The month of November is special to me for many reasons. It marks the beginning of the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, a wonderful day for families to gather and give thanks for the blessings in their lives. November is also special to me because it is National Adoption Month.
This nationwide celebration of adoption started in 1984 when then-President Reagan declared a National Adoption Week. The celebration grew in 1995 when President Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November. Clinton also encouraged using the Internet as a tool for bringing parents and children together in forever families. It was around this time that my adoption center, Lifetime Adoption, first appeared on the web. We were one of the first adoption companies to do so.
As November is a time to give thanks for our families and those in our lives we care about, this month is well-suited for recognizing adoption. Since adoption impacts three out of five people in our country, someone at your Thanksgiving celebration likely has some experience with adoption. In addition, discoveries of adopted relatives are happening more regularly as companies such as Ancestry.com provide people the opportunity to research their genes.
Decades ago, people kept adoption a secret. Adoption usually looked like a pregnant teen whisked away to a maternity home and having her baby adopted by a family she did not know. Adoption practices have thankfully evolved, and adoption is no longer something shameful that needs to be kept secret.
Nowadays, open adoption is the most common and accepted type of adoption. With open adoption, the birth parents select their baby’s adoptive parents. They decide together what kind of contact they would like to maintain once the adoption is final. For example, a birth mother may want just a picture and an update once a year. Or, she may wish to have lots of updates and even yearly visits.
Open adoption benefits everyone in the adoption triad: the birth parents, adoptive parents, and most importantly, the child. Birth parents can feel secure knowing that their child is safe, happy, and thriving in their adoptive family. Adoptive parents are provided the medical and genetic background of the child, which helps both them and their doctor provide the best care for the child.
But, most importantly, the adopted child benefits. Research has shown that it’s best for an adopted child to know where they came from and understand why they were placed for adoption. They have been seen to fare better emotionally and psychologically than children who do not know their birth parents or find out later in life that they were adopted.
This adoption revolution has led to so many beautiful adoption stories. For that, I believe we need to give thanks. Take Alyssa’s* story, for example. She was in college when she found out she was pregnant. She thought continuing her education was over, and she felt crushed. A friend suggested she look into adoption, so she started looking into it online until she finally dared to call Lifetime Adoption. Her first words to the adoption coordinator were, “I can’t give my baby away; I don’t know why I called.”
The friendly voice on the other end asked her to explain her situation. Alyssa was amazed when the Adoption Coordinator explained open adoption to her, and it provided Alyssa with some hope. She chose a family that lived in her state and started chatting with them. Even though placing her baby in the adoptive mom’s arms was so hard, Alyssa knew she was doing the right thing. Ten years later, Alyssa sees her daughter twice a year and was able to complete college with the help of a Lifetime Adoption Foundation scholarship. Today, she is thriving in her career as a nurse practitioner.
The Lifetime Adoption Foundation believes in giving thanks to these amazing birth mothers by giving them the opportunity of a scholarship to help further their education. These birth mothers love their children so much but recognize they cannot provide them with everything they desire. So, they place their child with a family that is ready and eager to have a baby. For this, we should celebrate birth mothers for their courage and sacrifice. Through generous donations, the Lifetime Adoption Foundation can assist these women with their education and other needs they may have, like food, clothing, and other necessities.
Celebrate National Adoption Month with me by celebrating these courageous birth mothers! Spread your awareness of the benefits of open adoption with those around you and contribute to organizations that support birth parents and their educational goals, such as the Lifetime Adoption Foundation.
*Names have been changed for confidentiality.