Earlier this year, we were excited to facilitate the adoption of 14-year-old Rene by loving parents Amy and Gina. We are proud to share the story of their adoption, through their own words, in a multi-part series on our blog. Read part one here!
Remember that scene in “Instant Family” where Pete and Ellie go to an adoption party? If you’re considering adoption, the movie gives a broad-brush view of things to expect. For us, the awkward experiences we had at the four adoption parties we attended almost ended our journey to becoming adoptive parents before it really started.
The first party we attended was on a blazing hot July day. About 50 prospective parents were vying to meet about 100 prospective adoptable children, aged 2 through 17, on a college soccer field among a bouncy house, face painting, basketball and more. As we stood by the entrance, taking in the scene, we had no idea what to do next. Approaching social workers seemed easier, but it also seemed like a cop-out. We wanted to meet kids, not their gatekeepers!
We knew that one boy we wanted to meet might be at this particular party. We found him wearing a green name tag. Other children’s name tags were red, including those of many younger children. I later learned that green meant a child was completely legally free for adoption, but red meant they were a “legal risk”. I wondered how the children felt about this. Regardless, it wasn’t hard to talk with this boy. He was friendly, a bit shy. His attention was occupied only by another teenager he was hanging out with. After our conversation, we were relieved - that was easier than we thought!
At that point, Gina was ready to escape but I still wanted to meet one other child. However, that child’s attention was occupied by a couple who had hung out with him for a good half hour, and other couples were circling his social worker. The heat prevailed, and we left, but we were still very happy that we went.
Recently, I asked Rene about his own experience at adoption parties. Sadly, his experience matched our observations: “No one is interested in the older kids,” he said. He often felt like no one would want to choose him.
Looking back, we realize how important an experienced, outgoing social worker who remembers people’s names and can sense children’s’ and prospective parents’ potential is. Our own social worker from CFCS was that kind of professional. She gave us invaluable advice about some of the children we met, which helped us recognize our own best interests and whether to pursue certain matches. Rene’s DCF social worker also remembered us, followed up with us and ultimately put us in touch with Rene because of an initial connection we'd made with her at an adoption party. Even though they are sometimes overwhelming, adoption parties can lead to some fruitful connections being made, and they are more than worth going to if you're interested in adoption.