Galaxy of Adoption
Nothing About Us Without Us
Children and youth want to be involved, have their voices heard and have action taken in response to what they say. They want the adults to make decisions with them as much as possible. This is important for prospective adoptive parents to know as they meet a child and learn about them, and start planning for visits and time together and becoming a family together.
These words tell us a lot about what adoption is like for children and youth.
Learn about and understand who I am and my experiences
Adopted children and youth may have experiences of loss, grief and trauma that impact how they feel and make it difficult to build new relationships. They may have “mixed” feelings of sadness and excitement about adoption and also feel scared and safe at the same time. Sometimes it may be hard for them to imagine life-long stable relationships in a safe and permanent home. It’s important for adoptive parents to be empathetic and responsive to how their children may react.
Sometimes adoptive parents may adopt children or youth who come from communities and backgrounds that are different from them, who may enjoy different foods, traditions and ways of doing things. This is an opportunity to learn from the adopted child or youth and from other important people in their lives and communities to help maintain their connections with important aspects of their identity, including their culture, traditions and heritage.
Staying in Touch with People Important to Me
As adopted children and youth build new relationships with their adoptive family, openness orders and agreements allow children to maintain connections that matter to them, including their birth family and siblings. This may lessen the impact of loss and diminish grief, help them understand their origins and keep them connected to their heritage and culture.
For many birth parents, though they experience difficulties with parenting, it does not mean they do not care about their children or do not want them to have a safe and happy life. Birth parents have said that they wonder and worry about their children and want to know that they are thriving. One birth mother said “As a birth mother, any contact with my son’s adoptive parents is both the amazing thing in the world and the most terrifying”. Learn more about the perspectives of birth families here:
Birth parents may also feel grief and shame, which can result in behaviours that make ongoing contact challenging. For adopted children and youth, this may be confusing and difficult. A lack of contact may cause some children or youth to worry about the wellbeing of their birth parents. Adoptive parents can support their children or youth by helping them stay in contact safely and valuing the birth parents and their role in their child’s or youth’s life.
Voices of Children and Youth
Many children, youth and adults who have been involved in the child welfare system and adoption share similar experiences. The best way to learn about it is from those who have lived it. Please take a few minutes to explore the links below to hear about their experiences.
After Adoption is a project in the UK. The children and youth in their group created this animated video called What adopted children think you should know.
We are seven young people who’ve all lived in foster or group homes and had to make the type of big decisions you’re making right now. We created a video and this guide, because we wanted to help older kids and youth get a real sense of what it’s like as you’re figuring out what’s next. We get all of this, because we’ve been through it. So we’re sharing some of the things we’ve learned.
Marcus Samuelsson is a world-famous chef and was adopted by a family in Sweden, while being interviewed in a podcast by April Dinwoodie he had this to say about adoptive families.
Never too Late is a program of the ACO that seeks to find permanent family connections for youth and young adults who were or are living in foster care. This program is co-lead by those with lived experience and they created a podcast to reflect some of their experiences during the pandemic.
Additional resources about young people and their identities
Valuing, respecting and centering all the aspects of a child’s or youth’s identity are linked to them developing a sense of belonging, identity, and wellbeing. Some aspects of the child’s or youth’s identity may result in the experience of racism or other forms of discrimination. In the child welfare system, this has presented in overrepresentation of certain communities, such as Indigenous, Black and LGBT2SQ children in care. Additional resources have been provided to learn more about families, children and youth involved in child welfare.
We need to talk more openly about the fact that there are many differences among youth, and all must be respected.” — Caregiver
One Vision One Voice is a program led by the African Canadian community. It is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and addresses the overrepresentation and experiences of disparities faced by African Canadians after coming into contact with the child welfare system.
The LGBT2SQ resource guide has been developed to help children’s aid societies, residential service providers, and caregivers (e.g., foster, kin, and customary caregivers) better meet the needs of the LGBT2SQ children and youth they serve.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) launched a public interest inquiry to examine the involvement of Indigenous and racialized children and youth in the child welfare system.