Listing something to be thankful for each day in the month of November has become a popular activity in recent years. This 30-day challenge aims to improve the attitude of those who participate in it. Members of forever families and others touched by adoption already have much for which to be thankful; however, taking the time to consider one reason a day for adoption thankfulness for the entire month of November merely increases everyone’s gratitude. Let’s take the challenge!
Day 1. November is National Adoption Month. Celebrated for over 20 years, National Adoption Month spotlights the need for adoptive families for the thousands of children in the foster care system. President Reagan first designated a national adoption week in 1984. The awareness period was extended to an entire month in 1995 by President Clinton. As a result of this annual event, the public has become aware of the need for forever families for these children, resulting in the finalization of thousands of adoptions.
Day 2. NBC’s This Is Us provides viewers with a heart-warming and enjoyable look at adoption. Although entertaining, the show is also thought-provoking. Even better, NBC is going the extra mile to ensure a realistic portrayal of transracial adoption by employing transracial adoptee, author, and speaker Rhonda Roorda as a consultant.
Day 3. The internet is a readily available tool for research, matching, and communication. Information is at adoptive parents’ and birth parents’ fingertips to obtain information about adoption and adoption resources. Prospective adoptive couples can obtain general information about medical issues in a pregnancy to help them determine whether to pursue an adoption opportunity. Profiles may be posted online to allow matching assistance covering a wider field than ever before.
Day 4. The federal government has invested in the education of hospital staff on the option of infant adoption through a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services which has funded the Infant Adoption Training Initiative. This initiative offers free training to medical professionals who come into regular contact with women who may consider an adoptive placement. The Understanding Infant Adoption curriculum equips hospital personnel to provide basic and objective information on the adoption option allowing their patients to make informed choices.
Day 5. Financial assistance in the form of low-interest adoption loans or grants is available for prospective adoptive parents. With the average cost of an adoption in the United States in the $30,000 range, financial considerations are huge for those wishing to adopt. The availability of ways to make the option financially feasible is thus a huge blessing.
Day 6. Recognition through the Angels in Adoption Program is given to those who have made a positive contribution to adoption. While such individuals have not undertaken their efforts with the goal of achieving personal recognition, they do deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated for what they have done. Publicly recognizing them is not only the right thing to do, but it provides an opportunity to draw media attention to adoption and the issues faced in that area.
Day 7. A growing number of products on the market are available for use in the adoption context. Think there’s a card for every possible occasion and even some you may not be aware of? Until recently, adoption was not an event for which cards and gifts were specifically targeted. Those touched by adoption are now able to purchase cards to celebrate events such as a baby’s placement and the finalization of an adoption. The journey can be memorialized in special journals; encouraging notes and thoughtful gifts can be obtained to give to birth mothers.
Day 8. “Safe Haven” laws have been enacted to allow the adoption of infants who might otherwise literally not have a chance at life. Some of the saddest news to hear is that a baby has been found in a dumpster or in a trash bag. Safe Haven laws, which offer anonymity to birth mothers, allow a solution; the baby can be left at a safe location such as a hospital or fire station with no criminal repercussions to the birth mother. She avoids having to consider an unthinkable solution and her child is allowed to live and have a stable life with a forever family.
Day 9. Educational requirements imposed upon prospective adoptive parents better equip them for the realities and responsibilities of raising an adopted child. Having a nursery or bedroom set up for a new family member is great, but that is not all the preparation an adoptive family must do. Knowing how to deal with the specialized emotional needs of an adopted child, for example, is an important tool for a healthy adoptive home. Home studies, which are required for prospective adoptive parents to be approved for an adoptive placement, now impose requirements such as reading on specific adoption-related topics to educate the adoptive parents about raising an adopted child.
Day 10. DNA testing can provide medical information for adoptees who have little or no family medical history available. While typically birth parents are required to give background family medical history in a domestic adoption, sometimes there are gaps. The birth father may not be known, for example. A dearth of medical information may be available when a child is adopted internationally. Testing services such as 23andMe allow adoptees to learn of medical concerns or predispositions based on their genetic makeup even if the identity of the biological parents is unknown.
Day 11. Recognizing that it takes a village, churches have jumped on board to provide support and assistance to foster and adoptive parents. Finding a biblical directive to care for orphans, religious organizations are becoming more involved in the adoption area. Churches step up to recruit critically needed foster parents and to come alongside and aid both foster and adoptive parents in their adoption journey.
Day 12. The enactment of the Child Citizenship Act has streamlined the process for obtaining citizenship for foreign-born adoptees of American citizens. While it is wonderful to be able to adopt from overseas, adoption does not preclude the adoptive parents’ journey. Their new family member needs to become a citizen of the country in which his forever family lives. Federal law has been enacted to expedite and ease this process for adoptive parents who have already completed stacks of paperwork just to get to the point of adopting their child.
Day 13. Technology has sped up the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children clearance process with the use of electronic submissions of ICPC packets. With an adoption across state lines, adoptive parents must travel outside of their home state to receive placement of their new family member. Understandably, they are eager to return home with their bundle of joy, but ICPC clearance is required before they may do so. That waiting time for clearance is shortened when packets for review may be transmitted electronically, cutting out mail or delivery time via more traditional means.
Day 14. Celebrities who have adopted receive media recognition keeping adoption in the public eye. The public has a voracious appetite for news on celebrities. We hear when they go out for coffee, with whom they have lunch, and where they go on vacation. While that may be tiresome, it does offer the opportunity for reports to be made about adoptive placements and raising adoptive children. The Today show’s Hoda Kotb made news in April when she welcomed a second daughter through adoption.
