November is National Adoption Month. The purpose of National Adoption Month is to raise awareness about the adoption of children from foster care. There are over 100,000 children in the U.S. waiting for permanent adoptive families. The theme for this year’s adoption month is improving the ability of adoption professionals to recruit adoptive parents for those children.
With the idea that November is National Adoption month in mind, you may want to have a conversation with your kids about adoption. Assuming they’re not adopted children themselves, they may have friends from school who are adopted (or in foster care), or you may know adoptive families in your own circle of friends. The subject of adoption can be confusing for a child. If your children have questions, now is a good time to answer them. Here are some things to keep in mind when you find yourself explaining adoption to your kids.
- Be reassuring. Keep in mind that the concept of losing a parent, let alone both parents, for whatever reason, can be very frightening to a young child. You’ll want to make sure that they know that you are not going anywhere. Also emphasize that their adopted friends have parents that chose them, and that love them very much. They need to know that adoptive families are as happy and whole as their own.
- What makes a family? Your child may notice that an adopted child may be from a different race than her parents, or very far apart in age from any siblings, or other differences. This is a good time to talk about what makes a family a family. It’s important to explain that families come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and configurations. The important thing is that families love each other and take care of their children.
- Birth parents. Your kids should know that an adopted friend’s birth parents love them. Placing a child for adoption is an act of love. It means that the birth parent is giving their child a chance at a life better than the one the birth parent can provide. It’s a selfless act, not an act of abandonment.
The most important thing that you can teach your children about adoption is that adoptive families are no different than yours; they just had a different way of coming together. If your child has an adopted friend, or has questions about adoption, this is what she needs to know.
If you belong to a family that has adopted a child, take time this month to celebrate your unique and wonderful family. If you’re close to an adoptive family, you may want to help them celebrate their family bond. Either way, the month of November is a time to recognize the importance of adoption, and help raise awareness if you can.