“You Are Not Alone.”
That’s the reason I started Adopt4Life, more than two years ago. I knew so many adoptive families firsthand who were struggling, and who needed help. My own family needed help. What we shared in common was a sense of isolation, a fear that no one else understood our challenges, a huge weight that we didn’t know how best to respond to the unique needs of our adopted children – many who had experienced traumatic histories and were themselves struggling. Those words that I most often shared with new and waiting adoptive parents, “you are not alone”, were at the heart of what I hoped Adopt4Life could become. Among other things, I envisioned a vibrant, engaged community of adoptive families in Ontario, sharing their insights, their joys, and their fears - normalizing their experiences and supporting each other’s successes.
That’s why I am proud as we take the next step in our journey, with the launch of Adopt4Life’s expanded Parent2Parent Support Network. Adopt4Life’s existing communities for adoptive families are growing significantly - greatly increasing our ability to help Ontario parents develop the necessary parenting skills and confidently meet the critical needs of their children. As a result, the program is expected to increase the number of Ontario families pursuing adoption, from helping them prepare for placement and continuing throughout their lifelong journey; while also increasing knowledge in parents and professionals of the key issues often present in adoption, thereby reducing the isolation adoptive families often feel and ultimately strengthening permanency.
“Despite all the preparation we had done, the reading, the researching, the talking to other parents…we quickly realized that the parenting is quite different than reading it.”
“After hearing the shocking adoption disruption statistics, and recently witnessing one, I've come to realize that it is crucial for adoptive families to be able to connect with each other. There needs to be extensive post adoption support, and the best form of that is from others who understand.”
“The people that would have had the answers were other adoptive parents that have gone through the same experiences.”
“For adoptive families these needs of support and celebration are even greater because the needs of our families go beyond ‘regular’ parenting due to the experiences of our children.”
Those are the voices of our Adopt4Life community; adoptive parents who have experienced firsthand the critical importance of an experienced, caring community who can who can encourage, empathize, guide, and support. The journey is not always easy, but together we can make it. We are stronger together.
Under the expanded Parent2Parent Support Network, a growing team of Provincial and Regional Parent Liaisons across Ontario will provide parent-to-parent support; identify local therapeutic, respite and other resources for parents; create and enhance parent support groups; and pair families for ongoing support through a buddy and mentor program. Parent2Parent supports will be delivered through accessible online and social communities, as well as private, face-to-face support groups and individual, in-person meetings.
I’m thrilled to welcome our Provincial Parent Liaisons, Kimberly Sanzo and Erin Ingard Rau, along with our first Regional Parent Liaisons, who will engage locally with adoptive parents in their respective regions: Lauri Cabral (Ottawa), Heather Snydz and Lesli Bartlett (Kitchener-Waterloo) – you can learn more about each of them on our website. As the program continues to expand, we will add new Regional Parent Liaisons across the province to engage directly with our growing community.
We will continue to work collaboratively to connect adoptive parents with resources and adoption education programs from the Adoption Council of Ontario, Ministry of Children & Youth Services, as well as local Ontario Children’s Aid Societies. Adopt4Life will create directories of agencies, professional services, training, and support groups to support adoptive families across Ontario, as well as track member needs to facilitate buddy and mentorship matching. For example, Adopt4Life may pair families who are raising children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), or Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), or families raising trans-racially adopted children, or sibling groups.
If you are already an adoptive parent, a newly matched parent, or a waiting parent, it’s easy to become part of our community. Simply join as a member of Adopt4Life (it’s free), and our Parent Liaisons will quickly help connect you to other parents like you, and the right resources in your area.
You are not alone. We are stronger together.
It’s what continues to drive me everyday.