Thoughts on This National Adoption Month

This blog post was written by Adoption STAR CEO and Founder, Michele Fried.

Today is the first day of November.  For many it is just another Tuesday, but for those of us “touched by adoption” November 1 means it is the first day of a month dedicated to adoption.

This month we will celebrate adoption and offer increased opportunities for adoption education. We will attend adoption conferences, events, finalization hearings and parties.  We will facilitate adoption orientations and workshops.  We will raise needed funds and awareness for special needs adoption.

November is also a month where we often say we are thankful for the many blessings in our lives… in my opinion, it is a perfect month… right before the busy holiday season and a new year… it is a month of hope, sometimes of tears and one filled with intense education.

I know I am a bit biased, as November is the month I became a mother due to the miracle of adoption. So it is a month where we celebrate our first child’s birthday and “our anniversary” of becoming a family.

National Adoption Month has given us the ability to showcase the positive stories about adoption.   The news outlets are often attentive allowing us to do so which is a welcomed change to the unflattering adoption stories we often find in the media.  National Adoption Month allows us to speak about the children many consider “hard to place” and highlight their strengths and needs.  National Adoption Month invites the famous to speak, sing or discuss the topic of adoption.  National Adoption Month reminds us that adoption is forever and challenges us to find permanent families for all children.

National Adoption Month also provides us the opportunity to reminisce about the past year and plan for another year to make the needed tweaks or larger changes as we work together in the best interest of all children.

This year adoption was noticed via social media. The Internet has exploded and truly has affected all of us involved in adoption.  Whether we are adoption professionals, adoptive parents, birth parents or adoptees, so much of our lives are imprinted on the technology we use.  How we communicate and connect with one another is additionally important when adoption is involved. The increased popularity of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs, and other social media sources has asked us to question how we utilize these sources and how they may affect us.  For adoption professionals it has allowed us a forum to advertise and share adoption and parenting news and knowledge.  For adoptees it permits an easy connection to other adoptees and to engage in a search for birth parents.  For expectant parents considering adoption it provides a plethora of information on adoption options, pregnancy information, choice of adoptive families, and ongoing online support. For adoptive parents, social media connects them to their adoption professionals, their children’s birth parents, to never ending links to other adoptive parents and information on adoption and parenting.  Adoption STAR has addressed the social media affects by providing advice and support on the topic.  The Adoption STAR website addresses the topic and we have blogged and developed a podcast discussing this important issue.

This year international adoption was genuinely affected and reported minute by minute online. From Nepal to Ethiopia, we have witnessed country closures and mass slow downs in international adoption. The number of families who received referrals from international programs in 2010 decreased dramatically in 2011.   Many adoption organizations were forced to close due to the financial impact of the decreased number of placements.  Adoption STAR predicted the incredible slow down and was able to prepare by developing two international placement programs in countries accredited by Hague.  Both Bulgaria and Hungary have reputable and strong adoption programs.

This year the media turned its attention to gay adoption. While not a new or hot topic for Adoption STAR, E-Media visited the topic and continues to do so with news about states and agencies being legally challenged over their non-inclusive adoption regulations.  Florida overturned its ban on gay adoption and even NYS who has seen gay adoptions for many years, has acknowledged areas where improvement is needed so that all people have the right to right to have a forever family.  Maybe one day the terms gay adoption and gay marriage will be absolute, and the words adoption and marriage just be known to include all people, all couples, all families.

Social media, international adoption, gay adoption… just parts of our every day lives in the adoption field… each year we know we will continue to advocate, learn, network and celebrate all that adoption will bring to each one of us.

Happy National Adoption Month!