By An Adopt4Life Awaiting Parent
I have attended a lot of Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE) events. I have been there many, many times as an Adopt4Life volunteer but my experience with AREs started well before that while waiting to be matched with my first child. Now I am attended as a waiting parent again hoping to add another child to my family. Although the experience of the ARE can be overwhelming at the best of times, the harder part of the process for me at this point is the waiting after the event.
Workers may continue to receive expressions of interest for the children they profile for up to 2 weeks after the ARE from the online system. Given the number of children profiled by each worker, it can then take many weeks for them to review the expressions of interest and begin the long, slow process of trying to discern matches for the children they represent. I was reminded at a recent ARE that while many parents fall into thinking that it is a competition to “win over” a worker at the ARE with your charisma, your profile or your expression of interest, the workers actually carefully review the information they have, including home studies when needed to ensure they make the best matches possible. This is certainly not for the faint of heart as workers or as waiting parents!
So what do we possibly do while we wait for our workers to get back to us with next steps or the disappointing news that we were not the right match this time? For me that has looked like starting to do my research if needed. Sometimes a child I’ve expressed interest in has medical, social, or school needs identified. During the waiting it has been a good use of my time and energy to think about what it would actually look like to bring that child into my home. Do I need to talk to other parents living with a similar situation with their child? (Adopt4Life is a great resource to support you in making these connections.) Do I need to call my local school or a community agency to see about the care, services or support they can offer? While these might be hypothetical questions at this point, I have found this invaluable to learn more about my community and the practical realities that parenting that child might bring. It has also provided me considerable insight into the needs of the child that I might not have had at the time that I expressed interest in. As a matter of fact, there have been a few kids that my worker later called about and I’ve had to say that through my additional research I discovered that I would not be the best person to consider parenting them.
I’ve also used the waiting time to focus on living my life and making plans. Sometimes these plans have alternate scenarios in my head in the event that I am matched with a child and in the event that I’m not matched. I ensure that I continue to do things in my life that I love and try not to focus too fully on any particular child that may or may not end up being the right match for my family.
Finally, workers are committed to getting back to families who have expressed interest within sixty days. While this does not always happen and timelines are hard to nail down, once you reach the sixty-day mark, you can contact your worker and/or AdoptOntario to follow up.
Finding community to support you through this challenging stage can be really helpful. If your personal circle has trouble understanding the emotions and support that you need during this time, reach out to Adopt4Life. Waiting is nearly a universal experience for adoptive families and many in the community will have great strategies and suggestions or be able to provide a listening ear to help you get through the hard days.