We need more support networks like this one in order to assist awaiting parents and adoptive parents become the best parents they can be to children who deserve nothing but the best.Read More
To any person who is reading this, no matter where you are in the process, please know, that no matter what, do not stop fighting. And that yes, there will be days where you will want to throw in the towel. Don’t. Just, don’t. You have to get up and try again. Why? Because that's what us parents do!Read More
This isn’t about blame. This is about recognizing the many ways our processes could be improved so that we get kids out of care and into permanent homes in a timely more effective manner.Read More
Ontario knows how to do it right! Adoption is a long process – the completion of the process shouldn’t be the only requirement allowed in order to be consider a family. Too often, we overlook what is right – A family in the process of becoming AdoptReady could be the perfect match!Read More
Riding the foster system is scary and very alone. You feel as though you are in a very dark place and you never know if tomorrow is the last as a family. There were so many court dates that never amounted to anything. 2 trials came and went. Then at age 4, she became a crown ward. Nearly 2 years later at almost 6 years old she still has no permanency. We still wait for the adoption to be finalized.Read More
I often feel guilty for wanting something that comes from someone else’s loss. It seems strange to want something so badly, and that in order for it to happen, another person has to go through pain, grief and even a crisis. Adoption is as excruciating as it is beautiful. It is love and it is loss. I feel guilty and I feel desperate. I have to keep thinking that things do unfold as they should, and people are brought into your life for a very special and specific reason - if they are meant to.Read More
We have decided that this ARE (Adoption Resource Exchange) will be our last. We desperately wanted to give our youngest daughter a sibling for her to grow up with and for us to love, but we can’t go on waiting for a placement phone call that only seems to happen when we have finally reached the point of taking up our lives again.Read More
Five months later (post ARE), Ashley and Joe are resigned to the fact that they are not being considered for any of the sibling groups. They never received any response.Read More
A year ago, Jennifer and Michael shared their experiences as awaiting parents. They were told by the children’s aid that they would be “dinosaurs” before they would adopt a child. They are happy to report that a few months ago, they were selected and transitioned 2 beautiful children into their home.Read More
But only days before the boys were to come to their home for the first time, they were blindsided by a call from their worker — the boys’ current foster parents, who were also extended family members, had changed their minds about permanency. They had filed a CFSRB complaint asking that the agency allow them to keep the boys in foster care, rather than placing them in a permanent adoptive family.Read More
If there was one thing I could change about the system, based on my experience, it would be to increase the sense of urgency around finding forever homes for children in care, especially those who have already been made crown wards. It simply takes too long for things to get done.Read More
I’m starting to believe that adoption agencies have a secret game. They ask you to fill-out form after form to attend this training and that training and just when you think you’re finally done with the registration, you find out you can’t yet be considered because you need still more training. It never ends. But the truth is, part of me doesn’t want it to end. It’s my only connection to adoption, the only way I feel like I’m moving closer to my goal.Read More
They contacted their local CAS agency and were told they would not be considered for intake because they would not be considered a transracial family, as they were not a mixed race couple. Likewise, they would not place a child of colour with them because they are both white, and would not place a white child with them because they had a child of colour.Read More
Thirteen years ago today, November 3, 2002 a precious baby boy was born! We didn’t k now this as Larry and I started on our incredible life journey and began collecting pertinent documents to begin the home study for an International Adoption. The seed was planted in our hearts and would continue to bloom. We were to become parents eventually. Having ventured onto an unchartered path, my husband and I entrusted our lives, personal information, fingerprints, bank account balance, police checks, FBI/Interpol checks, reference letters, all necessary documents to be forwarded to our Adoption Practitioner, Ministry of Youth and Children Services and a copy to Children’s Bridge in Ottawa, Canada. We exhaled after completing the first part of the home study. It was necessary in order to become a father and a mother. After the “hurry up and wait” scenario, holding your breathe and praying for that once in a lifetime phone call, it finally arrived!
