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November 17, 2021

Adoption Awareness Month: the Children who are Left in the Dust.

 

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November is Adoption Awareness Month.

The theme this year is to raise awareness for teens who are needing to be adopted.

This issue tugs at my heart because I have two cousins who are adopted, and I have “adopted” my daughter’s 18-year-old partner this past year. Having a new adult child in my household is quite different from adopting a baby, but it’s no less of a joy.

Most of the time, when people think of adoption, they think about babies being adopted, like my cousins. Adopting a child can be healing for the parents as well as the children, since many couples go through the pain of not being able to have children before choosing adoption—those who are infertile or same sex couples, for example. Everyone who wants a child should be able to experience the joy of having a child.

Although many babies and toddlers are adopted, there are also many older children and teens in the foster care system who are looking for loving homes. Due to the pandemic, there are 140,000 more children who are orphans in the United States. This makes an already strained foster care system worse. Many children and teens are now housed in impersonal group shelters instead of in foster homes.

Many children who are in need of adoption are from homes that are broken in some way, like by drug use, or when parents are killed, incarcerated, or have abused or neglected the child. These are often children who have undergone a huge amount of trauma and need some extra love. The fact that they go through trauma and then are placed into a shelter with little personal interaction is heartbreaking. As someone with childhood trauma myself, from abuse and neglect, I can understand the longing for a loving home that continues into adulthood.

Children and teens in the foster system need the love that comes from a family, not just a bed to sleep in. That is what makes adoption awareness month so important. Letting people know that there are children looking for homes is an important cause.

This last year, my daughter’s partner has become a part of our family, so essentially I have adopted my own teen. I have really worked to make them feel comfortable in our home, and connect them with community services in our area, as well as providing some motherly advice.

Teens really don’t need the same type of parenting as younger kids, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need you. For them, a lot of parenting work is simply letting them talk to you about things, and letting them know that you are there for them. Not judging them is also important, because teens are in the heavy process of defining themselves.

Becoming a part of a family can help children build resilience against the struggles of life. Parents can help children overcome their traumatic pasts by showing love and helping them receive counseling services that they will badly need. This can allow children to heal their emotional wounds—instead of going out into the world alone and unhealed.

When someone has gone through a trauma and they don’t get counseling, they can go through years of feeling unlovable, which can have a huge impact on future relationships. It can lead to future abusive relationships as well, as I have experienced after going through my own childhood trauma. Many children of abuse will go from one abusive relationship to another, without ever getting the help they need. If someone has been abused, they don’t understand what healthy relationships are supposed to look like. That is why they get into bad relationships over and over—they just think it’s normal.

When these children and teens are adopted by a new set of parents, it creates hope for them. They can learn about healthy relationships, get counseling to heal their trauma, and break out of the cycle of abuse.

You can find out more about National Adoption Month, donate or volunteer for the cause, tell your friends about the children who are waiting in foster care for loving homes, share this post with your friends, or think about adopting a foster child yourself.

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