When Deana* and Viktor* began dating, they were already discussing family. Deana
had a pre-teen daughter from her first marriage and Viktor established a strong parental bond with her quickly. After Deana and Viktor married, they began their quest to start a family.
When fertility treatments were unsuccessful, they approached adoption. They contacted their local CAS and were told that the only programme available was “Foster to Adopt”. This means that prospective families become foster parents, which means risking bonding with a child that may only be a temporary placement. They still decided to proceed and were lucky when they were matched with a beautiful baby girl to foster and completed her adoption in June of 2012.
After six months, Deana and Viktor were contacted to foster a 2 month old boy. Thrilled at the prospect, they eagerly cared for him, although they had no idea of the rough road ahead. While returning children to biological family is the primary goal of CAS, this child would be rehomed several times during his first year. At times, this was due to the biological mom’s substance abuse issues. In another placement, this was due to a disclosure that the boy had native ancestry. The child was therefore placed in a band related home with three other children under the age of 7. In the end, this placement broke down as it was revealed that the boy was five generations removed from native ancestry and did not meet the requirements to be registered with native status. Deana and Viktor were offered the chance to care for the boy again. They were told that their care would involve increased visits with the biological family. Feeling deceived and frightened, especially since the child had already been rehomed under false information about native status, they made the difficult decision to say no to the placement.
Deana and Viktor went on to foster another little boy for just short of a month, who was eventually placed with his 4 other siblings. Despite the joy this child brought into their lives, it was still very painful to bond and then have the relationship end. It was particularly difficult for extended family and all needed a lot of time to heal.
Viktor and Deana say through their experiences they have lost faith in the system. They perceive a preference for families who do not have children, even though they have experience with adoption. Likewise, they believe that children who have gone through trauma benefit from sibling support.
In their words, “Our entire family has been so hurt and damaged by this process. Our relationship with our worker and our agency has been up and down. Sometimes I feel like they are actually trying to help and sometimes I feel as though they are just using us and don’t care who gets hurt on our side of things”.
Each Children’s Aid Society is an independent body that can make their own regulations, so
long as they adhere to Ontario Family Law. To prevent another heartbreak via a foster care situation, this family has even considered moving to another region where there is an adoption only programme. Although Deana and Viktor continue to hope for another match, they are realistic that they may have to abandon their hopes to expand their family.
*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."