Once we are declared Adoptready, there are a couple of ways that I know of through which our file can extend its reach beyond our own region.
The AdoptOntario website features profiles of waiting children in the province. Once we are eligible, we will be able to review the profiles and request more info about or express interest in any of the children. The profiles usually feature a first name, photo, age, and a description of their personality, including interests and a vague description of any medical or behavioural conditions they have. This kind of resource is available across Canada, and in the U.S. as well.
There is also the Adoption Resource Exchange, a semi-annual “fair” that aims to facilitate matching between families and children from all Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario. Ben and I attended this event in May, in Toronto. Because we weren’t eligible yet, we could not formally express interest in any of the children being presented, but it was an opportunity to take a peek at the kids beyond our region (we were shown a small sample of York Region's kids in one of our PRIDE training sessions). The profiles were presented in three ways. In one hall, each agency had their own booth where they displayed their kids’ photos and had tables with handouts and staff available to field inquiries. In the next room, short video profiles were being shown for each child, following a schedule that was distributed to all attendees. In the last, hushed, room were tables and binders that contained detailed profiles of the children which now included things like specific needs and religious background.
When I think back to that day, the word heavy comes to mind. We made an incredible connection with a social worker and seasoned adoptive mom and noted the diversity in the prospective parents attending the event. We walked through the room with the booths and did not see a single child of Asian heritage, and, as we weren't yet eligible, we didn't browse with great intention through any of the children, really. As the videos in the other hall played, I just felt this weight on my heart. One after another, as each child was featured, I imagined their unsoftened story and how each month or year without permanency compounds that trauma. It happened again in the binder room. This was very much a glimpse into the children's worlds and not a "shopping trip", for lack of a better term. The sense of urgency that this event presents is one of the reasons I struggle with the waiting.
The next Exchange is coming up in about a month and our hope is that we will be attending as a bonofide waiting family. I look forward to seeing how this experience will compare with our first, as we will be much more intentional about our review of the profiles and connecting with the other agencies.