Observing Adoption Awareness Month

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Observing Adoption Awareness Month
Compiled by Perspectives Press

The Infertility and Adoption Publisher for more than 20 years adoptive families and organizations have observed November as Adoption Awareness Month (AAM). The purpose of AAM was to dispel myths about and focus on the normalcy of adoptive family life, as well as to call attention to the need for homes for hundreds of thousands of waiting children. It has become a popular time to hold adoption fairs and conferences, plan political action events and more. The Web site of the Northern American Council on Adoptable Children's (www.nacac.org) contains a great deal of useful material for AAM observances. So does the Web site of the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse http://naic.acf.hhs.gov).

Not every family or professional touched by adoption has the time, means, budget or energy to mount a full campaign. Not to worry! Individuals can make an AAM impact, too. We have gathered ideas from members of Internet listservs, newsgroups and bulletin boards for individuals or small groups planning some last minute Adoption Awareness Month observances.

Public activities that can make a genuine difference...

Be sure to alert TV and print media about a week in advance of your activity.

Contact your house of worship and arrange to donate altar flowers "in honor of children waiting for forever families" or "in celebration of this congregation's adoption-expanded families" or "in gratitude to birthparents who have chosen adoption." Suggest that each member of your support group do the same thing-reaching many congregations of differing faiths during the month.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about a positive adoption issue or an issue that needs to be addressed in your state.

Buy a favorite adoption-related children's book for a teacher's classroom, a day care center, a school library, or a church or synagogue library. Support groups might consider buying multiple copies of the same book (at substantial discounts directly from the publisher) inserting a bookplate with contact information about the group and distributing them to area schools, public libraries or day care centers.

Contact your public library, school library, or a favorite bookstore about helping them do an adoption book display. Ask for permission to add brochures on local resources and upcoming adoption conferences. (Some library systems plan these displays several months in advance, but some local branches are more flexible. If you're too late for this year, reserve now for next year!)

Subscribe to a favorite adoption periodical for your pediatrician's waiting room, your school's library, your hairdresser's waiting area, crisis pregnancy centers, women's centers, etc.

With a friend, volunteer to do a short presentation on adoption in a school, or Sunday school classroom or for a scout troop.

Contact local radio stations and dedicate a song to those touched by adoption.

Send a donation to your favorite grassroots adoption activist organization.

Contact local organizations like AAUW, YMCA, service clubs like Junior League, Lions, Kiwanis and business organizations like the chamber of commerce and ask them to earmark donations to purchase adoption books for a local library or to buy suitcases for children in foster care (far too often they move with the assistance of undignified garbage bags!)

Have an adoption party.

Have bumper stickers made that read: "Adoption Awareness Month" or "Adoption is an Option"

Submit Adoption Month notices with contact information for local agencies or support groups to church bulletins, and also workplace, neighborhood and PTA newsletters.

Contact local radio stations about taping a public service announcement (PSA). In Colorado, an agency found that, for a nominal fee, a local station helped create a tape of a child talking about what it means to have a family and encouraging people to consider adoption. The station ran the PSA all month, and the agency sent it to other area stations as well, at a cost of only $2.00 per copy.

Develop a one-page informational flyer that can be distributed or posted on community bulletin boards.

Locate electronic or manually changed "marquee" or announcement boards (at hotel/motels, banks, theaters, schools, insurance companies, public utilities, etc.) and ask them to put a message on it about Adoption Awareness Month.

Create buttons and distribute to local businesses for their employees (especially those who serve the public at counters) to wear.

Contact local bookstores about fundraising opportunities. Both Barnes and Noble and B. Daltons will offer non-for-profit organizations a percentage of sales during a special fundraising day or week. Volunteers from the group are often asked to assist-be sure to bring brochures and wear those buttons!

An Orange County (NY) adoption group holds a candle lighting ceremony. Families gather for a potluck supper, mingle and share stories. Afterwards participants join in a circle, listen to a "prayer" about adoption and sing "Happy Adoption Day," by John McCutheon. Then one candle is lit and passed to each family, who lights their own candle and tells briefly of their family.

MARE (Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange) mails bookmarks featuring adoption information and pictures of waiting children to libraries. In 1999, families hand-delivered these bookmarks to libraries, in the hopes that the personal touch will mean more.

Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (FRUA) sponsors a "Forever Families Through Adoption" poster project to commemorate National Adoption Awareness Month. The significance of the design and the project's purpose is to help build a positive awareness of adoption. Each year a new design is created with the help of children across the country. Children contribute their artwork, which depicts their meaning of "family." The posters are black and white and designed so that families can color them and take them to local schools, churches, synagogues, libraries and businesses to be displayed during November. Bulk quantities can be distributed to other adoption-related organizations for reimbursement of printing and shipping costs. Contact FRUA at (703) 560-6184 or email them at poster@frua.org or visit their Web site at http://www.frua.org.

Private, one-on-one acts that can make a real difference...

Call a birthmother you know and invite her to lunch. Let her talk about her feelings.

Encourage people you know who are adopting to get all the information they possibly can about their child's birthfamily.

Take your child's grandparents to an adoption conference. Help your extended family learn what they need to know about adoption.

Take your social worker, facilitator or adoption attorney to lunch! Thank them for their help in a time of crisis, but also let them know how they could better have prepared or supported you. Offer to help them work on a plan for improved services.

Offer your home to a family who may be traveling to adopt a child from your area. It will save them money on their travel expenses.

A Florida adoption attorney takes a pro-bono (no fees charged) case of wrongful adoption as her own contribution to Adoption Awareness Month. She writes, "I think National Adoption Month is also a great time to affirm not only adoptions but the importance to all triad members that the adoption practice be of the highest of ethics for the best interest of the child. Adoptions are great. But black market adoptions do exist and are far too numerous with very few professionals speaking out."

Big events for next year's Adoption Awareness Month (because they need 8-12 months or more of planning)...

Form a coalition of local, regional or state agencies, support groups, adoption attorneys and other related organizations and do something from the list below together! Coalitions encourage greater cross-triad dialogue and cooperation, command greater attention from the media, and are more attractive to grant-giving organizations.

Seek sponsorship and participation from area businesses and volunteer organizations. Ask churches and synagogues to join your effort-perhaps one will donate space for your event.

Spend several months building a relationship with a local family-issues reporter with the goal being a November Sunday section focused on positive and realistic adoption issues.

Hold an adoption information fair with booths representing as many groups and agencies in your area as possible.

Hold a breakfast for your state legislators to explain adoption issues to them.

Look for a local media person or politician who is part of the triad to help.

Plan a political special event-a rally on the state capitol steps, a march, a letter-writing campaign, etc.

Contact national TV talk shows about planning adoption-positive segments. Rosie O'Donnell and Sally Jesse Raphael are adoptive parents, while Oprah Winfrey, Montel Williams and Geraldo Rivera have all displayed sensitivity about alternative family building.

Establish (and publicize) an award to be given to an individual, business or organization in your community that has made a positive impact on adoption.

Sponsor an Adoption Information Night (featuring a panel of adoptive parents and a representative from an agency or two) in an underserved area of your state.

This is an excerpt of an article originally published on 10/24/97 and updated on 2/14/00 on the Perspectives Press Web site
Reprinted with permission.

Credits: Perspectives Press

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