About six years ago, we decided it was time to start building our family. When the old-fashioned way didn’t work for us, I began researching international adoption. The enormous costs, as well as the health problems many children face, were discouraging, so I spoke with our doctor about other options. He referred us to a fertility specialist. Our unsuccessful efforts brought us back to adoption.
BC's Waiting Children
Rena and husband Jim Jones already had four biological children when they made the brave move to adopt a sibling group of four from the Ministry For Children and Family Development (MCFD) in 1996.
by Harriet Fancott
As the millenium comes to a close, we thought a recap of the most important changes in adoption over that period would be fitting. For simplicity, however, we decided to stick to the last decade.
The Adoption Act: The biggest catalyst for change within the BC adoption community over the last decade came with the new Adoption Act, which was introduced in 1994 and came into force Nov 4, 1996. The 1994 Act replaced the 1957 Act and was hailed as one of the most progressive in North America.
"Two years ago we adopted a child of six. We have found parenting him far more difficult than we ever expected, or were prepared for. He has not really settled down and we find his behaviour very demanding. My husband and I are in despair. We don’t know what to do or where to turn."
When families are preparing to adopt a child, the person they usually want to impress most is their adoption social worker. The social worker is seen as the gatekeeper to the children that may become part of their family. They are universally viewed as having enormous power.
Why did you adopt special needs children?
At the time we had three birth children who were boys and we wanted to experience raising daughters. We had fostered special needs children for many years and felt we were able to meet the challenges that come with parenting special needs children.
How long did it take?
Anne and David Mickel have Maury Povich to thank for their latest family addition. No, five-year-old Danielle, who arrived home in December, didn't come via the US. The idea did. Anne said when watching the annual American television feature on adopting older children, they realized they "knew nothing about it ... it just seemed like something we wanted to do."
Celine and husband Dan Green live in a small town nestled in the BC mountains. Like many, they could not produce children biologically and found the intercountry adoption option too costly. However, they were sure about one thing: They wanted children. As independent business people well connected to their small community, said Celine,"we had a lot to offer a child, and we wanted more fulfillment in our own lives."
The Decision to Adopt
Kathy and Rick Miller already had four birth children between the ages of nine and 16, when they decided to add a sibling group of two to their family. "We enjoy children a lot," said Kathy, who has a degree in Child and Youth Care. "We have lots of parenting experience, and we felt we had a lot to offer as a family." She and Rick, who is a teacher, wanted more children, but felt that it was better "to expand our family by adding children who genuinely needed a home, rather than biologically."
Of the 650 children available for adoption through the Ministry, roughly 15 to 20 percent have a genetic psychiatric risk of mental illness such as a mental disability, schizophrenia, manic depression, or a personality disorder. In December, 2001, 77 children (or 16.5 %) carried this risk.
Few applicants are interested in adopting children with a risk of schizophrenia. In February, the Ministry had somewhere between five and ten approved families.