It’s All Relative

April 24, 2013

At Adobe, families come in many shapes and sizes—and by many means. A generous adoption benefit helps make it happen. Our employees David S, a quality engineering manager on Adobe’s After Effects team in Seattle, and Tracy M., Director of Customer Advocacy in Ottawa share their journeys to parenthood.

David playing with his daughter Marion
“It’s hard to do anything but spend time around her.” – David

Two months until Baby Marion

The road to parenthood was a long one for Adobe employee David S. and his husband, Nick. They had been together for 13 years. Family had been in their plans for a while, but they were waiting for the right time and the right circumstances. In 2004, they relocated from San Francisco to Seattle to make a fresh start in a new city. They moved into a house with an extra bedroom waiting to be filled.

David and Nick were open to adopting an older child, so they began the arduous process of becoming a licensed foster family. The ink was barely dry on their home foster license when an expectant mother chose them from a stack of applications as adoptive parents.

A daughter would be coming into their lives in just two months.

On top of preparing the nursery, planning announcements, and creating an open adoption agreement, David and Nick had to look into any workplace benefits available to them. David had just qualified for his five-year sabbatical from Adobe, so he combined that time with the company’s paternity leave to spend the first six happy, sleepless weeks of baby Marion’s life at home, tending to her around-the-clock needs. He also filed for Adobe’s US$5,000 adoption expense reimbursement, which helped to offset the high costs.

“I’ve never worked at a place that has a benefits structure that is this good,” David says. “It struck me as a better deal than any I’d ever seen before.”

Many parents say they have a hard time pinpointing exactly why they want to have children. Adoptive parents, however, must approach parenthood with strong intentions. It’s the only way to get through the countless evaluations of their lives and home, mental states, and finances. Still, David says, he and Nick knew they wanted to do it, even though they sometimes weren’t quite sure of the reason.

“The most difficult question we wrestled with is ‘why?’ I figured that whatever it was, it was something I may not learn until after the baby was part of my -life,” David says. “And I will say that I never would have suspected that a love of this intensity existed prior to having a daughter.”

Zero to Three in Two Years

Tracy and her beautiful family in Ottawa
Tracy and her beautiful family in Ottawa

Adobe employee Tracy M. and her husband were imagining what kind of parents they’d someday be. Today, they’re experiencing that reality—times three! After Tracy and her husband were approved for adoption in August 2009, she continued working while waiting for the phone call that would mean they had been matched.

“It’s kind of like being pregnant but not knowing when you’re due,” Tracy says.

In the spring of 2010, Tracy and her husband received the phone call: They had been matched with four-year-old Alex and seven-year-old Mackenzie. The couple immediately went into action, preparing to welcome the brother-and-sister pair into their home.

Tracy took advantage of Adobe’s parental adoption leave to cover some of the transition period when the children weren’t fully in the home but needed a lot of attention nevertheless.

“Having the additional time off gave us a lot more flexibility and made it so much easier on our kids and on us, and I could still meet my responsibility to the business,” she says. The couple received Adobe’s adoption reimbursement which helped to offset expenses.

Just 15 months after adopting Alex and Mackenzie, Tracy and her husband received another call: The children had a baby brother, and there was no better place for him than with his siblings. Three weeks later, 8-month-old Jackson began transitioning into their home.

“It was wonderful but unplanned, and we had very little time to prepare,” Tracy says. “The extra time from Adobe [before federal parental leave kicked in] let us focus entirely on bringing Jackson into our family and making sure that all three kids were okay with that transition.”

Today, Tracy is back to work full-time, telecommuting from home one or two days each week. She says the exceptional flexibility offered by Adobe isn’t just for parents; it’s based on the understanding that all employees have meaningful lives outside of work. The happier employees are at home, the happier they’ll be inside the office.

“The respect between Adobe and employees goes both ways, and I do think Adobe’s an exception in that way,” she says. “There’s a sense that we have a lot of freedom to make choices based on what’s right for us, while still delivering to our professional responsibilities.”

In the past, Tracy threw herself into her job almost to the detriment of work-life balance. But parenthood, she says, actually forces a healthier balance.

“Advancing and developing my career is still important to me, partly because of the example it sets for my kids,” she says. “But also the practicality of having kids-you can’t keep working all night, because they have to eat dinner and take baths. I’m getting more creative about how I manage all of my priorities.”