Quinnipiac University College of Arts and Sciences

Raising Adoption Awareness

In Event, Students on November 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm

blog_Adoption

By Suzanne Hudd, Professor and Chair of Sociology

It’s an issue that affects six million people directly – 1.6 million of them under the age of eighteen. And yet for many, it remains invisible. November is National Adoption awareness month, and this past week in the Carl Hansen Student Center, Quinnipiac’s Sociology and Social Services students hosted an adoption information table with the goal of raising awareness about the facts surrounding adoption.

There are roughly half a million children in the foster care system and about 20-25% of these children are available to be adopted. The National Adoption Attitudes survey reports that 63% of Americans hold positive attitudes toward adoption and 78% of Americans think that we could do more to increase the number of adoptions and raise awareness. Surveys reveal that nearly 40% of American adults have considered adopting. So how to reduce the waiting list and increase the number of adoptions annually?

Through their internship experiences with Lutheran Family Services (LSS), Sociology/Social Services students Sarah Greenblatt, Gina Rutigliano and Alison Scharr have spent time learning about the process of adoption and considering this question. Since one fundamental strategy for increasing adoption placements is simply raising awareness and understanding about adoption, the group decided to take action. In collaboration with LSS, a local agency serving the adoption needs of families in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the students set up a table to provide information to Quinnipiac students, faculty and staff on the facts related to adoption and foster careGreenblatt, who interned with LSS, and then completed her senior thesis on the topic of international adoption observes, “My internship with LSS offered me great insight into the adoption world. It was an eye opening experience for me to see how important the social work staff was in helping adoptees and parents with the entire adoptions process.” Alison Scharr, another intern, notes that her experience enabled her to “…work directly with children who have been adopted, their families and the research aspects [of adoption]…it has helped me to understand more about the administrative side, the emotional, and the family side of adoption. Gina Rutigliano adds that her internship provided her with the chance “…to apply sociological concepts I learned in the classroom to real life experiences.”

Lynn Gabbard, Director of Adoption Services says that through their internships, the students have contributed to the work of LSS in important ways including: assisting social work staff at LSS in the use of technology to “get the word out” about adoption as an option both for people who experience an unplanned pregnancy and who want to parent; writing and processing the many reports (e.g., home studies) that are an inherent part of the adoption process; finding and evaluating resources for families in need of support; and spending time with young children and teens who are experiencing the challenges of growing up adopted. Gabbard says, “Since adoption is not a single event in the life of an adoptee or their family, but rather, a ‘lifelong journey,’ adoption professionals assist both before and after adoptive placement, providing education and support to all whose lives are touched by adoption.” Moses Farrow, Postadoption Services Coordinator for LSS who also facilitated at the event, who has also worked with the Quinnipiac interns adds…” We have to spread awareness about adoption. There are so many children needing families. There are misconceptions about adoption leading to stereotypes and stigma. When you think about it, virtually everyone knows someone with an adoption connection. As adoption is lifelong and continues to be a way families are created, we all need to do our part to make it a successful experience. Our interns have played an important part towards this goal.”

Social Services student Sierra Rodriguez became engaged in the event as a result of a recent student meeting for all of the Sociology and Social Service majors. While she has not completed her internship yet, Rodriguez says that “…growing up I was one of the few children in my family that was not adopted. My family has always been very open with us about the process of adoption and what it meant to them…I knew that if I could make a difference I would start by helping other families come together with their children and hope to become just as happy as I was when growing up.”

Clearly, this was one result of this “awareness raising” event – it provided faculty, staff and students whose lives have been touched by adoption in some way with the opportunity to talk about their experiences, and to share the facts about adoption with other members of the Quinnipiac community. And as Rutigliano observes, such experiences can be transformative. “Interning at Lutheran Social Services has truly opened my eyes to the world of adoption. Adoption is something that will forever be important to me and that’s all thanks to Lynn and LSS for giving me this amazing experience!”

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