November is Adoption Awareness Month. So, what does that mean, exactly? I started out writing a post about the different avenues of "Awareness" that even somebody uninvolved with adoption could become a part of: fundraising, education, advocating. However, I think before anyone is even willing to consider one of these options, I'm going to need to sell you on why '"Adoption Awareness" benefits everyone, not just parents via adoption or people who were adopted.
"Approximately 1 in 5 Canadians are touched by adoption.
They are either adopted themselves, have an adopted sibling or family member, are adoptive parents, birthparents, or birth relatives.
Today, that means almost 7 million Canadians are affected by adoption, and yet adoption remains one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized social phenomenon’s in our country."
That adds up to A LOT of Canadians who are connected to adoption, yet may not fully comprehend the sometimes complicated layers associated with the process of adoption or the family support required after an adoption takes place. With seven million of us having a connection to adoption, do you really want to be the one who has no clue? What about the person or child in your life that was adopted or did adopt? The fact that you're here reading this clearly demonstrates that you care enough about that person to try to educate yourself, and just like the Hokey Pokey, that's what it's all about.
When we started our adoption process, I literally spent hundreds of dollars and hours of time on books related to adoption. This, to me, is the most important aspect of Adoption Awareness: Education. Some may feel that finding families for the millions of children on our planet that don't have families might be the most important aspect—I don't disagree. However, I'm not naive enough to think that everyone is going to rush out in November and adopt a child simply to support Adoption Awareness month. So, the broadest-reaching understanding of Adoption Awareness is education, because everyone can do it. Educate yourself, educate others, educate your families, friends, co-workers, neighbours—anyone who may come in contact with your child, loved one, or you, if you were adopted.
Knowledge is power. When you have a good understanding of what adoption is—what it can be, what the challenges can be, what to expect—you are sensitive to others' feelings and that is powerful. You can become an advocate on behalf of yourself or your child or loved one who was adopted. It is a grassroots-level method of banishing the many misconceptions and stigmas that exist about adoption.
There are many great books written for people who are not adopting or were not adopted, but who have someone they know in their life who was. There are obviously many great books written for parents who have adopted, too. The best thing you can do for the people in your life who were adopted is to pick up even one of these books—many are even available at your local library—and have a read. Gain some understanding and it will improve your relationship with the person who was adopted, young or old.
Here are some of my favorite resources to get you on your way:
CanadaAdopts.com not only provides excellent information about adoption, but also provides an extensive book list for almost every aspect of adoption, and is one that I often consulted when I was building my own adoption library.
The Adoption Council of Canada is also a great resource for information and provides numerous opportunities for you to share your enthusiasm for adoption such as becoming a Community Leader, organizing or participating in an AdoptWalk, donating money, or my personal favorite once again, educating yourself.
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) also provides excellent resources and news on adoption-related topics.
At the bare minimum, read this article that helps people to feel more comfortable discussing adoption with those who have been adopted or have a family member who was.
Finally, if nothing I've said above motivates you to learn more about adoption, take five minutes of your time and have a look at this video, courtesy of Love Without Boundaries Foundation. Warning: Tissues may be required, but nothing will motivate you more to want to educate yourself about adoption.
Happy Adoption Awareness Month and stay tuned here for plenty of upcoming insights into adoption!