Adoption Networking Event

Foremost, I want to say a huge thank you to the organisers for creating a memorable day. It was exactly what I was hoping for in a matching event, and was a well-presented, well-organised day.

Events-like-this-take

The event overall:

The thing that I think all of the parents in the room were most thankful for, myself included, was the ability to see children’s profiles, see photos, see video, hear their voices, and hear personal stories from those who know and love them.

This is absolutely invaluable to prospective parents.

It would be wonderful if these events were held more often and if more of the children waiting for adoption were profiled.

It takes the ‘impersonal’ out of the waiting part of this adoption process and adds a big serving of heart. Heart is something that the “waiting” stage has been missing for me lately. So it felt good to see, feel, hear, and participate in real emotions, with real people.

It was apparent that the guardianship workers who got up and spoke about the children being profiled deeply love the kids in their care. Many of them needed to take some deep breaths to hold back the tears, other workers were unable to even get up and speak because the emotion they feel for the child was too much to express.

The feeling in the room was powerful and reinforced for me that I am in the right place, following the right path.

This time around the setup of the room was as I’d imagined it would be.

There were large poster boards around the walls with photos and information about the kids who would be profiled on the day, as well as kids who were not being profiled as a part of the event, but whose workers were available if additional information was required.

The parents, social workers, and guardianship workers all had different coloured name tags (thank you so much for this!), which made it easier to see who to talk with during the breaks.

We all received a package of information upon entry.

  • The parents received a yellow package (to match the yellow name tag) with all of the profiles of the children (sans photos).
  • The social workers (red) received a package with the profiles of the children (with photos) to be able to show the parents who were not in attendance.
  • And the guardianship workers (blue) received a package of all of the parents’ profiles in the room.

The tables were nicely spaced out so there was room to move around, and the emcee did a great job of keeping things moving, making people laugh, and stepping in to provide some relief when the tears were flowing. She did a great job.

Lunch was also appreciated as were the snacks and refreshments provided.

There were several breaks throughout the day for networking and this was perhaps the most important part of the day for the waiting-parents – to make a good impression so that we will be remembered in the future by the GW’s when they are considering placements for the kids in their care.

The event for me:

Personally I am still not certain how to feel about my success (or lack of) at the event.

I arrived early (as most of the out-of-towners do), and was able to have a good look at the poster board profiles going up around the room. It also allowed me to pick a table at the front of the room.

My SW came too – (thank you so much T for being there!) and having her there was such a gift. I was able to relax a little more and feel like someone “had my back”. Also very thankful that she was working the room and representing me to the other workers during the breaks. It meant there were two of us talking me up!

A sibling group that I have previously queried was being profiled and I got to see photos of these kids for the first time. I also got to talk directly with their GW who remembered my profile. She was sorry that they were not a match for me. The boy has needs that would be beyond my scope as a single parent. We talked about another sibling group she was featuring and she suggested again that these kids would benefit from two parents, preferably even one stay at home.

She remembered me and my profile from the query months ago, which I took as a positive sign and it gave me an extra boost of confidence.

The beginning of the session included an introduction of the social workers and guardianship workers, and an introduction opportunity for the parents too.

For the parents, it was a round room type of situation. Stand up, say your name, who is in your family, the ages of children you want to join your family, and a little interesting fact about you.

The joke of the day was whether or not you play in a band…which I do and, as it turned out, so did many of the other parents.

Listening to other parents talk about themselves is tough. It’s hard not to compare their situation with your own and wonder who would choose you over them.

Out of the single and coupled prospective parents in the room, at least 70% of them were hoping for a sibling group of two kids under 9 years old. The same as me. When I started this process two years ago, that was not the case, being open to a sibling group was something that made me stand out because most people at the time wanted a single child under five. Tides have turned and now I am just one of the many.

There were a few families – about 10% who were open to all ages, and about 20% who specifically wanted children over 10.

The comparisons with other parents and hearing most people say the same preferences as me… did start to dampen my spirits about a potential match coming from the day.

I tried to keep my thoughts positive and remember that there is a family for every child and a child for every family… I have to believe there is a child or children out there for whom I will be the perfect match as a mom, otherwise what is the point?

There were three presentations of children’s profiles throughout the day: before the first break, between break one and lunch, and after lunch. Most of them featured a PowerPoint presentation of photos with “heart-string-pulling” background music followed by a talk from the GW about the child. A rare few had video footage and these were the best presentations because you actually got to see the child in motion.

Cindi Lauper’s “I Want A Mom That Will Last Forever” was playing through one of the presentations and it just about had me sobbing – have you heard this song? – it did make silent tears run down my face to pool under my chin. And a softer sweeter rendition of “Sweet Child O Mine” had a similar affect for me as the song has a sentimental spot in my heart (yes, Axl Rose can have sentimental value!), and the 15 month old child they profiled with the song is absolutely the kind of match I would like to receive. Even “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie made my heart skip a beat while photos of a seven year old boy played on the screen. That little boy stole a piece of my heart during his presentation.

We saw 16 separate profiles of kids (either single or a sibling group) throughout the day.

At the first break, I was making my way over to the wall to check out the poster for one of the kids who had just been profiled and was stopped on my way by a GW who said she’d seen my profile and wanted to talk with me. I was pretty excited that she’d singled me out.

