Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ontario Adoption Issues

I tend not to talk politics here, I tend to keep my opinions to myself about the "sometimes lacking" adoption system that exists in this province I live in. However, given the news yesterday I feel sort of obligated to comment - so I am.

Yesterday in the province of Ontario a bill was introduced, if it was passed it will do the following:
  • The proposed act would, if passed, remove legal barriers so that more kids in the care of children's aid societies (CASs) could be adopted. Currently, 75 per cent of these kids have legally-binding court orders preventing them from being adopted.
  • The legislation would also, if passed, allow 16- and 17-year-olds who have left care to return to the CAS and be eligible for financial and other supports until the age of 21. Currently, this only applies to youth who remain in care until age 18.
  • Reducing the waitlist for homestudies and establishing standard timelines
  • Making it easier for youth to attend college or university by exempting CAS financial support from OSAP applications, meaning it would not count as income
  • Doubling the number of Adoption Resource Exchanges -- forums that match adoptive families with children needing adoption -- across Ontario
  • Making it easier to find comprehensive information online about public, private and international adoptions
  • Working with CASs and First Nations so Aboriginal children and youth in care remain connected to their communities and cultural traditions through more frequent use of customary care arrangements.
These highlights were taken directly from the Ontario News Briefing that was posted yesterday.You can read the Statement to the Legislature here.

I need to say that this is a move in the right direction, it creates some much needed changes to a system that currently moves at the speed of dark but it does nothing to address a variety of other issues such as:
  • The lack of a provincial body to match all waiting kids with a waiting families regardless of their location within the province
  • The lack of post adoption support for families in the months and years after adoptions are finalized
  • The lack of standardization around adoption subsidies especially for families who need to have a parent stay home in order to successfully parent their adopted children.
  • The neglecting of the fact that all children, regardless of age need families, families are not just for babies and toddlers.
  • The lack of main stream advertising and programs to encourage families from all walks of life to adopt.
There are a few other huge issues but given the way that the system works they are not issues that can be addressed by the ministry.  Each Children's Aid Society (CAS) deals with these things differently and given that some workers understand more than others it varies, but they are all issues affecting adoption in Ontario
  • There is a misguided belief that the majority adopted kids need to be the only or youngest children in a family ( albeit in some cases necessary)  and that families that have adopted kids should not create large families through adoption
  • The fears and racism that exist around creating multi-racial families.
  • The lack of honesty about attachment issues and what those can mean for families.
  • The lack of therapy and education services pre and post adoption.
  • The continued flexibility of the laws around the timelines for kids in care because a social worker feels that the biological parent will get it together this time even though they have not before. When does the childs need for stability come first?
  • The breaking up of sibling groups in an attempt to get younger children adopted while older children remain in foster care.
It breaks my heart that there are over 9000 children waiting for families in this province. 9000 kids who need permanent homes with parents who will love them no matter what. There are also countless families like ours who want more children, who are approved to have more children and are waiting because there is not a system in this province that matches children with families across the borders of each privately run CAS agency. I must say that there are efforts being made but as hard as the people at Adopt Ontario work it is only a drop in the bucket and because each CAS can choose whether or not to use the service it is under utilized as a method for matching kids and families. 

Changing the laws to allow more children to be adopted is a fabulous step but if they cannot easily be matched with adopt ready families what would be the point?  What if this bill does not pass before the next election, what if it gets hung up in debate, what if nothing changes, then where will we be?

My kids are here, in a home, loved and cherished, is it so much to ask that all kids have the same right...


BT said...

Wow. That would be a good set of changes. Are people getting active to influence your representatives to pass it?

Carla said...

Those would be some great changes...a bill like that needs to move a little further west to the Prairie where we have so many of the same problems.