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Achieving matches through Adoption Activity Days

St David’s families will be aware that there are lots of different ways that matches occur.  It may be via the Welsh Adoption Register, through publications such as Children Who Wait, from exchanging of profiles, from Exchange Day events and more recently through Link Maker.

What are Adoption Activity Days?

Adoption Activity Days have been taking place in England since BAAF (now Coram BAAF) first piloted the project in 2011.  Over the years a few adopters from Welsh agencies, and also some Welsh children, have travelled to England to attend these events.  In March 2017 Coram BAAF and the Welsh Adoption Register jointly hosted the first Adoption Activity Day here in Wales.

Adoption Activity Days are events that allow prospective adopters to directly meet children waiting to be adopted.   The hope is that adopters will consider children, who if they simply just read about them from a profile, they may not have previously considered.   ‘Adoption Parties’ have run continuously in the USA for the past 30 years or so, with lots of success.   Activity Days in the UK have proved to be successful too, with Coram BAAF reporting that on average one in four children attending  an event achieve a match as a result.  Adoption Activity Days are also sometimes used as a place to have ‘chemistry meetings’ between adopters and children where a very tentative match has been identified.

What happens on the day?

Children attend with their foster carers and their social worker.   The preparation of the children will very much depend on their age and understanding; foster carers and social workers are given guidance on how to prepare children for the event such as incorporating it into discussions around their Lifestory work.  They are told that it’s one of many things their social worker is doing in order to find the right family for them.   If a family isn’t identified following the event, children are helped to understand that it was because there wasn’t a family there that was right for them and their social worker will continue looking for them.  For other children, who don’t have the level of understanding to realise what the day is about, it’s simply a party.

There is usually a theme, with children, adopters and event staff dressing up.  There are lots of fun activities for the children to join in with and party food.  Like with other parties, the children leave with a party bag or present.  The emphasis is very much on the children having a fun day.   Adopters are prepared by their social worker prior event; many adopters enjoy the day but it can be hugely emotional and quite daunting.  At the event prospective adopters will receive some brief information on the children attending, they’ll get to meet and play with the children and chat to the children’s foster carer and social workers.  At the end of the event the children return home with their foster carers and a note is made of which adopters wished to express an interest in which children.  After the event it’s back to the usual process of social workers exchanging paperwork and having lots of discussions, with hopefully a visit from the social worker to discuss the child/ren in more detail.

If you’re going through an adoption assessment or are approved and waiting for a match, talk to your social worker about Adoption Activity Days!  For more information see https://corambaaf.org.uk. Following the success of the first one, another Adoption Activity Day is being planned for 2018, and we’ll keep you posted on this.

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