Ask the Expert: Identity matters (part two)

Focus on Adoption magazine

Lisa Gunderson is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who focuses on multicultural issues. She is an award-winning educator and inclusivity consultant for educational and organizational institutions. During her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, she specialized in issues for minoritized youth, including ethnic identity. We asked Dr. Gunderson your questions about identity.

I am raising an adopted child of a different race in a community that is not very racially diverse. How do I help my child to be confident and form a strong racial identity?

Dear birth parents

Focus on Adoption magazine

A letter from an adoptee

For most of my life, I hadn’t thought about my birth parents: where I came from, who they were, or why they had chosen to give me up. For me, the only thing that mattered was that I had parents who loved me and who chose to be my parents.

When I met my biological father just over three years ago, I was overwhelmed by his reaction to reconnecting with me. He spoke as though he had known me and loved me for my entire life—this “stranger” who hadn’t crossed my mind even once as I had transitioned through childhood and into my adult years.

Extreme parenting: Taking charge with love

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My kids matter, but I’m in charge

I want my kids to know that what they like and what they think matters to me. My predisposition is to say yes to all possibilities. I only say “no” after some consideration. However, my kids were starting to get the impression that it was OK to disrespect the decisions I made and the boundaries I set for them.

What's your family fit?

Focus on Adoption magazine

Take this quiz, developed by Speak-Out Youth members April and Courtney, to see what kind of family is the right fit for you!

Question 1

You’ve just come from a long day at school. What would you like to come home to?

a) Lots of brothers and sisters jumping off the walls and inviting you to play.
b) Your mom and dad waiting for you, ready to go on a bike ride.
c) Your mom, cooking dinner, ready to hear all about your day.
d) An after-school snack of homemade cookies while you do your homework with your siblings and wait for your dad to come home.

Planning permanency WITH youth

Speak-Out Youth Newsletter

I'm a youth who was in foster care. I know what it's like to meet with social workers and have conversations about my future. I think that planning permanency and adoption is a good thing because it gives youth a sense of stability and belonging. Permanency is important because it sets the ground work for the youth's future; it sets up a permanent family life and also might help to make sure that positive outcomes are possible for the youth in the long run. Here are some suggestions I have for people who work with youth in care or adoptees!

Hero for Everlong

Speak-Out Youth Newsletter

I believe that permanency is very important.
When I was at my all time low
I just wanted to fly away like a blackbird.
I was creeping death,
I needed a Courtesy Call.
I knew that someday I'll be on the Stairway to
Soon I will find a person, they will say,
"Oh starlight, don't you cry. We're going to find
A place where we belong"
They will be my Saviour, I'll know that
Nothing else matters, and I'll be living in
Paradise City.
So Open your eyes, and see that If
Everyone Cared, and they gave a

Fiction vs facts about youth in care

Speak-Out Youth Newsletter


  • They are unwanted
  • They are sexually promiscuous
  • They are too old to be adopted
  • They do not know how to love and interact with others
  • All foster parents treat their foster children unfairly
  • Incapable of getting a job
  • All kids in care have many counsellors in their lives
  • They will all grow up to live on the streets
  • They are all thieves/criminals
  • They are all angry and dramatic


  • They are very smart people, even if their grades don't show it all the time
  • They are ve

Our journey

Focus on Adoption magazine

It’s been hard to see my things destroyed, my personal space obliterated and my patience shattered.

It’s been an adjustment to keep up with multiple appointments, lack of information and countless phone calls.

It’s been a struggle to not ask too much, push too hard or back off too far.

We’ve been through nightmares, perfect days and everything in between.

I’ve loved being able to snuggle you, tickle you and tuck you in every night – even though you’re not so little.

I’m amazed at how you’ve grown in such a short time – so much more than just height.

My Mother's Day

Focus on Adoption magazine

When I was four
I met my Mother
She opened a door
unlike no other
A Mother’s Day means to me
It fills my heart with happiness
For each and every day will be
A forever love
endless food
camping trips
years of memories
tons of pictures
traveling to far off places
going to oceans
my Mother’s Day
our journey
cooking and baking
Mountains and hiking
biking and quading
tucking me in at night
helping me with my science project
cutting my hair and my nails
my mother is like no other in the world

Finding the connection

Focus on Adoption magazine

For one family, connecting their adoptive children with their Indigenous origins has been full of change and full of hope.

As adoptive parents who began our journey with our application to adopt almost 25 years ago, we’ve seen some changes along the way. One of those changes has been regarding the adoption of children of First Nations ancestry into non-First Nations homes.


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