is odd, though not atypical. My wife and I adopted twice and while there was “leave” offered, any time we took away was simply vacation days or PTO. There was no baby shower at my wife’s workplaces (she changed jobs before our second child was born) even though other women who were pregnant got some type of shower or party or group gift. I think that while adoption is not that uncommon, people STILL (frustratingly) just don’t understand it. I hate to say it, but the lack of obvious visual cues probably allows it to be more under the radar and easy to overlook. Alison’s point about maternity leave not just being for recovery is spot on, too.

    It is horribly unfair to be in that situation and have the expectations be different for you than they are for someone who in on a “traditional” maternity/paternity leave. I do think saying something to your boss and/or HR would be helpful. Saying something may not benefit you directly, and I’m sorry to say that, but it definitely could be beneficial to your workplace going forward. The next adoptive parent may have the type of experience they deserve because you point out the difference in how adoption is viewed.

    Again, I am really happy for you. Congratulations! I’m sorry that your workplace is frustratingly normal and has its head in the sand. But congratulations on your baby! That’s such an amazing gift for you and your family!

  68. Adoptive Momma…*

    I’m late to commenting, but your work place stinks.

    Some of it is adoption and the general lack of understanding how it works and the risks involved. When I adopted my son he was in the NICU for a few weeks after he was born. Despite being out on maternity leave, the number of emails and texts I received asking for information was ridiculous. I do think some of that was in part because everyone assumed because I hadn’t given birth that I had have the time and energy to work. I didn’t. And, I had a five month long match and I had weekly meetings with my boss and reports in the lead up to my leave along with leaving a detailed 30 page guide to everything that needed to be done in the 10 weeks I was potentially going to be gone. It was a pain in the butt.

    However, as crappy as that was,I got many lovely cards and gifts, and my co-workers truly didn’t treat me any different than any other new mom when it came to that stuff.

  69. Spicy Tuna*

    CONGRATULATIONS! I am so irritated with your office right now! I am in an adoption-focused family. I’m not adopted but just as many of my cousins and their kids have been adopted as are biologically related to our family, so I am HYPER sensitive to people treating adopted family members as anything less than FULL family members, period, full stop, end of story.

    YOUR BABY WAS BEING BORN! The fact that you were not actually giving birth matters not one iota. You should not have been interrupted during his birth or during any leave you took. That is all.

  70. ckid*

    I’m a teacher whose school does a lot of new-baby celebrations. There are baby showers, cards circulated, chipping in for gift cards, meal cooking, etc.

    When we adopted our daughter, I got best wishes and congratulations my boss, close friends and a card from my department … and that was it. It was like my family didn’t even exist. Felt like crap.

    So yeah, for whatever reason, the concept of adoption not being “real” is very, very present.

    Congratulations on your new child!!!!!

    1. TessNYC*

      That is so awful. I don’t understand it at all. They think just because you adopted your baby doesn’t need anything? It makes zero sense. I didn’t adopt, but I was ignored too because I wasn’t one of my bosses favorites, so I didn’t get the generous presents and baby showers that my coworkers got. I was ignored and I know how AWFUL it feels. It led me to quitting my job. I am sorry.

  71. HumanBoss*

    I had an employee have almost that same situation years ago, we went from ‘We got picked, birth-mom is due in 6 weeks!’ to ‘We just got told to get on a plane, she’s in labor’ in the span of about four hours. I told her to go run around the office and celebrate with anyone she wanted, then go home and I’d coordinate with HR for paperwork. Then I got her parent’s phone numbers (with her permission), called soon-to-be-grandma and coordinated an in-absentia baby shower so the new parents could come home to a house with diapers and baby stuff in it. A baby was born, you celebrate it, period.

    So – A) congratulations B) your coworkers and supervisor are jerks.

    1. allathian*

      Aww! After all the posts where managers and coworkers have been less than understanding about adoptions, I’m glad to hear that some people do it right.

