By Tara Noone, MSW
When I think of National Adoption Month the word “family” comes to mind. Its definition has changed significantly for me through the years, becoming broader to include relatives gained through biology, marriage, adoption, and friendship.
Celebrating the spectrum of family models that exist in our society not only validates them, but also validates the experiences of every person who has been touched by adoption.
Many of the adoption-focused events this time of year offer ways for adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees to build communities. Adoption Connection’s Annual Family Picnic, that takes place every September, exemplifies the value of expanding family definitions and embracing new ones.
Several years ago, when my husband and I had just become Adoption Connection clients, we were pleased to learn an event like this even existed. There weren’t many opportunities for adoptive families to meet, make friends, and form connections tailored to their unique needs. After adopting our daughter, we happily joined the growing throng of picnic attendees and quickly incorporated this new annual tradition into our lives.
Extended adoptive families, friends, caseworkers, and newcomers feel right at home as they take part in our diverse, growing community.
Parents and kids don’t necessarily look like one another, but their warmth and connection embody the concept that love makes a family.
Each September picnic brings new faces, stories, and successes, and the following have stuck with me from this year’s event:
I got to know a couple at the beginning of their adoption journey, and during my Preparing for Open Adoption workshop in October, they shared the experience they had at the picnic and their resulting optimism and excitement about open adoption. Witnessing ample evidence of thriving families had assured them adoption is worth for the wait.
I saw an adoptive family who made a concerted effort to successfully arrange the attendance of their kids’ birth family members. The resulting unification as they all shared their love with this child was wonderful.
I met the grandparents, great aunt, and uncle surrounding a beautiful baby boy and his single adoptive mom. Each family member was exceptionally adoption-literate and demonstrably loving of the boy and his birth family.
I witnessed adoptive parents who showed off side-by-side photos of their baby daughter and her birth mother as a child saying, “Can you believe how identical they are? Our daughter is going to look just like her beautiful birth mom.” They eagerly shared photos of birth aunties and cousins from their recent trip to meet them as well.
What began as the small gathering of a burgeoning movement, has grown profoundly through the years.
Our focus on child-centered adoptions encourages communication and forges strong relationships between all members of the triad. As an adoptive mother and social worker, I have seen firsthand the powerful messages of love and acceptance that accompanies events like ours, and I am thrilled that National Adoption Month will continue to raise awareness and offer support to the adoption community at large.
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Tara Noone is Adoption Connection’s Director of Adoptive Parent Services. Tara built her family through open adoption with the help of Adoption Connection in 2008. A strong advocate for open adoption, Tara is excited to work formally with the adoption agency to help adoptive families and birth families build community together around adopted children.