Every November, the United States experiences National Adoption Awareness Month. National Adoption Awareness Month was created to promote awareness of the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care, at least half of whom are ready and waiting to be adopted. However, like many endeavors, National Adoption Awareness Month has changed. It is now a month to promote adoption – any type of adoption. It has also become a month to celebrate adoption.
More people than we realize are touched by adoption. Even if you are not an adoptive parent, an adopted person, or a birth parent, you probably know at least one person who is. For that reason alone, I’m all for adoption awareness. But what does “adoption awareness” mean? I think that’s a topic for another post. Briefly, the fact that people still use “You’re adopted” as a punch line shows that we need more awareness.
Obviously, I am pro-adoption. However, National Adoption Awareness Month really glosses over the issues in adoption. Not just the difficulties that all parties face, but the ethical issues. Sometimes, I’m not sure that there really is such a thing as an ethical adoption. Most of the time, I realize that’s a very pessimistic view. However, all parties should agree that we need more transparency, more morality, less money, and more knowledge about adoption and the processes involved.
As for celebrating adoption, yes, our family does celebrate adoption. But, we do realize that adoption comes with loss. I don’t believe, as some very respected writers do, that adoption is all about loss. Jackson gained quite a bit in becoming our son, and we gained even more in him becoming our son. However, he did lose relationships with his biological family. Yes, we do talk to them – mostly to his birth grandmother. He knows who they are. But he feels very keenly that he has siblings who do not live with him. He realizes that he’s lost the chance to be a real, hands on little brother, for example. There is loss in adoption. We celebrate the gains, but we must acknowledge the loss. I don’t think National Adoption Awareness Month mentions loss at all.
I’m really ambivalent about National Adoption Awareness Month. I think its original goal is Good ™ – to draw attention to the children who are languishing in foster care. But even then, there are so many potential issues when people try to adopt from foster care. Again, this is another post that I’ve been writing in my head for years. It’s just so big. To take just one example, it seems that we only hear about the two extremes: Children who were adopted from foster care who end up being awful and hurting their families or children who were adopted from foster care and are perfect angels. National Adoption Awareness month glosses over the very real issues that many children from foster care face – at least from what I’ve seen of the coverage.
These conflicting emotions are why you didn’t see any posts from me acknowledging National Adoption Awareness Month. Maybe next year, I’ll have the time to really delve into some of them. Then again, as Cassie will be one, maybe not.