My post-adoption journey has mainly been one that included support; this helped achieve permanency for my child. However, I think that nearly every family could use more support than has been offered traditionally in Ontario. I adopted a little girl just over a year ago. She was just past her third birthday at the time and I am a single mom; she is my only child.
The first unfortunate thing about our adoption story is that she moved in just 7 days before Christmas. If I had to do it again, I would have liked to have someone talk to me more about the potential risks/benefits of adding a very stressful event to a very hectic time of year. I’m glad that she was with me for Christmas but we were very overwhelmed at Christmas and it’s made for mixed memories and additional emotional upheaval. It also meant that professional supports were not available for the first two weeks after placement. Our adoption worker has been fantastic and even provided her home number to me in the event that I needed supports over the holidays (which unfortunately, I did and am glad to report that she was very gracious about helping me during her time off).
Not to be so callous as to focus on financial need ahead of the needs of my family, but the positive side of adopting in the earlier calendar year, meant that I was able to claim my daughter on my income tax as a dependent for that year, even though she had been with me for less than a month. This was significant since I took a full parental leave and as a single parent, we didn’t have the benefit of additional income during this important time of establishing a relationship together.
Friends and family were very supportive during my journey and I found having some adoptive families to connect with provided much support and reassurance. I wish more of these types of informal supports were available to new families. Perhaps agencies could offer ways for families at different stages of the process to connect if they desired. While we didn’t have any huge issues around attachment, I do wish that there were more professional support options available to adoptive kids and their new families. There are times in the last year that I would have found it very reassuring to check in with someone and ensure that I was making the best parenting choices and using good attachment strategies. Unfortunately, these types of professional supports would have needed to be paid for out of my own expenses and that was not manageable for me at the time.
I wish that adoptive parents had more options in terms of taking at least a full, if not an extended, parental leave. I was glad to have every minute off that I was able (35 weeks of EI) with employer top-ups for the first several months, but financially I was unable to take a longer leave which I would have found helpful in further attaching with my daughter and in transitioning her to school. Even a modified leave of returning to work part-time would have been helpful had that been an option.
My final concern in this process is around finalization. For us, this was delayed and I was told by my adoption worker that the courts had been unable to sign off because they could not find my daughter’s crown wardship papers. It is very concerning to me that these could have somehow been misplaced or discarded and I worry about where this confidential information may have ended up. It also added much unnecessary stress as weeks went by, well beyond the date that I was told would bring our finalization papers.
All in all, our story is one in which I did feel fairly supported, but I do believe strongly that there is room for improvement.
There are so many simple ways that Ontario can do better for it ‘s children. #Support4EveryFamily, including peer support and funding for individualized therapies across the province, will help families stay together and children to reach their full potential.