Last week I attended my second ANE (Adoption Networking Event) this year in the lower mainland of BC.
I would like to start by saying a HUGE thank you to those people who work tirelessly to put together events such as this, the social workers, guardianship workers, and all of their support workers, the AFABC social workers and support workers, and the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids workers. And to anyone else missing from this list who contributed to making the day possible.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
Events such as these give hope to waiting parents, and give us an outlet for the voice that feels unheard some of the time during the waiting stage.
I would also like to do a quick shout out of thanks to the emcee of the day, the same emcee as earlier this year. She once again did an amazing job at keeping the momentum of the event running smoothly, using humour when needed, and allowing people to find their own voice. She is a gifted host and a lovely person.
And one final shout out of thanks to my own SW who was in attendance and made me feel that I had someone at my back all day. It was great to get to catch up with her and talk a little about where I am at and what I’m hoping for in adoption as of now.
Many thanks to all…
Now – to the event:
While I do understand that this particular event is about Networking – it says so right there in the title – and is not necessarily about “matching”, I have to admit my expectations were pretty high going in.
Several people I knew had attended the “Matching Event” (yes, different title, therefore different intent) in Victoria a few weeks earlier and the feedback I had received was hugely positive. Over 30 profiles were showcased at that event throughout the day, with many of the children within my preferred age range, plus children with low needs, and most of the 30 profiles shown were “new” to the participants – that is, they were not repeated profiles that had already been shown at events this year.
I had been unable to attend the Island event this time, though I did attend last year, and was feeling hopeful that the ANE on the mainland would be similar, with a similar number of profiles shown and a similar selection of new profiles.
In light of my expectations going in, I was disappointed by this event.
Less than 20 profiles were shown, and over half of those I’d already seen at the two events so far this year – one of which was only last month (Be My Parent).
There were not that many new to me profiles, and this felt frustrating. Having taken time off work to be there, and with high hopes for what I would see, I was disappointed.
When I arrived in the presentation room, all bright eyed and full of hope, I headed immediately to the wall to take a look at the posters up of the children who would be profiled.
The first thing I noticed was that there were not terribly many.
The second thing I noticed was that I’d seen over half of them before. Some at this same event in June.
Trying not to let my disappointment show, I made a cup of tea, headed back to my table, and opened the package of profiles and agenda that I was handed on entry – with the hope that some kids being profiled didn’t have posters and there would be more profiles listed.
Nope. This was it.
My disappointment grew. I wish I could say I rose above it, but I didn’t. That feeling lingered all day.
The networking part of the event was useful, and always is useful, and for that I am truly grateful.
I got to talk with many of the people I’d met at previous events and this was nice to feel like positive connections are being made and built upon. There are some truly wonderful people in the Adoption Community.
But quite honestly, I don’t want to go to so many events that the social workers know my name by sight! And I don’t want to go to events and see the same waiting parents, still looking to create the same type of family I am looking to create, and still waiting for a match.
And while creating new connections with parents in the same boat as me is also a wonderful opportunity and may result in lifetime friendships – that is not why we are all there.
Hearing each of the families stand up and say a little about themselves and the family that they are wanting to create, once again made me feel that: after ALL of these families are matched THEN maybe I’ll have a chance.
Why? Because we are all looking for the same kids to join our families, including age range, sibling group, and needs. And they are two parent families with so much more on paper to offer a child.
I found myself listening to the stories of the other people in the room (95% couples) and based on the snippets we shared I asked myself, “would I choose my profile over theirs if we were interested in the same children?” Nope. My answer was almost always no.
If this were a competition, and in a way it is for the waiting families, then I can’t imagine a reason a single person would be chosen over a two parent family, especially for a sibling group of two.
And I would advocate for this too. The needs of the child far outweigh the needs of this childless mom. As it should be.
My SW assures me there are times when a single parent is a more suitable option due to the child’s history. I guess time will tell if I will be one of those single parents chosen.
There seem to be so many great two-parent families waiting who have the same ideals for the growth of their family as I do.
Some of these families are newly approved and live in my town. I certainly feel as though I will be waiting until after they are matched before my profile would be considered.
As a result, I feel I may be waiting a long time.
At the end of the event we were asked to fill in a survey and one of the questions was, the introductions of parents is it worthwhile or no?
My answer was yes and no. I understand that it is a great opportunity to stand up and have your face known by the guardianship workers and social workers in the room. Although they do receive your profile with a photo in their package on entry to the event, it is still a good thing to have an animated face to the two dimensional fact-sheet. On the other hand, there is that feeling of competition that does not always fare well for some of us in the room. Plus, these introductions take up a lot of time and I’d personally rather see more profiles of children presented than listening to the profiles of other waiting parents.
Overall, I’m very thankful that these events happen at all, that we get to see video footage and photo slideshows of some of the waiting children, and that we get the opportunity to network with the guardianship workers who place them.
I do look forward to the next one, and I will attend all that are in my power to attend.
Even though my expectations were different than the outcome, I still feel that I made a few new contacts that I hope will put my profile in the forefront of their minds for the future when children within my parameters come across their desks.
I think the last time I went to this event my goal was to come away feeling that I wouldn’t be overlooked. I hope that I was able to leave an impression this time too and if that is all that occurs from it, that I am not overlooked, I would see this event as a success for me.
Only time will tell.
How about you, have you attended one of these events? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Warm smiles and Love,