Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adoption in Ontario

P is sleeping ( he had a sleep study last night ans so he did not get much sleep), Fudge is watching season 1 of the Muppets and Calvin is in his room already, it is only 9:30, he has been there since 8:50. I have a feeling this is going to be a very long day. 

I am sitting here feeling a frustrated and disappointed, no not because of the choices Calvin made to end up in his room already but because of the broken child welfare system. The "system" in Canada is different in each province and the province of Ontario, has 9000 children waiting for adoption. That is a lot of kids looking for homes and the problem is not a lack of adoptive families but one of process. Children are rarely adopted across provincial lines and even adopting kids from outside your own county but within your province can be a challenge. There are few adoption subisdies provided and little post adoption support except in the biggest cities. It costs a whole lot less to have children adopted and yet there is little funding. Chateline just wrote a great article about adoption in Ontario, take a minute and go read it and then what I just said will have more context and some numbers behind it.

There are 2 photo listing sites for adoption in this province, one is a national site that primarily has kids with a lot of special needs, (usually medical) and the other is site that is run by the Adoption Council of Ontario. The listings there are more diverse but there are usually only about 50 children listed and the rest are listed on sites only accesible to social workers.

Knowing that since we live in a small community and that our chances of adopting locally again are slim ( since now we have criteria like under 7) we have started to look watch these sites for kids that might fit our family. We have also put the word out to our worker who is a great advocate within her local agency that we would be willing to foster or adopt.

A few weeks ago I saw a listing on the Adopt Ontario site, 2 kids who were the right ages and with issues similar to our boys. P and I talked and I asked for more information. We had our homestudy submitted and then we started to wait. Yesterday we got an email letting us know that the family who had the children's younger half sibling were putting forward a plan to adopt the older 2 children as well and although nothing was finalized they were letting us know so that we could move on or whatever.

Now, although I am disappointed it is not the end of the world but my disappointment aside I am also annoyed.

By the time kids get to this photo listing it is usually because they have exhausted all local options or because they can not find a family that can meet their needs (cultural, religious, medical, etc).These kids are from the biggest city in the province and if they were placed on the photo listing site at 3 and 5 years old I realised that it is probably because their attachment issues are significant. So putting them on it was an attempt to find the right place for these kids. Is the home that has their half sibling really the best place for them? If so why was it not put forth sooner? Why would a family wait this long and then all of sudden be willing? These kids have been in the system for at least 12 months but probably more like 18 months. In that time I would think that the family of the sibling might of thought of it sooner if that truly is what is in the best interest of the children.

I am a huge advocate of keeping siblings together but I have seen how horribly wrong it can go when well meaning families think that they can take in the older siblings of a child they have had since infancy.

I am biased though because that is what happened to my kids and in the end there was another move. Then they had to leave their little brother behind because the 3 of them was simply more than could be managed as  Calvin's behaviours were so extreme then. Things are different now but it has been a long journey and that placement breaking down was hard on the parents and all three of the kids. We maintain contact, we visit, we play, we are friends but that is not always the case when a placement breaks down like that.

I do not doubt for a minute that these 2 kids up for adoption need to be in a home with theraputic parents who understand attachment. I have not met the family who wants to adopt them and I do not doubt the judgement of the workers involved but the timing of adoption proposal makes me question their motives. Do they have the skills that are needed? Are they willing to learn them? Can they begin to understand just how hard this might be and that it is not going to be a fairytale of 3 happy siblings magically healed because they are together?

Are we the best home for those kids? I have no idea but it frustrates me to no end that these kids are waiting because of adults that can not get their crap together.

There are 9000 kids waiting for homes and I personally know of 10 families waiting to adopt in my county alone and none of them have placements. Why is that? Why can we not move kids more easily across county lines and have kids placed in adoptive homes? Part of the answer is that the system is broken, little funding is provided for adoption and even less is provided as post adoptive support. Social Workers to do not have the time to start searching high and low for the right family when sometimes the current foster placement is working out just fine. Until it is not and then that child has to move again to another placement and experience more loss.

I really wish that our “liberal” and “progressive” province would step up to the plate on this one and create some funding to get these kids into permanent homes. The chances of anything changing are slim but I can dream and hope.


Mama Drama Times Two said...

Exciting that you are thinking of expanding your family. Congratulations! The adoption system in CA or USA is truly a broken system that leaves too many children waiting and wanting a family. Sad. So sad.

The second week in April, The Other Mother and I will be attending an regional adoption information event in our New England state as experienced adoptive parens to mentor prospective adoptive parents as they atempt to navigate the crazy adoption system we have here. Then the third week we attend the Saturday outdoor social event where waiting children and their social workers attend, mingle and meet families.

Lisa said...

So sorry for the disappointment. You know I concur on the waiting. It's horrible. And broken.