What It Is and Is Not

Every November it comes back around – National Adoption AWARENESS Month. While all adoption-related issues are important, the particular focus of this month is the adoption of children CURRENTLY in FOSTER CARE.

The first major effort to promote awareness of a need for children in the foster care system to be adopted into a permanent family began in 1976, when Massachusetts governor Mike Dukakis initiated Adoption Week. The idea grew in popularity beyond that state and spread throughout the nation.

President Gerald Ford later released the first National Adoption Week proclamation. In 1990, the week was expanded to a month because of the number of events and states participating. For many, the foster care imperative has been lost along the way and it has become a celebration of adoption in general. Proof of this is National Adoption Day (traditionally a Saturday) observed occurring in courthouses across the nation, when thousands of adoptions are finalized simultaneously.

During the month of November – many states, communities, public and private organizations, businesses, families, and individuals celebrate adoption in general as a positive way to build families. Activities and observances include recognition dinners, public awareness and recruitment campaigns, and special events shed light on children who are in need of permanent families (ah, back round to the kids in foster care – finally).

Even in non-election years, elected officials at all levels are supportive of efforts to build adoption awareness. Both current officials, and candidates especially, are often receptive to invitations for their participation in events with family appeal.

So now you know a bit more about what National Adoption Awareness Month was actually meant to achieve and how it has been hijacked by adoption advocates more generally.

National Adoption Awareness Month

The general public can be forgiven if they think that National Adoption Awareness Month is a promotion of adopting infants.  That is not the purpose and it could have been titled better.

Thousands of children and youth are currently in foster care and waiting for a permanent home within the embrace of a loving family.  In 1976, then Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to promote awareness of the need of children in foster care to be matched with an adoptive family.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November. Three years later, President Clinton directed the US Dept of Health & Human Services to expand the use of the internet as a tool to assist in finding homes for foster care children seeking a stable home.

There actually is a National Foster Care Month – May.  Foster Care is intended to support families. It is not intended as a substitute for a child’s parents.

Only 5 percent of all children adopted in 2017 were 15 – 18 years old.  The risk of homelessness and human trafficking is increased for teenagers in foster care.  Average time in foster care is 31 months.