I would be able to be more enthusiastic about a month devoted to adoption from foster care if there were also a month devoted to family preservation. But there isn't. And herein lies the difficulty for me.
I do believe that there are children in the system who have reached a point where adoption is an appropriate goal, and certainly preferable to the alternative: bouncing from foster home to foster home or residential center to residential center until aging out, without support, at age 18.
But I believe that we must also ask ourselves if we are doing enough, as a society, to strengthen and support vulnerable families before they come into crisis. Are we doing enough to keep kids out of the system in the first place? I'm not talking about leaving kids in severely dysfunctional families and turning a blind eye to abuse and neglect. I'm talking about making sure families have the tools they need to function and thrive. Spoiler alert: the answer is no. This is not an area where we place our resources or attention.
Adoption is a dramatic measure that severs the child from his or her roots; it is not without costs, for the child or the family. We do not truly serve the needs of vulnerable children when we focus only on getting them adopted out of foster care without looking at the factors that land them there in the first place. So as we turn our attention to adoption from foster care this month, let us remember that though adoption and permanency can be a life-changing and even life-saving option for a child in the system, the truly wonderful thing would be if there was no need for it at all.