November is officially recognized as “National Adoption Awareness Month.” It’s a great month for celebrating adoption and to learning more about it. This year, 2018, the focus surrounds the children awaiting adoption in the foster care system.
National Adoption Month (NAM), in short, centers around spreading awareness about adoption. Its overall mission and purpose is to promote the need for adoptive families for the children still awaiting a forever home. It is also a month where adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents can share their experiences — the ups and downs, the growth, and the impacts adoption has had in their lives — hoping to inspire others to open their arms and hearts to children hoping for loving homes.
NAM first took the stage in 1976 when Massachusetts held the United States’ first major adoption related event. Governor Mike Dukakis recognized this and named the first week of November “Adoption Week.” It was then proclaimed a national event by President Gerald R. Ford in 1984. By 1998, there were so many events associated that President Bill Clinton extended Adoption Week to cover the whole month, making November into what we know today.
All throughout November, there are opportunities for the community to come together, share their experiences, and learn more about what adoption is and what all it entails. Be sure to check online for what’s happening in your area and register for the ones that sound most interesting.
If you’re considering adoption, attend an event in your local area. Also, speak to friends and family members, and keep up-to-date with adoption research on social media. Adoption newsletters and e-magazines are other good resources, along with your local library.
Regarding families who have already adopted, fostered or are currently fostering — celebrate with your child! Retell their adoption story, watch a positive adoption-related video or read a book together. Depending on their age and story, encourage them to write a “thank you” letter to their birth parents. Or, for an extra special twist, make a meal from their heritage. Whatever you decide to do, assure your child that they are special and loved, and that they can always come to you with questions or concerns.
It is estimated that 6 in 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption. Think about it. Do you know someone — a friend or family member — who has either been adopted or placed a child up for adoption? Maybe that’s you. Adoption is not as foreign a concept as it’s often thought, and it should be celebrated and talked about freely.
There is a harmful stigma that states an adoptee’s family isn’t their “real family.” But the word “real” has nothing to do with “biological.” This is an inaccurate misconception and should be eliminated. A family doesn’t have to be completely biological in order to be a family.
Adoption directly impacts and changes the lives of millions. Among those are some pretty famous people. To name a few: Edgar Allen Poe, John Lennon, Babe Ruth and Nelson Mandela. More recent names: Faith Hill, Kristin Chenoweth and Jamie Foxx.
In the US, there is approximately one million children who live with adoptive parents, and millions more wanting that.
Every year, National Adoption Month has a different theme. As aforementioned, the focus of November 2018 are the children awaiting adoption in the foster care system. More specifically, the youth.
Children come into the foster system at all different ages and from various walks of life. Sometimes they get reunited with their families when it’s safe or they are adopted into other homes. Often, a foster child will live in multiple homes before finding stability. However, the most overlooked age group in the system are the teenagers. They are the least likely to get adopted and “age out” at 18.
Sadly, this is true for over thirty thousand youth every year. If they are unable to return to their homes, they are instantly homeless and on their own. Many do not get the chance to heal from whatever brought them under the protection of foster care, and there is an unfortunate limit to how much care they can receive. Thus, they enter the world floundering, without any sense or family or stable support. Establishing resources that will create a better environment for them, both legally and emotionally, is critical. It will help them shape their future, health and overall well-being.
This year, youth will be sharing their stories. How they landed in the foster care system if they ever reunited with their families; if they ever found an adoptive family or entered adulthood independently. Learning all of this, and considering their perspective, will do wonders. Not only will it further educate communities and help shape child welfare and adoption processes and policies, it will also inform recruitment practices, training resources for families, and other permanency support services.
This November, especially if you never have before, why not participate in an event? Listen to a speech? Read an article related to adoption? Maybe talk to family and friends about it. You might be surprised in what you learn. It’s definitely worthwhile to invest in.
“8 Stigmas Surrounding Adoption And Why They Are Not True.” Adoption.com, adoption.com/stigmas-surrounding-adoption-and-why-they-are-not-true.
“9 Ways to Celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month.” AdoptHelp, 10 Sept. 2018, www.adopthelp.com/9-ways-celebrate-national-adoption-awareness-month/.
“43 Ways Everyone Can Celebrate National Adoption Month.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/forty-three-ways-everyone-can-celebrate-national-adoption-month.
“98 Interesting Facts about Adoption.” Interesting Facts, www.factretriever.com/adoption-facts.
“Adoption Statistics.” Adoption & Beyond, adoption-beyond.org/adoption-statistics/.
“Children’s Bureau Message.” Child Welfare Information Gateway, www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/about/.
“Famous People Who Are Adopted.” Celebrities and Famous People Who Are Adopted, www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/famous-people-who-are-adopted.
“National Adoption Month.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/national-adoption-month.
Trudden, Andrea. “National Adoption Awareness Month.” Protean, www.heartbeatinternational.org/national-adoption-awareness-month.