“Basically once I discovered adoption matters, what I wanted to do was connect with people who were like me.” – Mark, Leader, Youth Network
Adoption Awareness Month is a time for people touched by adoption to come together. For those of you who have adoption as part of your story, you know that it can be one of the most profound and sometimes misunderstood parts of our experiences.
People not familiar with the adoption experience can sometimes ask questions without understanding their impact, how personal in nature they might be, or how hurtful they might be. One Youth Network member shared an experience about telling a peer that they were in foster care, to which the peer responded “What did you do wrong? Why don’t your parents want you?”. Youth come into the care system or enter into an adoption situation by no fault of their own, but because life circumstances brought them there. Many youth have experienced being asked questions like this.
We see movies, television, and books that tell the story of adoption without understanding it and are unable to authentically capture our lives and present it to others. This is especially true of adoptees, even most Disney stories start by orphaning their lead character.
This is why it’s so important to be in a space where you’re not up against people’s assumptions or misguided ideas. That’s why a community based on shared understanding is important. It's like finding someone who speaks the same language as you when you are lost and floundering in a far off land all by yourself.
“There are adoptees out there who have not acknowledged how important [their adoption] is in their life, and there’s a need for a community of people to help them acknowledge it and to help support and validated what they’re feeling.” – Mark, Leader, Youth Network
In October, some of the ACO’s Youth Network Leaders talked about this key message, the importance of community from the prospective of someone who has been adopted. The message is clear, being able to connect with people who have a similar experience to ours is an integral part of being able to process and manage how it fits into our lives and individual experiences. To be able to get into a room with people that just ‘get it’ creates a sense of togetherness and helps to alleviate the feelings of being consistently misunderstood, misrepresented and minimized. After all, we should be lucky and grateful.
The ACO’s Youth Network is an important resource for the community of people who have experienced adoption. Whether joining at a younger age, or leading as we get older, being with our peers helps us to process our thoughts and emotions around adoption, sometimes without even directly speaking to it. Sometimes it’s enough to just be in a space with people where we don’t have to explain anything.
Though places like the ACO's Youth Networks are scarce, we hope to one day be a cornerstone of support to geroups for adopted youth across the province. To do this we need the support of agencies like the Adoption Council of Ontario.
November is Adoption Awareness Month. This month, we ask you to support the Adoption Council of Ontario to continue the Youth Network program as we strive to build a strong community across Ontario.
You can be a part of building and supporting this community!
Donate now to support the ACO and its Youth Network. Every gift received until the end of the year is being matched by an anonymous donor to double the impact.
Hear the messages about community from Youth Network Leads, October 2016 Panel at ACO Education Day.
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