I awoke from a night of crying in my room, in a state of disbelief. Somehow I managed to pack lunches and make breakfast for the kids and drive them to school. I tried to console my youngest crying in the backseat as my oldest pretended she was fine, sniffling and fighting back tears.
When my children came home, I took parental leave. My work had a shower for me; friends bought presents; complete strangers on the Go Train were sharing in my joy. The workers had told me they were impressed by my natural ability, the progress I made and were pleased the kids were so happy. So this didn’t make sense. My heart was breaking. How could this happen? Why were they going back? I had been matched with them since October of 2013 and was in love with them ever since.
I was completely devastated by the news as I returned home to pack up their things. It had been explained to me verbally and in writing that they would be with me permanently. They would be with me as “Foster with a View with the intent to adopt”. I was told that worst case scenario would be that they never agree to adoption and stay as foster till their 18th birthdays. That didn’t matter to me as in my heart they were part of the family either way.
Children’s Aid had advised the night before that I had to send my kids back to their previous foster home. My youngest couldn’t breathe. She was hyper-ventilating, crying, begging to stay. She told the worker she loved me, my family, my dogs and wanted to be adopted. I was so happy to hear those words as we had not discussed adoption yet. Her sister was more stoic about the news. She seemed to expect another move, another disappointment. I felt I had failed her when I had only just gained her trust. I assured her I did not want her or her sister to go. I tried to remain strong and explained an error had occurred and so they have to go back for now but that I would work with our CAS to start the adoption process so that they could come back to me as soon as possible.
As I tried to fight for their return, I was faced with continued incompetence. I don’t believe it was malicious but there was error after error. Lack of compassion, respect and accountability were also common themes. The workers were trying hard but somebody else seemed to be calling the shots. No one was listening. No one ever asked the kids or the kids’ worker about their wants before returning them to foster care. No one cared that I was on parental leave and now had to return to work and somehow explain I no longer have the kids. Difficulties with the foster parent impeding visitation only worsened the situation.
Sadly in the end, after suspected manipulation, my kids decided they didn’t want to be adopted. This is hard to comprehend as my youngest repeatedly made it clear she wanted to be adopted. Somehow, that changed and she couldn’t explain why. The foster family put up walls CAS did not seem to want to climb.
I’ve now been pushed out by CAS. I have no information on how my children are. CAS chose me as they knew I would love them and advocate for them as my own but now they tell me I have to move on. Could they walk away from their child? I am not naïve. I do understand that legally they were not yet mine but try telling my heart otherwise. How is keeping them in a foster home with no intent of adoption better than a home who is willing to foster, but who is also available to proceed with adoption should they ever change their mind down the road?
Sadly I have learned there are many others who have tragic stories regarding their adoption process. Changes need to be made.
- Standardized Processes – Ensure all CASs follow the same processes
- Compliance - Compliance checks need to be done to ensure processes are being followed accordingly.
- Collaboration - Increased collaboration amongst CAS, agencies and prospective parents
- Accountability - There needs to be more accountability and a better complaint process
- Compassion - I know the priority is and should always remain the child, but they need to realize how this is affecting our lives too. It wasn’t just me who was devastated by the loss of my kids but my entire family. My mom even sold her house and moved closer so she can help me with the kids and then they were gone.
- Clearer Expectations - I recommend one of the PRIDE sessions solely be regarding what to expect from the process, the different components, what your worker will do for you, and most importantly what could go wrong.
This isn’t about blame. This is about recognizing the many ways our processes could be improved so that we get kids out of care and into permanent homes in a timely more effective manner.
Today I will be looking through the pictures of my kids and remembering the fun times we had. I know they know I love them. I told them multiple times a day. I can only hope they too are thinking of me and reach out to me so we can start this journey again.