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Activity days

(35 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Thu 03-Oct-13 09:06:48

Our local authority has an activity day where prospective adoptive parents and children looking for forever families can meet in an informal setting. Can anyone who has experience of these either as an adoptive parent, a social worker, or even as a child adopted themselves (would be fabulous to hear from someone in that position if possible, please) be able to comment, please?

Do you have any info on the children beforehand?
Do you see any pictures?
What happens?
How longs does it last?
What type of place does it happen in?
How are the expectations of the children and adults handled?
What happens if the child likes the look of a family/ a person who does not choose them?

If this information is at all sensitive or confidentual, please PM me.


RudolphLovesoftplay Thu 03-Oct-13 13:42:49

I have never experienced one, but we "chose" our children from an evening event where the children's profiles were displayed and a short DVD was shown of each child. The children weren't away what they were being filmed for, which I am guessing will be similar for the children attending the activity day. What sort of setting is it being held in?

Italiangreyhound Fri 04-Oct-13 13:45:51

I am not sure where it is.

Has anyone been on one, please?

Moomoomie Fri 04-Oct-13 16:27:21

Sorry, but I don't like the sound of that at all. Especially if the children actually attended the event in person.
Even quite young children are aware of what is going on.
Cattle market springs to mind.
I recall watching a television programme once based in USA along similar lines to this.

RudolphLovesoftplay Fri 04-Oct-13 17:07:58

I must say I am with moomoomie on this at face value, however I'm not in receipt of the full facts so would be interested in learning more.

Meita Fri 04-Oct-13 17:55:08

Can't help with real experience.

Have some thoughts though. I can see two sides. Apparently, such events are very successful at finding homes for children who are considered very hard to place. Not because prospective adopters fall in love with a child (and then take on more than they can manage) but because some things are very scary and off-putting on paper but when you see the real child you are more likely to realise that actually, you can deal with this.
As such, this must be a good thing, no?

On the other hand, I worry about the children realising, even if it is only subconsciously, that they are being chosen/rejected by all the random grown-ups around.

I vaguely remember someone explaining what the children are told, age-appropriately, and I remember it sounded like sense, but unfortunately can't remember what it was sad

Italiangreyhound Sat 05-Oct-13 03:24:55

Thanks guys, I am not entirely comfortable with it either, we were just told about it last week but I had heard of it before.

I don;t know where it happens, just it is a fun place and safe environment (which one would hope!).

I am in two minds and would love to hear from someone who has been.

Thank you lovely person who pmed me.

Any social workers know about it?

Mutley77 Sat 05-Oct-13 07:20:38

Yep I'm a social worker and we have mixed views about them too ;)
They are increasingly more common because they do work and kids do get matched which at the end of the day has to be a good thing.
I work on the adopters side so not sure how the expectations of lids are managed but I am sure it is done sensitively and appropriately.

Italiangreyhound Sat 05-Oct-13 08:54:04

Thanks Mutley it sounds on here that we all have the kids best interests at heart but there is mixed opinion as to how that can be achieved. I've got almost 6 months to make up my mind!

Thanks so much for your help.

KippyVonKipperson Sat 05-Oct-13 09:08:40

No personal experience but I remember reading this artical in the guardian, might be good for thought if you haven't already seen it

Italiangreyhound Sun 06-Oct-13 01:29:38

Thanks KippyVonKipperson.

Italiangreyhound Sun 06-Oct-13 01:49:34

That article is so well written and moving I have linked to it at

Thanks again * KippyVonKipperson*

KippyVonKipperson Sun 06-Oct-13 19:04:42

No problem, glad you found it helpful. Best of luck on your journey

KristinaM Sun 06-Oct-13 20:05:25

The ones I know about -the children had no idea what it was about. They just attended an agency social event with their Fcs. Eg summer picnic, Christmas party, soft play . Prospective adopters only brought their children if they were young enough to not question what it was about. As far as all the kids were concerned it was just a fun day out

They get very good results for hard to place kids.

Moomoomie Sun 06-Oct-13 20:28:46

Do you really think the children don't know what is going on? I suppose if the children ar under three they possibly wouldn't have a clue, but slightly older children especially if they know that their SW is looking for a new family for them, may guess what is happening.
My oldest dd was two and a half when she came home, but was so aware of everything going on around her, I question whether she would have guessed.
I suppose, in my minds eye I am picturing these children who desperately want a new family thinking they have not been "chosen"
I'm sure if it is organised with a lot of tact and compassion it would be very beneficial, but, we all know that a lot of SW's are not good with tact!

KristinaM Sun 06-Oct-13 22:32:09

This was an agency that had regular social events for children. So I don't think they children could possibly guess that the couple sitting having a cup of tea with their FC at a Christmas party were actually prospective adopters rather than other foster carers. It's not like they had a sign around their neck !

The kids are too busy playing to notice. My children are all school age now and they show zero interest in who I speak to at social events . TBH I would think that a 2.5 year old who was asking all about who someone was and why you were talking to them was hyper vigilant .

I think it's easy to image in like its some hideous American beauty parade for toddlers. In reality it's just like going to a child's birthday party at soft play or a brownie picnic in the park and chatting to other adults while the kids play .

And it's not about children being chosen or not. The experience of these events is that it makes prospective adopters open to children they had not considered before. The matching is still done by the agency panel, it's just another part of the same process that done in every agency.

Moomoomie Mon 07-Oct-13 12:22:35

I am sure you are right, it is just my pre conceived ideas that I need to work on. Too much American tv !
And, yes, my oldest dd is hyper vigilant, it is something we noticed when she first came home. She is now 14 and is much better, it has taken lots of work and patience from both herself and us.
I know anything that helps match children who are waiting with prospective new families is good.