Initial contact with our son happened when he turned one and we were matched as a family. We began our rapport with him and his foster family via Skype, phone calls and photos. We were in awe and everything seemed surreal. We were parents, yet we had no baby to physically embrace. We had to be extremely patient and try to go about our days with some routine and normalcy, in order to not succumb to the perils of the waiting game. In the meantime, Larry and I hired a private tutor to teach us the Thai culture, language, cuisine and the do’s and don’ts of a very proud nation. We received more than a teacher, we gained a life-long friend and family member who continues to be in our lives.
Six weeks earlier, I stood, broken-hearted and holding back my tears, whilst offering a eulogy to my beloved Grandmother Lee (RIP), who peacefully closed her eyes forever at 98 years of age. At her funeral service, I boldly asked a favour, that my grandmother, who conversed with her Thai grandson only by phone, needed to ask God to get the government authorities to allow us to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand to meet our son for the first time. Six weeks later to the day the phone rang! Our greatest joy was bestowed upon us when we arrived at the Chiang Mai International Airport on the 15th September 2004. Our eldest son Chayodom was born from our heart and placed in our arms! Our lives became enriched and our forever family was born.
Throughout the Adoption Process, there was not a single thing that went wayward, off the path or backfired, everything went smoothly from the moment we started the home study to the day we arrived in Thailand. The waiting game was the only invisible hurdle. From the time we landed in that exotic locale to the day that our son received Canadian Citizenship two years passed.
On the contrary, the adoption process within Canada took a different spin with our youngest son. My husband and I thought that we had mastered the approach and that it would be similar, if not the same, with the subsequent adoption. Little did we know! Murphy’s Law kicked in, right from the beginning and continues to play a pivotal role in our youngest son’s status in Canada. Having been to Thailand several times and experienced the adoption process for both sons, be it in their birthplace or in Canada, Larry and I can boldly say, that there are glitches and road blocks within the Provincial and Federal Government in regards to international adoption, especially involving Thailand. We started the adoption journey thirteen years ago, one that embraces two beautiful, precious sons. With a unique perspective of dealing with the Department of Social and Development and Welfare (DSDW – Bangkok, Thailand) twice and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC – Federal) and OHIP Card (Provincial) twice, our greatest challenges have been with our own country!
Throughout our youngest son’s adoption process, never did we feel that we made a mistake to have Chayodom share life with a younger brother. We felt we needed to move through the process and learn from the experience. Having acquired unwavering support from our adoption practitioner (Patricia Fenton MSW, RSW – former Executive Director of the Adoption Council of Ontario) who helped us both times, we quickly realized that the Canadian process for adopting internationally became a continual hiccup our second time around. Our medical records were lost had to be re-done, police check not received, had to be re-done; then documents were submitted for Part One of Homestudy. We were already parents of Chayodom, who was around 3 years old. In the meantime, as we became more familiar with the process and learned who were the people behind the scenes, orchestrating and matching the families in both countries, we began to take note and learn the process from a different perspective. During this time, Larry was granted a temporary assignment in the Middle East. Prior to accepting a job offer in the Arabian Gulf Peninsula, we had to ask permission from Friends for ALL Children Adoption Agency (FFAC), Bangkok, Thailand and Hope Adoption Agency (HAA), Abbotsford, BC - who was the Canadian Facilitator between Children’s Bridge (CB), Ottawa and FFAC Thailand). At this point, we took direction from FFAC, HAA and our Adoption Practioner Patricia Fenton. We were transparent and everyone knew about the job offer abroad. Miraculously, we received the okay from all involved with an agreement that, as soon as FFAC and HAA received the official word that we were matched with our youngest child, that Larry, Chayodom and I would return immediately to Toronto! In March 2008 (Kuwait City) we received the second most important call of our lives and we prepared to pack up and move back home to Canada. Our beautiful son Natanael was born on the 22nd November 2005 and living with a foster family in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As soon as we found out that we were matched, we began bonding with our son and his foster family via Skype, photos and phone calls. We connected with a voice and fell in love with a beautiful, radiant smile, allowed us to continue on the path of building a stronger and expanding Forever Family. We managed to forgot about all the hassles and headaches of lost documentation that did not find its’ way to the Homestudy Folder(s) for the various Adoption Agencies. Notwithstanding, Natanael’s Adoption had proven to be challenging in more ways than one.
