As an intended parent, you probably have a million and one plans for what you’re going to do once you get your baby home. And those plans don’t involve rushing out the door to go to work! You need time to bond with your newborn and get used to the joys and rigors of parenthood. If you’ve had a child via a surrogate, you may be wondering how—or even if—your country’s parental leave laws apply to you.

The good news is that parental leave laws often take non-traditional methods of family building into account. For example, Australian surrogacy law makes explicit accommodations for gestational surrogates and intended parents. In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows parents to take time off for the purpose of bonding with their newborn or newly adopted child.

The bad news for American parents is that the United States has the stingiest parental leave requirements in the industrialized world. Unlike many European countries, which offer new parents varying amounts of paid leave, the FMLA only provides unpaid leave for parents who meet the eligibility requirements. Beyond that, the amount of leave American parents can get varies by state and even by company. New laws and policies are introduced all the time.

While Family Source Consultants encourages you to come to us with questions about surrogacy in general, we cannot offer legal advice. Therefore, because of the complex ever-changing nature of parental leave laws in the United States and around the world, we encourage intended parents to consult with a qualified attorney on this issue. An attorney can help you sort through the web of federal, state, and local laws that may affect how much parental leave you are entitled to. You may also wish to consult with your employer’s human resource department to find out what their parental leave policies are and how they apply to your situation.

Bringing your baby home for the first time is an incredible, unforgettable experience. By researching parental leave ahead of time and planning accordingly, you can help ensure that your transition to parenthood is as smooth as possible.

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.