Journey to Adoption: How Years of Learning & Waiting Prepared Us

Date: November 14, 2018 Author: Mary Henry Categories: AAM 18 - AdoptOntario | ACO Education Day | AdoptOntario | Adoption Awareness Month | Guest Blogger
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Like many adoptive moms, I have wanted to adopt a child for as long as I can remember. As a child I watched friends and family adopt domestically and internationally and something inside my heart resonated. I just knew that I was made for this. Luckily I fell in love with a man who was able to jump on board with this vision as well.

We began our journey by walking into our local Children's Aid Society and expressing our interest in learning more about adoption. During that initial meeting we learned more about the adoption process and decided that we wanted to become foster parents initially and pursue adoption later. We also met the social worker who would walk us through the next seven years of our journey as a foster and adoptive family. Little did we know she would become one of our greatest supports.

For the next couple years we provided care for ten different children. This was an invaluable learning period for us. We acquired parenting experience and had access to trauma and attachment focused training. We learned why children who enter our home through foster care or adoption need to be parented differently than a biological child. We were given exposure to parenting children with special needs. We also learned about the many children waiting in foster care for adoptive families.

In 2013 we attended the Adoption Council of Ontario's Education Day, followed by the Adoption Resource Exchange the following day. It was overwhelming to sort through the hundreds of profiles featuring children waiting for adoptive families, but that was the day we first saw our two daughters' faces. They were four and six years old, older than the age group we had originally anticipated pursuing. As a twenty-three year old young woman I was intimidated at the idea of parenting a six year old. The majority of our foster placements had been infants and toddlers. My husband, however, kept coming back to their profiles. He felt strongly that these girls were meant to be ours and while the profile clearly stated the girls' many challenges, we felt excited and confident about the prospect of being able to provide permanency for them.

It took another nine months of waiting and advocating before we were matched with our then five and seven year old daughters. We spent a few months transitioning the girls from the their foster families into our home, with countless hours of driving back and forth, dreaming, praying and preparing. The relationships formed with their foster families through those months of transition are ones we still value today.

Our daughters have been home almost five years now and they are flourishing. It has taken a lot of tenacity on all our parts but the rewards are worth every difficulty we have faced a thousand times over. I am so proud of the way my girls have persevered through the many changes and challenges life has brought them. They are inspirations to me of the resilience of the human spirit and the beauty of community. They are fearless in their pursuit of love and acceptance for all. I am grateful for the way they have taught me to celebrate the little things, accept each other fully in all our flaws and to live life with curiosity and courage.

Since adopting our daughters my husband and I have continued to grow our family biologically and through foster care. Our daughters have welcomed each new member with compassion and enthusiasm. We have a large support network of extended family, friends, professionals and neighbours. These people have given us the support we need to thrive. It is so helpful to have a network of people around you who are willing to learn alongside you, equip you with knowledge and love you unconditionally.

I would encourage anyone who is considering adoption to begin the process. Every family's journey looks a little different. The process of a home study will help you ask the important questions needed in order to determine if this is the right fit for your family.

Adoption is an exercise in vulnerability, faith, courage and patience. Every day I get to look at my daughters' beautiful faces and feel grateful that our lives have intersected in this way we call 'family'.

Author: Alicia, Adoptive Mother of Two Daughters

Photo is a stock image to protect the privacy of the family.