For those who celebrate National Adoption Month each November, we salute you! Because child-centered adoption is truly worth celebrating.
Yes, every adoption is borne of loss. Yet “forever families” that include everyone forever (so adoptees can always know and love all their parents) ensure that everybody wins.
November is when we celebrate Thanksgiving in America, so celebrating adoption around a holiday centered on gratitude seems fitting for those whose lives were truly bettered by it.
(But no, we’re not suggesting adoptees owe it to anyone to be grateful for having been adopted when they typically had no say in the matter. We’re just saying Thanksgiving makes the entire month of November a good time for counting all of one’s blessings– whether or not that includes adoption.)
The Benefits of Adoption
Traditionally, adoption means that children in need gain the security and stability of a safe and loving adoptive home. Birthparents are relieved of the burden of parenting children for whom they felt unprepared, for whatever reason. Adopters who had no other hope of building families finally know the joy of becoming parents.
With truly open adoption, there can be added benefits. Adoptees gain the advantages of ongoing contact with their birthfamilies, and genetic mirroring that enhances their own sense of identity,
Birthparents can enjoy continued connections with the child they placed, and ongoing relationships with the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents benefit from healthier attachments with the children they adopted and with the birthparents, as well.
(Plus: everyone in an open adoption is free of the weight of secrecy that adoption used to “require.”)
The greatest benefits of adoption, however, may be found in the wisdom of those who have been adopted, and those who have placed, and those who have adopted. Each of their experiences, when shared, enriches our society’s understanding of adoption. Let’s make their voices the ones that matter most, when we celebrate National Adoption Month.
How To Celebrate National Adoption Month
To celebrate national adoption month means finding ways to acknowledge how adoption has had an impact in your own life.
That may mean honoring an adoptee you love by asking their perspective and really listening. You could ask your pastor or priest or rabbi to mention adoption from the pulpit in November. Some folks host a special family dinner to commemorate what adoption means to them. Others send a note or flowers to their child’s other parents, or drop off unused baby supplies at a favorite adoption agency. Perhaps you can post adoption content on social media, and/or share your own personal perspective on adoption on your own blog? Or make a donation to a nonprofit adoption program whose work you appreciate on Giving Tuesday. Or maybe do an interview about adoption with your local newpaper or a favorite podcaster, or send in a letter to the editor?
“Celebrating” doesn’t mean anyone has to sugarcoat the things about adoption that need to change. It doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the parts of adoption that are hurtful, harmful or need to be fixed. (And telling your story doesn’t mean appropriating the adoption experiences of others without their consent, either.) If you come across what seems to be anti-adoption content with a “flip the script” hashtag online, resist the urge to get angry. Instead, consider thoughtfully the perspective of someone who has found adoption hurtful? Because learning more can also be a way of celebrating this cause, after all.
(And if not this year, then wait.)
Some folks who have suffered very recent losses related to adoption or who have long-term losses they still find hard to bear. For them, adoption may feel like nothing to celebrate. (That’s okay, too.)
We get it. There are intricate losses in adoption that may take much longer to heal, for the grief of ambiguous loss is a beast of a different kind. (This can be particularly true for those in closed adoptions, for those with unresolved infertility issues, for those who long for reunion with long-lost relatives, and for those whose post-adoption efforts to reconnect with have been rejected.)
If you’re not at peace with adoption this year, don’t force it. (You may need to avoid social media and other public mediums throughout November, just for your own sanity. Remember, Abrazo always offers free counseling as a public service, if you need to talk?) Give yourself grace, and then when you’re ready, seek out an adoption support group and try exploring your discomfort with adoption from a different perspective.
Adoption has never been a perfect construct– no human endeavor ever is! Yet it can and does change many lives in positive ways. That’s the best reason of all to celebrate National Adoption Month.