Timothy Petlock met his husband while driving to the beach in Florianopolis, Brazil. He was using a Go Pro camera to take pictures of the scenery when he caught a man in the frame who was walking along the side of the road.
“He waved me down and we started talking,” said Petlock, a systems engineer of ecommerce with Bank of America in Newark, Del. “He asked for a ride to the beach. We spent the next 24 hours together.”
Some of the first questions that Petlock and Fabio Panisson asked each other had to do with kids and starting a family. Petlock called them normal “screener questions.” But since the two married in January in Las Vegas, the thought of becoming fathers seems more real.
Petlock and Panisson are still discussing whether to adopt a child or find a surrogate. Whichever option the couple chooses, Petlock said they feel at ease about the process thanks in part to an expanded parental-leave policy unveiled by Petlock’s employer in April.
Bank of America increased its paid leave to 16 weeks, up from 12 weeks. The program supports all parents, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
“We really look at it from the point of valuing our employees,” said Tom Woodward, Philadelphia market president at Bank of America. “We’re really proud to be a company that works to achieve a balance between work and home life.
“We absolutely embrace the diversity of the people who work for our company, ” he added. “We have a diversity council chaired by our CEO. It’s really core to who we are as a company and how we want to serve the markets and clients we work with.”
The bank’s parental-leave policy also offers a reimbursement for eligible adoption costs of up to $8,000 per child. Petlock said that would really help him and Panisson. He added the policy was one of the things that drew him to the bank in the first place, noting he read about it in a score report the company had on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.
“I’ve known a number of parents, friends of mine, who participated in adoptions,” Petlock said. “Those first few weeks are irreplaceable. You need to form a bond as quickly as you can and interact with the doctors.”
While Petlock works a 9-to-5 schedule, Panisson runs the household and takes English classes. Petlock said he looks forward to having the time at his disposal to start a family with his husband.