Following ARE - How long are prospective parents expected to wait after submitting expressions of interest?
In 2008 David and Chantelle married and were excited to start a family. They thought it would come easily for them as they were both healthy and young. They bought a house in a small community, close to schools, hospital, and community centres - all important considerations for raising a family.
After a year, they became concerned as Chantelle was still not pregnant. They sought medical care and it was determined they were not able to conceive without medical intervention. Discussing their options, they decided to do fertility treatments. After several years of trying to conceive, and many failed attempts at invitro fertilization, among other procedures, they were diagnosed as infertile.
This did not deter Chantelle and David, they still held the dream of becoming parents. In September 2012 they decided that adopting was another great way to form a family. Chantelle spent many hours researching on the Internet the different adoption options.
They knew Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) was the agency to adopt from but they had not heard great feedback. Despite this, Chantelle called her local CAS office to try to gain some information. After playing phone tag with a CAS worker for a month, Chantelle finally learned there was an information session offered about adopting. This session was being held several months down the road so Chantelle attempted to call another CAS in her area. When she finally was able to speak with someone they told her “you must work with your local CAS only.” As a result Chantelle and David had no choice but to wait for the information session held by their local CAS.
When Chantelle and David attended the adoption information session in early December 2012 they were shocked to hear some of the information provided. CAS told them that to adopt a baby to young child it would be up to a 10 year wait. It was stated that older children were available to adopt however they had moderate to severe disabilities or high behavioral concerns. As Chantelle works with children that have disabilities they felt they could be a good match for children with special needs, but they had some concerns that there were no supports in place once children were adopted. They were also told that homestudies done privately were not valid with the CAS. Hearing so many discouraging things, Chantelle and David decided to look into more options.
To be proactive Chantelle and David signed up privately for the mandated PRIDE adoptive parent training course in December 2012. They also found a private adoption practitioner who was willing to perform their homestudy and complete it as soon as possible.
Their homestudy started the same month as the training and was a very long and drawn out process. The questions asked were intrusive and personal. They found the homestudy procedure and meetings with the adoption practitioner overwhelming, stressful and very straining on their relationship After several months, Chantelle and David were finally approved in February 2013.
Late in March 2013 Chantelle and David learned of the Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE) from their social worker – a venue where CASs from across the province present children in need of families. Booths were set up with different children featured from different locations. Potential parents were encouraged to read a two sided page about a child and then put an application in to express interest in being considered as a potential adoptive parent if they felt they would be a good match for the child(ren). The ARE reminded Chantelle and David of a trade show, they were both excited to see the profiles and shocked to see how many children were available.
After spending all afternoon looking at childrens’ profiles they decided to put in an application of expression of interest for a sibling group and a little boy. The CAS workers indicated to Chantelle and David that they were very likely to be seriously considered for the siblings, two boys, because of David’s aboriginal heritage. Chantelle and David were 1 of 3 potential parents that had expressed interest. They were told at the ARE that, if selected, the children could be placed in their home by July 2013. Chantelle and David left the ARE feeling very excited and positive. They went home and started to prepare for their future family.
As weeks went by Chantelle and David provided the CAS workers with their home study and all other necessary documents. Chantelle stayed in close contact via phone and email, eager to show their suitability as prospective parents. Chantelle was told by the worker that it could take a couple of weeks to get through the 3 applications. So Chantelle and David called back at the end of May. Again the worker stated that they should be making a decision soon.
Time went on and Chantelle and David waited to hear about the sibling group. By July 2013 Chantelle had left several messages for the worker but heard nothing back. She tried calling another worker still without replies. She and David were quickly getting frustrated. Finally in September 2013 they made the decision to try private adoption. While preparing for a private adoption they still quietly waited to hear about the boys they had applied for. They had purchased clothes and other items for them, never losing hope.
Not long after pursuing private adoption, a birth mother chose them to be parents of her unborn son. As they got to know the birth mother they developed a great relationship with her. The birth mother’s child was due in January 2014. Chantelle and David grew more and more excited about the little boy coming home.
One afternoon in late December 2013, when they were packing for their trip to go to Nunavut to meet with the birthmother of their soon to be born son, Chantelle received a call from their adoption practioner. Apparently CAS had contacted her to ask if Chantelle and David were still interested in the boys. Chantelle couldn’t believe it! After months of waiting to hear something and calling repeatedly without reply, CAS had finally got back to them ! However it was too late. Chantelle and David had already made a commitment to this birth mother and were looking forward to this child from Nunavut.
Chantelle politely told the social worker that they were about to adopt a baby from Nunavut and would sadly be unable to adopt the sibling group. They both felt guilty for moving on and wanted to know why CAS had taken to so long to get in touch with them. Chantelle emailed the CAS worker to ask and was told “they had a number of staffing changes and foster family placement changes.” Ultimately resource constraints meant that these children remained in care for 8+ months unnecessarily and they missed out on being part of a family that loved them before they even met them – a family that shared their aboriginal heritage.
For Chantelle and David their adoption experience was frustrating when working with the Children’s Aid Society.
Today Chantelle and David have adopted a healthy baby boy named Brock. Brock is from Nunavut and is of Inuit heritage. They have a great relationship with his birthmother. The private adoption worked for Chantelle and David, and they feel blessed to be parents. However, they still think about the sibling group – the two little boys that were denied a permanent home with them.
*A pseudonym has been used in this story
Disclaimer "These stories are the perspectives of awaiting parents. Adopt4Life aims to give parents a voice, and as such stories remain unchanged even if they may appear controversial. It is the hope of Adopt4Life that by bringing awareness to the thoughts and feelings of families, together we can work to bring change that benefits everyone."