A Birth Mother's Take on National Adoption Month — Part One
As a birth mother living in 2018, I have found that I face much resistance when it comes to searching for support for myself and for other women who have chosen adoption. Attempting to share a memory or discuss current sadness and grief with friends and family can sometimes feel like interacting with a brick wall as I am met with blank expressions and a loss for words. Greeting a stranger and making an acquaintance seems overwhelming at times when they ask if I have children. Experiencing loneliness as a result of lack of support is something I face on a daily basis as a birth mother who has been walking a path of post-placement healing from adoption for eight years.
When asked to write an article on my take on National Adoption Month, my mind immediately went to the fact that I don’t feel that being a birth mother is celebrated as much as it should be within my own life, let alone during a national awareness month! So, I started researching what this holiday is all about and what it could mean to me. I was stunned to learn that there is almost no research out there on this topic. For myself, and for the benefit of my readers, I decided to pull all the information I could find into one place: this article.
Are you curious about how National Adoption Month came to be? Are you looking for the most recent voluntary adoption statistics? Are you a birth mother who wants to know what she can do within her own life to celebrate adoption and adoption education? Here are the facts, setting the feelings aside:
History of National Adoption Month
1976 - Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care.
National Adoption Month has its roots in raising awareness for the foster care system and encouraging foster care adoptions. In 1976, seeing the need for an increase in families to provide adoptive homes for foster children, Massachusetts Governor Dukakis announced an Adoption Week within the state. The goal of this week was to celebrate foster care adoptions in order to promote an increase in these adoptions in Massachusetts. This is the first account in U.S. history of the government celebrating or even acknowledging the need to promote adoption in any form.
1984 - President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week.
While former President Reagan’s Proclamation on National Adoption Week in 1984 mainly focused on increasing foster care and special needs adoptions, Reagan also commented on the need for increased adoption options in general:
“No woman need fear that the child she carries is unwanted. We must continue to promote constructive alternatives to abortion through the Adolescent Family Life program and by encouraging the efforts of private citizens who are helping women with crisis pregnancies.” —Reagan, 1984 Proclamation on National Adoption Week
1995 – President Bill Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November.
Former president Clinton also focused on foster care adoption in his Proclamation on National Adoption Monthin 1995. However, the dream for a stronger adoption community was emphasized as he envisioned a brighter adoption future for our nation:
“As we observe National Adoption Month, we celebrate these achievements and recognize the rewards of adoption, but we must also remember that much work remains to be done. Citizens from all communities and organizations from the public and private sectors must join together to renew our commitment to finding permanent homes for each one of America's children.” —Clinton, 1995 Proclamation on National Adoption Month
1998 - Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan expanding the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care.
We still see the results of this in 2018, as anyone with an internet connection can view profiles online of children waiting in the foster care system. Every state in the U.S. offers a directory of these profiles online through their Department of Health and Human Services. A simple Google search is all it takes to find a child waiting in the foster care system.
2008 - President George W. Bush provides an explanation of National Adoption Month in Spanish.
Ten years later, we saw more movement on a national level for the adoption community as former President Bush provided a Spanish interpretation explaining National Adoption Month.
As you can see, the emphasis of National Adoption Month throughout history has been on adoptions from the foster care system. Of course, this is a worthy cause worthy of this attention, but I think National Adoption Month should be a time to celebrate all types of adoption — and the birth parents who make those adoptions possible.
Stay tuned for more thoughts on National Adoption Month next week!
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption seven years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.