Though November is a time to start celebrating upcoming holidays, it’s also a time to celebrate adoption and help children find their forever homes. This is an important month as well because concentrated efforts are made to ensure that awareness is raised about adoption, charities that support adoption and adoptees, adoption agencies, and highlight the work being done by adoption professionals around the country.
Though I think it is critical to celebrate adoption every day and year-round, I do understand that like any awareness month, focusing on adoption in November gives us the opportunity to celebrate those working in adoption and children who have been adopted. With the rise of social media, awareness months really do bring a lot of information and ways to donate and help to our fingertips.
The History of National Adoption Month
Though adoption has been a part of our country’s history since it began, adoption used to not be vocalized as it is now. It’s important to understand this in order to see how far we’ve come and how those who were adopted prior to being more transparent might have had difficulties.
In 1976, Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis initiated adoption week for his state, which became quite popular. It became so popular, in fact, that President Ronald Reagan initiated a National Adoption Week in 1984. However, due to state celebrations and the awareness that adoption was receiving, President Bill Clinton proclaimed National Adoption Month in 1995.
Read more about the history of National Adoption Month in this article.
On November 1, 1995, President Bill Clinton made the following proclamation, which is still noted today and used to spread awareness about adoption.
“For many people across the United States, adoption provides a means for building and strengthening families. It places children into loving, permanent homes where they can flourish and grow up to become happy, healthy, productive members of our national community. Adoption also enables adults to experience the unique joys of parenthood.
“As many as 70,000 children in America’s foster care system may need adoptive families in the next few years—young people of all ages and backgrounds who, for whatever reason, cannot return to their original homes. Many, but not all, are children with special needs. These young people long for the same affection, security, and stability that most of us take for granted, yet too many have waited—and will continue to wait—for years to be adopted.
“My Administration has taken important actions to encourage adoption and to support the wonderful families that choose to open their hearts and homes to waiting children. The Multiethnic Placement Act, which I signed into law in October 1994, helps to facilitate adoption for all children and families, regardless of their race or ethnic origin. We will continue to champion and improve programs that break down barriers to adoption through aggressive recruitment of families, financial aid to support placements, and technical assistance to agencies committed to special needs adoption.
“As we observe National Adoption Month, we celebrate these achievements and recognize the rewards of adoption, but we must also remember that much work remains to be done. Citizens from all communities and organizations from the public and private sectors must join together to renew our commitment to finding permanent homes for each one of America’s children.
“Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 1995, as National Adoption Month. I urge the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs and to participate in efforts to find permanent homes for waiting children.
“In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twentieth.”
It’s Really Important Because…
National Adoption Month is important for many reasons. One is that we are recognizing what is being done. We are acknowledging the work done by numerous individuals in our country who day in and out are working for foster children, birth parents, and parents seeking to adopt. Whether they be social workers, not-for-profit employees, government employees, caseworkers, counselors, educators, etc., they are all working to improve adoption in our country, help people offset the costs of adoption, support birth families, and ensure that all children have safe and loving homes.
This is additionally important because we are still recognizing what work has to be done to continue to improve foster care and adoption laws as well as to support initiatives that are ongoing and to support children and birth families.
Though all aspects are equally as important during National Adoption Month, the focus of this month is to draw attention to the hundreds of thousands of children that remain in foster care in the United States and to help place them in permanent homes. Currently, it is estimated that in the United States alone, around 400,000 children are a part of the foster care system. Let that sink in. Nearly half a million children in our country currently don’t have a permanent home. They may have lived in more than one home this year alone and may not know where they’ll be living tomorrow. This is something that is so often not discussed, but if we think about it and bring awareness to it, we know there are things that can and should be done. Many of the children in foster care are teenagers who may age out of the system without ever being adopted. This is why National Adoption Day has become such a critical and celebrated part of this awareness month.
Still wonder why National Adoption Month is so important? Read this article.
National Adoption Day
National Adoption Day is an integral part of National Adoption Month that raises awareness and celebrates adoption. In fact, National Adoption Day is just as recognized as the month itself and sheds light on the issue of children in foster care who need consistency through adoption.
National Adoption Day was founded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoptions, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights, and the Children’s Action Network. On November 18, 2000, with the help of this coalition and the Freddie Mac Foundation, seven cities opened their courts on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving to not only finalize, but to celebrate adoptions from foster care, raising awareness through media attention and within the adoption community.
