For Love or Money?

at a glance

Adoptive Parent, Sr Statistical Clerk @ Stats Canada
Children's Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry
2006 - 2009
Children and Youth Services
Laurel Broten (LIB) Deb Matthews (LIB) Mary Anne Chambers (LIB)

We have been advocating for our adopted children and their siblings since 2006 but nobody listens and the CAS covers everything up. While parents with money can afford to cover up their bad parenting skills, the CAS uses their lawyers to cover up their bad parenting skills as well. We dealt with two small CAS agencies and what a nightmare. They care more about their foster parents than the kids. WE asked for help for the 17 year old sibling that was living with us because she was a cutter. The kind of help they gave us was, "bring her to the Emergency if she tries to kill herself". Why do all Agencies have lawyers on their payroll and only a small portion of them have counsellors or psychologists? Not every kid needs a lawyer but every single one of these kids needs someone to talk too. We met with the review board, agency personnel, MPP, sent letters to the Ministry, Minister, Premier and nothing came out of it.

Bottom line is this: Agencies are allowed to neglect kids but biological parents are not.

We adopted our son through the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry CAS in August 2005. This adoption was picture perfect because of the amazing foster mom and surroundings that our son had. We still have a strong relationship with his foster mom and her friend today (2012). After we said yes to adopt our son, they told us that he had a 4 year old sister that was going up for adoption and they wanted to know if we would keep in contact with her and her newly adoptive family. We said, 'yes, for sure' but on our way home we asked ourselves, why didn't they ask us to adopt both of them?

We asked our adoption worker why they were not put up for adoption together and she told us that they had special needs and it would be too much for one family. The 'special needs' referred to speech delays, and both children wore glasses. There was actually no reason why one family could not adopt two siblings, but the agency was able to convince a judge otherwise.

We met our daughter for the first time in October, 2005. Even before we met her, we knew we wanted to adopt her because in our hearts we knew that siblings should stay together. After the first visit, we told our adoption worker that we wanted to adopt the 4 year old sister as well, but she didn't take us seriously. She told us that she wasn't ready to be adopted and that we should concentrate on bonding with our new son. We were told that if we wanted to continue the visits with our son's sister we could, just by contacting the foster parents. So we did just that. This is where the nightmare began.

The first few times we called the foster parents and left messages, but they never returned our calls until we contacted our adoption worker. From October to December 2005, we visited 3 or 4 times and finally in January 2006, we convinced the Agency to let us adopt her. In January, our soon-to-be daughter started coming every two weekends, either we would pick her up or the foster parents would drop her off. Because our daughter was in JK, we decided it was probably best if she stayed at the foster home until the end of the school year.

When we first met the foster parents, we thought they were great but that soon changed. A few times when we picked up our daughter for the weekend, the foster dad was playing on-line poker for money in the dining room and could not talk to us. The foster parents had changed their phone number and decided they were not going to give it to us. On one occasion, our daughter was in the hospital for about a week before anyone told us. The only reason we were told is because I called. Neither the foster parents nor the Agency had the courtesy to call us.

I believe it was March, 2006 when we asked the Agency if we could meet our daughter's teacher, and they said yes. She had nothing good to say about the foster parents or the case worker. The foster parents had never told the school that our daughter had special needs (she could barely talk). The teacher met with the foster parents but they didn't care. They told her it was the Agency's problem and that she should call the case worker.

Finally in November, the teacher met with the worker and made a complaint against the foster parents. The only thing the worker did was tell her to write a letter to the Agency. After we sat with the teacher and heard what had happened, we met with our adoption worker and told her that our daughter was not staying in that house until the end of the school year. Since I was going back to work from parental leave on May 1st, my wife and I decided that our daughter would move home for May 1st and my wife can start her parental leave.

My daughter's birthday is on April 29th and her foster parents decided to make her birthday party on April 30th, the day she was coming home. The birthday/going away party went well until it was time to leave. The foster parents had not given us anything to bring home, prior to her leaving, and had not packed any of her stuff. My wife, daughter and foster mom went into her room and her foster mom was taking her drawers out and emptying them in garbage bags right in front of her. What a way to treat a child that you're suppose to love and care for!

