On November 12th, 2019 Amanda and Mike Robinson got an early Christmas gift, one they had been waiting years for—a daughter, who happened to be 27 years old.
In September of 2018, Melissa Ferrier (who now goes by Robinson) reached out to the ACO and the Never Too Late program. Her email read as follows:
…I am very excited and hopeful to be writing to you. I was referred to you by Toronto Children’s Aid society after I had been trying to find resources for adult adoption for former crown wards. The background:
I was in care/extended care from ages 3 to 21 and was placed with a second foster family at the age of 12, with the Robinsons. Amanda and Mike Robinson, both age 40 currently, have 3 of their own children, all whom I was in their lives since their preschool age. Through the years of ups and downs, and let’s face it, they missed my cute years; we have grown to be an inseparable and strong family.
The story: I received a message from my little sister, my parent’s youngest daughter, Cassandra aged 13, and she informed me of a little Christmas wish. My mom in tears admitted all she wants is to be able to present me with adoption papers. Is something like this possible? Endgame, we are looking for an adult adoption to make my forever family official.
Sincerely, Melissa Ferrier
We couldn’t make it happen for Christmas 2018 but on a very cold morning inside a Belleville courthouse with those papers a judge was able to make formal what this family had been living for years.
We all know that the need for permanent, unconditional life-long connections doesn’t end when someone turns 18. Melissa’s story below highlights how family is important throughout your life and the need to be facilitating and supporting all young people who “age out of care” to find their own form of permanency no matter how old they are.
Special thanks to Shirtliff Hinds Law and Michelle Stephenson for their pro bono legal assistance.
Growing up in foster care I saw a different side to life. I have seen it all. Good, bad, and the ugly. I will, however ALWAYS count myself to be blessed as far as my experience goes while a crown ward in the system. Today, I look at our family and feel strength and a strong sense of belonging. For me, I was born a Ferrier, but I found my place in the Robinson’s family. It is difficult to put into few words the impact, since there have been ripples upon ripples in my life where the Robinson’s have had a hand in shaping my hopes and dreams.
I first started seeing the Robinson family sometime in early 2004, on weekends to give my then foster mom, a break. I soon moved in full time. With the Robinson’s I had a sense of place, a responsibility within the family. I wasn’t just “serving my time” till I was out of foster care, I was growing and living my life in a meaningful way with as much support as Amanda and Mike could give.
When I left home, stubborn and foolish at the age of 17, I broke every single one of their hearts, my siblings, my grandparents, and my parents. I cut ties completely, and for nearly a year, my parents were in the dark. It was an extremely trying time for them.
Reconnecting with Family
Convinced I had burned the bridge between my foster family, I held myself back from connecting again until late 2010, pregnant with my first child. I expected a scolding, and perhaps the Robinson’s wanting nothing to do with me, it was quite the opposite.
Fast forwarding to September 2012, I got married to my son’s father, and Mike walked me down the aisle. My parents were present for both of my children’s births, driving the 160km as quickly as they could to be there to support and share the joy of welcoming a baby into the world.
The greatest gift my parents gave me, was a home to return to and a fierce sense of protection and determination to save me from my abusive marriage. In 2014, with my 2 children, my parents and siblings stepped up and came together in support and love to make sure my family had a second chance. Moving back in with my parents was a humbling experience, I had always been prideful to a fault, but again, Mike and Amanda refused to give up. My parents and siblings helped out with childcare when I had to work nights and weekends, expecting nothing in return except the promise of always being the best version of me I could be. I was able to rebuild my life, go through the courts for divorce and custody of my children, move out of my parents and develop my own sense of self in a healthy home of our own.
My life without the Robinson’s is simply unfathomable.
We have also discussed what adoption means for us emotionally, but also legally. That in this fleeting life where no day is promised, having a relationship recognized legally takes away much of our worries knowing that what we feel in our hearts, will be recognized to the fullest. This adoption has been for so long desired, it will be a wonderful moment to see it finally completed.