By: Ann Tichelaar Swerdfeger. Regional Parent Liaison for the Central Region
I have been with Adopt4Life for a little over 6 months in a 10 hour a week contract role. Although I have years of experience working with children and their families who have experienced their own host of challenges, I truly came into this role with not fully realizing the value! The value for the families that we support; the value in the community connections that are made; and the rewarding experiences that not only myself but my family have been a part of!
Yes, absolutely there is a tremendous amount of paperwork, sometimes an erroneous task and many times I feel as if I am always behind with. However, thankfully it is the connections that I am making with families and in the Community that have been so rich that it makes all the crossing of t’s and dotting of I’s worthwhile!
I live in a rural community southwest of Woodstock, every major city is about a 45 minute drive away. And YES, absolutely—the drive is not so great sometimes! However, this quiet, rural community is perfect for my family! We would not trade our small comforts in for big town conveniences! Nevertheless small town living is not perfect. One of the down falls of living in a small town, is not knowing other families who have been through adoption. Although we read lots of stories of different families and we are very open in our conversations about what adoption means, at the end of the day my daughter feels like she is the only child that has been adopted.
In August, we hosted a summer potluck dinner at a campground outside of Kitchener for Adopt4Life families. The weather was perfect, assortment of food was delicious and the venue was spot on! There was a covered picnic area, playground and pond for the children to swim in. My own son and daughter came with me to join in on the festivities. Nervous at first, both were quite timid around the other children but warmed up quickly when allowed to go swimming. While chatting with another mom on the shore watching our 2 daughters play in the water, mine looks at me with one of the biggest most beautiful smiles on her face and announces “Mom! She’s adopted just like me!”
Reflecting on why I do what I do—I think of my daughter. It was her experience and allowing me to share in her joy of knowing that she isn’t the only one, that I now get it; Adopt4Life is for our children as much as it is for us parents. Adopt4Life is about community! This is my why!
Ann Tichelaar Swerdfeger