In the United States, November is a special month for families and children who have experienced adoption. National Adoption Month has two goals: to increase adoption awareness across the nation and to bring attention to the needs of many children who are waiting for their permanent families. Both of these goals are important and matter. Here are a few reasons why:
1. In our history, adoption was considered to be a taboo subject.
It was something that was not openly discussed, as though a connection to it brought shame to families. Thankfully, people are becoming more aware of the importance in openness in adoption. It is no longer a taboo subject but one that deserves to be explored, discussed and celebrated while also acknowledging the hardship and loss that can be involved.
2. Adoptive families need support.
The complexity of raising children who were born from other people deserves a great deal of research and compassion. Helping both adoptive parents and adoptees navigate life requires honest and genuine discernment of feelings, thoughts, and attitudes. To believe that “once a child is adopted, he or she will be just fine” is not a true reflection of this human experience. We need to be keenly aware of our own prejudices and misconceived perceptions of what life looks like through the lens of adoption.
3. Adoptions are prioritized in family courts.
Throughout the month of November, juvenile and family courts put extra efforts toward finalizing adoptions. Often, child welfare courts are overburdened with ongoing status hearings. National Adoption Month gives them the opportunity to focus on adoption hearings, and by doing so, children can achieve permanency. In 2016, over 4,600 children were adopted across the nation. Some courts have celebrations that include a party-like atmosphere, making the day even more special for all involved.
4) It helps realign our values.
How families form, whether they look like each other or not, are from the same region, culture, state or country, and whether the child is with them from birth or joins them later on in life, are all important factors, but not the most important one. Family is family. Adoption affirms this.
5) It spotlights the great need for adoptive families.
The focus on highlighting the needs of foster children whose permanency goal is adoption is a critical aspect of National Adoption Month. In the United States, there are approximately 140,000 children and youth in need of adoption. The impact of making this need known on a national scale has the potential to change the lives of many children and youth.
In sum, National Adoption Month matters because adoption matters. It matters for the child welfare professionals who work hard to advocate for biological parents and foster/adoptive parents. It matters for all people whose lives have been changed for the better through adoption. Most of all, it matters immensely to the children who are still waiting.