Kent County Council has held its second adoption activity day to find homes for vulnerable children who urgently need families.
Nineteen children attended the fun day at Oakwood House in Maidstone on Sunday (28 Sept) in the late September sunshine where they got to mingle and play with prospective parents.
It is a rare opportunity for children and adopters to meet face-to-face and follows the huge success of last year’s activity day which saw nearly a third (16) of the children find forever families. The children were chosen to attend because they had been waiting longer for a family, perhaps because they were slightly older, looking for a home with brothers or sisters or had developmental or health needs.
Following the day, interest had been expressed in 13 of the children who attended.
Potential adopters Aleks and Myles, who attended the day, explained how the opportunity to meet children they had previously only read about had made them confident they could become part of their family.
Myles said: “We had a lot of fun today. When you get to play with the children and get to know them a little bit, you get to see what they are like – that there’s a fun side to them, that they’re not just profiles, they’re actually little people.
“When you read something on paper, it can seem a lot worse than it does in real life, so when you actually get to see the kids and meet them and interact a little bit, you get a bit of a feel for what it might be like to deal with the issues they may have. It can become a bit more realistic in your mind if they have got challenging behaviours, what that actually might be like for you. Once you have met them, this gives them a personality, so you can understand the kids and their problems a bit better.”
The couple urged people who may be nervous about attending an activity day to go for it.
Myles said: “Do it. Open your mind and it may challenge your view of the children that you think you’re looking for. We found that through the adoption journey, our perceived family has changed a lot and what we thought we wanted initially changed over the past year. You meet someone you weren’t expecting to meet at one of these days and it just clicks – you’ve met your future child.”
One couple who know how an activity day can change lives are Sarah*, 42, and John*, 41, who adopted Thomas*, now two, at last year’s event.
Sarah said: “When we arrived, we walked inside where the little ones were. We saw Thomas and we were instantly drawn to him. He was a beautiful little baby, just 13 months old, and he was playing on the mats. We spent some time with him and talked to his social worker and foster carer. We went to play with some other kids, who were absolutely lovely, but we were drawn back to Thomas about three times to see him.
“We expressed an interest and we came away and were thinking, ‘is it just because this is the first event we have been to?’. But it wasn’t. We couldn’t stop talking about him. When we were approved, it was wonderful. When he came home, we straight away felt he was our son – there has never been a doubt in my mind. He is the most adorable little baby.”
Kent County Council was one of the first authorities to hold an activity day and this year’s smaller event focusses on children who may not find homes as easily because they are older, are in a sibling group or have developmental delay or health issues.
Peter Oakford, KCC Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services, said: “We know from last year’s event how successful it is to bring children and adopters together and this year’s event seems to have gone very well. The importance of chemistry when making a match between a child and a family cannot be under-rated and it lets potential parents see past the challenges in the child’s background. When they meet the children and spend time with them, chatting to their foster carers, they realise they can meet their needs.
“We are seeing fewer placement orders granted by the courts so many of the children who need a family now are older, or have difficult backgrounds or health and developmental delay. So we need potential adopters to broaden their minds about the sort of child they are looking for. These events show time and again that when parents meet their children, the issues in their background become less important and they can see the child as part of their family.”
More children in Kent need homes. To find out more about becoming an adopter with Kent County Council, visit www.kentadoption.co.uk or call 03000 420 002.
*Names changed to protect identities