Jessica gave a link to MyAsianKidDC, but not the actual page which can help families find a group of supportive parents. My page on Groups for Families with Children Adopted from Asia got buried on the web site when I added more general information about adoption.
Because there are so many adopted children in the Washington, DC area, many groups tend to be confined to mainly one nationality. And not all groups are created equal. Some are purely internet groups and are a virtual communities and some have a presence on the internet but actually get together and meet with other families.
First thing to do is see where you fit into a group. Sometimes there are several for an individual nationality, sometimes just one, sometimes none at all. We joined DC Families with Children from Vietnam and Greater Washington Adoptive China Families. Now the second one is for China, but I emailed and asked if a family who was adopting a child from Vietnam could join since Vietnam and China share a 1000 year history together. The list owner conferred and let us in.
So if you find a group and they are active, you will have an easier time. Join the group, volunteer to help organize or host events and find ways to participate. The more you participate the more you and your family will get out of the group.
But what if you find the group is not active? Then volunteer to plan some events and advertise for those events. If the leaders of the group are not receptive to your interest in the group, then see if there is another group you could join and then lastly if that doesn’t pan out, create your own group.
When we were waiting parents of a child from Vietnam, I joined our local chapter for families from Vietnam. I found however that the owners of the yahoo group have children who are 8-12 and as they have gotten older, no events are being planned for the group. I tried to organize events on the listserve, but the listserve is moderated and each message has to be approved by a list owner. So I found it could take up to 10 days to get a message approved which didn’t suit if you are trying to organize an event.
So I decided to start my own group. DC-Metro-Playgroup-FCVCA started out as just me and I advertised on several list serves and took names and email addresses of people and sent out Evites for play dates the first year. I contacted everyone I met at our adoption agency and when we went to picnics and Lunar New Years parties with Adoption Center of Washington, I invited families to join. The second year, in hopes that more parents would help organize a play date, I created the list serve. That gave parents an easy way to organize an event. The list is unmoderated which makes it easy for parents to communicate with one another. We still do events through Evites because it seems to work better. Members want to know who is showing up before committing to a play date.
I advertise on local list serves, both adoption and mom or parent list serves. I printed up some “business cards” for the playgroup and hand them out to parents I meet. Since I made these business cards on my computer, I asked if other members of our play group would like to have cards to pass out and made some cards for other members to hand to parents who appear to be right for our group.
You don’t have to have a large house or belong to a church where the group meets. We live in a small house and we usually meet at public parks or local indoor play places. Evite lets you ask members to bring something, so if you want people to bring snacks or a dish for a picnic, it is easy to do. But if you love to entertain and have a large house or a church or synagogue you could have play dates in, then so much the better.
Things to look for when organizing a play date. I have a few things that I look for when selecting a place to play. First and foremost the playground needs to be appropriate for the age of the group. Second there needs to be a restroom or port-a-potty available. Third there needs to be parking available as everyone drives to the playgrounds. And fourth, I like shade, so there needs to be a decent amount of shade in the warm season. I try to make it within 10 minutes north or south of the Beltway, so there is not too much time for parents driving on local roads, but that is not always possible.
So if you want your child growing up with other families like your own, find a group, or create a group. But the most important thing for getting the most out of such groups is you get out as much as you put in. You can join and never participate or you can join and show up and if you can spare the energy and time, help organize. Groups don’t continue without significant parent participation.
And lastly, there is no reason you can’t join more than one group. You will find which group or groups work for what you are looking for. After you have found your family group, you could make it private, but I think the most important thing to do is to keep it public and invite new members to participate. There will always be new people moving in or adopting and they will need a group just as much as you and the current members need a group. It is important to make new participants welcome into the group.
You would think that the organizer of such a group would be an extrovert, but in this case, I am an introvert. I wanted my child growing up with like families, so I realized that if no one else was going to make this happen, I would have to make this happen. It was a bit scary to go out and socialize with a group of strangers at first, (especially for introverts) but after you keep showing up, those strangers become friends so it becomes fun and you look forward to seeing the parents and the children as the children grow up together.