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Ricardo Montalbán, the star of "Fantasy Island," was rumored to be making an appearance.The goal of the fair was clear to me, even if it wasn’t explicitly stated; I was supposed to sell myself.We made small talk while I walked the fine line between being pleasing and being obsequious, being engaging and being obnoxious, being energetic and being frantic. The couple called my social worker a few days later and expressed interest in adopting me.Technically I was given a choice about whether I wanted to accept them as a placement.Being Hispanic and older, my stock was depreciating fast, so my social worker lined me up with about 20 other kids at an adoption fair held at the Los Angeles Arboretum.There among the trees and in full view of the Queen Anne Cottage, at the time also the backdrop for the popular television show, “Fantasy Island,” a carnival atmosphere was devised.Potential adoptees often engage in their own pursuit of love, a speed dating of sorts called adoption fairs. Children available for adoption are brought together in a party-like atmosphere to mingle with would-be parents.The idea is to see if there is a mutual attraction.

Couples and families looking to adopt milled about.

Adoption fairs are ineffective, set the wrong expectations, and are damaging to the children. Instead of speed dating, kids would be better off if states used “arranged marriages” to place them in homes with certified “professional parents” – parents ready to handle all the challenges and joys that adoption brings. When I was ten years old in the early 80s, I participated in an adoption fair.

My family of thirteen – two parents and eleven children – was dismantled when my youngest brother died of malnutrition.

And like speed dating events everywhere, there’s usually an imbalance in attendees (sometimes the adoptees outnumber the prospective parents) and everyone wears nametags.

Five irresistible children's picture books Alas these fairs are not all fun and games.

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