FIA'S 35TH ANNUAL PICNIC — A JOYFUL DAY OF CELEBRATION
What year was the first FIA Annual Picnic held? Hint: The upcoming July 15th, 2017 Picnic is our 35th!
Where was the first FIA picnic held?
Who will be the first person in the Dunk Tank this year?
We now have 3 generations of FIA families in attendance at the picnic. Children that were placed through FIA bring their partners and children along with their birth and adoptive families; young adults placed attend on their own just to stay connected; reunions happen at the picnic- truly a day to celebrate our families!
A responsibility of a parent is to do their best to have their child/ren grow up to be a whole, healthy productive adult - being kind to their selves and to the universe. A most challenging endeavor for sure.
For children brought into families through adoption or through assisted reproductive technology this sometimes means knowing the details of how they entered their family. More and more of our young adults are reaching out to FIA wanting to learn more about their biological roots. Whether it is a biological parent wishing to know about the child they placed or a young person who was adopted desiring to connect with their biological parent/s - the rawness of the human emotion involved requires a strong safety net built around all. The foundation of adoption is built on loss for each person involved.
When Friends in Adoption receives a request to participate in a search, the agency takes the request to heart recognizing the emotional and psychological depth of the impact of the possible outcome.
I have assisted many birth families and adoptive families with searches over the past 35 years. The steps that I take to do my best to insure all parties are protected are:
I WORK TOGETHER TO HELP THE INDIVIDUAL PUT TOGETHER THEIR SAFETY NET. Regardless of the age of the person initiating the search life is complex and outcomes vary greatly. Positive outcomes and the support team may wrap around all in celebration; fractured outcomes and the safety net team will offer kind, compassionate support. Of note here is the importance of the ADOPTIVE PARENT/S SUPPORT if the person searching is your child (of any age). MY OBSERVATION IS THAT THE MAJORITY OF OUR FAMILIES SUPPORT THEIR CHILD'S DESIRE TO SEARCH; HOWEVER THOSE THAT DON'T INCREASE THE SENSE OF REJECTION THEIR CHILD FEELS AS THEY NAVIGATE THEIR JOURNEY. OFTEN TIMES THE INDIVIDUAL'S BIGGEST CONCERN IS THAT THEY WILL HURT THEIR ADOPTIVE PARENT/S. CHILDREN FIERCELY LOVE THEIR FAMILIES. THEY ARE NOT LOOKING TO REPLACE THEM - RATHER THEY ARE LOOKING TO ADD TO THEM.
I ASK THE REASON FOR THE SEARCH. For birth families it is most often motivated by the their desire to know how the child they placed is doing- is the child healthy and happy; does the child know that they were adopted; does the child ever ask about their birthmother or birthfather and would the adoptive family be willing to send a picture to them. For the person who was adopted the answers vary greatly. The one that I hear most frequently is: "Do I have any birth brothers or sisters? I have always wondered and my parent/s don't know." According to an article published in 2011 by the Child Welfare Information Gateway - Searching for Birth Relatives - the reasons are as follows: general family information, family traits and personalities, medical history information, circumstances of the adoption and establishing connections.
I TALK ABOUT HOPED FOR OUTCOMES. For some it is a search for answers to questions - period. For others it is the desire to meet - to touch, to feel, to look in the mirror and see themselves reflected back - a reunion. The birthparent often holds the image of the child as an infant and upon a reunion literally needs to hold and rock the child to then begin the process of filling in the years between placement and reunion. For the person that was adopted it is sometimes replacing the fantasy of the reunion with the reality of the actual event. Quite frequently this is when the safety net is most needed.
I CHECK THE LEGAL STATUS OF WHAT IS BEING ASKED FOR. State laws vary in what information may be passed along to each party. While more and more states are passing open records laws allowing the release of the original birth certificate, the majority of states still maintain closed records. My observation - technology has drastically changed the landscape of search and reunion. Early on private investigators were sometimes needed; now Facebook and Ancestry are the go to search vehicles.
WHEN THE ABOVE STEPS ARE COMPLETED, I THEN BEGIN THE SEARCH AND KEEP ALL PARTIES APPROPRIATELY POSTED. A number of reunions have occurred at the Friends in Adoption annual picnic. The picnic provides a supportive and safe environment for all to connect. For those with fractured search results the safety net is held tightly in place. Friends in Adoption provides lifelong resources to all so if you are an FIA family member and need assistance or support in your search please don't hesitate to reach out to me.
I am hopeful that those FIA birth and adoptive families who have participated in a search will submit their stories for future publication in our FIA Alumni & Friends Newsletter. I believe that we learn best from listening to those who have walked in the shoes of being a part of the adoption circle. To submit articles for possible publication kindly e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. In the early years of FIA open adoption was defined as a connection between the birth and adoptive families with the agency acting as the go between- what we might now consider semi-open adoption. For the past many years our definition has been and continues to be: OPEN ADOPTION IS EXTENDED FAMILY - SOMETIMES THE VOICE IS SILENT, SOMETIMES IT IS VOCAL. A PERSON THAT WAS ADOPTED IS FOREVER CONNECTED TO THEIR BIRTH AND ADOPTIVE FAMILIES - THE ADOPTION CIRCLE.
THIS SATURDAY, JULY 15TH IS FIA'S 35TH ANNUAL PICNIC - A JOYFUL DAY OF CELEBRATION.
THE ANSWERS TO THE TRIVIA QUESTIONS:
FIA'S FIRST PICNIC WAS HELD IN 1982 AT HAPGOOD POND IN PERU, VERMONT.
THE FIRST PERSON WHO WILL BE DUNKED AT THE 2017 PICNIC WILL BE ME!
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT: https://www.friendsinadoption.org/picnic/
May the sun shine brightly on all,