Not every child is born into a family that can provide them with the support they need to thrive. As a former child in care, Kenny Lord — a monthly donor and Hero of Hope at the Foundation — understands this reality firsthand.
“I became a ward of the Toronto Children’s Aid at approximately two-and-a-half,” says Lord, who has since worked as a police officer for many years. After moving between various foster homes until the age of five, he was adopted internationally by a family in Jamaica.
“It was totally different from what I was used to,” he says. “The weather, the people, the food, the culture.”
Life became uncertain for Lord once again when his adoptive parents had a change of heart, opting to return him to the Children’s Aid Society. Fortunately, his adoptive grandparents stepped-in to raise him, and he remained in Jamaica throughout his adolescence. In 1974, his grandparents arranged for him to return to Canada to stay with one of their relatives while he completed his final year of high school. After graduation, he returned to Toronto, the city of his birth.
“I just always wanted to go back to where I was born and find my birth parents,” says Lord. “I guess it’s a natural avenue for a lot of adopted people.”
He quickly found a phonebook and began contacting every person with the surname “Miller” — his surname at birth. This cumbersome task finally ended with a shift in Canada’s adoption laws that allowed him to contact the adoption agency for disclosure. Two years later, he was put in contact his birth mother and spoke with her for the first time. But she wasn’t the only person who had a lasting impression on Lord’s early years; he also cites his social worker, Miss Reid, as playing a significant role in his early years.
“At that time [in the child welfare system], she was all I had and was all I trusted,” he says. “I remember her coming to visit me and touch base with me, and I distinctly remember her taking me out for fish and chips because she knew I liked them.”
These early experiences not only changed how Lord perceived his own surroundings, but the interactions of those around him. Prior to joining the police force, he lived in a rented room with a family that included three teenage children. “One day, we were leaving the house and the mother went up to her son and straightened out the collar on his shirt,” he explains. “When we left the house, we got into the car and he [the son] said ‘don’t mind my mom’ because he was a little embarrassed.
“I said, ‘let me tell you something: if somebody had straightened my collar out when I was leaving the house, and they had cared that much about me, I’d be the luckiest person in the world.”
Driven by this learned passion, Lord decided to contact the Children’s Aid Foundation to give-back to those in the child welfare system that he had been part of so many years ago. “When people do things for you, like Miss Reid, I never forgot that she was on my side from day one,” he says.
As a monthly donor, Lord funds programs for kids in the care system that range from enrichment, education, prevention, and healing and recovery. “I don’t feel good coming home every single day and having food on my table, in a warm house, and having clothes to wear, and just turning on the T.V.,” he says. “I can’t feel good unless I am giving, just knowing that as I’m having enjoyment, I’m giving others enjoyment as they go through their trials and tribulations.”