Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November is National Adoption Month

Every year November is the month set aside to celebrate and focus on adoption. I've been reading lots of great articles about adoption, many of which are very much pro-adoption, but several which question the practice of adoption and highlight some very real and troubling aspects of the industry.

Saturday our family went to an adoption event sponsored by Nova Scotia Council for the Family called, "Celebrate Adoption: Embracing the joys, realities, and connections." There were activities for the kids while the adults enjoyed a panel discussion. Then at the end there was a free swim for the entire family. It was the FIRST annual event of this type and it was very well done.

Since our family has joined the adoption community I have been humbled and amazed by the families we have met. There is such diversity in our community with so many families in the trenches loving children and helping children be all they can be. This panel was no different. Incredible stories being shared which blessed me and once again humbled me.

A representative from the province in Community Services was the first one to speak. She shared the statistic that there are currently over 900 children in permanent care of the province. Whatever the reason, they are currently living in foster or group homes and need a family. Last year 120 children joined families and left the care of the province. But there are still close to 1,000 children who do not have a family to call their own. The current mandate of the province is to find homes for older children and she certainly highlighted the need for that.

The next panelist adopted 2 older boys, 11 and 13. She and her husband are a professional couple with no biological kids who are probably in their late 40s or early 50s. She was there to represent the family that indeed has adopted older kids and has survived and the kids are flourishing. She has worked in the field of mental and physical addictions for 15 years and so has quite a background in psychology and the effects of trauma on individuals and their families. Her boys joined their family with case files 2 feet thick. They were both diagnosed with physical, mental, and emotional issues. As she reeled off their activities and accomplishments, she was proud to share how amazing they both were. She didn't make anything sound rosy, just very doable and worth while. This highlighted the impact 2 parents ready and willing to fight can make. These boys are no longer case files. They are family.

Another panelist was there to speak about adoption as it concerned different cultures and ethnicities. She and her partner have adopted an Inuit boy and a Cree girl. They did not set out to adopt aboriginal children, but from what was shared, once their son joined their family, they did everything in their power to acquaint him as well as themselves with his heritage. They are all very active in the local aboriginal community. Their first exposure to their son's community did not go well. They were completely ignored. Yet, they persevered and eventually the community accepted them and I think they all feel very much at home in the aboriginal community.

The next panelist was there as a professional social worker but also as a child who entered the foster system at age 7 and was never adopted. However, she only had the one foster mother; a 70 year old single woman whom she called Gramma. She was there to speak to the black community and relate her goal of initiating dialogue so the black community would take the fostering that has always been done on an informal basis and transition to permanent adoptions done through the province. There are not enough black families willing to adopt the black and biracial children in Nova Scotia. As she shared her own life history, I was touched by her joy and by her large and diverse extended family of biological, foster and adoptive relatives. Some of her biological siblings were adopted and some were not, but those connections have been maintained.

The last panelist was the most inspiring for me. She is a single mom, at least in her 50s and an adoptive and foster mom of only special needs children. And not to diminish any needs, but her kids have extreme physical needs. She didn't touch on the emotional or mental needs, but I'm sure those exist for some of her kids as well. She was asked to foster an infant that was not expected to live past 6 months of age because she only had a brainstem. She told of her fight for that little baby girl and now this child is 5 years old. Even though she is blind and deaf, they noticed activity when she was around music. She is in music therapy and has been part of a research paper by a doctor. There can't be anything easy about this lady's life and yet, she also exuded pride and love when she shared about her children. She really emphasized the importance of a support group. There's no way she could attend all of the appointments and work full time and care for her family without a vast network of support.

We aren't all called to adopt.

But every child deserves a family.

AND we can all support.

I wouldn't be the person I am today without my mom.

Her support through my childhood, teen years, and adult life has helped me through all kinds of tears and trials. And I always want to share my happy news with her.

Support. We all need it. Young and old.

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