Each year, November marks National Adoption Awareness Month. This annual initiative recognizes the many children in need of loving, permanent homes across the United States. While adoption has come a long way from the dark ages – when children were literally “put up” on platforms for prospective parents to view – we certainly have a lot of work to do. Increasing awareness about adoption, reducing the stigma, and spreading the positive message of the incredible choice, will help with improve many lives in our country, children and families alike.
Adoption is a very positive act of love. Not only is it a great way to build a family, it is also a way to keep children out of the foster care system. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy, who are not ready to parent a child, have the option to make a private, thoughtful adoption plan for their baby. They can choose a family to love and care for their child. They can have great peace of mind that their child will grow up in a stable, safe, and permanent home, full of love and opportunity. If you or someone you know is facing an unplanned pregnancy – even if she has already given birth – know that adoption is a positive choice.
The first National Adoption Month was inaugurated by President Clinton in 1995, highlighting the fact that adoption is a positive “means for building and strengthening families.” (Did you know Clinton was adopted?) Each year since, National Adoption Month has focused on a particular theme, to help support those working to place children with their forever families. This year, the 2019 theme is “Youth Voices: Why Family Matters.”
It is a well-known fact within the adoption community that teenagers are less likely to be adopted. This is often due to their age. Many teens will age out of foster care without the loving care of a strong family unit. As the Child Welfare Information Gateway explains, “Securing lifelong connections for teens in foster care, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.”
Along with this year’s theme, the National Adoption Month microsite offers valuable support for the child welfare community, from resources for legal counselors and professionals, to tips for starting important conversations with teens as they navigate foster care and adoption. There is information specifically geared toward youth, in an effort to help them share their story and explore their own emotions as they await a permanent home.
Facts About Foster Care & Adoption
Here are some statistics you may be interested to know about adoption and foster care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- At any time, there more than 442,000 children living in the U.S. foster care system, and that number is rising. Over 123,000 of these children are eligible for adoption. They will wait an average of four years to be adopted.
- More than 69,000 children in foster care are living group homes of other foster institutions, instead of with a family.
- In 2017, 19,945 children – 8 percent – aged out of the foster care system. This means they grew up without the emotional and financial support that most children living with families are likely to receive.
- Based on the statistics, those who age out of foster care will fare poorer as a group in several areas, such as postsecondary education, career, housing, public assistance status and criminal records. This makes sense, as they did not receive the financial and emotional support that helps positions children so well for adulthood.
How to Get Involved this November
The statistics may be grim, but the good news is that we can all help improve these numbers and raise awareness about the act of adoption. For families touched by adoption, it only takes a few clicks of a button to spread the word. Whether you are part of an adoptive family, or you are a birth parent who has made an adoption plan, you can share your story on social media. Share photos on Instagram and Facebook, using the hashtag #NationalAdoptionMonth, or Adoptions With Love’s hashtag, #30daysoflove.
Another easy way to get involved is to take the National Adoption Month Survey, which takes a mere five minutes and helps the Child Welfare website improve their services.
Adoptive families who have been impacted by adoption may also want to take some time to show appreciation. With Thanksgiving being in November, as well, a lot of people will start to get into the giving spirit. After turkey day and “Black Friday” comes #GivingTuesday, an initiative meant to support charities in need of support. You may choose to honor your child’s birth mother by donating to a local women’s shelter, children’s advocacy group, or your adoption agency. There are countless organizations in need of financial contributions, and it is easier than ever to send monetary donations to those in need. If you cannot donate funds, donate your time. Volunteer at one of these groups, or simply stop by to visit and share your story. Connecting with others has a bigger impact than most people realize.
If you would like to learn more about adoption, please reach out to Adoptions With Love. We are a private, non-profit adoption agency that has been placing children with loving families for more than 33 years. Our caring staff is available to chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 1-800-722-7731 or visit us adoptionswithlove.org.