This past Saturday we co-sponsored a matching event with SWAN (Pennsylvania Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network) focused on older children (10+). We held the event at beautiful Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. We had a wonderful turnout that included 19 children and 15 families. Most of the youth and families arrived feeling excited and a bit nervous. This mixture of feelings is normal for an event such as this one, but we do various activities throughout the day to lessen the stress of the day.
We began the day with separate meetings for the families and the youth. In these smaller groups, the participants met one another, got an overview of the day and their questions about the day answered. Our Master of Ceremonies, Joshua Strelbicki, led the youth and families through a variety of icebreakers and team-building games. The kids and families had fun completing the activities together. A buffet lunch featuring Philly cheesesteaks followed and a surprise visit by Phoebe Phanatic was a big hit.
Everyone then got to go on a “behind the scenes tour” of the stadium. Afterwards, the youth participated in an activity we call “Everyone Has a Voice.” The youth and Joshua sit in a circle and the kids talk about their hopes and dreams while the adults sit quietly and listen. We wrapped up the day with the kids decorating t-shirts while the prospective parents filled out information about the children they wanted to learn more about.
Here's one family's experience:
The family drove for two hours to attend the event and it was their first time attending something like this. They felt wary and nervous about the experience. They had previously been approved to adopt a child up to the age of ten, but after meeting the kids on Saturday asked their social worker to raise the age they are interested in to sixteen. They felt the most valuable part of the day for them were the interactive games. It helped to break the tension and helped them to meet every youth there. They left feeling that they wanted to take every child home! They also left feeling more confident in their ability to bring and older youth into their family!