Friday, July 11, 2014

The Mummy Shop

I'm writing this post at the end of an eventful day, but you'll be reading it some unspecified time later as I'm under strict instructions not to reveal the exact location or date of the Adoption Activity Day I have been to with Baby Girl today. Hooray for post scheduling!

I approached the day with some trepidation. I'm not a fan of 'milling about' or 'circulating' or whatever it is people are supposed to do at large-scale gatherings. In fact I tend to avoid rooms full of people unless I am delivering a talk to them!

Thankfully my wonderful social worker had prepared me well the week before and it was all pretty much as I expected it would be. And I knew I wouldn't have to work hard on pointing out BG's best points - they are pretty much right out there for all to see. She definitely already knows how to win hearts.

Thankfully, as Baby Girl isn't mobile, I was able to sit mostly in the same place, drinking coffee, making good use of the buffet, smiling at people encouragingly and watching it all unfold. Here is what I saw.

I saw yellow stickers. These were the children and, to be fair, they seemed to be having a fabulous time! There were concerns about some who find crowds overwhelming, but the range of activities and the non-stop dedication of the event organisers (red stickers) seemed to keep everyone occupied. Each child was given a party bag and had plenty of other crafts and bits to take home with them. Will some of them be upset in the aftermath? Seems likely. But others of them will be matched. It's a hard call.

I saw pink stickers. These were foster carers, alternating between clucking over their charges and talking earnestly to prospective adopters. I found myself stuttering as I tried to extol Baby Girl's virtues to successive prospects. There's a tightrope between being positive and being honest. I hope I walked it successfully. It also felt very strange, even naughty, discussing BG's issues and background so openly after months of confidentiality and guardedness. Yes, there was some pressure to perform. I even wore make-up. I had to find it first!

I saw green stickers. These were prospective adopters, some looking deeply uncomfortable in their (optional) fancy dress. Actually, many looked uncomfortable. I can see why. They have to look around without staring, interact with children without overstaying, approach complete strangers and make themselves vulnerable. And the whole time I'm thinking that some of these adopters have probably been through a heart-breaking and undignified infertility journey to get to this point and now they're having to market themselves to strangers in the hope of becoming parents. And it makes me feel for them and appreciate the lengths some people have to go to in order to get what comes so easily to others. One future dad told me about a child outside of his age range that he just couldn't get away from. The kid so wanted to play football with him and he found it impossible just to walk away and leave him.

I saw blue stickers. These were the social workers, circulating, calculating and negotiating like professional diplomats. Prospective adopters would come to speak to me. My SW would join the conversation. The adopters would go away and speak to their SW. Their SW would come to speak to me. Our SWs would speak to each other. It was like negotiating a treaty between two small countries. Because of BG's matching criteria, we had to elicit certain information out of prospective adopters without being too direct. My SW did this very smoothly, obviously with the benefit of experience. I heard adopter's social workers say things like, "These are the best adopters I've ever taken to panel." I wondered if they said that about everybody.

Did I see Baby Girl's future family? I couldn't say. Nothing is decided at an Activity Day. But be sure to come back to the blog and keep checking - you never know.

Oh, and the title of this post? Well, I obviously did such a bad job of explaining where I was going today that OB referred to the whole event as "The Mummy Shop" this morning as I dropped him off. Must do better next time!

2 comments:

  1. When I first heard about these Activity Days on TV I thought they would be a great idea. But I'm beginning to change my now, particularly after reading your account.

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  2. Oh, I hope I didn't give a wholly negative impression! I think there are both big pluses and big minuses overall, but I do think the event itself could be hugely emotionally overwhelming for some. Yet if it means that some hard to place children find matches, is it worth it? Personally I'm guardedly in favour. It's not ideal, but then nothing really is in child protection is it? We're all trying to do the best we can with the situation we have.

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