According to Adoption and Beyond, Michael Dukakis recognized Adoption Awareness Week when he was the governor of Massachusetts in 1976. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week, but as states and cities began to celebrate and recognize adoption, a week just wasn’t enough, which led to President Clinton establishing November as National Adoption Month.
Though this is a month where we celebrate adoption professionals and those who are a part of the adoption triad, this is also a month to raise awareness about the nearly 430,000 children in foster care at any given time in the United States who are seeking families.
There are many things you can do to not only raise awareness, but to celebrate this very important month for all of us who are passionate about adoption and raising awareness about our family’s dynamic, etc.
1. Share Your Story: If you are a part of the adoption triad, one of the most important ways you can raise awareness is to share an aspect of your own story that might help others. I am asked a lot to share my story and one of the things I have published that I can continue to share is about the home study process—I get asked about it the most and I find that those seeking to adopt are often the most anxious about this step. Find a platform and share what you would have wanted to know more about when you were in other people’s shoes. (Don’t stop after National Adoption Month—consider finding a way to regularly contribute to the conversation!)
2. Read a Book (or Buy One for Someone else): This is a great opportunity to build your library. I also like to gather books that I think will be beneficial for others to distribute either for holiday gifts or during this month-long celebration. Not sure where to start? Here are some great books for readers of all ages that will come in handy when you’re looking to share more about adoption!
3. Educate Others: November is a great month to work toward educating others about adoption. Whether this be in your small professional or personal circle or by reaching out to participate in a panel, there is a multitude of topics that need to be addressed continually about adoption. Your voice is crucial to this conversation, so find a way to share what you’d like others to know about adoption!
4. Raise Awareness about How to Adopt: I have come across a lot of families who are interested in adopting, but aren’t really sure what to do first or where to start. (It actually prompted me to write this article about adopting in the U.S.!) Use your resources and connections to help these families through what can be a confusing process.
5. Support a Foster Family: Many individuals in our communities are foster families—either opening their home continuously to others or by taking in family members, etc. You or someone you know likely knows someone who is fostering. Though people who are fostering may not ask for help, there are many things you can do to support foster families in your area. Read this article for tips on how to help!
6. Give Back to an Adoption Agency: Adoption agencies do a lot more than just help individuals become parents through adoption. They also support birth parents through counseling services, they provide educational opportunities for adoptive parents, and they provide resources to adoptees. They even support those who, after considering making an adoption plan, opt to parent and need resources. Search for an adoption agency in your area and find out how you can support them whether it be through volunteering, hosting a drive to get items that they may need, or even, donating your coffee money for the week.
7. Donate to An Adoption Charity: There are many adoption charities that exist. Some like Helpusadopt.org and Raisethedough.org raise funds to help families offset the cost of adoption. Not-for-profits established to support the adoption community can use not only monetary donations but often the donation of time. Find an organization that you might like to support and read more about how you can be a part of their mission!
8. Share Your Talents with Adoptive Parents: One of the greatest gifts ever given to me was when a friend shared products and hairstyles with me that I could learn for my daughter. (Learn more about my experiences with hair care here.) Maybe you can knit a blanket, help decorate a nursery quickly, etc. Think about the unique skills you have that may be an asset to a parent by adoption—even if it’s just offering to chat or babysit!
9. Attend an Event: Organizations like PACT have events and webinars. Likely, you’ll see community events popping up in November for National Adoption Month. Find one that you can attend and consider bringing a friend. Not only can you learn a lot, but you can also find more ways to educate others, share experiences, and be a part of the conversation in a meaningful way.
10. Watch a Movie: If you can’t already tell from the past nine points, I’m a firm believer in educating yourself about adoption. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it! Another way to learn more about adoption other than books and speaking engagements is by watching a movie or film. This is something that you can do with family and friends, and it will help start conversations and raise awareness despite your circle’s various comfort when it comes to addressing this topic. Need help finding a film to enjoy? Here is a great list!
