November marks Adoption Awareness Month, an initiative that strives to raise public awareness regarding the need for adoption within our own foster care system. With approximately 7,500 children and young people living in foster care in Ontario alone, there is a great demand for adoptive families to give these young people a chance to know the love and support of a family unit.
The Children’s Aid Foundation has partnered with the Adoption Council of Ontario to increase understanding and debunk prevailing myths that surround the adoption of foster children. Some of these myths include: all children in foster care have special needs that are difficult to parent, that the paperwork, costs, and bureaucracy involved are insurmountable, and that teens simply don’t want to be adopted.
“The need for adoptive families is great and growing,” says Pat Convery, executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario. “We know that connecting a child to a family before they leave foster care is the single most important way we can help vulnerable children and youth to achieve better outcomes as adults. Adoption gives a child a family for life. It only makes sense to work hard and together to achieve this goal for every child who is in permanent foster care.”
For parents considering adopting, the process typically begins with PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) training. This can be taken through local Children’s Aid Societies and will give parents the opportunity to learn about the adoption process, who the waiting children are, and how they will be integrated into their family. It also allows them to meet adoptive families, adoption workers, and other parents considering adoption.
The next step involves AdoptReady which is a screening process to screen for families who are unable to provide safe and stable home environments, and to educate and prepare suitable families for the transition. It also matches prospective children with potential parents.
“A long journey led us to adoption, to adopting through CAS, and choosing to adopt an older child, a much longer story then I can share here,” says Aviva Zuckerman-Schure, an adoptive parent. “I can say that our daughter is the person who was meant to complete our family.”
Christen Shepherd, also an adoptive parent, shared a similar adopting experience. “After our children moved-in I feared what others had warned, that adoptive parenting would be impossible. I was very wrong on both counts,” she says. “Just like our biological children, our adopted children snuggle, share secrets, offer hugs and kisses, plan futures, and fully accept our love. They understand the solidarity of our family, our unfaltering commitment, and I am confident they love their parents as much as we love them.”
For more information on adopting in Ontario, please visit: http://adoptontario.ca/