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Adoption Myth #4

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May 2015



Adoption Blog

Children and Youth in Care Day 2015

May 14th is Children and Youth in Care Day. Did you know that the province of Ontario is the legal guardian of more than 7000 Children and Youth in the province?

Invest in Building FamiliesOn my 21st birthday, instead of a card, I received what is called a “Letter of Termination” from my legal guardian. It informed me that I could no longer count on the support of my Children’s Aid, and had to try and manage without them. On that day I was also lucky enough to be standing in my home, with my family. Though I knew then I would be okay and I knew I had someone to turn to in that moment, I still got a little choked up. 

I thought about the over 7000 still in care who would one day receive this letter on their birthday, after already having been told they can no longer live in their foster or group home by the age of 19. They might not be standing next to anyone. I asked myself, who would buy them their birthday cake that year?

My sister and I were adopted when she was three, and I was fifteen. At first, it wasn’t the plan that I would be adopted, in fact I was told that at that time that I might not even had been able to keep my relationship with my sister. Luckily, the family that decided to adopt her wanted to keep me in her life, wanted me to become a part of their lives. This permanency in my life has led me to have more confidence and stability. I haven’t had to try and get an education while worrying how my sister is doing, or if I would have enough money for rent the next month. I was lucky enough to have a sense of security.

Those who age out of care are not as lucky. Back in 2011/2012, as I and my peers sifted through personal stories and experiences of those who know life in the system and tried to organize it into the My REAL Lifebook report we came up with six reoccurring themes. They are:

  • We are Vulnerable
  • We are Isolated
  • We are left out of our Lives
  • No one is really there for us
  • Care in unpredictable
  • Care ends and we struggle.

“I already had my family taken away once, and it was probably the hardest thing in my life. I didn’t know where else to turn or what I was going to do, and when I turn 21, it’s all going to happen again.”
Excerpt from the My REAL Lifebook Report, Brandon, 20, Youth in Care 

This is what a lack of stability and permanency looks like, for 7000 of Ontario’s children and youth who have been removed from their homes by a system which promised them that they would find somewhere better, somewhere safer. 

We learned that aging out was about the events leading up to it. Events that have a profound effect on who you are and your life and require the support of ongoing unconditional commitment to work through. Some people, like myself will find this through adoption.

You may have noticed that I have used the word luck several times. It’s because it’s a word I have heard a lot. How lucky, that my family wanted me. How lucky that I got to keep a relationship with my sister. How lucky I am that it worked out this way. For most, it does not work out that way.

I do not believe that this is untrue, I think luck did play a part. I just don’t think it’s what we should be relying on when we talk about the future of over 7000 children and youth in care.  Supporting the Adoption Council of Ontario means relying less on luck and more on action. It means keeping the promise that was made to us when we were removed from our homes. So please, invest in building permanency, invest in building family.



“We are, after all, YOUR children, Ontario.”
Excerpt from the My REAL Lifebook Report, Justine, 25, Former Youth in Care

Written By: Wendy Hayes

Posted: May 14, 2015 at 07:32 AM
By: Wendy Hayes
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Events Youth Network
Open For Discussion: Adoption Training for Professionals and Families

The first recorded adoption story is of Baby Moses. Because his mother couldn't keep him safe and care for him she put him in a basket and floated him down the river knowing the Pharaoh’s sister would be bathing along the way. As she had hoped, the sister found the baby and ‘adopted’ him.  

Do you also know that this is the first story of an Open Adoption? Moses’s mother attended the Queen’s court and became her son’s nurse.

I knew very little about openness adoption. It was explained very well through different points of view.
-Mental Health Professional

Research and experience tell us that openness (ongoing contact) between birth and adoptive families is good for everyone – especially for children.  In Ontario, our legislation tells us that openness should be considered whenever a child being placed for adoption has made or maintained connections with foster and birth family while in the foster care system.  

Useful to hear specific examples of how challenging situations have been managed and that openness can still work in these situations 
-Children’s Lawyer

But building openness plans is not always easy. It can be challenging to know how to orchestrate a plan - a lot of decisions about the structure, logistics and boundaries of plan have to be made while adults also learn to communicate with each other, build new relationships and anticipate how they will manage changes that will need to be made over the years. 

On Friday May 1st more than 200 Ontario adoption professionals and adoptive families met together to talk in depth about this topic – sharing perspectives and experiences about all aspects of planning for openness in adoption.

The training was a good variety of perspectives regarding openness. It was well planned for me well received to push my thinking in the area of openness.
-Adoption Worker

At the end of the day we all committed to continue our learning by sharing resources and materials on this topic including a number of great resources already available. Please have a look at our resources and share with us your resources, experiences and questions about Open Adoption. 

Posted: May 6, 2015 at 09:16 AM
By: Wendy Hayes
(0) Comment/s | Categories: ACO Education Day Events
AdoptOntario is Hiring!

AdoptOntatrio is hiring a new Clinical Coordinator on a one year contract! 

AdoptOntario is a program of the Adoption Council of Ontario that connects Ontario families with children in our foster care system who have adoption as their permanency plan. 

For more information, please see our job posting.

Posted: April 7, 2015 at 12:27 PM
By: Wendy Hayes
Comments Disabled | Categories: AdoptOntario
Believe in the Power of Family

We believe in Family! | It’s a Moral Imperative – this is the message of our Calendar for the month of February. With February being the month of Family Day and Valentine’s Day,  we think it is a good month to be renew our belief in Family and be reminded the Kids Deserve a Family – every day and all year long.

