Adoption is a wonderful way to build a family, however, it is still not the norm. Although family and friends may be supportive of parents by adoption and their children they may not truly understand the rewards and unique challenges surrounding adoption. Whether parenting for a number of years or just starting to build a family through adoption, support groups provide adoptive and permanency planning parents with access to a network of people who all share similar experiences. It is important for one’s health and effectiveness as a parent to be able to talk about their experiences, exchange ideas, shed a tear, share a laugh, feel less isolated, and network with others who “get it”, all without judgement. We become better parents with this type of support. Whether group members choose to have contact through face-to-face meetings, email contact or social media, they consistently report that the support and understanding they receive from other adoptive parents is extremely helpful. As noted by one adoptive mom, “The support group is a place where we can go and celebrate our gains. Even in our challenging days, we are able to laugh and remember that the healing work we are doing is helping. We feel re-energized and validated.”
Pathways to Permanence 2: Parenting Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and Loss is an 8 session (24 hour) specialized educational program for adoptive parents, kinship caregivers and Customary Care families offered by the ACO throughout the Province of Ontario. The ACO developed the last session of Pathways (i.e., Session #8) specifically to help participants build a community of support for themselves and other adoptive parents once an offering of Pathways comes to an end. With the guidance and support of ACO’s PACT Parent Liaison, the last session of Pathways is dedicated to helping group participants learn about the value of support groups as well as the tools they may need to build an ongoing parent support network in their own community. The Parent Liaison will then work with participants to develop a plan for the creation of a parent support group so that the knowledge gained and the relationships built during Pathways can continue to grow and flourish.
Once a support group is established, the Parent Liaison is also available to work with and support parent leads, around the province, as needed. At the beginning of 2018, the Parent Liaison had made presentations to over 40 Pathways groups and has helped to establish or provide support to over 30 Parent Support Groups.
In addition to setting up parent support groups through Pathways, the ACO Parent Liaison is available to assist with creating, growing and maintaining support groups wherever there is an identified need. Along with other staff members from the ACO, the Parent Liaison hosts quarterly teleconferences with all interested and available parent leads for training and support purposes. In the fall, a “Peer Support Enhancement” training day for parent support group leaders took place with great success. The Parent Liaison is an experienced adoptive parent who has built both a thriving parent support group, and an equally successful youth network in her community. For more information about how to establish or connect with an existing parent support group for adoptive and permanency planning parents, please contact Sylvia Gibbons at email@example.com.
Please note: If you are interested in being a part of an adoptive/kinship/customary care parent support group in your community please contact Sylvia Gibbons, PACT Parent Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in having referrals made to your Parent Support group, please contact Sylvia Gibbons, PACT Parent Liaison at email@example.com.
Please note that the following support groups are not ACO groups, rather, supported by the Parent Liaison. To expand each of the following sections, please click on the title.
FASDOne - FASD groups: http://www.fasdontario.ca/cms/?s=support+groups
CANGRANDS - grandparents raising grandchildren groups: http://www.cangrands.com/
Parents for Children's Mental Health: http://www.pcmh.ca/a-z