National Adoption Awareness Month with Rachel Garlinghouse

Adoption education has been very important to me since I began my journey into adoption. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was ignorant to all of what adoption was and could be. I was looking to build my family. Nothing more. It was surprising that I couldn’t just adopt and forget it. Adoption forever altered the way I look at the world.

As a mother, I want to make a world for my children that they are proud of and safe in. At the very least, teach them that they matter, are powerful, and can build a life they love.

By sharing my experiences with motherhood and adoption, I am planting little seeds to make this adoption world more positive, more educated, and more tolerant. Adoption awareness month helps me do that. All the other mothers touched by adoption gave me courage, education, and support. For that, I am thankful.

Rachel Garlinghouse is the author of many adoption books for parents and children. Most recently, I read ‘The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption : The Whit & Wisdom You Need for the Journey’. I had the opportunity to read it and write a review recently. It was truly the book I needed as a mom to be via adoption in 2014 when I felt isolated, overwhelmed and wasn’t sure if I’d ever fit in as a mom. Rachel creates a space for a mother via adoption to find validation in their feelings and their journey. She shares her own story and champions you along in yours, all the while standing for a positive educated adoption world for our children to live in. She also answered some questions for Adopt Mom Style in support of National Adoption Awareness month.

-When I first announced my son’s arrival on facebook. I was floored by the crazy things people said to me. It was a huge wake up call for me that adoption is very misunderstood. That was my motivation for sharing my experiences with motherhood and adoption. The goal being to give my children a more positive adoption world to live in.
What was your moment? What is your why?

Waiting to adopt is really when I realized the many misconceptions people have about adoption. We were asked, “So you can’t have your own kids?” Or, “Don’t adopted kids have issues?” Or, “Doesn’t that cost a lot of money?” And I realized, adoption isn’t just about joyfully adding a baby to a family. Adoption is BIG and complicated and misunderstood.

The reason I do what I do today, everything from my books to articles to blog posts, is to educate, inspire, and empathize. I want parents-by-adoption and hopeful parents to not feel isolated, downtrodden, and scared. I want them to parent with joy, education, and empathy. And I want them to be able to educate others.

-National Adoption Awareness Month brings more attention to children available for adoption. How would you get more children adopted from foster care? (not necessarily teens)

There is an incredible need for adults to adopt children from the foster care system. At this time, over 120,000 children are free for adoption, just waiting for a forever family. It is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the system truly is broken. Some states (mine included: Illinois) are much worse than others. There’s budget issues, staffing, a lack of people willing to adopt. Case workers are overworked and underpaid. There are so many things that need to be fixed, but I will say that if someone feels that nudge to consider adopting from foster care, they should meet with other families who have done the same, get educated on things like trauma and attachment, and take the necessary steps to move forward. Even though the system makes it difficult, it is not impossible.

– What does National Adoption Awareness Month mean for you?

I love November. As a writer, I’m able to share my experiences and resources, but I’m also able to highlight the stories of others. This month on my blog, I’m featuring four interviews that will be of interest to families-by-adoption, including with Heather Avis (author of The Lucky Few) who adopted two children with special needs, Alyssa Schnell (author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing), and Matthew Paul Turner (author of the incredible children’s book When God Made You). Each person offers insight and encouragement. I’m also sharing books and articles and posts by adoptees and birth parents. I think the more voices we have, the better off we are.

– If you could completely erase one thing about the adoption process or just change it, what would it be?

I think there needs to be national domestic infant adoption laws when it comes to termination of parental rights, birth father rights, revocation, etc.  When different states have different rules, it encourages unethical practices:  moving expectant mothers to a more “adoption friendly state,” for example.    I don’t understand why, in 2017, we are still allowing unethical adoption laws.   If you aren’t sure what this means and why it matters, read the book ‘The Girls Who Went Away.’  What those young women endured was heartbreaking, and I don’t ever want one expectant mother to place her baby for adoption under coercion.   One way to stop this is to have national adoption laws.
You can read more from Rachel at her blog: White Sugar, Brown Sugar.

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