November is National Adoption Awareness Month — let’s celebrate! David and I opened Taylor Street to promote diversity and inclusiveness; to inspire modern couples and non-traditional families to celebrate with their friends and family. For us and many others – gay and straight – adoption is how our family started. But you don’t have to be part of an adopted family to have reason to celebrate this month.
Celebrations also are a way of connecting with another human being — with friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, maybe even with strangers (crazy, huh!) — and connecting increases the possibility that people will take action. There is a lot to do.
- On any one day there are over 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted
- The average time these children wait to be adopted is 4 years, and
- Each year over 20,000 children “age out” of foster care with no family placement and a much more limited support system.
Question: At what age are children forced out of foster care in most states?
Answer: It is 18. Were you ready to be on your own at 18?
This year’s adoption month theme, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family”, specifically calls attention to the older youth in the foster care system. A disproportionate number of these youth are LGBTQ, and these youth are statistically more likely to have suffered emotional and physical abuse and often take much longer to be placed. As the city of Houston’s recent rejection of its “HERO” equal rights ordinance highlights, there remains a tremendous amount of misinformation, fear and discrimination.
Since November also signals the beginning of the holiday season — a time of celebrating, honoring and strengthening family connections — it’s an awesome time of year to create a tradition or two that your family can look forward to while also supporting children and youth in the foster care system.
The www.nationaladoptionday.org site has many great suggestions on ways you can participate. Here are three:
1. Organize a holiday toy drive for children waiting for permanent families. Involve your co-workers, your children’s school or your place of worship.
2. Harness the power of 10. Give a minimum of $10 to an organization that supports foster care and adoption programs and ask 10 friends and family members to do the same. Here’s a recommendation, www.comfortcases.org , founded by Rob Scheer to provide backpacks filled with basic supplies and a stuffed animal for foster kids. Rob and his husband, Reese, have four adopted children and know first hand how critical the need is in the foster care system.
3. Shop! Shop retailers that give back to children’s charities. Need a list, go to: www.adoptivefamilies.com .
We will be adding a gift donation tradition this year, helping our son select a gift to donate to an organization that supports adoptions. We also are going to write a thank you note to the people who helped make his adoption possible, adding one of our nearly-famous “three-in-a-row” selfie family pictures to mark our 10th year as a family.
What will you do?
If you want to learn more about adopting or becoming a foster care family, here are resources to get you started: www.adoptivefamilies.com, www.adoptionhelp.org, www.extraordinaryfamilies.org, & www.adoptuskids.org .