How far we’ve come. When I was adopted in the late 1960s, there was no national day, let alone month, to highlight adoptions.
Adoption was the quiet way to create a family. People didn’t talk about it, and the public didn’t know there were children available. Caseworkers, lawyers and judges knew, of course, but family courts around the country were closed to the public.
As that began to change, the public became aware of the waiting children, foster care was changed and finding forever families became a different, more coordinated part of working with youth in the system. We celebrated National Adoption Month in November, but for the children who wait, it should be National Adoption Month every month until we find them homes.
To say that there are thousands of children waiting for families is a gross understatement. In fact, more than 100,000 are waiting. They can be found in all 50 states, and because of hard-earned legislation from groups like Voice For Adoption, a family in one state can adopt a child from another.
We share President Obama’s enthusiasm as he spoke of the “spirit of compassion that moves all who choose to adopt,” but point out that families who choose to grow through adoption don’t put themselves on such a pedestal. Ultimately, only when adoption is embraced as a mainstream method of shaping a family, something any decent citizen can undertake, will we be able to address the sheer volume of children awaiting good, stable, caring, but by no means perfect, homes.
Not everyone has a connection with adoption, but most have a connection to family. One of the most powerful things you can do is talk about adoption with people you know. We know for a fact, from experience, that the more this topic is discussed, the more likely people will inquire and adopt. Then these, our children, will know the connection to a family for themselves.
Mark Soule, executive director, Children Awaiting Parents, Inc., Rochester, N.Y.