Going to an Activity Day

Published: 14.08.14 by SingleAdopter

Last weekend I went to my 1st Activity Day; unfortunately for me it was one of the most difficult days I’ve encountered so far on this adoption process. One that has meant I have come away with more questions than answers.

For those that haven’t been to or aren’t familiar with an activity day, it is a relatively new initiative whereby prospective adopters & children waiting to be adopted can meet in a relaxed, child focused environment. Hence, it’s name, as several activities are organised to keep the children amused & encourage interaction with adopters should they wish. For those that have been or, like me, are going through the process, one of key decisions you need to make before you adopt is, & as horrible as it sounds, to decide what type of child(ren) you think you can cope with based on their early life experiences/exposures. This, or at least I found it to be, is very two-dimensional because it is all very theoretical. Activity days are designed to try & break-down some of these preconceived boundaries prospective adopters have set, so whilst you are given profiles of the children at the event, you aren’t told their age, development needs or medical history (which often provide most of the criteria), to see if you can form a bond with the children without them. Again, for me, this in theory makes sense.

So why did I find the day so difficult? That’s hard to put into words, but I’ll try. I went along (with a friend for support) with, I thought, an open mind. We initially went to the briefing whereby you are given some guidelines of do’s & don’ts as well as being given a short profile of each child, whilst the children arrived. After which we were ‘set loose’ as it were to mingle with the children, their foster carers & social workers. Being such a sunny afternoon most people, there were over 100 adults, moved outside & that’s where I froze, as again, lots of questions ran through my mind: which children do I approach? Should it only be those within my criteria, although I know I should be more open-minded towards this? What would I say to the foster carers? What am I allowed to say? What questions can I ask? Do I go towards the activities that I’m naturally drawn towards (football, the water bombs & the guy making amazing shapes with balloons) or should I be more calculated & go towards any children I thought may be of interest? But what about those that were obviously outside of my criteria (mainly identified through age), would it be wrong to engage with them if I knew it wouldn’t progress any further, would that waste their time, take time away from other prospective adopters who thought they may be a good fit & more importantly, would it cause confusion to the children, as we had been briefed that for the older children they know whilst they were there? Need I go on? Whilst I stood on the sidelines with all of these questions spinning through my head, obviously some of the other adopters had a more decisive, let’s get stuck in approach, so then it felt like a competition. Arghh. I decided, with my friend, to retreat back inside & headed towards the soft play area & waited for my turn to speak to a foster carer. I met a delightful child, but & it was at this point I wobbled, & to be honest it is still making me wobble today: here was this wonderful child sat before me, that fitted my preconceived criteria, but & this is where the big concern has come in, I felt no connection. Was I being too dismissive? Yes maybe, but I can’t help how I feel. And that is where the reality hit. It’s not about two-dimensional criteria; we are talking about real children & for me, this hit home. All of a sudden it is no longer about textbooks. It’s real. You could be making decisions about children that would impact the rest of their lives as well as my own. Am I ready to make that sort of decision? I don’t know. So one step at a time, whilst I mull this over, I’m going to focus on the adoption panel next month.