Grieving Adoptive Children and the Need for Permanency Support.

Before getting married, we knew that adoption was going to be a part of our family journey.  We both wanted to expand our family through adoption, and felt a strong pull towards doing something about all the children around the world who grow up without any parents at all or a family to call their own.  Once we felt ready to start our family, we quickly dove into the world of birthing our children through paperwork; we filled out forms, acquired clearances and references sent out as fast as we could.  After completing all the necessary training, checks and balances, we set out to find the children who would help us build our family.

We specifically wanted to adopt siblings, having both come from larger families, and we were also very interested in adopting older children.  It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the four school aged children meant to be ours.  Our kids are all very close in age, and we have had tons of fun teaching them how to skate, going swimming, going on outings as a family and seeing every “first” and milestone that we can enjoy as a family.

As anyone with a connection to adoption knows, the amazing gift of our children first came at the expense of them enduring great loss.  Loss and grief have a huge impact on children, and ours were also exposed to abuse and neglect at ages that they can remember.  As a couple in our late twenties when we adopted our children, we originally were a double income family and still paying off some school debt while getting on our feet.  Tripling our family size has meant a huge increase in the grocery bill, a move to a larger home, and much more money needing to go towards any kind of family recreation.  As well, we quickly realized that after our parental leave benefits were over, I would not be able to return to work.  All four kids have deep rooted fears around abandonment, and it is very important for them to have a parent who is able to focus on being there for them whenever needed. 

As anyone with a connection to adoption knows, the amazing gift of our children first came at the expense of them enduring great loss. 

As anyone with a connection to adoption knows, the amazing gift of our children first came at the expense of them enduring great loss. 

Since the kids have come home and we’ve delved deeper into their past trauma, we’ve realized that we need more support than just trying to “fix” everything and everyone ourselves.  We’ve worked with a counselor since the beginning who has been invaluable to our family.  Unfortunately medical insurance only covers a few visits per family member, but my husband and I find we need her support to help therapeutically parent our children.  The kids have some other needs that also aren’t covered by our benefits.  While we wouldn’t change our family for the world, and have no regrets, we definitely feel the financial strain of trying to provide opportunities for our children to heal, to be regular kids, and to receive support.   While we do receive some help from the Ontario government for adopting siblings, we have not received any help from the local Family and Children’s Services with costs for the counseling and therapies our children need post-adoption.   We know I will not be able to go back to work for quite some time, and are also exploring homeschooling to help our kids relieve the anxiety they feel everyday going to school.  It can be a lonely road without the right people in place to support us, or the financial help to enable our children to find the healing and help that they need and deserve.

Ontario can do better!  #Support4EveryFamily is needed to ensure all families formed by adoption, kinship or customary care have the best opportunity to be successful and that their children can reach their full potential. To not address this need is unacceptable.