Lilka Mon 07-Oct-13 18:54:26

There was a chat thread about a Times piece on Adoption Activity Days - here

As I said on that thread, I DO have some concerns about activity days. Based off my own children's opinions and personalities, but also off speaking to American adoptive parents who went to activity days.

I am aware of the benefits.

But equally I am concerned for the children, especially the older ones. My DD1, if she had been at an adoption party aged 9/10, would absolutely have known what was going on. At the very least, she would have picked up on the atmosphere - the prospective parents would almost certainly be giving off nervous/slightly stressed vibes she would have reacted to.

The article quoted on the chat thread includes a quote from a SW, I went to Massachusetts to study how they did it before we started here. An 11-year-old boy asked me if I could adopt him, and I said I couldn’t. I later saw him chatting with a family who did adopt him. He was very determined

When talking online to the American parents, this came up quite a bit. The kids aged about 7+ knew what was going on, and they started being negatively affected by it, especially when they felt rejected. Most of the kids went "parent shopping" as the adopters termed it. What that 11 year old boy was doing. The kids realised they had to act a certain way to entice the prospective parents to come talk to them and play with them. No being upset or angry, be charming, smile, have a few sentences ready about yourself, maybe even ask the parents outright whether they'd like to adopt you?

That makes me feel really sad and a bit sick. It's a terrible position to put a child in.

So I think they need to be very careful about having older kids there. Which seems counterproductive, because I want more older children to be found homes and apparently these parties are pretty successful with that

I'm not sure what the answer is. But I'm wary of anything which will negatively impact on the children

Moomoomie Mon 07-Oct-13 19:22:01

Oh Lilka. You have expressed it all so much better than I, but that is exactly what I was thinking, especially after watching an American tv show about it.

Italiangreyhound Mon 07-Oct-13 20:11:56

Thanks for all your input. I read one positive thing and think 'great' sounds good then I read the opposite view and think 'oh no!'. I guess I need to feel happy in my own mind before I go on such an event.

I personally feel there may be some ages where it works better. Perhaps also some kids it works better with.

I guess in my heart I still feel that what would be 'safer' for the kids is for them to be filmed at a party, or interviewed etc if older and to not really be aware what it was for etc etc and for however many people to see that film and the kids not to know how many had seen it. Kids nowadays are not so scared about being filmed as we might have been! Recording people's faces and voices is all very standard for kids and so I am guessing it would be easier than actually having people present.

Still, as others have pointed out, it gets results, the results we all want, children to find families.

Italiangreyhound Mon 07-Oct-13 20:35:05

Reading that article, [ here]

This bit makes sense....

"“When I first heard about it, like everyone who first hears about it, I wasn’t completely sure,” Shah tells me.
“My greatest worry was that children would come home with a sense of rejection. That’s the risk. But anything we do carries risk, the risk is also that they stay in care. So my next thought was how do we minimise the risk for the children as much as possible? By preparing really well.”

Italiangreyhound Mon 07-Oct-13 20:41:37

Bloomin' heck... lump in throat indeed!

Quoting because it is so quote-worthy!

"I came into the day fearing that the children would be “difficult” in some way. In fact, I fell in love many times over. This is a common side effect of the days: even if matches are not found, it makes people more confident about adopting, and apparently the children are reassured, too. Both sides, the adopters and adoptees, see the love within one another.
I thought the event would be harder on the children. But they seem genuinely thrilled: enthusiastic consumers of both a slap-up tea and a magic show at the end of the day. The next step is for adopters to register their interest in a child with their social worker. Ten days after the event, 34 children had at least one interested adopter, who will now embark on the usual matching process, including the release of detail about the child’s background.
If the experts involved recommend a match, they could have a new family in a matter of months. One set of sisters, aged 4 and 7, and one five-year-old boy, have already been approved as definite matches and are due to move in with their “forever families” by the end of summer. More will follow.
No, it is the pain of the adopters that haunts me now. I won’t forget the princessy four-year-old, but neither will I forget the would-be mother in the pink top who was drawn to the princessy girl.
“Up until now, the adoption process has been hypothetical. This is the first time we have seen real live humans, which is lovely,” she says smiling, but with her eyes sad. “I prefer it this way but it’s hard. My fear is falling in love today and that child going to someone else. On paper you don’t get to hold their hand. Or smell their hair.”

Lilka Mon 07-Oct-13 22:27:14

You know, Italian, if I had had the opportunity to attend an activity day when I was searching for a match, I think I would have done it. But then, I was very 'proactive' about the process - I was searching through BMP/CWW myself and identifying children I was interested in etc, rather than my SW doing all the initial selecting

How do you feel about the idea of going to an event right now? If you'd be interested in it, since your LA are the ones running it, your SW could maybe answer your questions for you, about how it all works and what the children are told etc?

I get the impression that most people who go along to one are a bit terrified...and why wouldn't you be?! But if you think it might help you or even find you your child, it could be very worth it for you.

Lilka Mon 07-Oct-13 22:30:26

Some people have concerns about some of the aspects on these events, but I don't think a prospective parent thinking of going to one should be put off by them. The event is going to go ahead with or without you there after all! The only difference is whether you go or not. So I'd just base your decision on what you feel comfortable with or think might help you

Italiangreyhound Mon 07-Oct-13 22:55:50

Thanks Lilka. Very helpful. I am reading Be my parent but trouble is we only got approved a few weeks ago. I guess they take it from you getting the letter, not the actual panel, so it is under a month ago and am assuming that we have to wait 3 months, otherwise I might be contacting Be my Parent!

Also could we attend an activity day in a different county, and how do you find out when they are on?

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