Connecticut teacher adopting child denied same benefits as moms who deliver

WOODBRIDGE, Connecticut (WABC) -- A woman from Connecticut who is in the process of adopting her son was outraged when she learned she couldn't get the same paid family leave because she didn't give birth.

Her fight now raising the legal question -- what defines family?

"It's not acceptable," Kim Franklin said. "It's discriminatory. It certainly doesn't recognize me at all."

Franklin fought through tears as she addressed what she said should be one of the happiest times of her life. Instead, it has been just the opposite.

The 6th-grade teacher at Beecher Road Elementary in Woodbridge is adopting a 7-year-old from Vietnam, with the adoption expected to take place at the beginning of May. But when Franklin requested the same time off and pay that expectant teachers receive, she was turned down.

Teachers in Woodbridge who give birth are given six to eight weeks of paid leave, depending on whether they have a C-section and as long as they've accrued the sick time.

"What they said was, 'We don't know how to deal with this,'" she said. "And it immediately sent a message that I was kind of...that led to another conversation with the superintendent who explained to me that I would be getting two weeks paid."

The teacher contracts don't have language about adoptions, leaving it up to the discretion of the superintendent.

"I told him that he was defining family differently based on adoption compared to someone who is physically delivering a child," she said. "And that I felt that it was not supportive of the faculty here."

Franklin is one of 15 kids herself, 11 of whom are adopted. She got a standing ovation after speaking to the superintendent and school board about what she calls blatant discrimination.

Teachers wore shirts saying "Family is defined by love not by birth."

Franklin hoping her situation opens a door for other families.

"I think there's a lot of education that needs to take place around what makes a family, who our faculty is, who our community is," she said.

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