By Rob More, an Adopt4Life Community Parent
I was recently reminded several times in the past month why it is so important to be connected with Adopt4Life.
My first reminder came through a presentation done at the Merrickville Legion. At that presentation, the audience was reminded that the Royal Canadian Legion was formed as the first peer support group in Canada in 1923. It was so important to the Canadian government that they actually wrote it as a charter giving it the same level of importance as Human Rights in Canada. The Queen also agreed allowing the word Royal to be attached to their name. Stephane Grenier has written eloquently on this subject pointing to research showing that peer support is a very effective method of counseling, https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/practice-management-and-wellness/6-Grenier-PeerSupport-e.pdf.
The second reminder came at my local church. We were talking about the fact people gravitate to those who understand them, partner with them, and are there for them when needed. The difficulty comes from the fact someone in crisis will go to someone else in crisis. This was one of our huge challenges with our daughter. She kept picking bad friends. Once she understood it is better to be with someone who provides good modeling, life has gotten much better for her. Through those good friends, she became part of a good community and support group. We give those friends huge credit and props for sticking with her because she sure didn’t make it easy. But that is what great friends do: stick with you no matter what and continue to believe in you.
My third reminder came from a close friend. She shared a story about being the local hospital emergency ward when a homeless man came in looking for a place to sleep. In our small town, the protocol is to offer a taxi chit to him and have him go to Ottawa mission.Thankfully, the man did not accept and moved along. I say thankfully because the man would have been removed from his support group otherwise. If he had accepted the chit, he would have dropped in an unknown place, placed with people who don’t know him, and his friends wouldn’t have known what happened to him. I know in our town, our homeless community watch out for each other and stick together. Their challenge is they have limited resources and supports to help them with their challenges.
My final reminder was a study done from Alberta by Dr. Ospina speaking about the prevalence of FASD amongst foster children in Alberta, http://fasd.alberta.ca/systematic-review.aspx. With Dr. Popova’s recent study in April demonstrating FASD prevalence is actually at the high end of the range, FASD prevalence amongst our Alberta foster children is placed at 52%. When you consider that Child Protection Services in our area are no longer encouraging Foster Parent Associations, cutting back on post-adoptive monies, and placing budgetary concerns above all else, Adopt4Life is so needed in this area. And to have them emphasize the importance of FASD education, this is a wonderful relationship.
While it is very old, having been written in 1624, and is not culturally sensitive, John Donne wrote a poem entitled “No Man is an Island” which has always stuck with me:
No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
Peer support recognizes that families’ and individual’s situations can be in any state at any time. When with a good facilitator, a group will quickly move to a ‘share’ format rather than an ‘explain’ format. And we find it so rare to be in that environment. We do a lot of explaining, and rarely sharing. We are all connected and when one of us is down, we are all down. And when one of us is up, we are all up. And through Adopt4Life’s organization, we have been introduced to each other as part of a supportive and critical community. If you would like to learn more about FASD, I invite you to follow the Rural FASD Support Network Facebook page and our blog www.giveusmorespecialneeds.blogspot.com
Rob More is an Adopt4Life member, blogger, parent, advocate and special needs teacher.