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.