We had our luggage packed with numerous gifts and items to remain in Thailand for a period of six weeks. We felt that a healthy, “minimal stress” scenario would be best for Natanael, his foster family and for Chayodom who would have to share his mom and dad’s love with a sibling. By now, our eldest was 6 years old and Natanael was 3 years old. On the eve of departure, at 20:00 Friday evening with a 10:00 AM Saturday morning flight for Southeast Asia, we received a phone call from one of the agencies, advising that the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok would require an additional $200.00 CAD to release our son’s Canadian Ministerial Visa Permit (attached to his Thai Passport). Furthermore, our Family Class Adoption Sponsorship would no longer be one of Permanent Residency, but a Temporary Visa Permit! No time for questions and no need to stress out, we had 24 hours of flying ahead of us and travelling with a young child to meet Natanael. We arrived in Chiang Mai (“New City”), a beautiful, international city, with several Universities and Embassies, exquisite cuisine, beauty and an array of bright colours. A destination, a birthplace and a second home away from home, which was filled with a mélange of Hill Tribes, Thais and Expats! Arrival in Chiang Mai, offered us a sense of serenity, happiness and eagerness to embrace our family of four! Our six week vacation/transition and obligatory visits to the DSDW for the official Registration of Adoption, seemed to have moved rather smoothly, despite a major City Wide March and a Barricade that almost made us loose our window of opportunity to attend a very important meeting on time.
Immediately after receiving the Thai Government’s Stamp of Approval to proceed with Natanael to the Canadian Embassy to obtain his Thai Passport. Nerves of steel play a pivotal role at this point. With Canadian cash in hand, we paid the additional, required fee without any viable explanation as to why any of this is happening. We were told to go back to Canada and speak with our local politicians. We learned that their office misplaced the last and final document that belongs to our son’s medical records. After counting the tiny dots on the ceiling and pacing the floors and watching all the other adoptive families enter one by one, we finally were told that one piece of paper was found. Furthermore, the Granting of Temporary Residency for an International Adoption was the game changer and where our story will have to be paused. This was just the tip of the Iceberg, as to what the Canadian Government had in store for us! We returned safely home to Toronto on the 2nd of November 2008 with two awesome sons! Our Forever Family was finally together!
Albeit the misfortunes, glitches and some tense moments, Larry and I try to see the world through the eyes of a child and continue to love and cherish Chayodom and Natanael. Seven years ago Nate the Great set foot on Canadian soil for the first time. What a Defining Moment! It has also been a journey of enlightenment, as well as frustration with CIC and Service Ontario. During this Journey, I have morphed into a mother with a mission who uses her voice. I continue to struggle with both levels of government in order to obtain Canadian Citizenship and acquire recognition of our surname on his provincial paperwork with proof of ID and names using his federally issued document. I now advocate and continue to bring awareness to MPP’s/MP’s. Empathy has been omitted from the rapport between the government and the adoption community, be it international or domestic. Documentation for entering Canada is different, depending on where the child is born and the waiting times for receiving Canadian documents also travels at a snail’s pace. Moreover, the Provincial and Federal Governments need to converse and find a symbiotic method of dealing with the issues, flaws and omissions, find a solution that empowers rather than hinders, one that includes rather than excludes. Children are children, regardless of their place of birth.
Our families allow us to be held together by an invisible strong thread, one that will give us strength, courage and wisdom to protect our children, and to make a difference in our society.
“Even on the most difficult days, we held onto the glimmer of hope that it would all fall into place as it should.”Read More
Our Canadian government needs to ensure that it has the resources available to process applications like ours relatively quickly. For what’s at stake are the health, education, and general welfare of children of Canadian citizens.Read More
As Adopt4Life’s 30 Days 30 Stories Awaiting Parent campaign comes to an end, we would like to reflect back on what has been learned and summarize the important recommendations our awaiting parents and youth have made.