This first National Adoption Day was inspired by Michael Nash, who was formerly a judge of Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Court. He would open court on Saturdays with the help of volunteer efforts from court staff to finalize adoptions and eliminate a backlog since at the time, this was one of the busiest courts in our country.
Thanks to the efforts of all who celebrate National Adoption Day and those who have opened courts on Saturdays in November, approximately 75,000 foster children have been adopted.
This year, National Adoption Day will take place on November 23, 2019. Look out for ways to be a part of this inspirational day!
Existing National Adoption Day Events have been registered here and you can use the same site to officially enter any events and dates that might be taking place near you.
For more detailed information about National Adoption Day, visit the official page here.
How People Celebrate
There are many ways to celebrate this month. I choose to do a few things, including increasing my opportunities to share my story, creating meaningful ways to share more about adoption in my community, and of course, donating and volunteering with local and national organizations. These are things that I do all year, but I do find the opportunity tends to present itself more through planned events. Yet, I thought that other families who were impacted by adoption might have unique ways to celebrate the month that I was unaware of.
However, when I talked to those who were part of the adoption triad, I was slightly surprised to find that other than increasing their social media posts and sharing those that were coming from not-for-profits raising awareness and fundraising efforts to support National Adoption Month endeavors, most people weren’t making a big change just because it’s November….and believe it or not, this is great.
Birth families, parents by adoption, and adoptees alike aren’t making special efforts to celebrate because they are celebrating, speaking out, and raising awareness on a year-round consistent basis and this is something to acknowledge.
When I reached out to parents who adopted, adult adoptees, and adoption professionals, one thing was clear: these are people who are passionate about adoption, about making sure their voices and stories are heard to help others, and are consistently giving back to organizations that they know are helping foster children and supporting adoptive families. This is critical.
These individuals had a passion for adoption that was clear—but it couldn’t be contained to one month. Parents and adoptees alike are spending all year going on speaking engagements to highlight the highs and lows of adoption and foster care, answering questions for prospective parents, and are even speaking to colleagues, family, and friends on a regular basis. They are, like me, writing their stories to share with others, whether it be for publications or their own blogs. They’re sharing in small circles at local congregations, and they’re speaking about adoption whenever it comes up to ensure that they are a person that people are comfortable talking to so that “adoption” is no longer a word with a stigma attached and that they can make a difference in the life of another.
I’m not saying that National Adoption Month and National Adoption Day aren’t important—they are, but essentially, a month just isn’t enough to make the changes that we are all hoping for. Because of this, people are living their lives in a way where they can help every day of the year.
My daughter and I have started a project of giving items to families who have recently adopted and to parents who need a little extra help that are utilizing agency support—this is important to us and helps us share about adoption year-round.
If you’re looking for additional ways to celebrate National Adoption Month, here is a list of 30 ways to do so!
Interested in an adoptee’s perspective of celebrating this month? Click here to read more.
A Month Isn’t Enough….
If you read President Clinton’s proclamation, one thing reads true: we need to do more. I think a month is a good starting point, and National Adoption Day is truly inspiring, however, if we want to make that huge number of children in the foster care system go down, we need to:
– Educate others about adoption
– Help those professionals who are already working in adoption be able to do their job
– Volunteer our services
– Donate when we can
– Share our stories
– Share posts by relevant organizations consistently on social media platforms
– Be an advocate for adoptees and foster children
– Be open and honest to those who seek knowledge about adoption
For even more information about National Adoption Awareness Month, please read this article.
None of this is easy and there are people who are working ceaselessly to help foster children and to help families offset the costs of adoption so that more adoptions are possible. Stay vigilant in helping others and eventually, it’s my hope that National Adoption Month will just be a time to celebrate adoption because there won’t be so many children in foster care.
We would love to hear more about how you celebrate adoption, both in November and the rest of the year. Please feel free to tweet these ideas to me on Twitter. I look forward to retweeting them and sharing them all year long.
Julia K. Porter is an educator, writer, and cultural competency consultant. She began her career as a high school English teacher in Brooklyn, NY, and has taught college courses since 2008 and has done nonprofit work. Currently, she is the project manager for Celebrating Cultural uniqueness at Tiffin University. Julia has a passion for diversity and in educating about the nuances of adoption as that is how she chose to grow her family. Julia holds a Ph.D. in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University/Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). Her personal interests include reading, writing, traveling and experiencing new cultures, and knitting. She lives in Indiana with her husband, Kyle, daughter, Brooklyn, and Australian Shepherd, Hunter. For more information, visit www.juliakayporter.com.