by Dr. Melissa Davis, DNP, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
National Adoption Day and Month were created to raise awareness of the 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system each year who are seeking adoption or other permanency. On average, a child in the custody of CYS will wait over 34 months until they find permanency. Many will age out of foster care without ever finding a “forever family.” While we celebrate those who have found permanency through adoption, let’s also remember the number who are struggling with the loss of their biological family and who are still waiting for their new “forever family.”
Adoption allows a child to have the security and stability of a safe and loving home, regardless of the circumstances which resulted in removal. Permanent, lifelong attachments and connections to others are critical for children’s emotional development, overall physical and mental health, and academic achievement. It quips children with a foundation. It shows them they belong. It teaches unconditional love. Adoption increases the probability that a child will attend college, marry, stay out of the legal system, avoid teen pregnancy, and have additional opportunities for personal prosperity. Studies continue to demonstrate significant health benefits for the adoptive parents, too!
Each child who is adopted has a different circumstance which led to the need for adoption. As such, feelings about adoption may vary widely. Some children cannot remember their biological families, while others may have lived for years with their biological family prior to separation. Regardless, there is often some level of grief and loss experienced. At times, some kids experienced extensive trauma. Some struggle with their own identity and self-esteem, anger, sadness, or their sense of belongingness to their adoptive family and within their biological family. Paradoxically, these feelings of rejection, confusion, and grief can co-exist with the love, attachment, and gratitude they have for their adoptive family.
National Adoption Month began as a one-week celebration in Massachusetts in 1976 and became nationally recognized in 1985. It has since grown to the month-long celebration each November, with one specific day identified as National Adoption Day. November 18, 2023 marks the 23rd anniversary of National Adoption Day, an initiative of the National Children’s Bureau to increase awareness of adoption needs within the foster care system. The goal of this celebration is to provide information to individuals who may be interested in adopting, encourage adoption related activities and events, and to acknowledge all individuals whose lives have been impacted by adoption. National Adoption Month is a celebration for individuals, organizations, and communities to focus on the foundational impact of forever families.