November is Adoption Awareness month and in support of this many Adopt4Life awaiting parents and youth bravely shared their stories of challenges and triumphs, allowing us to learn from their experiences. We certainly heard that whether adopting internationally, publicly or privately, building a family through adoption is a lengthy and complex process, requiring immense patience, persistence and commitment. Those families that embark on this journey do so because they have incredible desire to love and parent a child or children. To become adopt paper ready, prospective adoptive parents must prove they are able to provide safe, loving and nurturing homes where their children can reach their full potential.
There are 7,000 children and youth in care in Ontario awaiting families and according to the OACAS over the next 12 months, over 1,000 youth will “age out” of care in Ontario. Leaving government care without a lifelong family, the outcomes for these youth are poor. Yet the Dave Thompson Foundation for Adoption tells us that, ‘by every measure, children adopted from care have better outcomes than children who age out’.
We know from our outreach and membership that there are many adopt ready parents longing to welcome children into their hearts and homes but are waiting years to become adopt ready and matched with their children. We also have heard that the process can be so lengthy and difficult that we are losing qualified parents who give up on the system. Ontario can do better! How can we match in a timely manner these awaiting children and parents so that all of Ontario’s children have ‘a family to grow up and grow old in’?
The stories this month spoke of families obtaining private homestudies and PRIDE training to become adopt paper ready more quickly but that not all Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) recognized their private homestudies even though the homestudy assessment tool (SAFE) and the parent education curriculum (PRIDE) are supposed to be the same whether adopting internationally, publicly or privately. Our awaiting parents would like to have the government mandate portability of SAFE and PRIDE and that this be consistently enforced across the province. This would save agencies money as they would not need to dedicate resources and time to redoing the lengthy and intensive homestudy assessment process where families have already completed theirs privately.
Of great concern are the families that are giving up on the adoption process because of inaccurate information, lengthy waits, lack of timely responses and education, and challenges navigating the complex adoption process. To improve upon this, awaiting parents recommend the government create a centralized adoption application intake and set timelines for SAFE and PRIDE, allowing for data collection of AdoptReady families in the province, provincial matching of families with awaiting children, and a central authority for having concerns addressed.
Finally, it is important to look at what CAN go right and how families can be built successfully through the public adoption system. Melissa and Joel’s story gave evidence to how 3 Ontario initiatives working together helped bring their daughter home to them - AdoptOntario, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, and Portability of Public/Private Partnerships. There is sound reason to promote and support these evidence-based child specific family recruitment programs that already exist in Ontario. Funded by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, AdoptOntario exists to support the critical connection of Ontario families with waiting children. The program is currently underused and undervalued despite having demonstrated that it can support both families and CAS adoption workers effectively and efficiently, finding permanent homes for children. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) Recruiters exist in only 4 Ontario CASs. Funding to support at least one WWK recruiter in each CAS would be money well directed in the successful placements of waiting children, particularly older youth.
One thing we have seen for sure this month, adoptive and prospective adoptive parents are finding their voice as a positive and influential body for change in Ontario. November 2014 has been a momentous month; let’s keep the momentum going with continued dialogues and action towards understanding the problems and bringing about improvements that will mean #AHome4EveryKid! Ontario can do better but we must do it together, working with our partners in government and all stakeholders in the adoption process! Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents and adoption professionals are invited to join Adopt4Life - membership is free! We know that the larger our numbers, the louder our collective voice. You can help us help Ontario do better for our adoptive families and awaiting children by being counted!
Martin and Lori began their adoption journey in 2012 with a call to their local CAS. In their first phone call, they were informed that due to their culture and age of child they were seeking (under 6yrs of age) they would be unlikely able to meet the needs of any of the children at CAS. They were advised to consider international or private adoption.
Lori and Martin decided to invest in a private homestudy and completed their PRIDE training. They became “AdoptReady” in February 2014 and were working with an international program. Since Lori is of Polish heritage and her husband German, they selected Lithuania as it has an excellent adoption program and is the closest country geographically to their own heritage to allow international adoption. They both know the importance of cultural heritage and felt this would make it possible to maintain healthy ties.
