Every week, EPIC Superintendent Bart Banfield explores topics related to education, learning, leadership and more. Be sure to check back each week for the latest.

November is National Adoption Month

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, my thoughts automatically turn to family. No matter what shape or size, born or chosen, it’s the cornerstone of what this season is all about.

At EPIC, our motto is “School can be different.” Because we spend so much individualized time with our students and their families, we know all families are different, too. Our teachers interact with families of all types, including adopted ones. November is National Adoption Month and a time to raise awareness of the incredible need for adoptive families for children and youth currently in foster care.

According to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in 2016, of the roughly 10,000 Oklahoma children in out-of-home care, some 43% were in foster care and waiting to be adopted. That’s compared with nearly 124,000 children nationally in same year waiting for adoption. Only 24% of children exiting foster care did so through adoption in 2017 in the United States. For the fourth year in a row, that number has increased.

We’ve known for a long time that a child’s success in school is in no small part tied to a stable, loving and supportive home life. Help with homework, encouragement, guidance and consistency are all crucial in not just academic success but addressing the needs of developing that child as a person and future adult. While there are a great many loving and supportive foster care families across our state and nation, there simply is no substitute for a permanent home in which to thrive.

I’ve heard many stories from some of our families about why they adopted children. Some couldn’t have children of their own. Others wanted to help a family member who wasn’t in a position to raise a child. One family adopted because they preferred to raise an older child instead of an infant. The list goes on and on. Regardless of why, adoption was the right solution for them, broadening their family and giving a sense of permanence to a child in need of a home.

It’s been said that family is not defined by our genes. It is built and maintained through love. I couldn’t agree more. As you gather around the Thanksgiving table this holiday, take a moment to reflect on how you can help raise awareness for adoption, be an advocate for adoptive families and remember to be thankful for your own family – no matter the size or shape.

 

Dare Greatly,

Bart

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