Imagine you and your family go out one day to choose a new puppy.
You walk up to the pen and see numerous little nuggets running around and looking longingly into your eyes, begging you to take them home.
Now imagine this same situation but bigger. Imagine 50 puppies in a room filled with toys and snacks. And now imagine those puppies are children.
And the people standing around them? Imagine they are not potential owners but rather – imagine that they are the kids’ potential parents.
Welcome to the world of Adoption Activity Days or ‘adoption parties’ as they’re more commonly known in the United Kingdom.
Adoption parties are part of a scheme introduced two years ago by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. They’re based on a similar initiative in the US and are used as a way to encourage adoptive parents to think differently when choosing the kind of child they’re planning to adopt.
You see, it’s apparently common for potential parents to automatically gravitate to babies and girls when selecting a kid. They choose babies because parents like the idea of raising a child from the beginning of their life and they tend to choose young girls because they’re perceived as being easier to raise.
The reality of these choices however are that many children – particularly boys, disabled children, children from ethnic minorities and groups of siblings – who never find a permanent home and end up being raised in a long-term foster homes.
It is hoped that by going to adoption parties, parents might meet a child and automatically connect with them – and that’s something that’s not necessarily possible if they’re only seeing one of the 4000 children who need homes “on paper”.
The people behind the idea say it’s something of a last resort; that they’ve exhausted all other traditional options when it comes to finding a home for these kids.
This from a UK adoption website:
Adoption activity days have proved successful in finding matches as they give prospective adopters and the children a chance to make a real connection.
An advantage of activity days is that adopters often find that their preconceptions about the kind of child they initially feel they might want to adopt changed once they had the opportunity to meet the children in person. This means that children who may not have been considered ‘on paper’ have a greater chance of being adopted.
According to the UK press, around 50 children aged from 0-10 attend the party and meet with as many as 30 adoptive parents.
Doesn’t sound like much of a party, does it?
Well, at least, not for the kids who go home without parents.
Two of those children are five-year-old Daniel and his seven-year-old brother Connor. The two boys are yet to find homes after attending three adoption parties in as many years.
The boys were taken to the adoption parties by their 45-year-old foster mum Katy, who says she cannot take the boys permanently given she is already a mum of six.
Daniel and Connor’s story is set to feature on an upcoming documentary about the controversial adoption process.
Here’s a snapshot:
“We told the children it was a party for children like them, foster carers and some people looking for their forever families. We didn’t make a big deal out of it — I didn’t want them to feel any pressure. They took it at face value,” Katy told the UK press.
But she said “it was like trying to sell a product that nobody wanted”.
“We played with the boys all day but no one came near them. I wanted to wrap them up and run out of there. It felt very personal and very distressing. I came back and sobbed my heart out,” Katy said.