Today marks the first day of National Adoption Month.
The first major effort to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care occurred in Massachusetts in 1976, when Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week. The idea grew in popularity and spread nationwide. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week, and in 1995, under President Clinton, the week was expanded to the entire month of November.
Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.
The main focus of National Adoption Month is to help the public to know of the many children in foster care who are in need of families. This year’s theme is “Build Capacity to Make Lasting Change.” The focus is on helping organizations who place children from foster care for adoption to better recruit and retain families for them. This year, the focus will be on finding homes for pre-teen children, ages 8-11. This movement is close to my heart. Every child deserves a family. It is within our families that we are cared for, protected and taught to grow and succeed.
I write about and participate in National Adoption Month for other reasons as well. If I could re-title it, I would call it National Adoption Awareness Month. This month is a reminder to me each year of how important it is that the blessing of adoption is viewed in a favorable light.
Positive stories in adoption can overcome the negative discussions about adoption. They can also overcome cultural customs that discourage birth parents to place their children for adoption.
We had a birth mother contact us recently who told us she will not be telling her family that she is placing her child for adoption because they would discourage that. She has two other children and would never choose to have an abortion. She is left with the choice to separate herself from her family, when she needs them most, to hide her pregnancy and subsequent adoption from them. It is heart-breaking. Can you imagine making such a difficult decision and carrying it out without the support of your friends and family?
Adoption can go away if we don’t continue to speak positively about it. There is a silent majority of adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees with wonderful stories who have not shared them. I hope they will catch the spirit of National Adoption Month and keep the miracle that is adoption, alive.