It’s that time again! As summer cools down into autumn and you brave department stores to tackle that “Back to School” shopping list, it’s good to take some time to think about how this transition will affect your family.
Perhaps it is you kids’ first time to school, or their first time to school since they have been a part of your life! Maybe you’re at a new school, or maybe this will feel like the thousandth time you’ve done all this. Either way, we have compiled some resources to help prepare for this important time of year!
We know the thought of fundraising can be intimidating, but it’s easier than you think! Our Early Bird Winner, Natalie, gave us a great idea! Instead of asking for gifts for an upcoming house warming party, she is asking people to make a donation to her walk! Do you have an upcoming birthday or other special occasion? Why not do the same?
This year we are counting on you to help us fund support services and programs assisting families who adopt children with complex needs. Here’s how you can do that in 6 easy ways!
Prepare for the 'why'. Some people will want to know why you have chosen to Invest in Building Families by participating in ACO's FunWalk. A personal story is always the strongest way to connect, but it's always good to have a few examples of what the ACO does ready when some asks! You can learn more about FunWalk's focus this year by clicking here.
Always carry a pledge form with you. You never know who you will meet when you’re out and about. Just click here to download a copy.
Having a party? Instead of asking for gifts, why not ask people to donate to your walk?
Why not canvass your neighborhood? You have no idea how receptive your neighbors will be when they hear the ACO story.
Share with your social networks. There may be someone on you Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, who is passionate about the cause - and you don't even know it!
Top Pledge Prizes
You’ll have the chance to take home thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts including our top pledge prizes; Blue Jays tickets (and they’re soaring right now!), VIA Rail passes for two along the Windsor – Toronto – Montreal corridor, and aeroplan miles!
Amy is 7 years old – she has been in foster care since she was 5. Her mom used drugs and alcohol while she was pregnant and was trapped in abusive situations when Amy was young. Amy has some learning challenges (ADHD) and she is on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. She needs an adoptive family.
Joey, Amy’s brother, is 3. He has global development delays and is being assessed for autism. Joey is being cared for by an aunt who cannot raise him to adulthood because of medical problems, so she placed him in foster care.
Amy and Joey should grow up together; they should be able to keep a relationship with their aunt who tried to so hard to care for them.
Jessie and Hayden are parents waiting for their ‘match’. At first they wanted to adopt one school aged child. Being teachers, their strengths matched the needs of Amy and Joey, so they opened their hearts to siblings – understanding this important family connection. Amy and Joey have found their forever family.
And then they lived happily ever after right?
As we know, adoption is not an event, it is a lifelong journey. Jessie and Hayden are now recognizing the true meaning of this and beginning to understand that their traditional ideas of parenting are not working.
Like many adoptive families;
Everyone’s routine has changed. Jessie and Hayden, previously childless, now have two children in their home with high needs and emotional trauma. Amy and Joey are not used to living with each other, and their new parents are essentially strangers to them.
Amy doesn’t trust her caregivers, based on her previous experience with adults and rejects them. She believes that Jessie and Hayden do not really want her and will call her social worker to remove her and place her in a different home.
They keep openness with Joey’s aunt, but find themselves feeling insecure about the attachment that Joey has to her and not them. Despite seeing that this is best for Joey, they wonder how to deal with their own emotions.
Joey faces year long waiting lists for resources he had access to in his last community.
The school is saying that they cannot keep Amy in class due to her special needs, suggesting that either Jessie or Hayden leave their job to home school her.
Hayden and Jessie are learning that the financial costs of supporting a family of four are going to be higher than they originally budgeted for, especially if they lose a salary in order to better meet Amy’s needs.
Hayden and Jessie’s doctors have even suggested that they have taken on too much and should place Amy back into foster care, which would fulfill their daughter’s suspicions that she is unlovable and will never have a permanent home.
Hayden and Jessie have no one to talk to – as none of their family members or friends seem to really understand.
For some of these issues, there are programs in place that will help this family. In fact this family may be surrounded by support systems that they do not know about or are unsure of how to access. Or perhaps they have found that the ones they have accessed do not understand their challenges through an adoption lens. For some of these issues there are no real programs available. If they cannot get access to these supports – what happens to the family, to the children?
Many people do not realize that not all children in Ontario have a family, well not a family that will be there to grow up and grow old in, as is rarely the case when a child is in the foster care system. Foster care ends at 18 in Ontario.
We know that 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 children and youth in the Ontario foster care system and ½ million children around the world who are waiting for adoptive parents to give them the FAMILY they need.
Making adoption happen is complicated!
It seems to me that we need to do everything we can to make sure that they don’t have to keep struggling because of the bad things that happened to them through no fault of their own. I know that what makes the difference is a family that doesn’t have an expiry date. - Pat Convery, Executive Director, Adoption Council of Ontario
Adoptive parents have to go through intense scrutiny, assessment and education even before they start to navigate the system to connect with the child that is right for their family. They have to learn a lot to be the family for a hurt child.
Children also have to go through a lot to be a child who needs an adoptive family – loss, separation, abuse, neglect and often several years of waiting to connect while moving constantly through our foster care system.
It would be nice to believe that once a child or youth finds a family ‘to grow up and grow old in’ that the hard work is done—but unfortunately that is not the case.
