The Importance of Adoption Awareness for Our Children

This guest post is by Michelle Thorne, a birthmother and author.

Adoption awareness is such an important and daunting task. When my daughter began school in China, she developed a friendship with our neighbor’s son, who was also in her class. One day, he came to me to tattle on her.

“Cadence is lying!” It was in a sing-song voice that let me know this was not his first time tattling.

“She is? What about?” I asked him.

“She said she has an older brother.”

I leaned down to get on his level; this was not my first time defending myself. “She does.”

“Well, where is he?”

I took a deep breath. “He is in the United States.”

“Why? Why doesn’t he live with you?”

“He is adopted.”

The look on his face was lost. Later, his mother would come to me for clarification, and I had the opportunity to challenge her idea of adopted siblings.

She was interested, polite, and eager to learn, and it occurred to me that even people I respect the most and are closest to need to hear the stories to help them understand.

So often, people are well-informed by misinformation. I can’t turn around in November without hearing a story that gets me red in the face angry because of the ignorance, depravity, savior-complex, victim-mentalities, and/or the narrow views often glorified in adoption.

Every year, I wish there were something more, something better. Like Black History month in the United States (February), Adoption Awareness gets one month, and I think we should put a stop to that madness.

Just like black history should be talked about and learned about every day, adoption should be studied and grieved over. We should be looking at it through the lenses of those who are experiencing it, hearing a lot of stories, and learning.

We shouldn’t educate ourselves and others because we want to prove ourselves right or because we are afraid of what it will mean if we have been wrong, though deep down, we all are.

Certainly, we don’t want to quiet voices of experience because we desire to keep the status quo. No! We should open up our hearts and our minds to be challenged and changed in an effort to move toward a narrative that is healthier for the children involved in adoption.

As a birth mother of twenty years and an adoption professional for nearly a decade, I have seen my share of stories in the adoption world.

What started as my one experience and a ton of bias opened up over time and with years of experience walking with people as they lived the adoption journey.

Some things surprised me and a lot I didn’t like. I continue to learn a lot, but I have my opinions.

I believe that every adoption should be open, as far as information goes, but I know it would be impossible to implement this because I live and work in China (to name one country).

I think men and women considering adoption on both parenting sides should have to sit and listen to adult adoptees with varying experiences and opinions before they place or adopt. It’s a humbling education to hear their voices.

I hope that adoption culture gets out of this triangle idea where there are corners and moves into the structure of something akin to a water molecule—two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, bonded. The oxygen is the most significant part of that molecule; shouldn’t the child be also?

We, as people involved in adoption, should be talking about these things every day. We should be striving to keep the children at the center of adoption, their needs, their desires. We should be listening and leaning in to discomfort for them.

As a birth mother, I have to own my part, forgive myself and live now the relationship I hope to have later with my son. He has to be as present as possible, celebrated, talked about, and loved.

The children I parent get to talk about and to their brother, and when those around me have questions I get to bring awareness about a complex topic.

Adoption awareness is not just for those on the outside who don’t know much about adoption; it’s for us on the inside to keep fighting for our children, who deserve to be seen, heard, and valued in every relationship.

Michelle Thorne is a wife, mom, and writer, who has written four books on various topics in adoption and lives in Qingdao, China. You can find her at

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