November is a special month for many reasons. It is the start of the holiday season with Thanksgiving being a special day for families to gather and give thanks for the blessings in their lives. November is also special because it is National Adoption Month. This national celebration of adoption began in 1984 when President Reagan declared a National Adoption Week and grew in 1995 when President Clinton expanded the awareness week to be for the entire month of November.
It is fitting that November was chosen as it is the time we give thanks for our families and for those in our lives we care about. As adoption touches three out of five people in our nation, it is likely that someone at your Thanksgiving celebration has some experience with adoption. Recently, at a family gathering a relative shared that he had recently discovered, through DNA testing, that his father had to have been adopted. Everyone gasped in surprise, but this is happening more and more often with companies such as Ancestry.com giving people the opportunity to research their genes.
In the past, adoption was secretive. Be it another family member adopting a baby from an unwed relative or a teen girl having her baby adopted by a family she did not know, all was kept hush hush. Thankfully, adoption practices have evolved and this is no longer something to be kept secret and hidden.
Today, open adoption is the most common type of adoption. With an open adoption, the birth parents choose the adoptive parents. They know each other and they decide together what type of contact they would like to have once the adoption is final. A birth parent may just want a picture and an update once a year or they may want lots of updates and even visits. This benefits everyone in the adoption triad. The birth parents know their child is safe, happy, and thriving in their adoptive family. The adoptive family has the medical and genetic background of the child helping them and their doctor provide the best care for the child. Most importantly, the child benefits. A child who knows where they came from and understands why they were placed for adoption has been found to do better emotionally and psychologically than those who do not know their birth parents or who find out later in life that they were adopted.
We need to give thanks for this adoption revolution as it has led to so many beautiful adoption stories. For instance, Lidia*, was attending college when she found out she was pregnant. She thought furthering her education was over and she was devastated. A friend recommended she look into adoption so she started researching until she finally had the courage to call. Her first words to the adoption coordinator were “I can’t give my baby away, I don’t know why I am calling.” The friendly voice asked her to just explain what her situation was. She was very surprised when Lisa, the coordinator, explained open adoption to her. The next thing she knew, she felt some hope. She chose a family that lived in her same state and started speaking with them. They hit it off and even though it was so hard to place her baby in the adoptive mom’s arms, she knew she was doing the right thing. Ten years later Lidia still sees her daughter twice a year and feels like part of the adoptive family. She was able to finish college with the help of a Lifetime Adoption Foundation college scholarship and is enjoying a great career today.
We, at Lifetime Foundation, give thanks to these amazing birth mothers by providing the opportunity to receive a scholarship to help them further their education. These birth mothers love their child enough to place them with a family that is ready and eager to have a baby. They should be celebrated for their courage and sacrifice. It is through donations that we are able to assist these women with their education and other needs they may have such as food, clothing, and basic necessities.
Celebrate National Adoption Month with us. Spread your knowledge of the benefits of open adoption with those around you and contribute to organizations such as Lifetime Adoption Foundation, that supports birth parents and their educational goals.
*Names have been changed for confidentiality.