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Research about adoptive families consistently indicates that adopted children who grow up exposed to other adopted children, adoptive families, and families that mirror their own in some way, have a healthy and more “normalized” view of adoption. Barker actively encourages interaction among adoptive parents and is experimenting with new ways to help foster connections and build community. On Sunday, March 4th, Brker's Department of Post Adoption Services was excited to hold its first “Sundays at Barker” event for young adoptive families (families with children under 3 years of age). Unlike Barker’s “New Parent Groups” which are held during the week and involve a structured discussion, these events are on weekends and designed as an outing for the entire family. What a wonderful scene in Barker’s conference room! There were babies crawling around and exploring new toys to play with (and in some cases laps to sit in), toddlers building towers, playing with cars and making new friends, and parents having their own “play date.” The adults had the chance to informally mingle and meet one another over bagels and coffee, and talk about issues of common concern to young adoptive families including sleep (or lack of it!), day care, dealing with questions from others, and contact with birth parents. We were heartened to see so many new connections being made and phone numbers being swapped!
One very special element of this morning event was that two wonderful teen adoptees who attended Barker’s annual Teen Connections event (and themselves were adopted through Barker) came to volunteer at the event. In addition to playing with the children, they also informally shared with families their own recollections about how their own parents talked about adoption with them, and one of them shared her own experiences and feelings about open adoption. What a wonderful opportunity for families contemplating how to best approach these issues to hear directly from teens how they themselves processed these topics.