When we found out we could not have children by birth I was devastated but adoption seemed like a great second choice. A Google-search of adoption brought us to the Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) website and our next stop was attending a “How to Adopt” session. This session was how ACO started over 30 years ago. It really was the best way to get information about where to start in Ontario. They talked about all our options and helped us know how to become ‘adoptready’.
Initially we thought we would adopt a newborn baby – right from the hospital. But this was not the journey we were meant to take. I often looked at pictures of ‘waiting children’ on the AdoptOntario website. It was nice that I could call and get more information. Every time I talked with the AdoptOntario Clinical Coordinator I learned a little more about the waiting children and also about my worries and fears. The Coordinators didn’t use ‘tug at your heartstrings’ tactics. Rather our conversations were more like ‘let’s give you some more information and some resources to help you think through your thoughts and emotions about being a parent to ‘this’ child. Finally one day we, one day, we knew we had ‘met’ the child who was meant to be in our family. We were ready to put in an expression of interest and it was for a 5-year-old girl.
By the time our daughter was ready to move into our little house, we learned that she had a brother who had been living with a relative but now also needed to be adopted. ‘Why not’ we said. It does seem only right that siblings should be together even though they did not even know each other. So we moved furniture around and made ‘room for one more’.
Our children had been through a lot before coming to live with us and we need lots of help at times. Our ‘honeymoon’ was pretty short and we were pretty quickly overwhelmed. I had to keep reminding myself that our Social Worker approved us for this when she did the homestudy. Still, I felt like I jumped from basic training about adoption to needing a PHD level of skill – overnight.
This is where the Adoption Council of Ontario really came in for us. They were already established in my mind as the place to call when you need someone to talk to who won’t judge you and who will take the time to listen to where you need guidance. I was relieved to know that ACO would still answer my call even after our adoption was finalized and would be ready to help.
Our next stop was the Pathways to Permanence course that had just been approved for funding by the Ministry. It was amazing to really help us dig down deep and learn to understand our children. I’ve started to understand better how I can shift my parenting to suit my children’s needs. We continue to meet with the other parents we attended the group with and welcome new families to the group ongoing.
You know, when they say ‘adoption is not an event, it’s a journey’ they are speaking the truth. We have ACO’s number on ‘speed dial’ because they literally ‘answer the call’ and take the time to help us get back on track. They support our parent group with resources and webinars, they set up education sessions, and can even offer counseling or help us connect with an adoption competent therapist when we get stuck.
I look forward to a day when I can volunteer more in my adoption community but for now we love to talk to families who are just starting out at the ACO How to Adopt sessions. We tell them the truth –its scary, its hard work and its worth it. Our children have us and we have them. And we all have the Adoption Council of Ontario to help us along the way.
Author: Adoptive Parent