November is National Adoption Awareness Month or NAAM; a mirage of adoption success stories scattered throughout social media feeds and news clips of an adoptive parents’ brave decision to save an otherwise doomed child.
Somewhere the intentions of this month have gotten lost in translation.
NAAM isn’t about promoting the business of baby selling, although that seems to take up quite a lot of space in the narrative. The endless highlights of agencies and their available babies, painting the picture that adoption is a gift, a selfless act full of rainbows and sunshine. The pictures of couples posed in a field, holding a elaborately written “we’re adopting” chalkboard sign as if it’s a birth announcement, the truth being they are claiming a baby in another woman’s womb.
NAAM isn’t about the adoptive parents. The adoption world is dominated by those who have adopted. Inspirational stories, videos and blogs displaying this can be found almost anywhere. But, more times than not, they fail the adopted child’s right to privacy and disclosure of information and end up exploiting an event that is full of heartache, pain and loss. Books about adoption are written by adoptive parents and workshops and conferences are led by individuals who have adopted. Their experiences serve as the all knowledgeable view of what adoption entails.
NAAM is about those of us who have, and are, living it. It’s about those in the foster system hoping to have a place to call home, to call family, or to be reunited with their own. It’s about those who have been adopted and have chosen to speak, write, or share about their experiences. It’s about birth mothers and fathers being able to communicate stories, without judgment or feelings of inferiority. It’s about listening and learning; listening to how being in foster care has shaped a worldview or how adoption has impacted relationships. It’s about learning how to fix a broken system, finding a change in verbiage, actions and laws. It’s about raising awareness and hoping for a change for those involved in the world of foster care and adoption.
Don’t assume based off of one experience, don’t judge based off of one decision, but instead take the time to listen to others with an understanding and openness. Together, the conversation can change, the narrative can shift, and a better future can exist.