Adoption: The Need for Individualized Supports

I have been a foster parent for over 20 years and have been responsible for many small children. Sometimes the children in my care are returned to their biological families, but many times I have transitioned them into adoption. Recently I helped move 3 preschool siblings into their adoptive family.

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The three children had challenges. They acted out in our home, and pushed aggressively to have access visits with their biological family. With the uncertainty in their lives, healing was slow. Eventually the decision was made that they would be placed for adoption rather than returned to their biological family, and an adoptive family was found. We all met, and began to transition them into their adoptive home. Even after all our years of experience, we found this little group exhausting. You can imagine  how a new family would be put off by these challenges. However, this particular family turned out to be completely committed and dug in with us. After the children were placed, we had three scheduled visits with them to provide support. Because babysitters could not manage the siblings, we brought supper and put the kids to bed so that the adoptive parents could have a much needed breaks. When 3 visits proved to be inadequate, we took more time out of our schedule in order to support these new parents.

Had these parents not had this support network provided to them from the onset, I’m not sure the placement would have been successful. 

Had these parents not had this support network provided to them from the onset, I’m not sure the placement would have been successful. 

We shared their experiences, our experiences, our knowledge and their fears; it was a knowledge and experience exchange We let them know not to worry about our sadness at having to give up the siblings as we knew that this was best for them; we recognized pain as just part of the process. There were behaviour strategies to be discussed, and guilt to alleviate. We reinforced again and again that they weren’t doing things wrong, and that the adjustment period takes time! Healing and attachment are both processes, not one time events. To help them gain insight into their children, the agency provided an excellent video series on attachment. When publicly funded therapy took too long, private was provided. Camp was also provided for the oldest.

 The family is doing well. Despite their struggles, they are adjusting and moving ahead.  The supports provided by us and the agency were instrumental in helping them find their way together as a family.  Had these parents not had this support network provided to them from the onset, I’m not sure the placement would have been successful.  We have since welcomed new little ones into our home, and hope to be able to provide support to more adoptive families in the future.

Reflecting on our years of experience with children who experience trauma, we can’t recommend enough that Ontario ensures that there is timely, accessible , and individualized #Support4EveryFamily.