I am a foster parent looking seriously at adoption. The discussion at my house these days is about the advantages, disadvantages, barriers, hopes, dreams, limitations, you name it, of the adoption process. To clarify, I am no stranger to adoption - moral adoption that is. Some of my kids have been with me for many, many years and are very much a part of my family. Some of them have moved out then have come back. Some "aged out" but never left. A formal legal adoption could not make these kids anymore mine but it certainly would have had them lose supports that were available to them as crown wards. I could not have raised many of my kids without expensive professional services that we could never have afforded.
What has caused us to think about adoption? There is a sibling group that is too large for CAS to be able to allow us to foster together. However for us, keeping sibling groups together is quite important. We have advocated for our kids repeatedly, to make sure that they can live with their siblings and develop those lifelong relationships that will keep them much healthier and connected in later years when we are gone. This sibling group has already been split into separate foster homes and they can be adopted separately, despite their close connection. Their mother was one of our foster children, only for a short while as she went back to her biological family, but she has stayed in contact with us through the years. This is the goal for our foster kids, to have them reunite with their biological family if at all possible. Unfortunately things have not gone well in the siblings’ mother’s life. So we are discussing how we can ensure a better life for her kids.
No one has questioned whether we're capable of raising these children; we have had more children in our home previously than we will if we get this whole group. We have biological children, stepchildren, kin children and foster children - it is a whole big mash up of a family. What we will be missing is the support of agency workers, the assurance that the children's financial, medical and dental needs would be met, and that psychiatric issues could be dealt with despite expenses. To keep this group together, we would have to walk away from all that support. Fortunately they seem to be a pretty healthy bunch at this point, despite the trauma they have experienced. But from experience, we know when the teenage years come, and kids begin to re-examine their lives and look towards adulthood and independence, all the hurts can come back. With this hurt and as they struggle to find their identity, comes anger, acting out, and sometimes violence. It doesn’t seem right that we would be left without the means to help our children heal and be all they can be if we adopt.
We have seen foster parents who adopt, lose their foster kids and fostering "career" because an adopted child went off the tracks in their teenage years. We do not want to risk our other children by our own choices. So we weigh the benefits and risks, and we make the best choice we possibly can. For us that is making sure these siblings grow up together in a strong, healthy family. We have the skills to parent children who have been traumatized and who will have to try to attach to new people once again. If this adoption gets approved and we are able to raise the siblings together then we will adjust our budget once more, hunt for a significantly bigger vehicle and count beds and dressers. Then we all will enjoy watching them settle in, and grow up together, with an amazing number of new siblings, who are already ours, and anxious to get to know them and help them on their way.
Research shows better outcomes for children that remain with their siblings and that have permanency. Ontario can ensure this by providing #Support4EveryFamily. Our children deserve nothing less than our very best.