On March 15th 2007, our beautiful girl was brought to us. Eighteen months later we had our day in court. When the judge announced “you are now a forever family” my husband and I would have never guessed how alone and abandoned we would feel post-adoption, when the emotional damage resulting from her adoption and past traumas would arise.
In May 2010, after years of struggling with behaviours, our daughter was finally diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This diagnosis was received with mix emotions. Although we were devastated with the prognosis, we were hopeful to finally have a direction, a name for what we were experiencing. We immediately started searching for the best, most experienced professionals in the attachment field. We were thrilled when we found someone only forty minutes from our home and were anxious to get started. Once we knew this was the therapy our daughter needed, we contacted our adoption worker; we were hoping to find support and some financial assistance with the therapy sessions. We found that our worker and the organization were less than enthusiastic about helping us. We ended up having to go to great lengths to try and obtain any support. When we finally did, it was very limited and we had to jump through many hoops to receive funding.
Over the following years we have invested thousands of dollars in therapy, all the while living solely on my husband’s salary, as working out of the house is not possible with the attention our daughter needs.
Last spring, after paying for more evaluations from a pediatric psychologist, further diagnoses were revealed, which brought better understanding about our daughter and her needs, but also the need for more support. We contacted our adoption worker with copies of the most recent diagnoses which are, Oppositional Deviance Disorder (ODD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and behaviours consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We were not surprised when we were shuffled from one department to the next, with no answers, no follow up, no support, no suggestions, nothing. I spoke to many representatives from the agency we adopted our daughter from. Through tears, frustration, and fear, I explained we needed help; I begged for someone to help us and to help her. No one, not one, could give us any help or direction. This is because there is no post adoption support infrastructure in place. Once an adoption has been completed, the agency no longer has a mandate to support that child which means that adoptive families are left to fend for themselves in helping their children to heal from past traumas.
The determination of an adoptive parent is unmatched. We are fighters, and that same fight that brought us to our children, extends to them and their needs. My husband and I never discussed IF we would pursue therapy for our daughter, we just made it happen. It has not been easy -- We feel alone, abandoned and helpless.
The solution is clear:
· Funding dedicated to permanency support when children are placed in their “forever families” needs to be established provincially with all agencies.
· As adoptive parents, we need to spread the word and speak out. We shouldn’t be left isolated and alone trying to heal our children. It takes many adults to make an adoption happen, and it takes many to support the continued success of this adoption.
There isn’t a more hopeless feeling than not being able to help your child.
We can change this, we can ensure better outcomes for our children. Together we can change the future of adoption.