The Importance of National Adoption Month [An Adoptee's Perspective]
A Chance to Honor Everyone Involved in Adoption
November is National Adoption Month, which provides those impacted by adoption the opportunity to reflect on and acknowledge the many facets of adoption.
All adoption stories are different and unique, and there is no one adoption experience. Setting aside a month to raise awareness of adoption allows us the opportunity to honor biological parents, adoptive and prospective parents and families and adopted individuals themselves.
Honoring Biological Parents
Biological parents can often be voices that are forgotten about in adoption. When taking time to reflect on adoption month, we need to take a moment to honor their story as well.
We can honor them by sitting in the delicate spaces that allow us to acknowledge the challenging decision they made when placing a child up for adoption. When we reflect on the beauty of creating families through adoption, there is also a responsibility for us to acknowledge the loss that each adoption story begins with. Biological parents need to know their experiences and voices are of value and that their stories are worth being told.
Listening to Adoptee Voices
Additionally, raising awareness for adoption provides us the opportunity to celebrate adoption done well. This could not be done without prospective and adoptive parents that are willing hold space, be self-reflective and commit themselves to lifelong learning about how to be adoption responsive in their parenting.
Adoptive and prospective families that are willing to learn from adopted individuals create environments where adopted individuals thrive. While many adopted individuals have different perspectives and feelings towards adoption, raising awareness for adoption starts with elevating and amplifying adoptee voices. Allowing adopted individuals to own their adoption story requires us to provide them the freedom to be the expert of their story and experience.
While there is often attention on ways adoption could be done better, taking time to acknowledge the parents that champion adoption and can hold the tension of the loss and gain interwoven into every adoption story is of great value.
We also would be remiss if we did not acknowledge adoptive siblings and the impact adoption has on them. Their feelings and experiences, whether positive or negative, are worth elevating as well. Adoption can be an amazing way to grow a family. To do adoption well, we have to pay attention to every aspect of the process — whether it is beautiful or challenging.
The adoption field is saturated with research and best practices on how to care for and parent adopted individuals, but we do adoption well when we learn from adoptees themselves not just adoption professionals. Providing platforms for adopted individuals to share and process their story is not only transforming and educational to adoption professionals, but it is also healing and cathartic for many adoptees.
This month provides us an opportunity to honor those in our communities impacted by adoption. While some may be vocal about their experience with adoption, there will be others who are not, and we must also acknowledge their experience.
While we celebrate the beauty and redeeming qualities in adoption, let us also recognize the layers of loss in each story. This month (and all other months), we can be intentional in amplifying the voices of those that feel unseen and unheard in the adoption field knowing that is how we do adoption well.
Ramya Gruneisen is a transracial adoptee living in St. Louis, Missouri. She has found a passion in sharing her story and educating adoption agencies and adoptive/prospective families on adoption. She works in Public Health for the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). She works in the Refugee Medical Screening and Refugee Health Promotion programs where she educates service providers on culturally informed and trauma informed care to refugees and immigrants, as well as monitors and reports on public health data for new arrivals. She has found it to be the most lifegiving and humbling work. She loves spending time with her friends and family, climbing mountains and watching the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues play.
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