Mary* is a waiting parent. She loves the way that sounds, as in her head she is already a Mom … just needing to find the child who will become her kid.
Her journey with adoption has, like all others, been very emotional. It started many years ago when the thought flashed through her head that if she wasn’t a Mom by some other method by the time she was 40, she would consider adoption. The story really begins, though, with a decision made 3 years ago at the age of 37 when it occurred to her that waiting until she was 40 was totally arbitrary, and she was already ready. A few months of consideration and planning, and she made the first call to the local CAS in February 2012. To her, a local CAS adoption was the only choice, and was the best option as a single person. With the focus often on babies and toddlers, she decided that she was open to an older child (4-14), and was sure that it could not be long before she was a parent. With all the children out there in foster homes waiting for permanency, this should not be difficult, right?
Mary was one of the lucky ones in that her PRIDE training and Homestudy were completed relatively quickly, as she is single and has an easy schedule. However, it has been a tough road since then. She has purposely kept her options open, as she believes that when the right child is presented, she will just know.
She has a second bedroom set up with the basics (bed, nightstand, empty closet), but it has sat empty for over a year. In the meantime, she has been presented with 10+ profiles of waiting children, only to have something not feel right, or more information discovered that makes her a poor match.
In 2013, Mary attended an ARE and as she says, “I was absolutely beside myself happy when I saw the profile of a particular teenager, and felt optimistic about not only my ability to parent this child, but also the reaction from the social worker who was on hand.” For months she waited over vacations and holidays, experienced delayed communications, miscommunications, and eventually was told that it was not to be. Heartbroken, it felt as close to a miscarriage as she can imagine. She had already spent so much time picturing this child in her life, how the bedroom could be decorated, activities that they could do, developmental work that would need to be sorted out. Being a young teen, she was already thinking of what high school in the area would be best for this child, and how soon she could set up an RESP. She cried many tears. But had to pick herself up, and start again.
Since then, Mary was presented a few more profiles, and immediately connected with another pre-teen. From what she knew of the child, this had the potential to be a great match. Again, months went by and she got more and more excited. She was sure that there was a good chance this would work out. And, again, there was disappointment. And so she says, “I am still a Mom without a child.”
Mary has been frustrated throughout this process by the delays and roadblocks. She knows that she is not her social worker’s priority. The kids are the priority, as it should be. But she is saddened by the lack of resources to match waiting parents to waiting kids, given that the benefits of adoption are so great. She understands the need to keep private child-related information close when considering parents, but there has to be an easier way for prospective parents to participate in this process! AdoptOntario is a great resource, but still only has 20-30 children listed at a time, and many of these profiles stay up for months (years?) at a time. AREs are great, but few and far between. Mary feels she is very lucky to have an amazing social worker. She knows that he is doing his best to make sure that eventually she will be matched to the right child. But social workers across the province are overworked, and have so many competing priorities, that it can make it hard to get even basic information about waiting children. Kids are aging out of the system unnecessarily, and will never know the kind of permanence they need. With so many waiting parents, especially those open to the idea of adopting a teen, why is this so hard?
*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."