All too often, we think adoption means “babies and children who need families.” That thinking can seem especially true in November, which in the US is Adoption Awareness Month, designed to celebrate adoption and promote positive awareness about adoption. You’ll see lovely photos of happy families, stories about children available for adoption, and upbeat articles by adoptive parents of young children.
Those babies and children grow up. They experience adoption in different ways at different ages, but “being adopted” or “having been adopted” is a part of their lives, always. While adoption does not necessarily define or limit anyone, it certainly affects the understanding of family in a very different way than for those who are not adopted, or have not placed a child for adoption. Transracial and/or international adoption adds a whole other level of complexity. The spectrum of the effect is broad, and needs to be honored.
Today the 4th issue of Gazillion Voices hit the newsstand that is the Internet. It’s well worth reading (and listening to the podcasts, looking at the photo essays, reflecting on the articles).
So go read this brand new issue of Gazillion Voices, and urge others to do the same. Post your comments. Engage in dialogue. Enjoy the opportunity to listen, learn, and be challenged.
My view of National Adoption Awareness Month: “Awareness of adoption” cannot be limited to making people aware that children need families. It has to cover a much larger scale, including awareness of issues such as grief, trauma, and loss, as well as racial identity, cultural realities, search and reunion issues. My hope is that children who genuinely need new families find them, that the adoption preparation process completed by adoptive parents is thorough and challenging, that the first/birth families receive thorough, transparent, and thoughtful (non-coerceive in any way) counseling and support, before, during, and after the placement, and that the experiences of adoptees, whether positive or negative, are respected as real. My hope is that legislators, policymakers, moviemakers, and others involved in adoption will listen especially closely to the voices of adopted adults and of first/birth parents. That would be genuine Adoption Awareness.