11. Listen to Lived Experiences: This is my favorite way to learn about adoption. If you know an adoptee or adoptive parent interested in sharing their stories, listen. If you don’t know anyone, comb through articles on this site. A lot of people who are involved closely in the adoption process have shared some amazing stories that we can all learn from!
12. Speak to an Adoptee: Listening to adult adoptees has helped me immensely. I’ve learned more about adoption and particularly, transracial adoption, through speaking with adoptees. If you don’t have the opportunity to speak with an adoptee, consider reading a book written by one. (Nicole Chung’s memoir is one that I’ve purchased for others!)
13. Create Your Own Book about Your Story: If you’ve adopted, one of your rituals is likely telling your child their story. This is what my daughter refers to as “tell me when I was a baby.” She loves the story of us getting the call to come to the hospital and the inevitable “drama” that occurs—I kid you not, my sister fell through the ceiling of her house that day getting the rocking chair we had as children out of her attic for our new nursery. This November, we are going to make a book about it. I’m going to have her tell us back the story the way she loves it and illustrate it. I think it will give her ownership of her story and allow her to read it on her own as she starts reading this year.
14. Celebrate Your Adoption with Family and Friends: I recently spoke with a family that actually celebrates adoption with a special dinner out. Since numerous members of that family built their nuclear families through adoption, they take turns picking out a restaurant they don’t normally attend for a special dinner. Whatever way you like to celebrate, this is a good month to do that!
15. Reach out to Others Who Could Use Support: You may know a couple in the process of adopting, a family considering making an adoption plan, etc. Whether you take them a meal, just sit with them and listen, or help them find resources, you likely have a way to help these individuals.
16. Start a Drive or Personal Project: As the holidays draw near, you’ll find that many adoption and foster-related organizations need more items. Find out a local project that you can support and host a drive at your school or place of worship. Collect clothes and stuffed animals for foster children or start your own project. My daughter likes to create boxes to gift to families who have recently adopted and those that are parenting and need support which include outfits and accessories. There are a lot of unique ways to give back and encourage your community to give back with you!
17. Have a Get-together with Other Parents By Adoption: This is on my list this November. There are a lot of parents in our community who have adopted and we likely have a lot to talk about. Consider hosting a meet up at your home or local place where you can gather with others to share and allow your children to hang out together. (Likely, they have a lot to learn about from each other as well). Consider making this a monthly event and invite new parents to your group as you hear about them! I have been asked before why I think the camaraderie of others who are a part of the adoption triad is so important. The reality is that some people won’t understand the uniqueness of your family and the situation and you can experience some situations where you might want to have a consistent group to speak to. Read a story that I shared with other moms through adoption for feedback as to how to handle that moving forward.
18. Speak at an Event: As adoption becomes more discussed publicly, more and more events have been coming to fruition. If you’re a part of the triad, consider speaking at one of these events and sharing your story or sitting on a panel at these events to give your perspective. This is a great way to help others, and it’s also eye-opening for you as you learn more about yourself and connect with other people in the adoption community. I took my first foray into sharing my story publicly this summer and talked about our failed adoption. This isn’t something that I share often, but I met several couples who had gone through the same thing, some who were just now starting the process again after waiting for several years. Our stories, as small as they may seem, have the ability to reach others in ways we may not know, so consider sharing yours.
19. Answer Questions: During events throughout this month, people will have questions. Be there to help answer them. As articles start to be shared about National Adoption Awareness Month and more morning shows pick up human interest pieces, people in your life may want to pick your brain. Let them. You have a lot to offer!
20. Share on Social Media: Maybe you don’t have money or time to give at the moment and maybe you aren’t sure about sharing your own story, but likely, you have a few seconds to hop on Facebook and share your favorite adoption-related article or charity. These shares make a big difference and likely, someone reading their own newsfeed will be prompted to learn more about adoption from your post.
If you have adopted or are an adoptee yourself, you likely have your own traditions. (I’d love to hear about them!) Just make sure to take a moment this month to help raise awareness—you never know who you may help! Remember, these aren’t only things you can do in November. Consider keeping this list and making a conscious effort to educate yourself and others during the year!
Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.