Friday, September 30, 2011

Adoption "Parties"

There's been a lot of press in England because new adoption figures show that adoptions "from care" (foster care) dropped 5% last year (see here, here, and here).  The most frequently quoted statistic seems to be that only 60 babies under age 1 were adopted from foster care last year.  This article in the Guardian suggests "adoption parties" as a solution:
Next week, somewhere in the Midlands, around 30 children and 30 adults will meet up for a fun afternoon of circus skills, craft activities and soft play. To the casual onlooker, it will probably look like any other kids' party. There will be invitations, balloons and party bags, lots of laughter and running around. But if you were to take a closer look, you might begin to sense that this was no ordinary children's party.

This is in fact an "adoption party", a pilot project in the UK for children in care for whom all other family-finding methods have failed. The adults are either approved adopters or well into the process of approval, while the children all desperately need adopting. Neither the adults nor the children have met before, but the hope is that once they do, connections might be made.

These parties are controversial. They have been described by critics as "cattle markets" and "shopping expeditions". But they have formed part of the adoption fabric in the US for decades and in some states the matches made at these events represent almost half of all placements.
This seems like a good time to repost a link I posted about six months ago -- this commentary in the Christian Science Monitor by an adoptee who attended "adoption parties" as a child and concludes:
Adoption fairs are ineffective, set the wrong expectations, and are damaging to the children. They should be eliminated. Instead of speed dating, kids would be better off if states used “arranged marriages” to place them in homes with certified “professional parents” – parents ready to handle all the challenges and joys that adoption brings.
When I posted about this issue before, I asked: "So what do you think about adoption fairs? Photo listings? "Wednesday's Child" features? [I could have added "Test-Drive-an-Orphan" programs?] Up side -- may work to find a family for a child in need of adoption. Down side -- smacks of marketing, commodification, objectification; invades a child's privacy. On balance, is it worth it?"


Anne said...

I previously worked for CPS for twelve years. Although I did investigations and worked with families, I never worked the adoption side of things. Every time they would have one of these "events" I would cringe. It would almost make me feel sick to my stomach. I don't meant to disparage anyone, but these things always seemed to bring out the wackos.

Anne said...

Your reference to "Wednesday's Child" reminded me of a personal experience with the program. WC is a program in the Dallas/Ft Worth area which aired on local tv. I don't know if they have it in other areas. To my knowledge, it featured "hard to place" children. One time I had to take one of the children on my caseload to be interviewed and videotaped. He was severely hyperactive, so what venue did they pick: a chocolate shop where he could make candy. And he ate it. ALL OF IT. All I can remember about the experience is driving him home and suddenly noticing he was letting kleenex out the back of my window one at a time as we were driving down Stemmons freeway during rush hour. I did get to be on tv though (you know, since it was all about me).

Wafa Ahmad said...

impressing sharing, i really like your blog and i find it very helpful, i am going to share with my friends. hope that they will like it..