Allison Pooley is the Program Director at the Asante Centre. She assists individuals, family members, and service providers in understanding the diagnostic process as well as the implications for providing integrated post-assessment supports and services. Allison has been involved in FASD prevention and intervention efforts for numerous years both in northern B.C. and the Lower Mainland, including work in early childhood education, the public school system, the criminal justice system, and adult support settings.
Inspiration from Alberta
For 32 years, Alberta has profiled children in need of adoption on their weekly Wednesday’s Child TV program (see page 10 for more on adoption in Alberta). For 12 years, the province has also successfully profiled “harder to place” children on a public website. These campaigns regularly generate new applications from potential parents who go on to be matched with waiting children. In fact, 70% of children profiled this way are matched with parents. What’s the secret to this success?
Brandan’s story – and mine
As the adoptive parent of 10 children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, I know how difficult it can be to access services and develop a support network for people with FASDs. I regularly give presentations about FASD to groups, using the story of my son Brandan’s life (with his full permission) to illustrate these difficulties. I’ll share a condensed version of his story in this article.
“We are planning to adopt a baby and have heard stories about birth fathers coming forward at the last minute to disrupt adoptions. What is the situation if this happens?”
As with all questions involving the law, an accurate answer begins with, “it depends.” The first thing it depends on is where the child (and birth father) reside. Different countries, and even different provinces or states, have differing laws and procedures. For the purpose of this response, I will assume all parties live in BC.
For years, I tried to avoid even considering adoption. The idea of being put with people I didn’t know anything about and hadn’t even seen before was a little scary. I’d mostly lived with my great-grandma my whole life. That felt like home to me, and I didn’t want to leave. Unfortunately, my grandma’s age and health problems were getting bad and she wasn’t able to continue taking care of me. I had nowhere to turn. Adoption became the best option for me. Deciding on adoption was very scary, and I felt like I was risking my future.
I attended the North American Council on Adoptable Children Conference in Los Angles in July 2015 with the intention of checking facts for my new book on adoptive parenting, discovering new ideas, and meeting wonderful people. I accomplished all three goals and found the whole experience exhilarating. There is amazing energy when more than 900 dedicated people meet and exchange ideas. The conference was full of inspiring sessions.
Just over 650 people took part in BC's first adoption satisfaction survey. TWI Surveys, a Canada-wide, independent research and strategy development company, designed and hosted the survey which was conducted in September 2009.
Overall, the results were positive, but improvements can be made.
Because of the large number of responses to our survey, the results are extremely reliable. As well as areas for improvement, there is lots of good news.
My first encounter with the idea of children in care who needed families was during a church service as a little girl.
The speaker shared unsettling statistics about kids who age out of care and end up incarcerated, homeless, or worse; kids who are separated from their siblings; and young adults who have no place to spend the holidays or summer vacation. I suppose it all resonated with me because I came from a family of five siblings, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. At that church service I made up my mind that I wanted to adopt older kids one day.
For many internationally adopted children, a part of adjusting to their new home will include learning to hear the sounds of English. They will then need to learn how to move their lips, tongue, and jaw to produce these sounds, and then put words together.
Encourage language learning by creating fun activities like Peek-a-Boo, singing songs, or other age-appropriate games.
The importance of cultural connections
In a previous article, I wrote about the Exceptions Committee in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). The article was prompted by a list of questions that the Adoptive Families Association of BC had gathered from their membership. There were additional questions related to Aboriginal adoption in BC that I will endeavor to answer in this follow-up article.