Last weekend, my husband and I went to our first A.R.E.
In Ontario, there are events called the Adoption Resource Exchange (the A.R.E.). I had heard about the event, but didn’t really understand what it was all about. I knew that it was a “trade-show” style showcase of waiting children who are wards of the crown and eligible to be adopted from all over Ontario.
My husband and I have already applied to adopt from Vietnam, but we didn’t want to close any doors. If there are children close to home, it’s worth a look. We created a profile and went in with open minds and hearts.
The A.R.E. was very overwhelming.
It was a full day event. The format of the event seemed strange, but worked well and made sense.
The day began with videos in a large auditorium. The videos were short video profiles of waiting children. We were given a folder that included a list of the children’s’ names (in some cases pseudonyms) in order to record any notes.
The videos were very difficult to watch. The waiting children profiled included everything from children with severe disabilities, children with F.A.S.D or who had been born addicted to drugs, large sibling groups and even teenagers. Some of the children had been shuffled around the system for several years.
After the first set of videos, we were given time to browse the “booths” (booths set up trade-show style with pictures and profiles of the children and their social worker available to answer questions). There was also time provided to spend in the “reading room” where we could browse through a large binder of child profiles. The profiles went in-depth into the children’s’ backgrounds, personalities and any health issues.
There were three sessions like this. It was heartbreaking, exhausting and eye-opening.
By the third set of videos, my husband and I really had to question what we could handle and how we see our future family. We had to remind ourselves that we were there to start a family, not to “save” children. This is a realization that is hard to swallow.
The booths were a great help. Being able to ask specific questions to a child’s caseworker can make things much clearer than trying to interpret the technical language of a child’s profile. There were children there that we did seriously consider, but had to take a step back and make sure that this is what we really wanted to do and that we weren’t just getting swept away in this heart-wrenching moment. After some very serious discussions, we walked away this time. We did not submit any proposals; we decided to stick with plan A. This was a very difficult decision. All of these children will always remain in my heart and mind. I will always question whether or not we made the right decision. (Even if we had submit our profile, we may not have even been selected – I know this decision goes beyond that of just me and my husband).
There were so many prospective adoptive parents at the A.R.E. This made me feel good. This gave me some hope that there is a chance of forever families being created and of the right matches being made.
I know I’ll have the right family for me… I just can’t choose when.