How Vanguard supported my journey to parenthood

With National Adoption Day coming up, a crew member shares his story of adopting his son and how Vanguard supported him.

All of us have days that remain special throughout our lives, and for me, March 15, 2011 tops that list. This was the day my wife and I flew from Philadelphia to Chicago, checked into a small hotel in Oak Park, and walked around the corner to an adoption agency we’d been working with for over a year. This was the day we met our son.

He’d been born just days earlier, and we’d arrived in Chicago to make this bundle of joy a part of our family. I will never forget holding my son for the first time. I wept openly, as did my wife. Not only because we were happy, but because it had been a long road to parenthood. Vanguard played a significant role in making that day a reality.

I joined Vanguard in 2006, just after completing my MBA at the College of William & Mary. During grad school, my wife and I decided the time was right to start a family, yet parenthood remained elusive. My first few years as a crew member, I held a client-facing role, and those days were a mix of both client visits and constant trips to a fertility specialist. Yet despite years of treatments, doctors, and hospitals, we eventually realized a biological child was simply not meant to be.

Pursuing Adoption

Once we agreed to pursue adoption, we refocused on the desire to become parents. I was thankful not only to be surrounded by supportive colleagues and leaders at Vanguard, but that the company offered financial support as well.

The adoption process brought its own challenges, along with a multitude of decisions. Do we adopt domestically or internationally? Baby or older child? What about children with special needs? Plus, adoption laws vary from state to state. What was best for us?

On top of that, there were home studies, discussions with therapists, plus numerous adoption agencies to consider. The sheer number of decisions can be overwhelming, and navigating everything became a full-time job in and of itself. Eventually, a birth mother here in Pennsylvania chose us for her daughter. We were elated. I planned to take time off to spend with my new child, developed a coverage plan for my clients while I was out, and let my colleagues and teammates know. Unfortunately, the birth mother changed her mind about the adoption 3 days after we were given custody of the baby. Per Pennsylvania law, birth mothers have up to 30 days to change their mind after an adoption, so my wife and I had to give the child back to her birth mother.

My Vanguard Family

Needless to say, I was devastated. I returned to the office a few days later, my head held low and struggling to keep the pain inside. Worse yet, multiple coworkers knew why I’d left work, and they realized that a quick return to the office wasn’t a good sign.

Yet, the outpouring of support, understanding, and empathy I received was beyond what I could ask for, or had seen from any other workplace. My friends and coworkers genuinely cared about me, and their support made a huge difference.

Looking back, I was lucky to be working at Vanguard during these tough times, and as a leader today, I strive to support other crew members facing their own personal struggles. Decades ago, I lived in New York and worked on Wall Street, and I know that had I still been there, the response I would have received after a failed adoption would have been very different.

Lots of companies talk about a “work family,” but for many of us at Vanguard, that sense of family is real.

Lots of companies talk about a “work family,” but for many of us at Vanguard, that sense of family is real. When my wife and I adopted our son, the sheer outpouring of love and happiness I felt from my colleagues was amazing. Furthermore, being able to take parental leave in those first few weeks and receive financial aid to assist in adoption expenses served as additional reminders that Vanguard cares about me. Even today, almost 7 years after his birth, I get questions about my son at the office. Whenever I bump into a fellow crew member I haven’t seen in years, the first thing they usually ask me about is my son. And it’s genuine.

I’m thrilled that Vanguard was recently recognized by the Dave Thomas Foundation as one of 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces and I’m humbled whenever fellow crew members reach out and ask for support on their own journey to parenthood.

And should you find yourself working here and considering adoption, look me up. I’d be happy to chat.

-Allen P.

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