This foster family should not have any foster kids in their care and they adopted a boy not too long after we adopted our daughter. The day we signed the official adoption papers, our daughter's case worker came to see us and actually told us "I am happy that she will finally have a voice and get the help that she needs". This comment really made us angry because her worker should have been her voice.

When our daughter moved home, we took her shopping for new shoes. She was wearing size 8 shoes, and to our surprise, she actually should have been wearing size 10 shoes. To this day, her toes on one foot are messed up because of those hand-me-down shoes that the foster parents forced our daughter to wear. Most of the clothes that our daughter had were also hand-me-downs, so what did the foster parents do with the clothing allowance they got (on-line poker maybe)?

Our daughter was 5 years old when she moved home and she could not say her own name or her brother's name properly, could not count to five, did not know her colours, and did not know the alphabet. When she started Sr. Kindergarten in September (basically three months after she moved home), she could say her own name and her brother's name properly, she knew her colours, she could count to 10 and she knew her alphabet. When I told this to the Agency's Executive Director, she had the nerve to tell me that the child was able to do all of that because she knew that she was now in a permanent home - and not because my wife and I had worked really hard with her! How can a 5-year-old know and understand that she was in a permanent home after only three months? The Executive Director even told me that all the kids in her care are treated the same way (by the agency and foster parents) as our daughter was. My daughter was neglected while in care, so I guess all the kids in care at this agency get neglected?

In March 2006, the Agency set up what they call today a 'Good-bye visit' between our daughter and her 7 year old sister (at the time) who lives in another foster home through Stepping Stones. We were told back then that the 7 year old sister asked to see her little sister. The foster mom told us that when our daughter arrived for the visit, she did not know that it was her sister - she said it was just 'a girl'. Neither the foster parents nor the worker had bothered preparing our daughter for the visit by telling her she was going to see her older sister.

After our daughter moved home, we told our adoption worker that we wanted to stay in contact with the third sibling, and we did. We met her for the first time in July 2006. The visit went very well and the three siblings were happy to spend time together. This was the first of many visits to come and we told our adoption worker to keep us informed of any changes in the oldest daughter's case because we were interested in adopting her as well, or at least fostering her if she wanted to live with her siblings. For two and a half years, we were the only people setting up visits. Neither the foster mom or the Agency got involved. Each time we contacted the foster mom, she would tell us that the girl had been asking to see her brother and sister for the past couple of weeks but not once did she ever contact us to arrange a visit.

It was very frustrating for us because we were the only ones making the effort to coordinate visits. Furthermore, we could only have her on the foster mom's time because she took relief every second weekend. Her weekends were planned months in advance. We even offered to do the relief but they ignored us. She was a divorced foster mom with three kids of her own, four foster kids with special needs, a young adult living with her through adult services, and she was a respite home. How could a single person, take care of kids, special needs people and give them the help they need?

In March 2008, we picked up the sibling at her home to spend the weekend with her brother and sister. When she got in the car, she asked us if we knew they had another sister (a fourth sibling). We replied 'yes', but asked her how she knew? She told us that she overheard her foster mom talking to her adopted son.

We asked if anyone had offered to set-up a visit and she said no. The case worker basically ignored the whole thing and never went to talk to her. The foster mom told her that she can see her sister when she is 18. So we took things in our own hands and asked her if we could set something up if she was interested in meeting her. She said yes.

We contacted the Leeds & Grenville CAS to meet the oldest sibling because we wanted the 4 children to know each other and hopefully have a family life together. In July 2008, we organized a visit for the four siblings to meet for the very first time together and the Agency refused to let her go. We went ahead with the visit, which went very well and put pressure on the Agencies to finally set-up a visit for the two oldest siblings in October, 2008. To this day, the four siblings have never met altogether.

