Older Youth Adoption
Melissa and Joel* had always planned to add to their family through adoption after having their biological children. 17 months after they started their adoption journey they met their (now) daughter. She was a smart, feisty, beautiful teenager named Emma, who was just shy of her 17th birthday.
“We learned that we were breaking a lot of ‘rules’ – adopting out of birth order, transracially, and of different religions. But enough of the right people believed that Emma needed a family and continued the conversation with us beyond the first call”, says Melissa. Just over a year later, shortly after Emma’s 18th birthday, the adoption was finalized and the whole family of 7 attended the ceremony in front of the judge.
So why is this story about Waiting Parents, the theme of this month’s Adopt for Life’s Campaign? Because it is about what CAN go right, and how families CAN be built successfully through the public system in Ontario. It’s about how with the right programs and resources every child and youth could find a home to grow up and grow old in.
This story is about 3 Ontario initiatives – working together – that brought our daughter to our family – AdoptOntario, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, Portability of Public/Private partnerships.
Emma’s worker was a Wendy’s Wonderful Kid recruiter – one of only 5 such positions in the province. WWK recruiters are funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and use an evidence-based, best-practice model to recruit families for waiting children.
Melissa and Joel first ‘met’ Emma on the AdoptOntario website and spoke directly to one of two clinical coordinators who helped make the first connection with Emma’s worker. Funded by MCYS, AdoptOntario is an award-winning program that has developed a number of effective tools to help CAS workers ‘find’ families for waiting children. There is no cost to anyone to use the program and yet only a small portion of Ontario waiting children are registered with the program.
Melissa and Joel had their homestudy completed by a Private Adoption Practitioner because their local agency could not accommodate them in a timely way. Emma’s worker accepted the homestudy and worked with the Private Worker to facilitate the placement. Many CASs will not accept a privately completed homestudy and families must complete a second process using the same assessment tool.
What is unexplainable is why these programs are not promoted and supported more. The oft used excuse of financial constraints just does not wash when one does the simple math of just how much it costs each year to keep a young person in foster care (close to $40,000 at last glance). These programs can show empirically based proof that the savings far outweigh the cost.
And really, this is much more then just a question of dollars and cents. It is a question of living in a Province where one knows that EVERYTHING that can be done, is being done, to find permanency for every child and youth living under government care. It should not be a “hit and miss” kind of experience when one tries to adopt through the public system— It is not good enough to say we are trying, because we CAN do better, it is NOT a mystery how. All we have to do is stop and ask “Would it be good enough for my child?”—and we have our answer.
*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."