MoE Directive to Directors of Education, Regarding Motherisk Commission
To: Bruce Rodrigues Bruce.firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry of Education
Bruce Rodrigues, Deputy Minister of Education
We are writing with our immediate and urgent request that you withdraw your March 20th directive to Ontario Directors of Education that they distribute to schools and students the flyer from the Motherisk Commission: “Were you taken from your parent by the Children’s Aid Society?” Further, we ask that you urgently notify all Boards and Directors to tell staff who have already posted the flyer (in print or online) to remove it.
Families across Ontario are expressing significant concerns over this communication to Ontario schools, and the lack of consideration it shows for vulnerable children across the province:
- The language and tone in the flyer vilifies Children’s Aid Societies, which provide an essential service in our province. The flyer also creates fear in the minds of children that the Children’s Aid Society will “take them” from their families. Further, some of the information is factually incorrect in suggesting that all CAS agencies used the Motherisk hair tests, and that these tests were consistently used “to see” if parents were using drugs or alcohol;
- The generalized statement about children being “taken from their parent” ignores the role of adoptive parents in a child’s life, and de-legitimizes the permanency of adoptive families;
- Generally, the flyer creates fear in all children that they could be “taken away from their parent” at any time; but in particular, it is a clear trigger to children who have been placed into foster care or adopted in Ontario;
- Within the adoption community, we are mindful to keep our children’s stories private and confidential as they are not ours to share. This communication has the potential to expose our children to emotional and psychological harm, with little regard for providing them with any level of support or guidance.
It’s important to acknowledge that even if the Ministry of Education’s directive is retracted, students and families across the province have already been exposed to the damaging messages included in it. It is critical that school staff and families have the support and information they need to control and respond to this harm in the best interests of children. Thus, we are further asking that the Ministry of Education ensure that educators are equipped with information, facts, and culturally appropriate strategies to participate in meaningful dialogue with affected students and with their peers (who may make inappropriate comments or bully students who were, in fact, “taken from a parent”—i.e., a birth parent).
The work of the Motherisk Commission is critically important, and we fully support it. Their findings have been a tragedy for the affected children and families, and everyone involved deserves support, respect, and some form of restorative justice. In this instance it is important to consider intentions separately from actions and execution. While, with the flyer, there was likely the noble intent of ensuring that all potentially affected children and families have access to the Motherisk Commission and their resources - respectfully the execution was poor and sadly, has negated the good intent.
We welcome the opportunity to work with you closely to remedy this situation, and to balance the important objectives of the Motherisk Commission with the ongoing need to support and protect our most vulnerable children.
Executive Director, Adopt4Life
As has been reported in the news, the Independent Commissioner leading work to provide support to people who have been affected by a Motherisk hair test has expressed the expectation that adoptions not be finalized in high priority files until those cases have been reviewed. Adopt4Life is deeply concerned about the children, and the adoptive and birth families who are impacted by this situation and is committed to providing support to them.
Adopt4Life is aware that Justice Beaman, who is leading the review, has provided the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies with advice and guidance with respect to high priority cases and actions that Children’s Aid Societies should be taking. Adoptive parents who are concerned that their child(ren)’s apprehension was influenced by a Motherisk lab test, or who have been told by their CAS that their adoption finalization will be on hold until the file is reviewed by the Commission, may contact Adopt4Life for support during this difficult period of uncertainty for their family.
To support our community, Adopt4Life is in the process of gathering questions from impacted families to compile and forward anonymously to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS). Adopt4Life is in communication with MCYS, which will continue to share information it receives from the Independent Commissioner’s office, as it becomes available. Adopt4life will then follow up with the families as soon as possible.
Furthermore, anyone who believes that a Motherisk test may have affected their case can call 1 844 303 5476 to request that their case be provided to the commissioner. Through this number, MCYS will be offering short-term counselling services to individuals or families in need. Families may also contact their Children's Aid Society.
Concerned birth family members whose child(ren)’s apprehension may have been influenced by a Motherisk lab result should contact the Ministry at 1-855-235-8932. Through this number, you can request that your case be provided to a commissioner and obtain counselling services during this difficult time.
Adopt4Life will continue to communicate with the Independent Commissioner and MCYS so that it can advise families and provide the appropriate support.
1.888.274.6222 x 101
CONTACT MOTHERISK COMMISSION
WE INVITE ANY ADOPTIVE FAMILIES AND CHILDREN/YOUTH WITH THE COMMISSION NUMBER TO SPEAK DIRECTLY WITH THE OFFICE, REGISTER FOR INFORMATION AND/OR REQUEST COUNSELING.
Motherisk Commission of Inquiry
400 University Avenue, Suite 1800A
Phone 1 844 303 5476
HONOURABLE SUSAN LANG’S FINAL REPORT
Statement on the Final Report of the Motherisk Hair Analysis Independent Review
Anyone who believes that their case may have been impacted by a Motherisk test can call 1 844 303 5476 to request that their case be provided to the commissioner. Through this number, we will also be offering counselling services to provide immediate support for individuals or families in need.
You may also contact your Children's Aid Society
Déclaration concernant le rapport final de l’Examen indépendant du programme d’analyse capillaire de Motherisk
Toute personne qui estime que son cas risque d’avoir été influencé par une analyse de Motherisk peut composer le1 844 303 5476 pour demander que son cas soit transmis au commissaire. Nous offrirons également des services de counseling à ce numéro, pour accorder un soutien immédiat aux personnes et aux familles qui en ont besoin.
Vous pouvez aussi contacter votre Société de l'aide à l'enfance