Our first adoption related event (non-agency related) is now a memory. Families with Children from China (FCC)-Atlanta chapter, hosted their annual Chinese New Year (CNY) celebration Saturday evening.
Throughout the festivities a thought kept running through my mind: Are these girls, specifically the ones 13 and over, uncomfortable? Do they feel honored or scrutinized? I know that sounds harsh but I couldn’t help but wonder. The teen years are difficult enough. Participating in a Chinese New Year event, hosted by adoptive parents, showcasing the talents of their peers seems like a lot of pressure to me, as I once was a shy teenager not too long ago.
Jenn and I sat with two families, each with teenage girls. Sitting with strangers, regardless of what we have in common, isn’t a scenario I thrive in. It definitely reinforced my will to pick up some ice-breakers to use at public functions. There were at least 240 people in attendance. The upshot of the evening is I will consider very carefully whether we attend certain functions related to adoption as Penelope gets older.
The future president of the FCC Atlanta spoke to us for a few minutes. At the end of our conversation he asked if we had any ideas for the future of the Atlanta chapter. Distance is one of the hurdles FCC families face. Many of the families live far from one another. The family seated next to me was from Athens. Another family drove from North Carolina. We drove 45 minutes with zero traffic to get to the event.
As requested, here are my recommendations (though they will probably never be seen by FCC Atlanta):
1. Create a members-only list of parents based on location. For instance, we would be willing to drive to Virginia Highlands to meet with other families. Cumming or Adairsville, we’ll pass.The list could contain an age range the children fall into. For instance have a 1-2, 3 – 5, 6 – 10 age selection. The specifics are better left to people familiar with child development. Parents could list the birth date of their child. The site could translate that to an age bracket and keep the family in the correct bracket without revealing the child’s exact birth date or age.
Allow FCC Atlanta members to create a profile on the FCC site with the ability to connect via email or intra-site messaging.
2. Get input from the older adopted children. What did they enjoy from past events? What did they dislike?
3. Do the older children have the opportunity to mentor the younger ones if interested? Can FCC facilitate this?
4. Create connections with other chapters. What are they doing that works well? Granted, they are geographically diverse and may have events that only work with their group.
5. Consider whether the event is for the parents or the children. If it’s for adults schedule and plan for babysitting. Conversely if it’s an event for the kids, decide what age-appropriate actions to take. Are all the kids over 16? No adult required? Under 15? Under 10?
You see where I’m going.
For the 10 people not related to me that read this and are adopted or have an adopted child(ren), how do you feel about these gatherings?
I’d love to hear from you.
PS: In Penelope news, the evening went great until we had to leave suddenly. I’ll save that for another post though…
PSS: If you are a parent of one of the performers or one of the families we spoke to, please understand I’m not critical of anything that transpired. For much of the evening I had a great time and enjoyed speaking to other families.