There is a need for more resources given to CASs, increased accountability and timelier in placing children in their forever homes
Kara* and Nick* are proud parents of a thriving, sweet five year old boy, placed with them at two years of age. However, the time to be selected as his parents took more than eight long, agonizingly months at a key developmental age.
Their journey began with discussions to adopt in July 2009. After months of research about requirements and adoption options they decided to start by contacting their local CAS in February 2010. When they finally reached someone, the conversation was brief and they were advised to obtain a private homestudy and PRIDE Training as the wait list was estimated to be a couple of years. In April 2010 Kara and Nick started their private PRIDE Training and homestudy and in July 2010 their homestudy was finalized. While having a private homestudy did not change their position on the wait list for their local CAS, it did allow them to pursue other opportunities to be considered as prospective adoptive parents, such as to attend the Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE) held in Toronto.
In October 2010, with encouragement from friends they had made through their PRIDE Training course, they attended what would be their first ARE. The experience was every bit as overwhelming and emotional as they had feared but they are so grateful they attended as that is where they learned about their son. After a number of hours watching videos, reviewing profile binders, and visiting booths to speak with social workers about children being presented, Kara and Nick expressed interest in being considered for a fourteen month old boy with special needs. They were advised it would take a few weeks to get through the list of applicants and then another month or two for the transition. If they hadn’t heard anything in a few weeks then most likely they weren’t short listed as prospective parents.
Kara and Nick left the ARE with love already growing in their hearts. “The more we read the information sheet and the more we reflected on our discussions with the social workers, the more we were sure we could meet this little boy’s needs”, says Kara. On their way home they contacted their adoption practitioner to provide information and ask that she call the agency to learn more and indicate her support of their suitability. The adoption practitioner’s call was the first contact made to the CAS without a response. Weeks went by without hearing from the agency and Kara and Nick tried to resign themselves to not having been selected. But somehow they could not get this little boy out of their minds nor put the information sheet away. They had already done research on what they knew of his requirements, making them more confident that they had the resources and abilities to meet his needs.
After weeks of waiting patiently, they tried emailing and eventually calling and leaving messages without ever reaching anyone or receiving a response. In February 2011 Kara and Nick contacted the ACO (whats this?) about getting on their AdoptOntario databank and while doing so discussed their wish to hear whether the little boy they had expressed interested in at the ARE had been placed. “A social worker with the ACO advised us that it was okay to politely persist in hearing something and to perhaps ask our adoption practitioner to reach out again”, says Kara. “Our adoption practitioner did just that and I or we finally heard back from the supervisor where we learned that due to staffing promotions and hiring, a decision had not been made for this little boy we had been dreaming of for more than 4 months”.
Discussions revealed more about the little boy’s needs. Kara and Nick did further research and became even surer of their ability to parent him. They had been told that by March a decision would be made for the little boy. March came and went without word. So Kara, Nick and their adoption worker tried to contact the social worker and supervisor again. When finally contacted they were told they’d hear by the end of April if selected. However, it was the middle of May before they learned that they were chosen to be his parents. After 8+ long months of waiting and hoping, he came home the end of June.
Kara and Nick are so grateful they were chosen and would go through the process and wait all over again for the joy of being parents to their son. They couldn’t be more proud of his developmental progress. Once services were in place, he had regular speech, physical, and occupational therapy weekly to aid him with his delays. He has now been discharged from all services, except speech, having met age appropriate milestones. The speech will require more therapy.
Those 8 months of waiting could have been spent loving, advocating for and working with, their son and they are sure he would be further ahead developmentally if he had come to them sooner as early intervention is paramount. Their son did not attend junior kindergarten to give him more time to catch up; time that may have been unnecessary if he could have been placed with them months sooner.
Kara and Nick would like to see more resources given to CASs and increased accountability so that they may be more responsive to prospective parents and timelier in placing children in their forever homes. While 8 months might not sound long when reflecting on a life time, it is extremely significant to the development and attachment of a young child in their formative years.
*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."