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National Adoption Awareness Month

Celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month

The average child in the foster care system is cleared for adoption at the age of 8. They will move at least three times while in foster care, and may be separated from their siblings. The child will wait 5 years or more to be adopted, and still, every year, 23,000 children age out of the foster care system without any support system – or a family who loves them.

Unfortunately, the situation listed above is all too common, which is why, in 1976 Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced adoption week to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for the children in foster care. Then, in 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Awareness Week. November was later designated as National Adoption Awareness Month by President Bill Clinton in 1995. In 2000, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services to begin developing ways to utilize the Internet as a tool to help find homes for waiting children across the country.

There are undeniably more children waiting for homes now than in 2000 – approximately 110,000 children are in foster care. Of these children, 12,500 children are between 15-17 years of age, which puts them at a much higher risk for “aging out” of the system. Some of these children will have development issues, or may be traumatized from past life experiences. One goal of National Adoption Awareness Month is to raise awareness in adoption agencies and the general public for these children, in the hopes of finding them supportive families.

More generally, National Adoption Awareness Month helps to raise awareness for the growing numbers of children in foster care who are waiting for homes, while also dispelling common myths about adoption that may frighten some families. For example, though some families might be intimidated by the thought of adopting a child who has suffered trauma, National Adoption Awareness Month helps to teach adoption agencies how to help parents, as well as informing potential parents that they will not have to go through this process alone, as there are support systems available help them.

With approximately 110,000 children in the United States waiting for families in the United States, National Adoption Awareness Month is more important than ever. Although National Adoption Awareness works on helping those children who have not yet found homes, many families also choose to use this time to celebrate their adopted family members. Many regions of the United States will hold events where adoptive families can gather to celebrate and share their stories. One of these is Voice for Adoption’s Adoptive Family Portrait Project, which connects adoptive families with their members of Congress for a briefing on Capitol Hill, allowing legislators to get to know these families and their concerns.

 For every child to go home permanently, there are many more hoping for the same kind of love – which is why Voice for Adoption works to raise awareness for these children among the legislators on Capitol Hill.

PHOTO: http://holtinternational.org/blog/2015/11/national-adoption-month-2015/