November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Friends in Adoption, a community resource located in Poultney and working throughout the country, is bringing awareness to the impact of the opioid crisis on adoption.

The opioid epidemic is taking many young parents’ lives and the grandparents are becoming caregivers to their grandchildren. Many grandparents are fiercely loving and protecting their grandchildren while struggling to find resources for their sons and daughters impacted by the disease of addiction.

According to the Vermont Grandfacts Fact Sheet for Grandfamilies, as of May 2017, there were 3,183 grandparents who were householders responsible for their grandchildren who live with them.

Our grandparents are exhausted – often times emotionally and financially. Vermont Kin as Parents (http://vermontkinasparents.org/) is doing a fantastic job in providing resources and support and there is another solution that is working for more and more families in Vermont and throughout the country – open adoption. Open adoption affords the grandparents to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives without the daily responsibilities of parenting.

Open adoption is relationship building between birth and adoptive families for the benefit of the children. Parenting is not a competition. Children need connections to all who love them. Birth-families love their children, as do adoptive families. Together, with a safety net built around all provided by the agency, the children are able to thrive knowing all who belong to them. A legally binding contract assures all of their rights. Open adoption is extended family.

Is it easy? No.

Is it working? A grandmother responds, “I am so proud of my daughter and her boyfriend for the strength and determination they had in placing their baby with an adoptive family. The resources the agency provided for them and the ongoing support the agency continues to provide are transforming their lives. Recently we all got together with the adoptive family to celebrate my grandson’s first birthday. Smiles and tears of happiness were overflowing. We are a family and I can’t thank you enough for the work that you do.”

Let’s work together to redefine the definition of family. Let’s think outside of the box and define family as a group of people lovingly caring for a child whom they all love. Working together, the birth grandparent(s) and the adoptive family become the cheering section for those impacted by the disease of addiction, while the child reaps the benefits of knowing the love and commitment of both families.

Dawn Smith-Pliner

Friends in Adoption founding director

Wells

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