In honor of National Adoption Month, we have put together all of the information you need to know about why we celebrate it. As you continue to read you’ll learn why this month is special, who this month celebrates, what this month’s purpose is, and most importantly, how you can get involved.
What is National Adoption Month?
National Adoption Month is about spreading awareness. It is a month to encourage others to learn about adoption, to hold adoption related events, and to acknowledge the people in this country whose lives have been impacted by adoption. The mission of National Adoption Month is to celebrate the families who have grown through adoption, and to recognize the many children who are still waiting for forever families.
When did National Adoption Month start?
In the United States, the first, major, adoption-related effort occurred in 1976 in the state of Massachusetts. Then-Governor Mike Dukakis proclaimed the first week of November “Adoption Week,” to promote the need for more adoptive families to care for the large number of children in the foster care system. In 1984 President Gerald R. Ford made Adoption Week a national event.
By 1998 the week had become so widely recognized there were too many events to fit into seven days. President Bill Clinton extended the weeklong event into National Adoption Month, which is what we celebrate today.
Who celebrates National Adoption Month?
During National Adoption Month, individual people, families, businesses, private and public organizations, communities, states, and the government all celebrate adoption, and encourage it as a positive way to grow families.
Across the country, events and observances like volunteer recruitment, recognition dinners, fundraising drives, community activities, and other special occurrences take place. These events highlight the month’s mission, spread awareness, honor people who have made a difference, and support those involved with the system.
National Adoption Day also occurs during National Adoption Month. Typically held on a Saturday, National Adoption Day is observed across the country in court hearings, where thousands of adoptions are finalized simultaneously.
Why do we celebrate National Adoption Month?
Overall, we celebrate National Adoption Month to shine a national spotlight light on adoption. More specifically, we celebrate to:
- Honor families that have grown through adoption.
- Recognize the hundreds of thousands of children waiting for permanent families.
- Spread awareness of adoption.
- Advocate for the wellbeing and future of children in foster care.
- Encourage our neighborhoods, communities, cities and states to take a stand.
- Ask our businesses and companies to support adoption.
- Provide everyone with the opportunity to get involved.
How can I participate?
Everyone can participate in National Adoption Month! Whether you are pursuing adoption, currently fostering, or simply a supporter of the cause, everyone can be a part of National Adoption month. If you are interested in in being involved, read on for a list of suggestions.
- Read more on National Adoption Month’s history and purpose.
- Share information with your family and friends.
- Attend a National Adoption Month events in your community.
- Donate money to an adoption or foster care agency.
- Volunteer your time with an adoption or foster care organization.
How can I participate? - If you're considering adoption or fostering:
- Reach out to a family you know who has adopted or fostered to learn more about their experience.
- Attend an Adoption Month activity in your area.
- Join a support group for potential adoptive parents. If there isn’t one in your area, start one.
- Check out The Archibald Project, and learn how this orphan-care advocacy group is changing the world through storytelling.
- Sign up online for adoption newsletters or e-magazines.
- Start a blog that shares your journey towards adoption or fostering.
- Connect with other families through online forums to discuss your experience and share support.
- Start an adoption baby book, photo album, or journal to share with your future child one day.
- Attend an adoption finalization of a friend or family member.
- Check out books from the library on adoption or foster care parenting.
- Go online and look at Adopt Us Kids and search of children waiting for future families.
How can I participate? - If you are an adoptive parent or foster parent:
- Start an Adoption Month family tradition. Pick a special activity, like going out to dinner, having a picnic in the park, or taking a day trip to favorite spot, and make it an annual celebration.
- Offer to meet with families considering adoption or fostering to discuss the process and share your experience.
- Look for National Adoption Month activities or meet-ups in your area, and attend as a family.
- Start a family blog to spread awareness of adoption or foster care.
- Connect your child with an adult mentor who has been adopted or lived in foster care.
- Send a care package to your child’s birthparents.
- Attend an adoptive parent support group meeting. If there isn’t one in your area, start one.
- Re-tell your child his or her adoption story, and spend time going through baby books, photo albums, and other memorabilia from that time.
- Cook a traditional meal from your family’s or child’s heritage. Learn the unique spices, ingredients, and techniques, and create a secret family recipe together.
- Organize a community meet-up or play group for foster or adoptive families to connect.
- Tell your children about your own childhood. Talk about traditions you had with your parents, and memories from when you were young.
If you want to support adoption and foster care:
- Share National Adoption Month Information with friends and family or on social media.
- Support and encourage friends or family who may be considering adoption or are going through the adoption process.
- Mentor a child who is aging out of the foster care system.
- Reach out to elected officials or candidates. Send letters urging them to support National Adoption Month, ask them to speak at events, or invite them to community gatherings.
- Post adoption positive articles or links on your social media site.
- Teach the children in your life what adoption is. Encourage them to ask you questions, and have a conversation on how to talk to kids who are adopted.
- Contribute a financial donation to a family who is adopting internationally.
- Volunteer with CASA to support children in foster care.
- Ask your local library to showcase adoption positive books for the month.
- Organize a drive or fundraiser to support Child and Family Services or another adoption/foster care agency in your area.
- Encourage your place of employment to offer adoption benefits to employees.
- Start a blog featuring other families who have adopted or are fostering (with their permission) to spread awareness.
- Raise awareness of kids waiting to be adopted by sharing videos online or with friends and family.
Not Everyone Celebrates
All adoption stories include an element of loss and/or grief with the loss of a biological connection and emotional ties to family, culture and traditions. This includes the loss of knowing you look like someone else who isn’t a part of your life, and the loss of knowing who you are and where you came from.
Feeling different is common among adoptees. They are different from their siblings, their parents and often their peers. Many want information which is not available. This does not mean they do not love their adoptive family. Rather, that they have questions about their birth family, culture and traditions and wonder who they would have been had they been raised by the birth family. Some adoptees experience an ambiguity towards birth and adoptive parents. They may be thankful for the life they have or spend time feeling they do not deserve their current lifestyle. They may be angry at birth parents for relinquishing them or at adoptive parents for taking them away from the birth family. They may share erratic relationships with siblings, who may be related to their parents through birth or adoption. Lack of information may lead to them to feel that something is missing from their lives or raise questions. Finding information or reuniting with birth parents may satisfy some adoptees, but can create more questions and concerns. Reunions may not turn out as hoped and may lead to the resurfacing of feelings of rejection and abandonment or uncertainties as to how to proceed. It may also lead to feelings of guilt related to making their adoptive parents and family think they were not enough.
Reflecting back on the experience of placing their child for adoption may bring on feelings of sadness, anger and loss. Even if the decision was the correct one at the time, there may be unanswered questions, wondering about a child’s current life and remaining anger about the process, lack of support, and pressures by others which prevented them from making their own decisions regarding parenting. For years, closed records, silence and secrecy prevented parents and children from finding one another and gaining answers to questions. Even now, open adoptions take all forms and do not necessarily allow for ongoing contact between children and birth parents. Birth Parent groups have created a safe place to recognize their experiences. Wearing red ribbons for passion, black ones for mourning and white ones for hope, they reflect on their sadness and anger in response to the hoopla and celebration of National Adoption Month.
National Adoption Day and Month was created to find permanent homes for children in foster care waiting for a home each year. While celebrating those who have found one another, let’s not forget the children, parents and families who struggle with the adoption process, the children who age out of foster care without a family, and those children who still wait.