I am writing this letter with hopes of change for the children of Ontario. The number of children without a permanent home and family is alarming. We are fortunate to have been placed with three beautiful children who sadly could have been in the same situation. We have found through our adoption experiences that there are vast differences in supports between agencies and even within the same agency.
We had two very different adoptions. Our fist son was placed with us at birth through our local Family and Children’s Services; it was a consent adoption and both birth mother and father had equal input. It has been a wonderful experience and because he came to us straight from the hospital, he has had very little trauma and we maintain contact with his birth mother and his biological siblings.
Our second adoption was a sibling group of two brothers matched through the semi-annual Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE). The process was lengthy and we found the agency workers were not clear on their timelines and expectations. The children are of First Nations heritage which further complicated the process. We were able to be selected to be their parents because our first son also has First Nations heritage. Our two younger boys resided in two separate foster homes just minutes from each other, and surprisingly, they had very limited contact with each other. At the time of placement, they were one and two years old.
Our middle son was in a very messy and busy foster home; the foster mother was a single mother with three young biological children and three foster children. She was not happy that he was placed with us and made his transition quite difficult. Our son came home malnourished, underweight and, emotionally, very unstable. We completed the transition period that involved travel without any transition support. Furthermore, my wife had to give up her source of income for 6 months before we were eligible for the Ontario Adoption Subsidy for siblings.
After a settling in period, we began to see behaviours indicative of the trauma our middle son had experienced as he felt more comfortable in our home. He was not able to receive affection when given to him; especially from me, his mother. He began having more and more trouble regulating his emotions and participating in family time. He really had no idea how to be loved. As this went on we found out that his foster mother was being investigated for not providing the children with adequate food and a safe place to live. Our son had been left in his bed for hours on end with little to no stimulation.
Our local social worker was very supportive and took great care of supervising us post-placement. She took meticulous notes and noted the physical and emotional challenges our son was experiencing. The biggest concern was his lack of acceptance of the love and affection we yearned to give him. We were advised that he may need some play based attachment therapy to help him trust and attach to us. Our local worker presented our children’s home agency with all of the notes pertaining to the issues our son was experiencing, and during this time, the permanency worker at the younger boy’s home agency changed. The new worker pushed and got funding for his therapy in a very timely manner and our son was granted full coverage of costs. This was not what we had previously come to expect from this agency. This post-adoption support was such a great help to our son. He has become a loving, affectionate child -- very different from those early concerning days. He loves to play with his brothers and has made a smooth transition to Junior Kindergarten this past fall.
The majority of children adopted from foster care have experienced trauma. All children should be able to access services and supports to help them reach their full potential, no matter whom the worker is or which agency they are supported by.
All children deserve to accept love, give love, be happy and able to live up to their full potential.
We are urging Ontario to do better! #Support4EveryFamily will provide the best outcome for these children, their new families, and ultimately for Ontarians.