Well we’re gearing up to head out to our local or regional ARE here in Ottawa this coming weekend. Just realizing as I write this, that I should have posted this long ago in case anyone who checks out my blog might be within range to attend. Darn. It wasn’t well advertised, but thanks to some insider information, I managed to find out about it. I promise to let everyone know as soon as I find out about the next one.
As for this weekend’s details, I’ll post the info at the end of this entry for anyone who might be interested. The deadline to register was October 26th, but if you call, they may still accept a late registration. This is a semi-annual event, so if you miss this one, you won’t have to wait a full year before the opportunity to attend arises again. The next one will be sometime in the Spring.
Okay, so some of you are probably asking, “What’s an ARE?” Well it’s an expo of sorts where local Children’s Aid offices present children they currently have in their care that are awaiting adoption. Children are presented by pictures, video and written profiles. If you are a “waiting adoptive parent” or “adopt ready” (meaning you have completed your homestudy and PRIDE training), you will have the opportunity to submit an “expression of interest” for any children you’re interested in, to be potentially considered as the adoptive parents.
The larger of these events is held in Toronto, and includes Children’s Aid offices from all over Ontario. At this one there is also the opportunity to hear guest speakers talk on various topics pertaining to adoption. It was held earlier this month, but if you missed it, it is a semi-annual event as well.
The idea behind this event is to profile some of the harder to place children currently in Foster Care. Hard to place children can mean a variety of things. They could be children who have behavioral, mental, medical, or physical challenges which range from mild to severe. There is a common misconception that children in Foster Care who have these issues are all on the severe end of the spectrum, but this isn’t actually the case. Older children and siblings also fall into the hard to place category. The desire for an infant is still strong with public adoption applicants, and Children’s Aid is flooded with applications for this age range. Their real need is for adoptive families for children ages 7 and up. They are also in need of people willing to take on more than one child, in order to keep siblings together.
This will be Mike’s and my first visit to one of these. From all accounts, this is not an easy event to attend. This really brings to the forefront the heartbreaking stories of children who are looking for a forever home, and therefore can be quite overwhelming. There is another level of heartbreak beyond the static computer profiles most of us view online. This sort of brings the children to life, and make their stories that much more palpable.
I was talking briefly about it with my friend E, who has attended as both a waiting parent and an adoptive parent/guest speaker. She said it’s definitely an emotionally draining, especially when you hear and see the profiles that are presented. Even worse she informed me are the profiles the older children write themselves. *Mental note: Be sure to take an ample supply of Kleenex.* Despite the warnings though, she encouraged me to attend. You never know where you’ll find your child(ren), and many families find theirs this way.
As challenging as it may be, there are also great things about this event. The first being that not only are you seeing profiles that may not be listed online at the various websites that profile children, but you’ll be seeing NEW profiles. And as many a future adoptive parent will tell you, new profiles are what we check for on a daily basis. So that in itself is exciting.
Another plus is that you can speak directly to case workers to learn more about the children. No having to submit a request for additional info and waiting for an email or a phonecall. You can get instant information from someone who is familiar with the child. Again, being the impatient folks that waiting parents can sometimes be, this is a welcome change. Especially for those that have found a child they think might be a potential match.
The other thing that many newbies may not realize, is that this is a good way to to make an impression on a case worker, or multiple case workers. When you see a child you’re interested in, you can talk with the case worker first before submitting your expression of interest. It may put a face to the name on the application, so to speak. Some people even prepare bio/info sheets to pass out to case workers for just that reason. Ultimately this process isn’t a popularity contest. The case workers will tell you, they’re not looking for a child for you, they’re looking for parents for their children. But if you make an impression that makes them recognize your name when they’re sifting through mounds of potential parent applications, standing out definitely can’t hurt.
As I mentioned earlier, these ARE’s are promoted for “waiting” or “adopt-ready” parents. That said, M and I aren’t technically in the waiting category as of yet, but I made it known we hadn’t even sent our application in yet when I called to register, and I ran into no problems at all. I got a very enthusiastic confirmation call actually.
Expressions of interest in children are also usually reserved for that same category of parent. However, there are some profiles you will see that say, “Parents at any stage in the adoptive process are welcome to express interest in this child.” But for the most part, they’re looking for adopt ready. That said, from all accounts, I have been told, if you see a child who you think could be a potential match for your family, do not let that hold you back. Persistence seems to be half the battle in the world of adoption, and I’ve heard a number of stories who were not adopt-ready when they inquired about children, and they were contacted as potential families, and some eventually were approved to adopt the child.
So basically if you’re hesitating at all about attending this event, or the ones in the future because you’re not adopt-ready, don’t worry about it. Even if you’re not ready to actively search for your child, I think it’s a good experience for when you are ready. And you just never know…. 😉
If you’d like to attend this weekend, here’s the event and registration info:
Date: Saturday, November 3
Where: The River Rock Inn
Address: 2808 Chamberland Street, Clarence-Rockland, Ontario, K4K 1M6
Offices presenting children this weekend: The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa, Prescott-Russell and the office of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry
To RVSP: Contact Manon Vachon by phone at 613-937-7460
Questions: Contact Kimberly Gill at 613-937-7431
Map: River Rock Inn
I’ll be sure to blog and let everyone know about our experience. If you attending or have attended the ARE for Ottawa, or one in your city or province, and want to share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. For those of you attending this weekend, good luck. Hope you find your family!