Day 15. The use of dedicated bonding rooms in hospitals has enhanced the ability of adoptive couples to begin the bonding process with their new baby just as soon as possible. Experts agree that early bonding is critical for babies. Thus, the sooner an adoptive couple can spend time with their new baby, the better for the child’s emotional health and stability. Hospitals have recognized this need, and many now offer a specific room available to adoptive couples, often at no charge, in which they can learn to care for and begin bonding with their baby.
Day 16. Wonderful children’s books related to adoption are available for use by adoptive parents. While adoptive parents understand what adoption is and how their new family member came to them, a young adoptee may not. Telling adoptees about adoption in an age-appropriate and understandable way is critical. Adoptive parents can use storybooks to prepare their child for hearing his own adoption story. Tapestrybooks.com offers an extensive collection of children’s books about adoption.
Day 17. Adoption no longer has the social stigma it did in years past. It is not hush-hush anymore. Adoption is an option that is perfectly “PC” to discuss now. It is a subject regularly addressed in all forms of media, so expectant mothers are more comfortable in talking about the consideration of that option.
Day 18. Adoption advocacy mechanisms are in place in Washington, D.C., to educate and assist lawmakers, policymakers, and individuals in a position of influence. Members of Congress may join the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and are supported in their efforts by the non-profit Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
Day 19. Placement of an adopted child is an event for which military members are provided leave. Our country owes a debt of gratitude to those who serve it. The least that could be done for them is to allow them time for transition and bonding when an adoptive placement is made. Leave granted specifically for such situations is now officially in place for active-duty military.
Day 20. Final adoption hearings are taking on more of an air of celebration of the legal creation of a forever family than a perfunctory legal event. Court hearings are typically considered formal, dry events, but hearings are usually about less than happy situations, i.e., divorces, criminal behavior, etc. While the solemnity of the occasion is not lost, adoption hearings today are often, and rightfully so, made more child and family-friendly. Adoptees may be given a teddy bear by the judge, adoptive families may wear matching outfits to court, and photo opportunities abound. A family has been legally born. Isn’t that cause for smiles and celebration?
Day 21. Special needs children can now be placed for adoption whereas in earlier times they were not deemed suitable for adoption. Years ago, children with medical needs and others deemed less than perfect were not considered for adoptive placement. Today, older children, minority children, and children with medical issues are not only considered for adoption but regularly placed for adoption.
Day 22. Pregnancy Medicaid covers prenatal care for a birth mother even if she is placing her baby for adoption. Prenatal care is a crucial step in a healthy pregnancy outcome. Expectant mothers are encouraged to obtain this care through pregnancy Medicaid coverage. They are not deemed ineligible because their baby might be or is going to be placed for adoption. Lack of eligibility in such circumstances would discourage or perhaps preclude a pregnant woman from seeking needed medical care.
Day 23. We are the world. Children who need a forever family are not located only in the United States. International adoptions allow prospective adoptive parents to look outside the borders of their own country for a child to adopt. More families have the opportunity to adopt with international adoptions, and more children have the opportunity to find their forever family.
Day 24. Counseling, both pre-birth and post-birth, is offered and available to birth mothers. While the focus in adoption is typically on a child’s welfare and need for stability, the welfare of the placing birth mother is also a concern. She is making a life-altering decision which will result in the termination of her parental rights. Receiving counseling about this loss and the emotions which accompany it assists a birth mother to have a healthy emotional outcome.
Day 25. In years past, only traditional families, a married man and woman, were considered for the placement of children. More families are now available to take placement of children in need of forever homes as single parents and same-sex couples can adopt today.
Day 26. Scientific advances may allow adoptees to locate biological family members through DNA testing. With the advent of services such as AncestryDNA, searching for family members has been made possible and more affordable for all. Adoptees have benefited from these advances and no longer must rely solely on traditional search methods, such as combing paper records, to seek biological relatives.
Day 27. Safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable children from the exploitation, abuse, and corruption which sometimes accompanies international adoption. The centerpiece of such efforts is the Hague Adoption Convention which entered into force on April 1, 2008, in the United States. Ratified by approximately 100 countries, the Hague Adoption Convention calls for cooperation and coordination between countries to ensure appropriate safeguards are followed such as checks to confirm a child is indeed eligible for adoption.
Day 28. Risky business is not just a movie. Any time an adoptive match is made, a risk exists that it may fall through. Some protection may be provided to prospective adoptive parents in the form of adoption insurance. While a financial safety net will not ease the emotional pain of a failed placement, adoption insurance may allow a policyholder to pursue future opportunities even if one situation is not successful. A failed placement is doubly devastating if arms are empty and pockets are also.
Day 29. Although no one likes to pay income taxes, adoptive parents like the possibility of claiming the federal adoption tax credit to recoup some of the expenses incurred in an adoption. That credit, set at $14,080 for 2019, is a big help to adoptive families with tax liability who have opened their hearts and homes to a child needing a forever family.
Day 30. While blood may be thicker than water, love is stronger than DNA. If adoption teaches those touched by it anything, it is that families are not exclusively formed by biological connections. In non-relative adoptions, adoptive parents choose to form a family based on love and not genetic material. Family members learn how powerful love can be and that DNA is not a prerequisite for a family to exist.
Adoption is by no means a perfect process. But these 30 adoption-related reasons to give thanks during November should inspire gratitude in all of us. The need for forever families is being addressed, and the adoption process is being improved. Society as a whole can be thankful for these efforts.