November is National Adoption Month. This annual campaign is honored nationwide, helping to raise awareness and educate others about adoption and foster care. Each year, the U.S. Children’s Bureau chooses a theme to support. This year, the focus is on helping youth build secure, lifelong connections – with permanent families, with professionals, and with their communities. It is called “Empowering Youth: Finding Points of Connection.”
In honor of finding points of connection, the Children’s Bureau is calling on professionals to help facilitate opportunities and connections for youth who are in need. Connections are critical to the future success and well-being of children.
This theme is near and dear to our hearts here at Adoptions With Love. We, too, are focused on building connections in a few different ways.
First, we are focused on building connections between expectant/birth parents and the resources in their community. Facing an unplanned pregnancy can feel like a complete crisis, and no one should ever have to face this alone. That is why our adoption agency works hard to connect these women with supportive resources, such as options counseling, medical attention, pregnancy clinics, adoption attorneys, and social workers. With this information and support, expectant/birth parents can make the best possible choice for their babies—and this can prevent many children from ever entering foster care.
As an open adoption agency, we also encourage birth and adoptive families to keep in contact over the years and build a lifelong relationship. There are incredible stories that come from these connections. They start with the life-changing experience of adoption.
The History of National Adoption Month
In 1984, the first national initiative for adoption awareness was named “National Adoption Week” by President Ronald Reagan. Then, in 1995, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first National Adoption Month. National Adoption Month has evolved over the years, exploring different issues relating to adoption and foster care.
In recent years, the U.S. Children’s Bureau has focused this campaign on teen adoption. Teenagers in foster care are often left waiting to be placed in permanent homes. Therefore, these youth are at greater risk of aging out of the welfare system than younger children. Just like babies and toddlers, teenagers need love, support, and a sense of belonging. Securing lifelong connections (legally and emotionally) is especially important for older youth to thrive.
Finding Points of Connection
This year’s theme for National Adoption Month is called “Empowering Youth: Finding Points of Connection.” It shines a light on the opportunities and services available to connect youth to:
- Their “roots” or background, to help foster identity
- Permanent families, who can support their health and well-being
- Their community, giving them the opportunity to develop their talents and thrive
Youth benefit from meaningful, permanent relationships. By connecting with themselves, family members, and the community, they can develop their own identity and carve a path towards future success.
As such, this year’s National Adoption Month theme encourages professionals to help foster connections for youth. The theme also places focus on “Empowering Youth,” or making space for youth to take the lead in making decisions that impact their own lives. This empowerment helps teens develop their identity even further, as well as discover their strengths and talents independently. As the Children’s Bureau explains:
“When you’re a teen in the child welfare system and away from your birth family, developing your identity can feel like you’re on the journey alone. As adoption professionals, it is our job to be a partner on this journey and help youth remain connected to their roots while also finding new connections and opportunities. We must also embrace and affirm the youth’s racial and cultural identity to ensure that the youth’s holistic identity is considered when permanency planning.”
Adoption professionals understand the importance of self-discovery for adopted children. This is a common discussion among adoption experts and adoptive families. It is important for children, particularly those who have been adopted, to feel like they have a strong sense of self. Children’s ethnic background – particularly when it differs from their adoptive parents – is an important part of their identity.
Therefore, it’s important for professionals and families to make sure children maintain connections to their roots. As an adoption agency, we look to provide opportunities for education and immersion, helping adoptive parents support their children’s background.
One of the best ways for children to understand their identity and roots is to connect (or re-connect) with their birth parents.
Building a Connection with Open Adoption
Adoption today looks much different than it did years ago. Gone are the days of secrecy, in which adoption arrangements were made without any context or contact information given to adoptive families. Today, most adoptions are open adoptions.
Open adoption means something different for every family. Typically, however, it means there is ongoing communication between birth and adoptive families. These families may stay connected through email, text messaging, phone calls, letters, or even in-person visits. The form and frequency of communication is determined before the open adoption is finalized. This can be facilitated by the adoption agency.
Open adoption agreements may be changed over the years to accommodate the growing needs of a child and evolving relationships between families. However, these arrangements are almost always beneficial for those involved. Research shows that children who were adopted, but maintain an open relationship with their birth parents, have:
- Higher levels of self-worth
- Increased sense of identity and security
- Connection to cultural background
- Better access to important medical information
- Better understanding of adoption
- Greater sense of belonging
Open adoption is a positive choice, as it offers many benefits for everyone involved: birth parent, adoptive family, and – most importantly – adopted child.
If a birth parent would feel more comfortable with limited contact, or communication through an adoption specialist, a semi-open adoption plan is also a great option.
Building Connections for Expectant/Birth Mothers
While the best adoption agencies will educate expectant/birth parents about open adoption, they will support whatever type of adoption plan best meets their individual needs.
At Adoptions With Love, our main goal is to provide expectant/birth parents with the resources they need to make an informed decision for their baby. Adoption is not an easy choice, and it’s not always the right choice for everyone. We aim to teach young women about all of their options and empower them with the knowledge (and support!) needed to make a choice.
When facing an unplanned pregnancy, many young women do not know what to do or where to turn for support. Some choose to continue with their pregnancy, but due to a lack of support or resources, cannot meet the needs of their children long-term. Many children end up in foster care because of this unfortunate circumstance. At Adoptions With Love, we empower women with the knowledge and connections they need to make a positive plan for their baby and themselves. We connect them with counseling, education, medical support, financial assistance, and more. This helps lead to more permanent homes for babies in need.
Learn More This National Adoption Month
National Adoption Month is the perfect time to learn more about adoption options and the positive impact that connections can have on empowering young people.
Whether you are an expectant/birth parent or a prospective adoptive family, you can get the support you need for your adoption planning. Consider National Adoption Month your sign to learn more today. Contact Adoptions With Love to speak with an experienced professional who can help guide you through the adoption journey. Call 800-722-7731 or contact us online for risk-free information.