by Gabrielle Bianco ’21
Saturday, November 18 was National Adoption Day. This day, which serves as the pinnacle of National Adoption Awareness month, was celebrated with adoptions across the country.
In Rhode Island alone, 23 adoptions with 17 different families were finalized through Providence Family Court. Some distinguished guests at the occasion were Governor Gina Raimondo and Dr. Trista Piccola, the director of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
While the purpose of National Adoption Day and National Adoption Awareness Month is to promote the adoption of children in the foster care system, the event received little recognition nationwide and was not covered at all by Rhode Island’s major newspaper, The Providence Journal.
The statistics regarding children in the foster care system in the United States paint a concerning picture. According to the most recent data reported in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 264,746 children entered the U.S. foster care system in 2014.
Of those children, 107,918 were awaiting adoption, with only 49,693 of them ultimately being adopted. In 2015, over 20,000 kids aged out of the foster care system without ever finding a permanent home. Why?
In considering the answer, I am reminded of a discussion that occurred several years ago while preparing for my Confirmation. Our class was discussing adoption as an option for an unplanned pregnancy when a classmate declared that all children who are adopted had “terrible lives.”
This statement shocked me not just for its sweeping negativity and ignorance but because my family was joyfully in the process of finalizing the adoption of my brother. He had joined our family as a foster child at one week old.
While I do not know where my classmate came up with his views, I do know that stereotypes are dangerous. The only way to combat them is through education, and the primary way to educate on this topic is through the media.
Just look at what it did for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. Media coverage has successfully supported the promotion of the two main goals: to spread awareness of the need for early detection of breast cancer and to inspire hope for those affected by it. The month of October is crucial to this cause and countless lives have been saved because of it. Why has the ball been dropped in November?
National Adoption Month is a lifeline for the tens of thousands of children in our country looking for a home. We fail them when we remain silent, and we did just that this year.
Simple steps can be taken to increase awareness during November. Sharing stories of those who have experience with adoption can prove to not only educate, but inspire others to welcome a child in need into their hearts and homes. There are many statewide and national organizations that work to help the cause of adoption, but without proper media exposure, they do not always receive the support they need to succeed.
Increasing knowledge on the subject can not only positively change the narrative of adoption in this country, but change the lives of thousands of children.