National adoption month began in 1976 when the then governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, announced a weeklong celebration of Adoption for Massachusetts. Later that year President Gerald Ford proclaimed that Adoption Week would be celebrated nationally. According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week in 1984. As more and more states started to participate in Adoption Week it became clear that more time was needed for holding events and in 1995, President Clinton, proclaimed November as National Adoption Month.
Ever since, the current President of the United States issues a proclamation that sets aside November as National Adoption Month. In addition to the Presidential proclamation, many State governors also issue proclamations in an effort to raise awareness of the need for loving and permanent homes for children in their states.
The celebration usually includes National Adoption Day which this year is Saturday, November 23, 2013. The goal is not only to celebrate family but to bring about awareness that there are hundreds of thousands of children in foster homes awaiting adoption. On National Adoption Day, courthouses throughout the nation participate in adoption finalizations so that hundreds of adoptions are finalized simultaneously. Both Maryland and the District of Columbia participate in National Adoption Month with some Maryland Courts and the District of Columbia holding the hearings on November 23. Other county courts in Maryland hold hearings on November 21st or November 22nd. Private agency, private adoptions, public agency and international finalizations are all heard on National Adoption Day.
As an adoption attorney I find this month to be among the most rewarding because of the spotlight that is shined upon some many loving parents who have stepped forward to provide loving, permanent homes for children. And while the light might be directed toward adoption through the foster care system the fact is that many families complete their families to private adoptions including second parent adoptions for the LGBT community. All adoptive families are celebrated as these parents have taken affirmative steps to be parents and secure their parental rights. These families generally must complete a home study or investigation that includes medical and criminal history clearances, references and credit checks. It takes months of paperwork before they can begin the process of locating an adoption situation and then often more months before the plan is completed. These families deserve to be celebrated.
My firm offers legal services for adoptive parents, expectant or birth parents, children and adult adoptees. We celebrate National Adoption Month by giving to programs that offer post finalization adoption services and are working extra hard to finalize as many adoptions this month as we can.