Parenting is difficult, even under ideal circumstances but when it involves parenting children who have experienced trauma and loss in their young lives, families need support to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of their children. These supports do not exist in many Ontario communities in any predictable or sustainable way.
This is why we need your support, this is why we need you to Invest in Building Families!
I have to admit that I am not a person who finds it easy to ask others for money to support causes that are dear to my heart. I know that most people have limited money to donate and there are hundreds of very worthy causes competing for those dollars.
Every week I get email requests from friends, family and acquaintances who are walking, running, biking, etc all in the name of raising badly needed funds. This short video explains just why I have gone out of my comfort zone to organize and participate in FunWalk 2015, The Adoption Council of Ontario’s annual fundraiser to support their mission of ensuring every child in the province has a family to grow up and grow old in. In the words of Lily Tomlin:
"I always wondered why somebody doesn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
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.
Other posts from Aviva:
We Know How to Do it Well
Aviva and Peter had always planned to add to their family through adoption after having their biological children. 17 months after they started their adoption journey they met their (now) daughter. She was a smart, feisty, beautiful teenager named Emma* who was just shy of her 17th birthday.Read More.
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We need to believe that ALL children and youth can be adopted. As the summer begins to heat up, August brings us to the next chapter in our Adoption Awareness Month Calendar, Unadoptable is Unacceptable. No child is too sick, too damaged or too old to deserves permanency and someone committed to their wellbeing. This is a message brought to us by the Dave Thomas Foundation (DTFA) for Adoption and it's an important one. We are starting to use some innovative programs to recruit families for waiting children such as Family Finding programs, Wendy's Wonderful Kids Recruiters, and AdoptOntario. We've experienced some success. We need to do more. We asked President and CEO or the DTFA to tell us more about what we can do to make Unadoptable Unacceptable.
Or how to quit making excuses and do our job (because unadoptable is unacceptable)
Written by: Rita Soronen President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
When I talk to audiences not familiar with the child welfare system in Ontario, I share startling numbers – more 165,000 children last year were involved in reports of abuse or neglect and nearly 25,000 were in foster care. And today, 7,000 children are Crown Wards waiting to be adopted. These are children, I explain, who have been abused or neglected at such a level that they have been permanently severed from their family of origin and are now simply waiting for a family to adopt them. As I speak, I see these truths sink in through quiet gasps and concerned faces.
This is not the only crisis our children experience. Each year we fail more than 1,000 children, as we make excuses for not finding them adoptive homes. We allow them to age out of care without the family we promised. The questions then come quickly . . . How could we fail already vulnerable children? What happens to these children? Why is the system not working for so many?
Why indeed. Child welfare status quo has neither prevented children from the harm of abuse, nor has it assured that each and every child, once permanently removed from their family of origin, will have the forever family they deserve.
This is a shared responsibility – our children, our communities. So how can we do better, together?
Dispel the myth that children are in care because they have done something wrong. We know through our research that 51% of Canadians believe this to be true. But nothing could be farther from the truth. These children are victims of abuse or neglect, and through no fault of their own, become “system kids.” (Canadian Foster Care Adoption Attitudes. Harris Interactive, Commissioned by Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; 2013)
Act like each of the 7,000 children is one of your own – we only want the best for our children and we should want the best for all children.
Question child welfare “business as usual” methods, including photolistings, adoption fairs, or other general practices that recruit potential families into a wide funnel. These methods have not halted the number of older youth emancipating from the child welfare system, and simply aren’t working
Believe that every child and youth, whether they are in preschool or are a 17-year-old senior in high school, needs and wants the comfort, security and safety of a family. Know that 18 is not a magic number. Even adults need family. Spread the notion that “unadoptable is unacceptable”.
Understand that families are as diverse as the children in foster care – single parents, older parents, same sex parents, racially, ethnically and spiritually diverse parents all can adopt and provide a healthy and loving family for a child.
Remember how you felt as a child – when you were lonely or scared or tired or hungry – and then think about someone calming you, holding you, telling you all would be fine. Children in care are suffering from the trauma of abuse and separation, and from unimaginable grief and loss. Too often, no one is there to comfort them.
Demand policymaker, child welfare head and community leader accountability. If a child ages out of care, ask: Who is taking this personally? Who feels responsible? To whom can the child look and ask, “Why don’t I have a family?”
Ask every candidate for office – from municipal to provincial and territorial to federal – what will you do to make children’s lives better, particularly those who are most vulnerable and with the fewest resources available to them?
Ask a youth who aged out of care what he or she experienced and what can we do to make foster care better. And then listen. And then tell your policymakers and child welfare leaders what you have learned.
Consider the fact that you just might fall in love with a waiting child, if you open your heart and home. Find out how to adopt or ask your local agency how you can help. Go to the ACO's events page and sign up for an upcoming How to Adopt session.
The Adoption Council of Ontario is a not-for-profit providing outreach, support and education to all adoptees, adoptive parents, potential adoptive parents, birth families, and adoption professionals in Ontario. We deal with public adoption, private adoption, international adoption and relative adoption. Since 1987, we have been working towards a provincial community where all children have families forever.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the government of Ontario.