School is out and summer is upon us! However, at least for me, summer can be daunting because I realize that I need to keep my son entertained every day, all day. The first couple of days after school let out, Harley was already bored with my attempts to make our days fun, so I decided that Harley and I could make some individual and joint goals to work towards. One of our joint goals has been to find ways to celebrate open adoption. As a parent I have always  worried that my son will be seen as “different” from the other children because he joined our family via adoption. I want Harley to feel confident and comfortable with his story, and what better way than to celebrate open adoption? Here are some ways you and your family can celebrate open adoption this summer.  We’d love to hear your ideas as well!

1) Books Centered on Adoption

Harley has loved reading from the moment his pudgy baby hands could hold (and his little baby teeth could chew) books. As my husband and I started to build his book collection, we were always on the lookout for stories centered on adoption. This hasn’t always been easy and I confess that I sometimes give up too easily when it comes to finding children’s books with an adoption story line. This summer, Harley and I have a goal to find at least one book centered on adoption at our local library each week. To make it a little easier, we have compiled a list of books with the help of family, friends, and Amazon. Harley always looks forward to library day and reading stories about adoption. Not all discuss open adoption, but as we read the stories, we relate them to Harley and his birth families. When we can, we schedule Skype dates with Harley’s birth families, and Harley reads the books we checked out from the library to them.  It’s been a very positive experience for both Harley and his birth families.

2) “All About Me” Playdates

The moms in my area get together each Friday for a playdate. It has been a fun way to get to know other moms and for our kids to tire each other out. This summer, propose the idea of having a short spotlight on one child during a weekly (or bimonthly, monthly, etc) playdate. When it is your child’s turn for the spotlight, have them tell their adoption story in their words. This can help your child become comfortable with their story and educate not only his friends, but also the adults, about adoption. Bring along a few photos of your child’s birth families to share as well. Even though open adoptions are becoming the norm, there isn’t any harm in educating and allowing others to celebrate with you and your child!

3) Create a Book Using Your Child’s Adoption Story

Using a platform such as Blurb or Shutterfly, create a book using photos and your child’s adoption story. For Harley’s book, we decided to use photos from his first year of life to tell his personal story about open adoption. We are also going to tell the story from Harley’s perspective, using his own words. There is something so special about hearing my son tell his adoption story. Not only is this project going to help us celebrate open adoption, but it is going to make a beautiful gift for his birth families.

4) Adoption-themed Movie Night

This is a great way to celebrate adoption as well as educate your friends and family on open adoption. There are many great movies that use adoption in the main story line. Plan your movie night for a pleasant summer evening, set up a projector, lay out some blankets, and pop some popcorn. A few of our favorite adoption themed-movies are, “The Blind Side,” “Despicable Me,” and “Kung Fu Panda 1 & 2.”

5) Create an Adoption Video

With smart phones being mainstream and the endless options when it comes to photography, video, and movie-making apps, anyone can create an adoption video. My favorite movie-making/editing app is iMovie. It allows me to combine video clips, photos, and music to create an adoption video that is unique to our family. Record your child, your family, and your friends expressing how adoption has positively influenced their lives, and combine it with photos of your child’s birth families and adoptive families. Top it off with songs that you feel express the feelings you’ve had on your journey to adoption. Once finished, share on social media and help educate others on the joy of open adoption!