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Every November our country observes National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) to raise awareness of the children in foster care who are awaiting adoption because they “are unable to continue living safely with their families” (Adoptuskids.org.) Sadly, many will never obtain a second chance at becoming a part of a family.
Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system. Many will instantly become homeless as well as “family-less.” Without a family to guide and support them, they have no buffer of loving support and emergency resources to draw upon when facing the difficult moments of life. These youth are tiny boats floating solo on the sea of life coping with all it has to throw at them with no life raft, no emergency kit, and no support team to whom they can yell “911! I need your help!”
For those of us who have always benefitted from the security of loving, safe, well-resourced families, it is difficult to imagine how terrifying it must be for a young person to be totally on their own without the most basic of resources. Life doesn’t slow down for them just because they no longer have a family. It is sink or swim.
Life is a full-throttle experience with thrilling highs, devastating lows, and every emotional nuance in between those two extremes. Recall in your own life how many times you have relied on your family. How much more difficult would it have been if you had not had the love and support of family? From personal experience we know that the good times feel even brighter when we have a family to witness and celebrate with us. The challenging and frightening times feel more endurable when family and friends help to see us through them.
So, this month please focus on the need to find adoptive families for foster children in need of them—especially for those youth who will age out of care very shortly. Consider adopting one of these youth. Although you may have missed out on their earliest years, you have an opportunity to truly change their lives.
April Dinwoodie, former head of the Donaldson Institute, has collaborated with Adoptuskids.org to host a 6-part podcast series on this topic. Please listen and learn how you can help.
I offer a final caveat: please remember that National Adoption Month NAAM is not the time to crow about all things wonderful about adoption. Keep the focus on the effort to find families for children for whom reunification is not possible.
Ask yourself these questions:
Have I deeply listened to adult adoptee voices to learn about adoption from their lived perspectives?
How much of what I “know” about adoption is accurate and based on the latest research about adoption?
What steps have I taken to ensure that I do not unintentionally accept or spread beliefs and information that are based on myths and/or outdated presuppositions?
How can my understanding of adoption complexity help me be a better parent for my children?
How can Adoption Attunement validate and support my children in ways that they can actually feel, trust, and believe in that support?
How does my recognition that all adoption is rooted in trauma help me to meet my children’s needs better?
#HonorAdopteeVoices #ValidateAdoptionComplexity #FindFamiliesForFosterkids #AdoptionGriefLoss #AdoptionAttunement
Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We’ve faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding. GIFT coaches are available to present workshops online. Contact us : 1-800-653-9445
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