February 16th is Family Day for Ontarians. A day we take a break from our work to reflect on the importance of family and hopefully enjoy some precious extra time with our family members.  ACO has built a campaign around this event and we hope you will join us.  We have created a special button that you can wear to show that you believe in the importance of family!

Infinity Button

Buy a Button
One for $12  OR  Two for $20


The message of this button is simple – Family Forever.  The ACO Network of Adopted and Foster Youth created the design of the pin. They chose the Infinity sign because it fit with their belief that adoption gives them a family forever but as this symbol has ‘no beginning and no end’ it can also represent the importance of their birth family. They said this is what ‘family’ really means – what every child needs. 

Show Your Friends and Family!
For the month of February, change your profile picture or cover photo to show that you believe in the power of family! We’ve already made them for you! Click here to see the images. You can also take a picture of you wearing your button and share it with us on Facebook or Twitter! While you’re at it – tell us what family means to you, or what you will be doing on February 16th.

Join the Family 
Family has the greatest impact on a child’s health, well-being and potential for success. Family is the number one need for almost 7,000 Ontario Crown Wards, who are at risk of leaving government care without a family to support them.

Join Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO) and Adopt4Life (A4L) to meet this need by collectively working together to achieve our goal of:

Every Child in Ontario will leave foster care with a family
- birth, kin, adoption, guardianship- 
and services will wrap around the family to support them on their lifelong journey.

Become a member – Join our family, help us to achieve our goal and we’ll send you 2 pins that you can wear to show that YOU BELIEVE in the importance of family – for every child and youth.

“Ultimately, adoption is about the rights of the children
– they deserve a chance to thrive to their full capacity
and as adults we are charged with ensuring that chance becomes reality”
-Adoptive Parents

We have sent a letter asking that our leaders in the government wear this button to show commitment to continuing to work toward a province where all children have a family because – All Kids deserve a family – every day and all year long. Family has the greatest impact on a child’s health, well-being and potential for success. Family is the number one need for almost 7,000 Ontario Crown Wards, who are at risk of leaving government care without a family to support them.

If we work in partnership – Partnerships for Permanency – we can do it- Believe in the Power of Family!

Adoption Council of Ontario Adopt4Life    
Posted: January 28, 2015 at 03:51 PM
By: Wendy Hayes
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Adoption Awareness Month Events Youth Network
The Cost of Doing Nothing

After the extravagance of the holiday season how many of us put budgeting as one of our new year’s resolutions? Most of us spent more last year on ‘luxuries’ than we planned to.  Time to cut back, spend responsibly and prioritize what we really need. This is noble and good thinking.

BUT sometime we have to think about the real cost of decisions that we make to cut back. Consider the real Cost of Doing Nothing about the challenges that face our Child Welfare system especially in the area of permanency planning for children and youth in foster care. This is the January theme of our Kidsdeserveafamily campaign.

Currently in Ontario, just under 7,000 children and youth live as Crown Wards, permanent wards of the Ontario government. The Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption (Ontario 2009) noted very conservatively that it costs a least $32,000 a year to keep a Crown Ward in care. They noted that it costs significantly less to provide supports and subsidies to help adoptive families parent children.

More recently, a report by the Conference Board of Canada presented in April 2014 found that a child “aging out” of care today will earn about $326,000 less income over his/her lifetime compared to the average Canadian.*

  • As a result of their lower income, they also require more social assistance and pay less income and consumption taxes over their lifetimes.*
  • On a per-person basis this will cost all levels of Canadian government more then $126,000 per year in the form of higher social assistance payments and lower tax revenue.*

To put some perspective on let us consider some facts:

  • all children and youth in foster care have experienced trauma and moves from home to home that have impacted the continuity of their education not to mention special needs for learning they may have had when entering the child welfare system (82% will be diagnosed of children in care will be diagnosed) 
  • fewer than 50% of Crown Wards will complete grade 12
  • less than 3% will obtain a College or University degree

Compare these stats to the general population where more than 80% of youth graduate from grade 12 and about half will go on to complete college or univeristy. From there, more than ½ of these young people will return to their parents home or accept financial support from their parents until they are 30 or older.

The fact is that it is the support of a family that helps a youth through the complex challenges of high school, college and finding a place in the adult work force. 

The Call to Action that we are making this month to our government in making decisions about funding for social service, child welfare and children’s mental health programs is to make a commitment to support Permanency for Children. As a society, as a system, Ontario needs to invest in programs that will ensure that children and youth who are waiting in foster care will have the permanence of a kinship, customary care or adoptive family as soon as possible AND that Ontario will build the village of community based supports to help families on the lifelong journey. 

Over the next few months, we will be highlighting the evidenced based programs that are essential to build in Ontario –

  • family recruitment and preparation programs;
  • education for mental health and child welfare professionals so they can help families dealing with complex mental health issues;
  • parent support and respite programs;
  • subsidies to ensure that families can access the programs their children need when they need them.

We have a Blueprint to build the Village of Supports in Ontario.

Rest assured that we will ‘watch the budget’ by ensuring that we are working in partnership with all of our stakeholders and building programs that are community-based, inclusive and sustainable over time. As Henry Ford once said - If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.

We have a collective responsibility to do more. 

*The Conference Board of Canada, Success for All: The Economic Case for Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care, 2014. 

Posted: January 7, 2015 at 01:18 PM
By: Wendy Hayes
(0) Comment/s | Categories: Adoption Awareness Month

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Latest Posts

» Children and Youth in Care Day 2015
May 14, 2015 at 07:32 AM
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