Did you know there was a National Adoption Month? November is the month that our country’s leaders have asked us to pause and celebrate the loving families and birthmothers, as well as the courageous children and teenagers that strengthen families across the nation with the help of caring adoption agencies. Since 1995, national leaders have asked community groups and advocates to use the whole month of November to engage the nation in conversation and action that addresses the urgent concerns of children and teens in need of a permanent home.
But is a ‘national month’ really needed for adoption services? A look at the history of adoptions and the current need for more adoptions signals a resounding ‘yes!’
A Quick History
Adoption services have played an invaluable role in building families and safeguarding children for many years. San Antonio’s Providence Place first responded to the needs of birthmothers and foster children as far back as 1895. Adoption services were needed then, just as they are now. But only recently have we devoted a whole month to the celebration of these life-giving services.
We can trace the inspiration for the month back to former President Ronald Reagan. He first spotlighted the need for better adoption services when he declared the very first National Adoption Week in 1984. Just over a decade later in 1995, former President Bill Clinton expanded the week into a month-long time frame to focus on the needs of foster children and teenagers in the now nationally recognized National Adoption Month.
Each November since 1995, our nation’s Presidents have taken a moment to compose, publish, and sign a proclamation detailing their support for adoption services and what their administration has done to strengthen and advance this national priority.
A Month of Accomplishments
So what accomplishments have we seen? There are too many to count. Simply Google a year since 1995 along with the words “adoption proclamation” and you will likely find the contemporaneous president’s details of his best efforts to advance adoption services.
Back in 1998, President Clinton pointed out how he spearheaded efforts to connect birthmothers with adoptive parents on the newly developed Internet. Fast forward to 2013, and we see that President Barack Obama issued a proclamation last year stating that he permanently extended the Adoption Tax Credit. The 2013 proclamation also notes that he signed the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act into law, safeguarding teens and children with standardized safety measures in adoption agencies.
As we move into the month of November, President Barack Obama will be issuing a new proclamation. In the 2014 document, we will learn more about how he has directed his administration to tackle the needs and concerns of children, teens, and families who need a safe and speedy adoption process.
This Year’s Theme
While we do not know what President Obama will have to say this year, we do know the theme for this November’s outreach efforts. In 2014, the focus of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be on sibling connections. Each National Adoption Month advances a different aspect of adoption in America, and this year’s emphasis will be on the preservation of valuable relationships among brothers and sisters who are in need of a permanent home. This theme was chosen in light of recent studies demonstrating how children with preserved connections to their biological siblings meet life challenges with greater resiliency.
HHS is also sponsoring helpful resources and fact sheets detailing how to talk to siblings about adoption and how to avoid making promises during the adoption process that can’t be kept.
To learn more about adoption in America and how it might play a loving role in your own life, consult with a local adoption agency or peruse some of the many resources published online by the Department of Health and Human Service.