National Adoption Awareness Month – Helping Adoptees Navigate the World.
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November is National Adoption Awareness Month. This is a month that is dedicated to adoptees, adoptee families, and children and youth who are waiting to be adopted. According to the United State Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), in 2021, there were 1,818 children waiting for permanency in Minnesota and 1,391 children waiting for permanency in Wisconsin[AZH2] . These are children that are currently in foster care and waiting for permanency.
Some sobering facts about children awaiting permanency in the US. Data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.
- Black or African American children (non-Hispanic) represent 14 percent of the entire U.S. child population, but they are 22 percent of those waiting to be adopted.
- Multi-racial children (non-Hispanic) represent 5 percent of the entire U.S. child population, but they are 9 percent of those waiting to be adopted.
- American Indian/Alaska Native children (non-Hispanic) represent 1 percent of the entire U.S. child population, but they are 2 percent of those waiting to be adopted.
In 2017, there was a study completed by the Institute for Family Studies that found over 44 percent of adoptees were adopted by parents of a different race, with many of these adoptees coming from Central and South America, Africa and Asia. These children become transcultural and transracial adoptees, which means they have to navigate growing up in a different culture and having a different race then themselves.
The Importance of Helping Transracial Adoptees Navigate the World
You may wonder why this is important. Transracial adoptees are forced to navigate the world without the direct experiences from the families who adopted them. Without proper support and guidance from their adoptive family, they may face challenges. These challenges range from experiencing microaggressions to explicit racism. It’s common for them to be asked, “Where are you really from?” which can be difficult for parents to address if they lack the necessary experience.
Although parents may not have all the answers to these problems, they can still educate themselves on ways to help their child.
1. They can find adult adoptees to help mentor their children and even themselves.
2. Find resources that elevate adoptee voices.
3. Listen to adult adoptees.
4. Use appropriate adoptee language
5. Encourage your child to do a birth search and help them along the way.
6. Connect with your child’s culture if it is different than yours. You should embrace your child’s culture and incorporate it into your family.
- Foods that are culturally relevant.
- Learn about your child’s culture as a family.
- Engage in local community activities that uphold and celebrate your child’s birth culture. Ex: Attend Juneteenth celebrations, attend a Pow Wow, etc.
Below are additional resources
Adoptee hub – An Adoptee organization for Adoptees based in Minnesota
Books & Movies
Approved for Adoption – A French-Belgian Korean Adoptee’s experience in
TWINSTERS – Two Korean Adoptees that are twins who were separated and adopted to different countries.
sideXside – International Korean Adoptee experiences.
Lion – A feature length movie about an Australian Indian Adoptee
Through Adopted Eyes – A collection of Memoirs from adoptees
You Should be Grateful – Angela Tucker
I would Meet you Anywhere – Susan Kiyo Ito
When We Become Ours – A Young Adult Adoptee Anthology – Shannon Gibney and Nicole Chung