National Adoption Awareness Month: Hearing Voices of Loss

Every November since 1984, the media features stories about adoption to mark National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) and National Adoption Day.

Many whose lives have been permanently changed by adoption have mixed feelings (at best) about the month’s glorification and promotion of adoption. Adoptees and their parents are becoming increasingly vocal and seek to focus awareness on the challenges of adoption that many struggle with personally and politically in order to mitigate as much future pain as possible.

The initial intent of NAAM was to draw attention to the one-hundred thousand or so children in state foster care whose parents have had their rights terminated and who have no extended family to care for them. Such children could benefit from more permanent care than high-risk, temporary foster care.

This is a noble goal. However, the current adoption industrial complex has co-opted National Adoption Awareness Month into the mass marketing that promotes and encourages all forms of adoption as if they were all equal, when international and infant adoptions do nothing to assist children in state care. The well-intentioned goals of NAAM are lost in the media frenzy in the same way the religious meaning of Christmas is overshadowed by commercialism. Christmas has become a shopping competition that starts earlier each year and, likewise, adoption has become an entrepreneurial endeavor that focuses on procuring infants and children from around the globe to meet the market demand, irrespective of the needs of American children in care.

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