As awaiting parents, we felt as prepared as we could. We enjoyed the PRIDE training and were fortunate to have great facilitators. Our workers were open with us when discussing our parenting dreams and helping us determine what "risks" we were comfortable with. In hindsight, I don’t think we were really ready at this time but I doubt any more education or reading could have prepared us. We needed to experience parenting before we could determine and customize what knowledge could be applied and what knowledge we still needed to acquire.
The matching process was very well planned in our case with regards to the first meeting at the foster parents. This meeting involved coordinating who would "drop off" and "pick up" the children as we spent more and more time with them before they officially moved into our home However, once we all lived together, and the honeymoon phase had progressed to dealing with real issues, we were having fewer visits with our worker and therefore had lost sight of where to turn for support. We were told we were doing really well and the kids were transitioning as expected but it didn't feel like we were effectively dealing with "behaviours". We were having a hard time pinpointing the root cause of challenging moments and wanted to acquire and instill lifelong coping skills to deal with any instances that could arise in the future. We pursued the Watch, Wait and Wonder program through CAS, which our worker did tell us about. It was helpful but I think it would have been more helpful if someone had come to our house for a significant amount of time (at least a few hours on a few different occasions) and observed our interactions, routines and play with our kids. It would’ve been great to then have a debriefing session afterwards, without the kids present in which we could ask questions and express our reactions. In an ideal world this is how Watch, Wait and Wonder would operate to ensure the successful transition of children from care into their new homes.
Our post permanency journey has only just begun in the grand scheme of things. Finalization day was fantastic but even though we know we’re a forever family it still feels like the majority of work has yet to be done, as with any worthwhile commitment. After being together for a year and a half as a family, we signed up for an intensive Nurturing Attachment course (approx 16 weeks). This course was helpful on so many levels. We were in a room with other parents who were dealing with parenting challenges and we were being taught about attachment disorders by a very knowledgeable instructor who helped us understand how to meet our kids emotional needs. If we had one recommendation, I think this course would have been even more helpful sooner after placement…
Where do we go from here? In addition to the rewards and blessings our children are bringing us, experience tells us that we will have many more challenges to meet on our long journey together as a family. Providing qualified, accessible and individualized supports for families from time of placement will go a long way in helping all children in Ontario find forever families. This would allow adopted children in this province to heal and grow into the well adjusted adults they are meant to be.