I began my adoption journey in summer of 2013. I inquired at the local CAS about becoming an adoptive single parent, attended orientation in fall of 2013, then completed PRIDE and my SAFE homestudy and became Adopt Ready in 2014. I cannot express strongly enough how much I learned in the PRIDE classes and how I value the friendships that I developed in those classes with other hopeful adoptive parents. That support network has been vital to maintaining hope on this long and sometimes painful journey.
The search for a match with a child has been lengthy and, at times, incredibly frustrating. There have not been many children placed with adoptive families in my region. My worker was open about the situation from the beginning and suggested that I might want to look at Adopt Ontario. I signed up for an account to review public profiles, and asked my worker to enter me in the matching database.
I started receiving matches in January 2015. My worker and I reviewed the profile of each potential match in detail. We talked about each child’s unique needs and challenges, as well as strengths. We discussed what parenting strategies might be effective and why some might be less effective or even harmful for the particular child. Ultimately, we decided that I was not the best match for these children. We repeated this process a couple times and it often took what felt like forever to get additional information from a child’s worker.
I attended the May 2015 ARE and expressed interest in several children. While it was more than a little overwhelming, the ARE allowed me to speak directly with workers who had information about the children being presented. It skipped through what had typically been weeks of back and forth emails or phone tag to get to a point where we could determine whether to proceed with the inquiry.
After the ARE, I felt hopeful, but it was not meant to be. For some children, I was excluded due to the geographical distance. I was one of 3 families considered for one child whom I felt a connection with. It was heart wrenching to find out I wasn’t selected. At that point, it was hard to feel hopeful.
A new match came through on the AO database not long after the ARE. When I reviewed his profile with my worker, I was immediately drawn to this child. My worker spent a considerable amount of time attempting to get further information. This process moved forward at such a slow pace that I truly did not believe I was being considered for the child. It took months from the initial inquiry, and then it took weeks to get answers to the additional questions we had.
A conference call was then setup with my worker, the child’s team, and myself. As the call drew to a close, I realized that I truly believed I’m supposed to be his parent. I was shocked and relieved to find out that I had been selected as the best match for him! This was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. And then I waited. And waited. Approximately a month after it was decided that we would move forward, the workers were scheduled to meet with the child’s caregivers to fill them in on the plan. That’s the stage we’re at now, and I continue to wait.
We started the process of inquiring about this child, who has been a crown ward for several years, before summer. We are now approaching the winter holiday season. This means that we will wait to start visits and work toward transition until the New Year, because it isn’t fair to ask the child to think about leaving the family he loves at a time of year that is supposed to be about love, family, and togetherness. He has had another birthday, and we will be in a new calendar year before we actually move forward.
If there was one thing I could change about the system, based on my experience, it would be to increase the sense of urgency around finding forever homes for children in care, especially those who have already been made crown wards. It simply takes too long for things to get done. A crown ward waiting multiple years before a permanency plan is developed is unacceptable. A family waiting weeks or months for information about a child, or to find out if there is a match, is simply too long.
If there was one thing I wouldn’t change for anything, it is my worker. She has been kind, compassionate, thorough, and organized. I know that if she says she’s looking into or following up on something, she is. When we review a child’s profile together, I trust that she is reading between the lines and giving me additional layers of insight into the child’s needs and challenges, well beyond what is written on the paper. She helps me to envision parenting the child, how it will change my life in both positive and challenging ways, and what parenting strategies I might want to learn more about. As we work through planning a lengthy transition, she is looking ahead to the various supports we may need and the things I will need to do to prepare. I am truly thankful that she was selected as my worker.
I am looking forward to the future. I can’t wait to meet and ultimately parent this child. I anticipate that there will be many challenges to overcome, some of which I probably can’t even fathom yet. But I also anticipate the love, laughter, accomplishments, and traditions we will share as a family. And I look forward to looking back at these weeks, months, and years of waiting and hoping, as a fond memory of how we became a family.