Conference Aims to Help Families With Adoption
Adoptive children and their parents can celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month at the annual Kids' Adoption Network Conference.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Nearly 60 percent of American families are touched by adoption in some way, according to The Adoption Institute. For those families, the month is a time to reflect on what adoption means to them.
For adopted kids, adoptive parents, and prospective parents, the 15th Annual Kids' Adoption Network (K.A.N.) Conference, sponsored by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) is a way to spend the day learning about the latest research and exploring new tools to help normalize the adoption experience.
"When we speak about normalizing adoption," said Ellen Singer, adoption therapist and educator at C.A.S.E. "We mean that there are predictable, common joys and challenges to being adopted. They are normal and expected as part of the experience. The thoughts and feelings children have are common and shared by other kids who are adopted."
The K.A.N. Conference theme is Land Down Under: Trek to Success. Children and teens will simulate a trek through Australia as they explore the tools they need to master common adoption challenges they all face.
"Our goal is to provide kids with these tools," said Singer, "because some of the challenges for some children can feel insurmountable. With adoption comes loss. You can't be adopted unless you are not parented by your birth parents."
Adults at the conference will participate in workshops designed to help them foster self-esteem and confidence in their children. The event will include a talk from Penny Callan Partridge, an adoptive parent and someone who was adopted herself, and interactive musical performances by Rhythmic Connections.
Although adoption is just one component of an adopted person's identity, Singer said the importance it holds and the way it is experienced is likely to vary over the course of a lifetime.
"At C.A.S.E. we say, 'Talking is good for everyone,'" said Singer. "Being able to share thoughts and feelings with others and get validation is important. Challenges are less likely to become overwhelming and instead children learn that they can cope and that they are not alone."