WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Dozens of families looking into adoption gathered in Westfield Sunday to meet children in need of “forever homes.”
The party was put on by the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, and the Department of Children and Families.
It’s part of their November National Adoption month program.
Finding families for foster kids is an ongoing problem here in our area. Western Mass has the largest percentage of waiting children, but the lowest number of potential adoptive families.
“There are so many waiting children in foster care, even newborns that are in foster care, so there is no need to look overseas or do a private adoption,” said Maurine Albano of M.A.R.E.
Adoption parties account for nearly a third of all adoptions and are the most effective way to match children and families.
“People come into this with a mindset of a certain child that is perfect for them, but when they get here and meet the children, they change their mind,” Albano adds.
The party included balloon animals, face painting, arts and crafts, ping pong and Foosball. All of the activities are designed to allow kids to be kids.
Alabno said, “The priority is that the kids have fun. That’s number one. We want every child to come out of here with a smile on their face”
The families at the party are all at different points in the adoption process. Some just came to talk to other parents who have already adopted, like Erin Smith.
“It’s the best thing I have ever done in my life. I believe my son and I were meant to be together. We couldn’t have been a better match if i had given birth to him,” said adoptive mother Erin Smith.
But Smith adds there is another side to the story. The legal process involved in making an adoption legal can be long and tedious.
“We spent a year and a half where it was legally uncertain, and we lived day to day, and it was OK. It was hard. I am not going to say it wasn’t hard,” Smith said.
If you’re up to the challenge, there’s a lot of opportunity.
“We love different family dynamics. This is a world of different family dynamics. This is not like it was in the ’50s, so kids fit in anywhere, as long as they are loved, they are going to fit in anywhere,” Albano says.
If you are interested in looking into adoption or fostering a child, you can learn more by calling the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange at 413-452-3431.