Family values

In our daily dealings with press releases here at the newspaper, we are inundated with information, ranging from informative and helpful to totally irrelevant and silly. Among the press releases sent regularly are the "awareness month" ones. You'd be surprised just how much we're supposed to be aware of during any given month.

Some are serious: Skin Cancer Awareness (June); many are silly: Garlic Mustard Awareness (May); some are confounding: Goat Trauma Awareness (June).

So when we got the announcement from Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office this week regarding National Adoption Awareness Month, my initial reaction was that it was silly. But not for the reason you think.

In my opinion, why wouldn't we be appreciating adoption all the time? I do -- not always consciously, but I do. But I'm admittedly biased. Two of my siblings are adopted, and I appreciate them and their existence each and every day.

Rell's release says that the day is for "both for the adopted children and for the adults who adopt." The funny part about setting a day aside for that group is that I'd guess the overwhelming majority feels the same way I do every day. We don't need a designated month to tell us to appreciate our family members.

My family dynamic is as follows: the older two kids are adopted, the younger two (myself included) are not. There is absolutely no difference in anyone's relationship with our parents or our relationships with each other. There were and are no special considerations given to any child -- in my parents' eyes, their children were their children, regardless of genetics.

In fact, the majority of people who meet my older brother and sister automatically say that they see the resemblance between us, which allows us a secret giggle amongst ourselves. Yet they may have a point -- I'm sure there are many shared mannerisms that come from growing up in the same household. Score one for nurture over nature.

Honestly, I rarely remember that my older siblings are adopted. They're just my brother and sister like anyone else's brother and sister.

When it comes to my relationship with my sister, I can't imagine having a better, more fulfilling relationship with anyone, regardless of whether we share genes or not. And while the bond between sisters is usually closer, my relationship with my brothers is also very close.

Now we're all kind of spread out along the Eastern Seaboard, but we all manage to stay in touch and see each other regularly. Cell phone minutes tend to creep up on us, but that's a good thing. Family comes first -- our parents have always emphasized that.

So perhaps instead of reminding adoptive families to continue to appreciate what they have, perhaps we should be focusing more on encouraging prospective parents to adopt. Here and abroad, children of all ages need good homes.

Technology is constantly emerging to make pregnancy a viable option for those who normally would not be able to conceive. It's wonderful that people now have that option, but it can also be expensive and risky. I hope that prospective parents will consider adoption as a fantastic alternative.

The state of Connecticut is working hard to make the process easier, too. Coming from state government, there are lots of incentives for those interested in adopting, particularly those interested in adopting from foster care.

On Sunday, bells rang out at churches across the state to remind people that there are still many children waiting for homes. Today, from 6 to 8 p.m., the Housatonic Museum of Art at the Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, will host an opening reception of the Heart Gallery featuring photos of Connecticut children waiting to be adopted. And on Nov. 20, probate courts in several parts of the state will be partnering with the Department of Children and Families to finalize adoptions in open court so that the media can tell the stories about children becoming permanent members of their new families.

This will hopefully shine light on a wonderful and meaningful option for those wishing to have children. It's encouraging. But what's even more encouraging to know is that love absolutely transcends genetics.

For information on adoption or fostering, call (888) KID-HERO.