November is National Adoption Month, and we're asked everywhere to "celebrate" adoption. I admit, I have a hard time with that. I acknowledge that, as an adoptive parent, I'm the only one in the adoption triad who didn't come to adoption through tragedy. How can I "celebrate" the tragedy that made my children available for adoption? But I can certainly accept a national adoption AWARENESS month, which happens to be the official name. There are LOTS of things people need to be aware of when it comes to adoption.
I thought I'd go through Adoptive Families Magazine's 30 Ways to Celebrate National Adoption Month article, and suggest some ways that their ideas could be tweaked a bit to increase awareness, both inside your family and out:
2. Ask your library to display adoption books to commemorate National Adoption Awareness Month.
Here are some books to suggest -- books from the important perspective of adopted persons, and books that reveal a history of adoption that is often ignored:
The Language of Blood by Jane Jeong Trenka
Fugitive Visions by Jane Jeong Trenka
Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption
Orphan Train: Placing Out in America
Kinship by Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern United States
The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
5. Find out where your representatives at the state and national level stand on adoption issues. Write to them regarding your concerns.
You can click here to find out your state's position on adoptee access to original birth certificates. Chances are, your state does not allow such access since only 6 states do. The American Adoption Congress provides lots of online materials to help you inform legislators on this issue.
7. Create a scrapbook with your child. Talk about significant events as you record them together.
Make sure you include significant events -- such a BIRTH! -- that occurred before you and your child met. Here's a link about adoption lifebooks to get your started.
9. Find an adult adoptee or a person of color—a coach, a teacher, or a babysitter—who can serve as a mentor for your child. Arrange for them to get together monthly.
If your area is not very diverse, you need to act intentionally to bring adults who share your child's race into their lives. Pediatrician, dentist, eye doctor -- given a choice, choose the one who shares your child's race. Getting to know adult adopted persons can be a great help in letting kids know someone older and wiser who can listen to their problems.
11. Spend some time celebrating your child’s heritage.
The internet is a wonderful place to find recipes, traditions, folklore, about your child's birth country.
13. Give an adoption talk at school.
Keep it real, keep it age-appropriate, and talk as much as you can about how families can be different, and that's OK.
14. Pass along an adoption-related article to another adoptive parent or friend.
Here are a few I'd suggest:
The Lie We Love by E.J. Graff
The Baby Business: Policy Proposals for Fairer Practice by E.J. Graff
Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis by E.J. Graff
I'd also suggest that you share blog links -- especially adult adoptee and birth mother blogs -- with your adoptive parent friends. It's so important for all adoptive parents to read from all perspectives, especially from those that might be different from their own. Check out the links in the blog roll to your right. Send your favorites via email, Facebook and/or Twitter to your friends.
20. NAT IONAL ADOPTION DAY! Courts across the country will finalize thousands of adoptions
These are adoptions from foster care. If you are an attorney, consider volunteering. Remember, courts are open to the public. Feel free to visit your courthouse and watch the finalizations. This can be a great experience for kids, especially if they were too young to remember their own, or if they are experiencing anxiety about how permanent their adoption is. You can show them how the judge makes a family a family forever. Click here to check for events in your area.
21. Develop a family ritual to show thanks for your family and the special way you’ve found one another AND 27. Together, light a candle in honor of your child’s birthparents. Turn off the lights and hold hands as you watch the flame.
I love family rituals, and combining 21 and 27 acknowledges that your child's birth family is part of your family. For some suggestions of family rituals, check out Creating Ceremonies: Innovative Ways to Meet Adoption Challenges.
I also think rituals are extremely important when a child's birth parents are unknown. Rituals can give them a concrete presence in a child's life. My kids, for example, write notes to birth moms on Mother's Day, and burn the notes so that the smoke can carry good wishes to them in China.
28. Make holiday crafts that incorporate designs from your child’s heritage.
Again, the internet is your friend here!
30. Make a donation in your child’s or birthmother’s name to an adoption-related charity or organization.
Tw of my favorites are family preservation funds; after all, the only way to solve the orphan crisis is to prevent kids from being orphaned in the first place. So check out:
The Unity Fund from Love Without Boundaries
The Family Preservation Initiative from Ethica
So get out there and do your part for adoption awareness -- awareness of ALL the issues in adoption, the good and bad, the happy and sad. That's the awareness the public needs, that's the awareness you need to help your child.