Our son, Aiden*, moved in at 10 years of age after spending 7 years in foster care. He had lived in many homes including a foster-to-adopt placement that broke down. He was abused mentally, physically and sexually in the foster-to-adopt placement. He had at least one hospital visit and the police had to be involved in his removal from the foster home. During the two years following his removal, he was not provided any kind of therapy. A psychological assessment was done however, which diagnosed him with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). No one ever thought that perhaps his issues were related to trauma. He does not have ADHD or ODD. All the issues he has had to face to-date are the result of trauma inflicted on him and an attachment disorder.
During the adoption process, we were not made aware of the abuse inflicted on our son. The agency has not been very forthcoming with regard to his history. After about 6 months in our home, issues relating to trauma started to show. The agency referred us to a psychologist for an assessment. Unfortunately this psychologist is known for not delivering reports. We waited for half a year only to get a 4 page report with basically nothing in it.
We found a private therapist who specialized in trauma and attachment. We then went back to the agency for funding. The agency is not keen on paying for anything, citing no money in budget. I had to remind them that our child was abused while in their care and it should not fall on the adoptive parents to pay for treatment. All children in foster care should receive trauma therapy without question and this should continue throughout their life – adopted or not. Interestingly enough, he went to Kumon twice a week and never to therapy while in foster care. He is incredibly bright and does not need Kumon. What he does need is therapy to help him heal from trauma experienced by his birth family, apprehension and abuses while in foster care.
During the finalization of adoption, we were not assisted with any paperwork such as his health card, social insurance number (SIN), school registration, passport, etc. Nothing was provided to help us navigate what neededto be done once your child is in the home. We stumbled through this on our own.
We also asked repeatedly for a permanency support group. We have since found out there is one locally and we actively participate in it, however this seemed to be news to the adoption workers back when we were asking about it. Being a part of this group would have helped immensely during the first year to get some much needed support and direction from those on the same journey.
During the stage when we were still on probation and things were not going well, we asked for respite. We desperately needed a break. We were told this is not an option. No funding for breaks for worn out parents. The agency is willing to let a placement break down instead of helping struggling families. No respite, no funding, no basic assistance. The motto ‘it’s all about the child’ needs to be replaced with ‘it’s all about the money or lack thereof’.
Ontario can do better with how they take care of their crown wards, how they manage the adoption process and how they support families post adoption. An important place to begin is adequate and timely province wide #Support4EveryFamily in the form of local support groups and funding to meet children’s specific needs.
* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual and family