National Adoption Month and Teens

It’s that time of year again. Yes, November. National Adoption Awareness Month.

From Child Welfare dot gov – National Adoption Month is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau that seeks to increase national awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens in the US foster care system, and emphasize the value of youth engagement. We have focused our efforts on adoption for teens because we know that teens in foster care wait longer for permanency and are at higher risk of aging out than younger children. Teens need love, support, and a sense of belonging that families can provide. Securing lifelong connections for these teens, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.

This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “Conversations Matter.” Incorporating youth engagement into daily child welfare practice can start with a simple conversation. Listen to what the young person has to say, what their goals are, and how they feel about adoption. Create an environment where they can be honest and ask questions. Youth are the experts of their own lives, so let them partner with you in permanency planning and make decisions about their life.

In 2019, there were over 122,000 children and youth in foster care waiting to be adopted who are at risk of aging out without a permanent family connection. Approximately one in five children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted are teens. Teens, ages 15-18, wait significantly longer for permanency when compared to their peers. Only 5% of all children adopted in 2019 were 15-18 years old. There is a high risk of homelessness and human trafficking for teenagers who age out of foster care.

More statistics from 2019 (the most recent year data is available) – of the 122,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted: 52% are male, 48% are female, 22% are African American, 22% are Hispanic, 44% are white, while the average age is 8 years old – 11 percent are between 15 and 18 years old.

The History of National Adoption Month –

In 1976, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care.

In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week. In 1995, President Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November.

Adoption Competition

I’m an entrepreneurial business person, so I get it. We got in on a big recycling push that carried our business (www.yemmhart.com) to a nice high just before the great recession of 2009. We’ve not totally recovered and the pandemic hasn’t help but we’re still doing business. At the time we started our effort, we benefitted from some awesome and free promotional efforts motivated by magazine’s own commercial interests. Advertising one can’t buy and I’ll admit, it was great.

So, this t-shirt design company that markets their custom product for fund-raising efforts has married their effort to produce revenue and their marketing need to raise awareness of their company to the expensive efforts of couple’s wanting to adopt a child (usually tens of thousands of dollars needed to do so these days).

Therefore, they have created a marketing promotion – an adoption competition. The couple who gets the most friends and usually local acquaintances (via local news sources bringing an awareness – advertising you can’t buy) to buy a t-shirt from this company gets 1 vote for every t-shirt sold. There are 10 couples. You can view them here – adoption finalists. The competition ends tomorrow, November 19th.

The company writes on their website – Every year, we help fund an adoption. November is national adoption month and this year we’re helping another family bring their beloved child home! You would be amazed what happens when you combine T-shirts, social media and the power of someone’s story.

And thus, another brilliant marketing campaign and revenue generator is born.