“Finding Mum and Dad” – The issue of adoption parties #1

Like many of you out there, I sat down to watch “Finding Mum and Dad” tonight not sure what to expect or what I would come away thinking. If you missed it, you can watch it on 4OD here

I should say that my general feeling towards Adoption Activity Day, or Adoption Parties, before watching, was one leaning well towards the negative. I completely acknowledge the benefits of it, but overall my feeling was (and remains, after watching) that they have the potential to do more harm than good.

So I am doing 2 posts on this issue, and this one is just about last nights TV program:

Finding Mum and Dad

A review of “Finding Mum and Dad”

From the start, it was a very emotional program, and I teared up at quite a few points throughout. I felt it was generally sensitively done, and explored both positives and negatives of using Activity Days to match children with prospective adopters. We heard from social workers, foster carers, prospective adopters and adopters who were matched through activity days.

I do think it would have been good and improved the program if we had heard from an adult adoptee (or adult care leaver) who attended adoption days – they’ve been around for a while in the United States at least, and I think some words from an adoptee about what the experience was like for them and what their views are, would have really added something to the program. We are supposedly doing this for the children after all, so the experiences and opinions of those children (and adults) should be given a lot of consideration and respect.

If I were to make one main criticism of the program though, it would be the simplicity it presented some things with, chief among them the issue of the childs age. I personally found the tone of voice used when saying (repeatedly) that adoptive parents generally want younger children, to be an almost accusatory tone, as if prospective adopters are all too picky and it was all their fault that these older boys are hard-to-place. Actually, it’s far more complex than that.

As an adoptive parent of older children, whilst I would very much like to see more older children placed with parents, and more parents considering older children, I would never even dream of thinking badly of prospective adopters who do not feel capable or comfortable adopting an older child. Something that is a simple fact, is that adopting a 9 year old is not like adopting a 1 year old. It’s not right for everyone. I was the reverse – when I adopted my daughters, I felt more comfortable with adopting older children. Should I be condemned because I would have said ‘no’ to a 6 month old baby? It’s not pickiness IMHO, it’s about making sure there is a good match between child and parents, that the child is coming into a home where their parents are totally comfortable and happy with it all.

Other than that, and the absence of any adoptee views, I think the program was good. I loved the foster carers and thought they were great people and great parents to their foster children. The camera caught many moments which were heartbreaking and briefly touched on other issues, such as seperating siblings.

I loved seeing Thomas in his new family, and the celebration hearing was a moment which made me cry a bit. His story did represent the good side of adoption activity days, and it was lovely to see. We heard that these days can up to double a childs chance of finding a family – it’s worth noting though that over all the pilot activity days which were run to test out the use of activity days in the UK, less than 50 of the 250 children who attended, found a home through them. That sadly, is a high percentage compared to traditional methods of family finding.

So, why didn’t I come away with changed views? Well, the camera caught all too many moments which just reflected all my concerns about adoption parties. Perhaps the most uncomfortable and awful part of the program for me, was when the boys were at their activity day, and the foster carers and social worker were going round, trying to get some of the prospective adopters to come and meet the boys and play with them. The way they talked, emphasising how lovely and well behaved the boys were and how they didn’t show any signs of learning difficulties etc, it really did feel like they were selling the boys as a product. It didn’t sit well with me at all. And it didn’t sit well with the boys foster mother either – she clearly struggled with feeling like she was, in her words (if I remember rightly) ‘trying to sell an unwanted product’

However, regardless if whether you came away feeling more positive or more negative towards these activity days, it was a well done program, and it’s worth a watch. But watch with a pack of tissues next to you!

And what did Kestrel think?

She says “Uh…I didn’t like it because no one wanted to play with Connor and Daniel and they didn’t get adopted”

She also asked me, “Mum, that lady said about buying a sofa from DFS. Is it like that?”

She seems unsure and slightly upset by this sadly :(

But as an older adoptee, her instinctive reaction to seeing this, well, I find it important

My second post on adoption activity days/parties will be more about my own personal views on adoption parties, and why I feel the way I do. Also, I am certain Rhea will have views she wants to put across about the program and adoption parties in general

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3 thoughts on ““Finding Mum and Dad” – The issue of adoption parties #1

  1. I think that ‘hard to place’ children are hard to parent. It’s not about picky adopters, it’s about finding people with the support and strength required to give the children the family they need. Until Post Adoption Support becomes much more available, there will always be a shortage of people who can provide the right home for older children (with all the baggage they have), sibling groups or children with identified difficulties.
    It’s not ‘picky’ to decline to take on a task you’re not sure you could handle, it’s responsible.
    Without the church and family support that I am lucky enough to have, we couldn’t give the boys what they need. It simply wouldn’t be possible for me to parent them, however much I might want to.

  2. Thank you for this blog. As someone who is going to start adopting this year, I watched it and immediately felt guilted into adopting the oldest kid I could and, while I am at it, can I try and adopt sibling groups to prevent them being split and having massive trauma? The weight of the decisions I will make this year area already astronomical and I agree with you that although it is a very real need and I was in tears for a lot of the program, there was an almost accusatory tone which went beyond emotive to kind of overwhelming. As a single person I don’t know how I could take siblings as my first children but after watching that I almost feel like “how could I not”. Really really hard.

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