National Adoption Day | Advice from an Adult Adoptee

National Adoption Day

National Adoption Day 2016 is here and I’m as happy as my four year old wearing her favorite tutu! As I’ve said before, this is a day that I love more than my birthday; today is dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness for children who are living in the foster care system waiting for forever families.

Last Year’s Statistics :: National Adoption Day 2015

According to the National Adoption Day website:

  • 4,000 children were adopted during the 2015 National Adoption Day celebration. 
  • 400 cities participated!
  • The number of children who are now living with their forever families has grown to nearly 58,500 since 2000, when National Adoption Day began.

I’ve noticed over this past year that people have a lot of questions and comments when it comes to adoption. As an adult adoptee, I’ve had my entire life to get to know all about adoption and I’ve been fortunately enough to speak with a lot of different families and organizations about my adoption story. 

In honor of National Adoption Day 2016, I wanted to take a moment to give you a snapshot of what I share when talking with families who are looking to adoption or foster. 

  1. Be transparent and honest about adoption and the relationships that are formed. Relationships are a hard concept to grasp, especially in the mind of a little one, but it is something that can be understood no matter the age. By being open about the situation, whether that’s adoption, foster to adopt, or short term foster, a relationship guided by trust is built and the children feel safer in their surroundings. 
  2. Don’t keep “small” facts to yourself; meaning, details matter in a child’s story. What you wore, what they wore, the weather, if you were so excited that you cried, if the judge gave you flowers, all those details are part of the child’s adoption story. It makes it their special story. I have met a lot of adoptees who feel that they never had anything that was just theirs while bouncing around foster care, until putting their story in the frame of being their story.  Just like when an author takes the time to craft a book with specific descriptions for each character, it’s the same for a child’s story; each detailed descriptive “small” fact counts.  
  3. Take the time to answer all the questions and explain anything and everything. I can promise you that the questions come at the most random of times (in the car, on the potty) but don’t brush it off! Be aware that every question and comment counts in a child’s life. They may not show that your answer has impacted them in that moment, but they do remember how you answered – was it with intention or in distraction? – as well as what the answer was. 
    Meeting the extended side of my birth family in 2010.

    Meeting the extended side of my birth family in 2010.

  4. Discuss and define what a healthy relationship is. I believe that this point is important for every parent but especially with children who are adopted out of foster care because sometimes they have witnessed or been victims of abuse. Abuse is not love, but that may be how love is defined in their mind, so being conscious of how love and relationships have been shown in a child’s past is very important. In turn, redesigning what healthy relationships are is just as important. 
  5. Consider open adoption. Open adoption is sharing information and or relationships between both sets of parents. I’m an advocate of open adoption because through my own open adoption, I was given the opportunity to know my entire family, both biological and adoptive. Today, I’m fortunate and lucky to have a family that includes two moms, two dads, a bunch of brothers and sisters, and countless (seriously, I’ve lost track) aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

Above all, love your kids with every fiber of your being. As Mister Rogers says, “knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

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