When adopters are going through the matching process, they read the profile of potential matches and sometimes see a photograph. Usually, meeting the child in person doesn’t happen until the start of introductions. However, adoption activity days are being used more and more by some agencies which allow adopters to meet children waiting to be matched.
In this second article from Coram, Kirsty Hammonds, Child Placement Consultant, gives us an insight into what happens on activity days.
Adoption Activity Days – seeing the child behind the profile
For many prospective adopters, their journey will begin by combing through the countless online profiles of children awaiting adoption. They will see photos of the children and read about their personalities, interests and needs while trying to imagine whether that child would be good fit for their family. But with well over 4,000 children currently awaiting adoption in England, gleaning sense of the real child behind the profile and narrowing down the search can be a daunting task.
Thankfully there are now additional family finding tools that can help parents make that all important match. Coram’s adoption activity days are an opportunity for approved adopters to meet and engage with children awaiting adoption. It’s a friendly environment with plenty of fun activities such as arts and crafts, games and sports and enables everyone to see if there’s a connection.
Many prospective adopters have told us that attending an activity day has encouraged them to consider children they may not have considered on paper.
Nancy, who adopted her son after meeting him at an activity day, said: “If you just read a child’s paperwork, you don’t really get a sense of who they are. For children with disabilities, it’s easy to focus on the disability and not see the child.”
Another adopter, Ian, said: “The days are such a great chance to get to meet the ‘real’ child behind the official reports and for you to think outside the box.” He added that the events are “really opening up people minds and giving these children the chance to find a family and for people to see the children are actually ‘children’!”
A huge effort goes into preparing the social workers, foster carers, children and prospective adopters involved. Adrian, who met his son at an activity day, recalls: “At the activity days, we quickly learned that all people involved were there to not just support the possible match between adopters and children, but also to give advice, encouragement, cry with you and share experiences. Meeting our son during an activity day made all the difference during the matching process”.
The activities at the events are designed to bring the children’s personalities to life and to see how well they connect with adopters. Rosie and Christian, who adopted older siblings after meeting them at an activity day, said: “It was great to be able to interact with them in different ways, to have a game of Connect 4 followed by some painting and drawing. This enabled us to learn more about the children’s interests as well as seeing what they were like in different environments.”
The activity days are also a chance for children to participate in their own family finding and give them a say in whether a potential match might be right for them. Charlotte, who adopted siblings said: “They often tell us that they chose us and not the other way around. We’re extremely happy that they are so positive about this and that they feel they had a huge say in where they would spend their future years.”
Adoption activity days are increasingly seen by social workers as a proven and established method of matching adoptive parents with children awaiting adoption when more traditional means of profiling have been unsuccessful. One Regional Adoption Agency noted that an activity day “was more successful than any matching” they had done before and were progressing with matches for 30% of children who attended.
As well as helping prospective adopters to establish whether there could be a potential match, activity days are also helping to boost a child’s chance to find the loving permanent home they deserve.
Nancy, who first met her son at an activity day, spoke of the instant connection she felt: “I just looked at him and thought ‘he’s my son’. Our paths crossed that day and I have the activity day to thank for that.”
Find out more about Coram Adoption Activity Days at coramadoption.org.uk/adoption-process/adoption-activity-days.