National Adoption Month begins today, an idea that seems straightforward until you start talking with people about it. Whose stories are heard this month? Whose interests are represented? It’s time to #FliptheScript, and hand over the microphone to new voices.
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) says that, in 1990, they began raising awareness of what had been Adoption Week (the week of Thanksgiving) and started promoting November as National Adoption Awareness Month. The original purpose was to increase awareness about the need for adoptive families for children in US foster care.
National Adoption Awareness Month in the past has been touted almost exclusively by public and private adoption agencies and adoptive parents. Like the adoption tax credit, the original focus on children in US foster care has expanded to promote adoption of children around the globe.
If we are going to do adoption right, we have to take a hard look at it. We need to listen carefully to those who have a wide range of experiences as a result of adoption: the wonderful, the good, the difficult, the traumatic. Adoption is not a Hallmark greeting card or sweet interracial family photo. It’s time to flip that script. The stories and pictures are complex, and that’s okay.
Awareness is key. We need to move toward increased awareness of adoption and of family preservation/reunification. Those are big, complicated, potentially rewarding undertakings. Let’s look beyond cute pictures and platitudes.
Let’s listen to the voices that we can truly learn from: adopted adults. Let’s move the microphone, held in the past and present by adoption agencies and adoptive parents, and hand it to them.
Take a look today on Twitter for #FliptheScript. Listen to the voices of adoptees who love their adoptive families deeply, and who have struggled nonetheless. Listen to those who had horrible, fraudulent experiences, and who have survived.
Listen to those who have been denied the most basic human right–to know who they are–because they are denied the right to access their own original birth certificates.
Look at who is talking about National Adoption Awareness Month. Sure, listen to the agencies and parents. Then give deeply to listening to those who have truly lived what it means to be adopted.