November is National Adoption Month in the U.S., and photographer Rob Woodcox is helping foster kids act out their dreams in real life. As a former adopted child himself, Woodcox volunteers at the Royal Family Kids Camp for children of similar backgrounds. Through his photography, he celebrates their imaginations and facilitates wonder so they can build greater confidence.
“I felt [it] would help them imagine other dreams, rather than forcing them relive their fears, and would be more powerful in helping them overcome their situations,” he tellsMashable.
But these photographs are more than keepsakes. For kids, they’re an acknowledgement of their pain, tangible proof that their experiences are legitimate. “When I speak to the kids whose experiences I’ve captured…they often have tears in their eyes seeing the beauty and hope present in my creations,” Woodcox says.
It’s important to have a dedicated month for awareness, not only to honor the challenging experiences most foster children experience, but also to correct misinformation around adoption.
Woodcox says one of the most important things a foster family can remember is that it won’t be easy in the beginning. “Many people think taking on a foster child or adoption will be as simple as just ‘being nice’ and ‘saying nice things,’ or offering privilege,” he says. However, these kids go through a very trying phase before they trust new families. It’s important to see it through, so they’re not cycled through the system again and again.
In the end, he says, patience and unconditional love will always overcome the struggle, and everyone will grow.