This has been an unusual year, hasn’t it? Everyone – regardless of whether they’re a foster or adoptive parent – has been affected by the public health crisis facing our country. Small businesses have struggled, some people have lost their jobs, parents have become emergency teachers as schools shifted to virtual learning, gatherings with friends have to be balanced with health concerns. And for some children in foster care or waiting to be adopted, the current environment has impacted their sense of security, their need for stability, and their ability to see their birth parents or meet future adoptive parents. Many adoptions were postponed earlier in the year, or were completed virtually with no attendees beyond the judge, attorneys, parents, and child.
Now here we are in November, National Adoption Month, and many adoptions are still anticipated to be virtual — and those that are in person have limitations on how many people can attend. Still, we celebrate. We celebrate all adoptions during National Adoption Month — private, international, domestic, adoptions from foster care — and we want to honor both the adoptive families and the adoptees, even if life does seem topsy-turvy these days. So, what are some ways we can celebrate in 2020, the most unusual of years in recent memory?
1. Usually, Indiana Adoption Program hosts dozens of adoption awareness events during November. Although some may still be scheduled, many are not happening this year because of various public health orders. These awareness events are a great way to get to know adoptive families, to show your support for foster and adoptive parents, and to learn more about how to help children in foster care. Those events that are still happening will be listed on our Event Calendar.
2. Draw a picture to send to someone who helped your family during its adoptive journey. Judges, case workers, CASAs, agency personnel — there are a lot of people who work behind the scenes and on the front lines to help children in foster care find permanent families. Maybe drawing isn’t your thing, but you like to write poems or letters. Go for it! The professionals who are involved in adoption love to hear from families, especially “their children.” You can even draw something and take a photo of it, then email it to your case worker or CASA, and they can help get the photo to the judge.
3. Consider participating in “Stand Sunday” activities at a local church or congregation. “Stand Sunday” is an initiative of many faith communities as a time to focus on how to support children in foster care. It began as an extension of “Orphan Sunday,” which was started many years ago as a way to encourage congregations to support orphans around the world. In 2017, the initiatives were combined; this year, “Orphan + Stand Sunday” is being held on November 8. Even if you’re not attending church in-person, there are many ways to participate on November 8 virtually.
4. Who doesn’t love settling in with a good book or watching a movie with the family? This month is a great time to check out some adoption-themed movies or books from your local library or your streaming service of choice. We’re fans of “Meet the Robinsons,” an animated film from 2007 that is both delightful and odd, and tells the story of a little boy who discovers a family he never had. “Instant Family” is still incredibly popular, and anyone who is a fan of minions will enjoy “Despicable Me 2,” where the former villian adjusts to being a single parent of 3 adopted daughters. There are plenty of movies that offer a positive perspective on adoptions, and all of them are bound to spark good conversation!
There’s no shortage of great adoption-themed books out there either! For younger children, A Mother for Choco or We Belong Together are two must-reads. If your child is old enough to understand some of the concepts behind adopting, then All About Adoption is a fantastic book to read with them, and helps answer questions that many adoptees have, like “Will you always love me?” and “Why was I adopted?” Older children may enjoy The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher or the Jazzy’s Quest series, which features a transracial adoptee as the heroine!
5. Share your skills or talents with adoptive families! Many foster and adoptive parents are feeling the impact of this unusual year more intensely, and may not quite know how to ask for help. Or, they may not even know how much they need some levity or distraction from the heaviness of parenting a child from a hard place during a very hard time. So, do you love to paint? How about hosting a painting class (even if it’s just fingerpainting!) for an adoptive family in your neighborhood? Have you mastered the art of styling and caring for natural hair as a Caucasian parent? If so, maybe there’s another family that could benefit from learning from you…or at least knowing what products and styles have been best for your child. If you’re an organizing fanatic, consider volunteering to help a local foster closet sort through their donations. Even offering to take care of a child so that a single adoptive parent can have an evening to themselves — there are countless ways to share your talents with families who may need some additional support right now.
We’d love to hear your ideas for how to celebrate National Adoption Month this year especially! Please comment on our Facebook page and who knows?…we might just feature you and one of your great ideas in a future post!