During National Adoption Month, Just Ask

October’s color was hot pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.  Hot pink was everywhere – whether on the cleats of N.F.L. players or on the bright socks of the girls’ softball team that I watch practice while waiting for my son each Tuesday night.

November ushers in a different, as righteous, cause more subtly – National Adoption Month.

No neon colors will immediately draw attention to the need to bring families closer to adoption or foster care.  Adoption and foster care awareness will not look to the most popular sport in America to help spread the message.

Adoption awareness this month is a true, grass-roots effort – relying on local and national agencies and families like mine to spread the word via one, simple theme:

“We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.  Just Ask Us.”

This theme speaks directly to me, if taken in three pieces:

It all starts with “We”

“We” is a perfect, all-inclusive word that calls everyone to action.

Whether you are a social workers on the front lines of foster care, a teacher whose heart breaks for the child going home to chaos, a family created by adoption, a pregnant teen picking between heart-breaking options, or a person who never understood that such a need existed – please join us.

“We” are all welcome in the adoption and foster care community.

The only prerequisites are a loving heart and a courageous soul.

“Never Outgrow…Family”

According to AdoptUsKids, 43% of children currently awaiting forever families are between the ages of 15-18 (as of September 2016).  These kids face long waits in the system during very important, impressionable years of their lives.

These kids are being too often left behind – with little guidance, less stability and virtually no road-map for future success.

I’d ask each of us to imagine living the life of one of these waiting teens –

Who (if anyone) will teach them to drive?

Who will explain how to apply to college?

Imagine the prospect of having no one to celebrate the upcoming holidays with.

These older kids will outgrow the system before they will ever outgrow the need for a family to love them.

“Just Ask”

This part of the theme, to me, is a plea for open communication between adoptive and foster families and our communities.

I have a responsibility to share my adoption story with as many people as I can.  I want to talk about my process and my family, so please ask – anytime.

If you are thinking about fostering or adopting, there are no better resources than those families that have been impacted.

Don’t worry about the sadness inherent in any process.  These sad starts have created so much more joy, hope and opportunity.

Let’s talk about the hard times so that we can get to chatting about the great ones.

Adoptive families want (and need) to share our experiences so, as the theme insists, just ask.

November is the time to showcase adoption and foster care – not only to highlight the need that exists to bring more people in, but to spotlight the joy of those families that adoption has created.

That joy doesn’t need bright pink socks or lofty corporate sponsors.

Adoption and foster care simply needs you and me.

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