Oh, who would have guessed? Who could have seen? Who could have possibly known?
All these roads we have traveled, the places we’ve been would have finally taken us home.
And it’s here’s to you and three cheers to you! Let’s shout it, “Hip, hip hip, hooray!”
For out of a world so tattered and torn, you came to our house on that wonderful morn.
And all of a sudden this family was born. Oh, happy Adoption Day.
I first heard this song (now a children’s book), Happy Adopton Day, November 4, 2001. I was participating in a Sunday service at my former Unitarian Church--on my birthday--along with an adult Korean adoptee with a not-so-favorable view of adoption, another adult adoptee frustrated by her lack of information regarding her roots, and adoptive parents. I knew the adoptees from my support group; we were all on the same page regarding adoption.
After a very emotional service—a photographer from NJ’s largest newspaper had taken a photo of me embracing the Korean woman where we appear to be smiling and laughing when in fact we were sobbing and comforting one another—we closed with this song. The adoptees and I looked at one another in disbelief and we stopped singing and just stood there in silent solidarity.
As National Adoption Month gained momentum over the past several years I’d start bracing myself around the end of October for the onslaught of warm and fuzzy adoption stories and the “A Home for Holidays” television special sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. I’m sure readers know that the late Thomas, founder the Wendy’s hamburger chain, was an adoptee. The show has been hosted by Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow (who is now an adoptive mother), and Rod Stewart. I realize while I’m not thrilled with the institution and wish it could be eradicated like polio, it does have its place. Being a responsible blogger, I did some homework; here’s what I discovered from About.com:
In 1976, the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, announced an Adoption Week for his state. Later that same year President Gerald Ford proclaimed that Adoption Week would be celebrated nationally. As more and more states started to participate in Adoption Week it became clear that more time was needed for holding events and in 1990 National Adoption Week became National Adoption Month.
Today National Adoption Month is celebrated during the month of November. The celebration usually includes National Adoption Day with courthouses throughout the nation participating and hundreds of adoptions being finalized simultaneously.
National Adoption Month is a time to celebrate family and to bring about awareness that there are hundreds of thousands of children in foster homes awaiting adoption. States, communities, and agencies hold events during the month to bring the need for families into public view.
How about that? NAM has been around for as long as I’ve been a member of the birthmother sisterhood! It wasn’t created by Dave Thomas; it was started by a Yankee politician!
More importantly, it’s not about separating newborns from their mothers who may not be prepared for the emotional and financial responsibility required to care for their child; National Adoption Month is designed bring awareness to the fact that there are far too many children in foster care who need permanent homes in stable loving families. That’s terrific, really. For the past few years the Heart Gallery, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to raising awareness about foster children available for adoption here in NJ, has worked with some of the country's most prestigious photographers to create portraits that capture the individuality and spirit of each foster child who is eligible to be adopted. These photographs are then shared via the web and through gallery exhibits in the hope that potential families will be moved to inquire about adoption.
These are kids who have been in the state foster care system system for years, some since birth who have never had a permanent home. Many have lived in several foster homes all their young lives while their parents battle with substance abuse,mental illness,or even prison. I attended the opening exhibit and can attest to the power of the program, which has resulted in happy endings for several children. I even met some of the kids featured in the exhibit; they’d melt your heart. I spoke to some of the photographers and they said they wished they could have adopted their subjects; perhaps some of them did.
For the first time in seven years I’m not dreading National Adoption month; nor should you. If your library doesn’t have its collection of adoption books and movies prominently displayed, nudge them. People like to be informed and enlightened; who wouldn’t enjoy reading The Girls Who Went Away, right? Just don’t ask me to sing Happy Adoption Day.