Lori and Martin were selected on two occasions, for two different boys. Unfortunately in both cases, other parents came forward whom the Lithuanian agency felt would be better suited for these children.
International adoption is a very expensive endeavour. Already, the private Ontario homestudy had cost thousands, as had practitioner fees for Lithuania. Money factors aside, they were heartbroken after their two declines.
By this time, Lori and Martin had done a lot more research and talking to other adoptive families which expanded their thoughts about adoption. They were also inspired by a young girl who spoke at their PRIDE training who was adopted at fourteen. Lori was previously a high school teacher and often worked with youth who had trauma as well as developmental needs. They now felt open and excited about adopting older children.
They reached out again to their local CAS. The answer was still the same, despite now being an AdoptReady family. After insisting on speaking with an adoption worker they were told that they should attend in-take. Unfortunately, the next session was not for five months. Likewise, the homestudy they had paid for and was approved by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services was not sufficient for CAS. Updates would be required and this could not happen until after in-take.
During the wait for the next in-take session, Lori and Martin applied for two children at the Adoption Resource Exchange, as well as a sibling group of two via their private practitioner. In the case of the children from ARE: months passed with no communication, files were lost, and they were not shortlisted for either child. They were also not selected for the sibling group.
Lori and Martin have now ceased their efforts to adopt. They no longer have confidence in the adoption system in Ontario. This is certainly not because they weren’t selected as prospective parents. While devastating, they know different parents bring unique strengths. Rather, Martin and Lori’s experiences lead them to believe that the system is bloated and broken. It is this loss of trust that prevents them from continuing.
For more about their story visit: www.dorothywasadopted.workpress.com
More and more, the Portability of Homestudy has become an issue for many prospective families. Slowing down a process that is already riddled with obstacles, lack of portability keeps kids in care longer then need be.
Bill* and Melinda* live in Northern Ontario, 10+ hours north of Toronto. They have been adopt ready on paper since July 2012 and have been working with their local CAS for 2+ years. Despite having close contact with their adoption worker they have not been successful in growing their family to date. They have also been in contact with AdoptOntario in hopes of a match but after spending hours on the web site and talking to the AdoptOntario workers they have not recieved any response back so far. At this point they have become discouraged, coming to the conclusion that living in Northern Ontario is a disadvantage when trying to adopt a child through the public system.
Remaining determined to grow their family by adoption, Bill and Melinda recently reached out to a private adoption agency to improve their odds of being matched with a child. However, they have hit a road block as the CAS will not release their publically funded home study to their private adoption practitioner. Without their homestudy, they are not able to explore adoption options outside of their local CAS. After more than two years since being adopt ready, they feel they have shown their commitment to the CAS and now it is appropriate to reach further afield. In talking with Bill and Melinda they said, “We cannot understand why the CAS is being proprietary about our homestudy when it contains our personal and private information, including medical reports, police checks, finger prints, and references obtained to meet the SAFE requirements”. SAFE homestudies and PRIDE Training are supposed to be standardized and consistently applied for international, private, and public adoptions.
Not to be deterred, Bill and Melinda decided to attend the Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE) this November which was fortunately a positive experience for them. Talking with the various social workers from the different CAS agencies across the province, they were reassured that living in Northern Ontario does not affect their chances of adopting in most cases. Certainly, where they live there are many resources available to them to help integrate the children into their family and support the children through counselling, speech and language therapy, occupational and physiotherapy. There is also a family health team that is very active and supportive in the community.
This couple is highly motivated and have proven through their completed homestudy that they are able to provide a loving home to a child or sibling group. It is a shame that they are having such a difficult time fulfilling their dream of becoming parents through adoption. Along with other awaiting parents, Bill and Melinda would like to see portability of homestudies across platforms mandated by the government and this properly enforced. Whether a family has their homestudy completed privately or publicly it should be available and accepted for all types of adoptions, allowing families to expand their reach in their adoption journey. In order to look out for the best interest of children unable to remain in their biological family then, Ontario should work to ensure that qualified prospective adoptive parents are able to be matched in a timely manner; otherwise we risk these families giving up on the system.