My partner and I adopted our son through the foster care system here in North Carolina, so today's blog topic is a big deal to me.
November is National Adoption Month, celebrated throughout the United States in an effort to finalize adoptions from foster care, and to celebrate all adoptive families. (National Adoption Day falls on November 21st this year, the Saturday before Thanksgiving).
This year's theme for National Adoption Month is "Answering the Call - You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."
(The 2009 focus is also more toward the African-American community. A disproportionate amount of kids in the foster care system are racial minorities.)
There've been some really positive legal developments for gay parents in the state recently. Now is a great time for LGBT folks to adopt, and the foster care system is a great place to look for kids who need homes and parents.
Thousands of children in North Carolina enter the foster care system each year, and range in age from infants to 18 years old. All foster children have unique backgrounds, experiences, personalities, strengths, and needs.
The NC foster care system is open to gay parents. (OK, well, technically, they're neither open nor not open.) Your actual experience will depend on any foster care agency you go through and/or the officials in any county DSS (Department of Social Services) that you deal with. We found everyone we interacted with to be extremely positive and supportive of us as a gay male couple looking to adopt - all they cared about was being sure that the kids in need found a good, loving home that could support and care for them.
During November, there are plenty of things you can do to observe National Adoption Month, either as a parent, prospective parent, or someone who has no plans to have children but wants to support adoptive families. Some ideas for this month include:
☼ Write down your family story and add it to a scrapbook.
☼ Contact your local paper about National Adoption Month, and ask them to publish a positive story about adoption.
☼ Contact a children's organization or foster care agency and ask how you can help.
☼ Create your family tree. Complete one about your child's birth family (if information is known) as well as your adoptive family.
☼ If you have one, ask your place of worship to offer a special prayer for children in foster care waiting for adoption.
☼ Watch a movie with an adoption theme.
☼ Donate books about adoption to your local or school library.
See Celebrating National Adoption Month for 30 days of these kind of ideas.
Last time I went bowling with the local gay dads group, I thought it was hilarious that most of the people there had had their children biologically through an ex-wife. Apparently the old-fashioned way of having kids is also the new-fangled way for gay parents!
Still, there are already thousands of children out there who need homes, and foster care and adoption are great ways to form your family.
(And if you're thinking about having kids or are already a parent, the Family Equality Council is a great resource.)
Adoption is a great way to make a positive impact in a kid's life, and it's also an investment in the future for yourself, LGBT folks, the country, and society as a whole.
It's easy to think that you won't be a good parent, but I can guarantee you that having you as a parent will be hundreds of times better than having no parent at all.