I sat with my daughter at a University Open House. As she looked around the auditorium she stated “Everyone here is with their parents”, and I saw that she was right, almost every young person was sitting with one or even 2 parents who had come with them to hear more about the school and decide if it was the place they were going to spend the next 4 years of their life. In most families, this statement might be just an observation but in our family, it means a lot more as I was sitting with my 20 year old daughter that I had met and adopted from foster care only 3 years ago.
Foster care has an expiry date. Whether it is 18 or 21, at some point, a young person who is in permanent foster care receives a letter from the government letting them know that they are officially on their own. Yes, it is true that there are some wonderful foster families who stay in touch and support the young people who have lived with them throughout their lives. But this is the exception, not the rule and when it happens, it happens. We should not depend on the “luck” one might have to be in a foster family where this may occur to ensure that someone has a lifetime connection to a family. When people say things like “Why would you adopt someone nearly 18 years old? What do they need a family for?”, they are forgetting that families are for more then growing up in, they are for growing old with. They are a place to come home to during winter break at University, they are a place to go for Thanksgiving, they are someone to call when you are feeling sick, they are someone to celebrate with when you get your first job, they are grandparents for your children.
This November, we celebrate Adoption Awareness Month. The Ontario government has made a big commitment this past year by heavily investing in programs that assist more children and youth in finding forever families and supporting these families post adoption. I am grateful that they have listened and understand the importance of every child and youth leaving foster care with a family for a lifetime.
No one thought it strange that all these 17 and 18 year olds were coming to this University open house with their parents. No one asked “Aren’t these kids too old to need their parents coming with them?” No one will expect these kids to couch surf at Reading Week or walk across the stage to collect their diploma with no one in the audience to cheer. That would never be good enough for those kids. So let’s make sure that is never good enough for ANY kids.
This month as we launch The Family Effect for Adoption Awareness month, check back for more information and to decide where you see yourself in the solution.
More about Aviva:
Aviva Zukerman Schure has worked in community outreach and the not -for -profit sector for over 25 years. She has been involved with a number of initiatives/organizations including: Violence Overcome In Creative Ensemble, Voices of Children, The Toronto Jewish Film Festival, The Canadian Women’s Foundation, University of Toronto, The Adoption Council of Ontario and Adopt4Life. She has served as a Trustee of the Zukerman Family Foundation since 1986. Aviva holds a Bachelor of Commerce (McGill ’91) and a Master in Environmental Studies (York ’96). Aviva is a mother of 5 children. In 2012 she and her husband met and adopted a 17 year-old daughter through the Toronto CAS.