While talking with her though I discovered that the profile for me in everyone’s package was only one-sided (instead of two-sided), and it was an older version where my age range was listed as 1-16 years of age. My current profile shows
1-9 years of age.

We talked for a little while about the teenager she had in mind for me, so I explained that my factsheet has been updated with a new age range and that it is two pages. I gave her a copy.

When she asked why I had changed my age range I answered as honestly as I could, and told her that as a first time single mom I don’t feel ready to dive into parenting a teen. I would like to grow into parenting a teen – ideally over the next 5-12 years – by starting as a mom to a younger child.

After discovering that my profile page was an older version, and not double-sided, it became my mission to get my current profile page to every worker in the room!

This meant I had to approach and talk with each and every one of them. Have I mentioned that this adoption process continues to push my comfort zones?! 🙂

It was good to have a mission and made me determined to talk with everyone at least once. And I did actually manage to get my profile to everyone – Yay me!

The downside to this was that almost everyone had already read the profile in their package and, while handing them my newer two page profile with the adjusted age range, almost all of them asked why I had changed my age range.

I was constantly repeating the same phrase over and over again…And while I understood the reason behind their question – they had two versions of my profile and there was a seven year age difference between them – it would have been nice to talk about where I am at right now and what I hope for the future…rather than explaining where I have come from and why I have changed.

This is why I’m not sure how the event went for me personally. I’ve rehashed in my mind some of the conversations I had with GW’s and am not certain that I was doing a great job of putting my best foot forward. Most of the time I felt I was explaining my decision not to adopt an older child, rather than talking about where I am at right now and what I have to offer.

Did I make a good impression?

I wish I knew.

I guess only time will tell. If any of those workers keep me in mind for the children in their care…within my desired age range…then I made a good impression. If I don’t hear from anyone again, I guess I didn’t.

In talking with some of the professionals in the room what I gathered is that right now there are so many two-parent families waiting to adopt and a single parent is rarely considered for the kids within the popular age range.

That’s the truth of it.

It is less that a single parent is not considered because of a “single-parent-bias” and more because there is an abundance of two-parent families. Combined with the fact that some children need two parents, a tag-team, if you will, to help them through the trauma they have experienced and through the transition into a lifetime family.

There were some wonderful two-parent families in the room, all with great jobs, many with the ability for one parent to stay at home, most with lots of experience or kids already, and who are “established” – with a house, minivan, etc…

Easy to feel diminished when you’re surrounded by people you would choose first if you were the one placing the children.

And yet, I know me – and I love me! I know that I will be a great mom when I get the opportunity, I can see myself with children, and I feel how much love I have to give, how much I want to devote myself to being what they need in a parent – whatever that may be. I know I will put everything I have into being the best mom I can be, and to create a family that is safe, kind, loving, understanding, and with as much humour and positivity as we can muster in any given moment.

I want to be in the trenches advocating for my children, making sure they have what they need to succeed, as well as being the soccer mom, or the dance mom, or the band mom, or the fill-in-the-blanks mom for whatever it is that interests them!

But on paper what I have to give is love, the promise of a larger home (which I have yet to find), a full-time job (a bit of a deterrent for GW’s placing younger children I discovered), and no immediate family close by (though I have a wonderful network of friends who are family-like). Not quite the same as the two-parent families who have it “together”.

I wish I could have a “do-over” for the day; I’d definitely be more prepared and ready to quickly answer the age question and move on to what I do have to offer, what I want in a future family, and to express that I am ready.

Did I manage to get any of that across? I do not know.

I am grateful to have seen some more children’s profiles.

The children that stood out most:

  • A seven year old boy who has a sister that he has weekly visits with and they live a fair distance away (a few hours). So I imagine he would like to be closer to her than my home town. His profile was really touching though and I liked what I heard about his personality.
  • A group of two that were actually a group of three. All of the kids sounded like really great kids…but three are too many for me right now!
  • And a 15 month old with a sister or brother on the way. He was the one I would most like to be considered for as a potential parent. I wrote “If Only” next to his name, because I imagined every family in the room who wanted a child under 9 would want to parent this little guy. Meaning the single mom in the room would be last in line.

I did talk with the 15 month old’s GW briefly right at the end of the day. I should have asked the tonne of questions I have now, but was out of steam by that stage. She was kind and understanding about my inability to formulate words (!) and suggested my SW get in contact if I wanted more information. So I will ask my SW to do that and see what happens.

Overall, I just hope I met my goal from last week which was to “not be overlooked”.

Only time will tell…

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do these things as a rehearsal, and then have the real event later? If I could do it again, I would try to leave an impression that would be hard to forget (in a good way!). Or if only the entire event was in writing… emailing each other first and then meeting later to discuss! (In writing would totally work for me!) Or maybe having the “pre-event” online before the in person event, then I would have been prepared and known what I wanted to say and ask.

Have you been to one of these events? How did you fare? Did you feel like you presented yourself well? Any tips for future events? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Warm smiles and Love,

Ali Jayne 🙂

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One thought on “Adoption Networking Event

  1. Pingback: 2nd Adoption Networking Event (ANE) | Ali Jayne .com

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