Are you a parent who has placed a child for adoption? Or an adoptive parent who is planning to attend Pact Family Camp and would like to invite your child’s first/birth parent to attend as well? Pact welcomes birth/first parents—traditionally the most marginalized members of the adoption triad—not just as guest speakers but as full participants in our entire Family Camp program. The participation of first/birth parents provides ground-breaking opportunities for connections between first families, adoptive/foster parents, adopted/fostered youth, and adoption professionals. Many adoptive parents report that getting to know first/birth parents at Pact Family Camp has been a life-changing experience, challenging them to rethink their assumptions about their children’s first/birth families and about ongoing contact.

Pact Family Camp has included first/birth parents as guest speakers and participants since 2010, and a growing number are attending each year. Some come with their children and their children’s adoptive families, others come on their own. First/birth parents are invited to participate in all of the adult programming (keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops, etc.). While most of these presentations are designed with adoptive parents as the primary target audience, explorations of the experience of adoption are illuminating to first/birth parents as well, and the presence of first/birth parents deepens the discussions and adds an important perspective.

We know that the first/birth parents who attend Pact Family Camp care deeply about our mission – to serve adopted children of color. We also know that topics of adoption and family, as well as oppression, race and culture, are sensitive, volatile subjects; we want to make sure that you are not being asked to educate adoptive parents or share your experience with adoptees if that is not your desire. Of course, we invite people to reach across triad and racial lines as they choose, but we acknowledge the power dynamics when first/birth parents are in a very small minority. Pact is committed to Camp being not only a “brave space,” but also a safe space for first/birth parents.

Because we understand that the environment can be emotionally triggering, we work to provide safe spaces for first/birth parents to gather in community. We offer the opportunity to attend a Pact-sponsored first/birth parents’ dinner offsite, and we provide staff to facilitate conversations and support during Camp.

First/birth parents have the option to attend Camp in five ways:

  1. Camper in family accommodations: Register as a family member of your child/ren placed for adoption also attending Camp. When registering this way, you will be assigned to shared housing with your child(ren) and the adoptive parent(s) of your child. Please coordinate so you are all registered as one party; there will be one group registration fee based on the total number of adults and children and the household income of the adoptive family.
  2. Camper who can pay to stay in accommodations separate from their child’s adoptive family (usually in community with other birth/first parents): Register as a single adult (or family), paying the sliding-scale fee based on your income level. When registering this way, you will be assigned your own private hotel-style accommodations.
  3. Camper who needs scholarship help to stay in accommodations separate from their child’s adoptive family (usually in community with other birth/first parents): If the regular Camp fee is beyond your means, you can apply to attend on a needs-based scholarship. Some of our scholarship funds are earmarked specifically for first/birth parents. The application, like the one adoptive parents are asked to complete, will ask questions regarding your income, and what you can afford to contribute toward your attendance. If you are applying to stay in private room as opposed to a shared room, the cost will be higher and require additional funds, either from you or through the scholarship. The scholarship application deadline is March 15, 2018 and applicants will be notified by April 1, 2018 of their selection.
  4. Invited speaker: A limited number of first/birth parents will be invited to attend as speakers. While we value the voices of ALL first/birth parents, Pact is balancing a number of factors in selecting educators, such as: diversity of experiences with adoption, including new voices, and the ability to provide multiple workshops over several days. If invited to attend as a speaker, you will receive a speaker’s fee, be provided with housing, and be able to attend and participate in Camp programming when you are not presenting.
  5. Camp counselor: First/birth parents are invited to apply to be counselors in our youth program. You are great role models for the children and we would love to have your participation in this way if you are interested and have experience working with youth. Counselors are paid and receive room and board, as well as pre-camp training and post-camp professional development; because they are working they are rarely able to attend adult programming while Camp is in session. Click here for the Counselor Interest Form

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