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May 8, 2010 permalink
The St Catharines Standard makes a positive case for adoption through children's aid. Since CAS had to cooperate with the reporter, the story is part of an effort to improve their image following recent negative publicity.
CAS knows they cannot tug your heartstrings with anonymous stories. This one names names, in violation of their own enabling legislation. We learn that Allanna Eves adopted handicapped girl Nicole, and that couples Donna and Chris Celeste along with Jennifer and Robert Melville are waiting for their adoptive children. As usual, the article focuses on the charitable work of the adopters, overlooking the baby-theft used to get children away from their real parents. In case you are threatened for uttering a name in public, remind the CAS, or the courts, that CAS routinely discloses names when it is to their advantage.
Answering the call to Parenthood
When the call she'd been waiting more than two years to receive finally came, Allanna Eves was torn over how to answer it.
The call had come from Family and Children's Services Niagara.
And the person on the other end of the line was offering something Eves had longed for -- a child the social services agency believed would be a good match for Eves to adopt.
But Eves was initially more doubtful.
At the time, the Niagara woman was working two tough jobs helping people with special needs -- one as an elementary school educational assistant and the other in a home for adults with various disabilities.
The little girl FACS wanted Eves to consider adopting had challenges of her own.
Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, the child was identified with learning disabilities, didn't speak and still wasn't toilet trained at age four .
Eves, 33, struggled over what to do. She badly wanted to be a mother, but she wasn't sure she was up to the job of taking in the little girl.
"After about two weeks of thinking about it, I said, no, because she had way more needs than I thought I could handle," she recalled recently.
After about six months went by, Eves received another call from FACS, this time asking if she had any interest in reconsidering.
She agreed to meet the little girl and immediately felt a bond.
And in the three years since Eves adopted her, seven-year-old Nicole has thrived.
"If I hadn't gone to see her the second time they called, I probably still wouldn't have her," Eves said.
"It's very rewarding to see Nicole blossom.... She was ready to grow and ready to become an independent little flower that does everything for herself now."
FACS is hoping more people in Niagara will open their hearts and minds like Eves, a single mom who is now waiting to adopt a second child.
The agency has a growing number of children in care who are in need of permanent homes, including a larger than normal number of kids in the higher age range and children with special needs.
Currently, FACS has 22 children between the ages of two months and 16 years of age who are available for adoption -- more than double its usual count.
Those numbers have climbed in part because of a legislative shift a few years ago that requires child protection agencies to move more quickly to come up with "permanent" solutions for children under their care -- either by working out arrangements to return kids to their biological families or seeking to get them declared Crown wards, who can be put up for adoption.
But finding adoptive parents isn't as simple as working down a waiting list.
"We have an abundance of people who want to adopt, but they're primarily interested in younger children," FACS child welfare supervisor Bernadine Qua said.
It's also vital to find compatible matches between children up for adoption and prospective parents, who have gone through the required training and approvals process.
"It's about meeting the child's needs as opposed to meeting the needs of the parents or the applicants," Qua said.
It takes most adoptive parents about 18 months to two years to be matched with a child, but that process can be streamlined somewhat for older kids and those with special needs.
Before a couple or a single applicant can be approved to adopt they must first go through an extensive training program, as well as police checks, reference checks and home visits by FACS adoption workers.
The training -- the same regimen provided to foster care parents provincewide -- and orientation program are aimed to give parents some of the skills and strategies they'll need to forge successful relationships with children who have typically had difficult lives.
"We need to build an understanding of where the kids come from in order to transition them into their new lives," FACS spokeswoman Ann Godfrey said.
"People need to understand things aren't going to magically click together. I think once the kids feel they can trust them, that's where you're going to see the turnaround."
Several weeks ago FACS held a forum for about 120 pre-qualified applicants to profile some of the children in its care waiting for homes.
"It was a phenomenal response. The room was packed," Qua said.
The event was also a success, leading to two adoption placements so far.
The forum was an eye opener for Donna and Chris Celeste of St. Catharines.
The couple is hoping to adopt siblings under the age of six.
"The wide amount of kids they had and the wide amount of ages was almost a little bit of a shock," Donna said. "It makes you wish there were more parents open to adoption because there are so many kids."
The Celestes -- both 31 and married for seven years -- decided on adoption after giving up on expensive fertility treatments after about six months without success.
"We thought why would we throw away tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments when there are kids out there that just need loving homes and we could do that for free," Donna said.
Jennifer and Robert Melville of Stevensville are in a similar position.
Each of them has a teenage daughter from previous marriages, but they've been unable to have a child biologically together.
They've set their sights on adopting a couple of brothers and have been waiting for a match for about two years.
"We haven't been able to have kids on our own and we want more kids, so we said this is the next logical step," Robert said.
The Melvilles are wresting with all the same emotions that every expecting parent confronts at some point as they wait for their lives to change.
"Just like when trying to have a child naturally, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of waiting," Jennifer said.
"Even if you have a child on your own, you don't know if they're going to be healthy. You don't know how they're going to come out.... Whether you have the child biologically or you adopt, you never know. It's kind of whatever the cards you're dealt."
But supportive families can make a huge difference in the lives of the children they adopt, said FACS adoption worker Heidi TeBrake.
"They know they belong. They know they can put all of their energy into learning and blossoming," she said.
"It takes away the what-happens- to-me question when they're no longer in foster care."
For more info ...
More information about adoption is available through Family and Children's Services Niagara at 905-937-7731 or www.facsniagara.on.ca
Source: St. Catharines Standard