In August 2008, after two-and-a-half years of being in the third sibling's life, we sent the Agency an e-mail requesting to adopt her, provided she wanted to be adopted by us. Instead, they manipulated and lied to the girl, persuading her to be adopted by her foster mom instead. The foster mom took one month to decide whether or not to adopt her, yet this child was in her care for over eight years! Did she adopt her for love or money? Why would she choose to adopt her only after she found out we wanted to adopt her? In our home, she would have been with her siblings. Since then we have lost contact with the third sibling because the foster mom moved away and didn't want the girl to have any contact with her biological family.

The oldest sibling was having issues in care (running away), so after about 3 months of knowing her (October 2008), we approached her and the Agency to adopt her. She would have said yes but the Agency told her and us that she was too old to be adopted.

In May 2009, the oldest sibling moved in with us, even though the Agency and foster mom were against it. The Agency never sat down with us before she moved in to tell us her life story, but we soon found out. In November 2009 we realized she was a cutter. She cut her arms, legs, neck with anything she could find (pens, pencils, scissors, knives). At one point she even cut her neck in front of all four of us and her two younger siblings witnessed it.

We asked the Agency for help and the help they gave us was advice to bring her to the hospital if she tried to kill herself. We took her to counselling, emergency, hospital programs and nothing helped. We always promised her that we would never walk away from her and we didn't. We treated her like our own daughter - took her to get her driver's license, to see comedian Jeff Dunham, to a hockey game, on a trip to Disneyworld, and so on. We never excluded her from any of our family activities like they often do in foster care. In June 2010, she left for school and never came back. We assume that she went back to live in the Brockville area because the Brockville police called at our house looking for her in November 2011.

Today, the oldest sibling is twenty years old, lives on social assistance and has trouble with the law. This is all thanks to her corporate parents. We did our best to offer her a family with her biological siblings. For sure we had our good and bad moments like any other family. To date, the four siblings have never met all together. Both Agencies were against them meeting and never initiated any visits.

We have many letters and e-mails between us and the agencies, the foster parents, the MPP, the Premier, and the Ministry. They lied to us, our kids, and their siblings. We are glad to have taken our children out of care but sad that we could not help their siblings. We saw firsthand what the system does to a child that ages out with their 20 year old sister. These teenagers should be better people when they age-out of foster care than they would have been by staying with biological families that abuse and neglect their children. In my opinion, the majority of teenagers ageing out of the system are worse off. But why?

Our dream was to adopt all four siblings, or at least arrange to have them live under the same roof. The Agencies made sure this never happened. What an amazing story this could have been for all of them.

~ Alain

About the Children's Natural Parents

The CAS told us that both biological parents have mental delays. This is also what we have seen on paper. For sure the parents would have taken their kids back but they were powerless to do so and there is no evidence that they had tried to fight the system.

In my opinion, these parents did the best that they could with the lack of support they had surrounding them. The foster parents and worker on the other hand, had the support and resources at their fingertips and instead willingly neglected our adopted daughter.

It’s important to know that these kids were not taken away all at the same time. The mom had her first daughter in 1991 and she was taken away by the Leeds & Grenville CAS. Mom split up with her boyfriend from the Brockville area and moved in with her new boyfriend in the Cornwall area. Because she was far away and didn't have transportation, she stopped access visits with her oldest daughter. Biological mom had three other children with her new boyfriend (1999, 2001 and 2003). The daughter born in 1999 was taken away alone by the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry CAS and then the two we adopted were taken away when the youngest was born and put in different foster homes. After we adopted our children, we learned from sources that the mom and dad had broken up and the mom moved back to the Brockville area. The mom stopped her access visits with her second daughter because she lived too far away and had no transportation, but she had started up access visits again with her oldest daughter.

When we adopted our children, they didn't have the openness yet but we are willing and hope to have a relationship with the biological parents in the future. The oldest sibling had spoken to her biological mom to start an openness with us but nothing materialized because she left our house.

Source: Esther Buckareff

From Facebook:

Alain Aubin Our story is now on the site if anybody is interested in reading it. It's called For Love or Money?

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...