Encouraging connection and the hope of open hearts for National Adoption Month and beyond

The first National Adoption Week was observed after a proclamation by President Ronald Reagn in 1984. National Adoption Month, which is observed in November, was enacted in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, with a focus on expanding awareness of adoption issues, promoting youth engagement and highlighting the needs of both children within the foster care system and families. This year’s National Adoption Month theme is Empowering Youth — Finding Points of Connection. For Grand Rapids resident Liz Brown, this month holds special significance.

Born as an orphan in the Dominican Republic, Brown met her future adoptive parents while they were serving as missionaries. She was 5 months old. After her adoption into a transracial family, she moved to Grand Rapids. Now a principal at Living Stones Academy, Brown is adding another accolade to her resume —  author.
Courtesy of Liz Brown
“I think that many people believe that adoption stories are all the same and most of the adoptees are just troublesome kids. That is a huge misconception and is far from the truth,” says Brown. “Adoption stories vary from adoptee to adoptee, and for someone to believe that our experiences are the same lacks the intuitiveness to see how different lived experiences can affect a person.”

To help share her story and fill a knowledge gap, Brown has written “The ABCs of Adoption,” a book for children ages 4 and older. The idea stemmed from not finding many books highlighting adoption through the lens of individuals of varying ethnicities or backgrounds.

“First and foremost, the book is full of love, understanding and the joy of being a part of a special family,” Brown shared in a press release.

“(My book) helps (children) understand all the unique things about being adopted. It talks about the challenges, the feelings and the cool experiences that come with adoption. It's also a chance for kids to learn that there are all kinds of families, and they're not alone in their adoption journey,” Brown added.

This year’s National Adoption Month theme of connection focuses on both empowering professionals to help youth have a voice in their futures and on empowering youth, themselves, to discover and leverage their strengths and talents. While Brown’s book speaks to children, it is also intended for anyone who engages with an adopted child, including parents, teachers and caregivers.

For her, the book provides an opportunity to “give a voice to the voiceless.”

“There are so many adoptees or foster children who have no say in their stories. All they know is what their social workers, new families, (biological) families, etc. have told them; and they're trying to navigate the world in a way that keeps them as safe and as ‘in control’ as possible,” she says. “Giving adoptees and foster children a voice means they can speak to what is and isn't working. They can speak to the trauma they've endured and speak into the choices that are being made without them being in the room.”
Looking ahead, Brown hopes her book can positively impact others.

“Many people believe they understand adoption, but until you've walked in an adoptee's shoes, you'll never fully understand,” she says.

“I wrote my book to give those who love an adoptee a small glimpse into one adoptee's story,” Brown says. “I hope my book gets into the hands of people who aren't familiar with adoption but have an open heart to learn more. I hope my story inspires other adoptees to tell their stories —  the good and the bad — and share them with the world.”

Brown will hold a book signing 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Last Mile Cafe, 1006 Hall St. SE in Grand Rapids.

About Leandra Nisbet: Leandra Nisbet, owner of Stingray Advisory Group LLC and co-owner of Brightwork Marine LLC, has more than 15 years of experience in leadership, sales and marketing and graphic design. She helps businesses grow and assists with strategic planning, marketing concept development/implementation, risk management and financial organization. She is actively involved in the community, sitting on several boards and committees, and has been recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Grand Rapids.

Contact Leandra Nisbet by email at [email protected]!
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