  72. NP*

    My workplace can be haphazard about things like showers. If your friends at work organized something over a lunch break or immediately after work in the office then you’d have one but other people might not. Did the employer organize the shower or just another employee? I can get if the company itself organized one shower but not others but if not, I wouldn’t see that as a big deal

  73. They Called Me....Skeletor*

    As an adopted kid (54 now, but still a kid!) I just wanted to say thank you for adopting and being willing to make a difference in the little one’s life. Congratulations!

  74. Colleen*

    Congratulations Mom!

    I think that part of the reason for the limited acknowledgement of the new baby is that your office didn’t go through a pregnancy with you beforehand. When you work beside a pregnant co-worker for seven-plus months, you are reminded every day that a baby and a maternity leave is coming at a very fixed point in the future. When the baby is coming via adoption, there’s limited time for people to get that “baby is coming” thing onto their radar. They haven’t had the mom-to-be literally waddling next to them for months on end and listening (sometimes constantly) about baby related things. To your co-workers, you’re just suddenly not at work. It’s not much different to your co-workers than if you suddenly went on vacation. As someone above mentioned, it’s much like with fathers-to-be. Yes, someone might know that Fred in accounting has a baby coming in the spring, but no one thinks about it much until Fred is gone.

  75. Delphine*

    I can’t figure out why your coworkers would be sending emails implying that you left them in the lurch. Or why they’d redo work that you already did. Are they known troublemakers?

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      That’s what is really sticking with me. Just why? I’d probably be returning the awkward on those ones…

  76. I don’t post often*

    Just stopping in to say CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    We’ve been waiting four years for a domestic infant placement. It’s nice to see someone else have a happy ending. :)

  77. names are hard. :)*


    I would say, if you are on leave, turn your phone off. It might all still be offensive when you come back, but at least you will be bothered by it all at once instead of continuously through your whole leave.

    Also, this isn’t ok, and many offices do not behave like this. On the other end of the spectrum, I know someone who adopted two foster kids who she had been fostering for several years. Her work gave her a lovely gift and encouraged her to take the full parental leave that they give to all parents, even though her kids were school age when the adoption went through. They took a great family vacation.

  78. S’mores*

    In place of your boss/coworkers…

    Congratulations on your baby!

    That’s it’s. That’s the message. Nothing more. No work. Other than the work you’ll be in as a new mom!

  79. Another Liz*

    As another adoptive parent, I know what it’s like, and it sounds like you did everything you possibly could to keep the right people informed and to prepare for the transition.

    So congratulations on your new baby, and I hope everything continues to go well at home!

  80. Coelura*

    I adopted teenagers from the foster care system. Not only did I have to use my vacation hours to take time off, there was zero recognition of the adoption or my personal status to one of mother from my workplace. In fact, there was pretty much zero recognition from anyone but my immediate family. There was no shower, no congratulations cards, no recognition that a major milestone had occurred in our lives. It has been 15 years and I’m still bugged by it. Try to let it go and move on knowing that people are completely clueless when it comes to adoption.

  81. Jay*

    I haven’t read all the comments so apologies in advance if I’m redundant. I’m a mom by adoption. I’m also a doc and I was working in primary care when my daughter was born. We were matched two weeks before she was due and she came a week early – on a Saturday when I was on call for the weekend. I kept my group informed every step of the way. The first two people I called to come in that Saturday and cover for me said “no” and it was entirely on me to find coverage. HR also seemed to be unfamiliar with state law, which required them to add the baby to my medical insurance immediately just as if she’d been my bio kid.

    After that it got better and my coworkers rallied and were lovely, but Alison is right. People are weird and clueless and uncomfortable about adoption and do not understand the necessity of parental leave for parents who do not give birth. I don’t think anyone was malicious and it certainly wasn’t personal and it still stung. A lot. Congrats on the baby. I hope you can get some rest.

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