ReMoved: A Touching Video Reflecting a Child’s Journey

This video requires no introduction; but you should probably have the tissues ready. (Click the image below to view the video on YouTube.)

(Click to view the video)
(Click to view the video)

“We made ReMoved with the desire that it would be used to serve in bringing awareness, encourage, and be useful in foster parent training, and raising up foster parents. If you would like to use the film for any of these reasons, the answer is yes.” -Nathanael Matanick, Director

Guest Contributor: The Home Study and Your Therapist

This post was submitted by Christine, a guest contributor. Christine and her husband are in the process of adopting domestically through Child and Family Services.

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My husband and I started our adoption journey in December last year and have just completed the home study. We are waiting to be matched with a sibling group. We were married later in life and children were just not possible when we were ready for them.

We had both been going to see the same therapist separately to work out some issues with our relationship and to help my husband deal with his PTSD and ADD. When we talked to our home study worker, I found it natural that she might want to talk to our therapist and/or doctor, particularly as we are both on depression medication. We had no problem signing the consents, although I do admit to a feeling of trepidation about it, afraid we were going to be rejected because of something they might find out. I didn’t have anything to hide, but what if..?

Around that time, someone in an adoption support Facebook group I am a member of posted that their home study worker was asking for the same thing and they were expressing reservations. My first thought was why not? But as I thought about it some more, I understood a bit better. We have no control over what they will say and how the home study worker will interpret it. Prospective adoptive parents are very vulnerable throughout this process and terrified that we will be told we are not ‘good enough’ to adopt. Scary.

When I got married the first time (this is my second marriage), during our pre-marital counselling I was scared I would be told we shouldn’t get married. So I considered every answer and made sure I answered the questions in the best possible way. I didn’t lie, but I may have moulded things to look and sound better than they were. Of course, that was a mistake, I later learned, as the marriage didn’t last.

So, back to the home study – its tempting to orchestrate our answers to put us in the best possible light, but are we doing the children any good? Why are we adopting, anyway – is it more important that we get a kid or that the kid has a great home?

I have learned through this process and through discussions with our home study worker that they really don’t want to reject anyone. In our particular case, although there were some ongoing anger issues due to the PTSD, there was far more good than bad and they were willing to help us with the anger issues so the kid(s) they place with us won’t be affected.

So, have no fear to fully open up, give the home study worker access to everyone and everything. They are not looking for reasons to reject you, they just need to know ALL the information so they can match the right kids with you. In our case, we took a couple of things off the list of things we would look at to avoid any problems (ie. FASD, domestic violence, etc.)

We meet with our support worker next week to sign off on the report and take the next steps – we are so excited!

The Many Faces of Adoption

When you start researching ways to adopt, the terminology can be quite confusing, especially if the information you’re gathering is not Alberta-based. If you’re looking to adopt a child, there are really just *three types of adoption.

They are, in language we can all understand:

1) Government Adoption: Adoption of (typically older) children in government care (foster care). Facilitated by Alberta Adoption Services / Child and Family Services

2) Infant Adoption: Adoption of an infant through a private agency (when a birth mother surrenders her child). This is often referred to as “private adoption”

3) International Adoption: Adoption of children (typically infants) from outside of Canada. This is facilitated through a private agency

The phrase “domestic adoption” can refer to both government and infant adoptions; it simply means that you are adopting from home and not internationally.

*Some agencies also handle adult adoptions, adoptions of step-children, and “private direct adoption” (when a birth parent places a child in the care of someone they know) These types of adoption have not been included in this article.

Adoption Frustration: The Timeline

I think the most common frustration we have as parents who’ve pursued adoption through Child and Family Services is that nothing happens as quickly as you think it will. Knowledge is key however, so I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned to help you prepare for your own journey.

From the time you submit your application to the time you are approved; your file will change hands several times. Each time it does, someone new has to take the time to review it and contact you. In my case, it took six months to receive initial contact and an average of three weeks to be contacted by each new worker thereafter. Your start to finish timeline will vary throughout the province, but in the Calgary area it is currently taking a year or more from submission to approval.

Here are a few examples of unforeseen things that held up my application:

1) It took six months to receive the first phone call after submitting my application. This was due to a staffing issue.

2) When I finally received the initial contact from the intake worker, I had to delay our first meeting as I was preparing to move into my new home. My house was mostly in boxes and of course, they want to meet in your home. I delayed this meeting a little over a month, until I took possession of my new home and had a couple of weeks to unpack.

3) It was late November when I finally had my first meeting with the intake worker. The next step was to attend the several days of parental training, however there is no training scheduled for December so I had to wait until January. That was another month long delay.

A tip for keeping things on track:

While I personally didn’t have any issues with the paperwork side of things, I’ve met with many people who have. I’ve heard stories of paperwork being lost, placed in the wrong person’s file, or not being received by Child and Family Services. These things happen, so do yourself a favour by having all of the paperwork filled out and submitted right away, and make sure to keep copies of it handy (in your email, on a flash drive, etc.) so it can be quickly rectified if something goes missing.

Also, your Criminal Record Check is only valid for six months, so find out from your worker when yours expires and make sure to allow enough processing time when submitting a new one.

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Three Ways to Shut Down Intrusive Questions About Your Adopted Children

As human beings we have a natural curiosity, so it’s expected that as the parent of an adopted child, you’ll at some point be asked a question that you aren’t comfortable answering. Most people don’t realize they’re being intrusive, but innocent as it may be, it is still important to maintain your child’s right to privacy. Below are a few ways to avoid answering invasive questions:

1) Politely pointing out that the details belong to your child is a good way to cue the asker into viewing the question from the child’s perspective, which they likely hadn’t considered. Try using a response similar to this one: “I appreciate your curiosity but I prefer not to share too many details as I’m sensitive to my child’s privacy”

2) Provide a generic but factual answer. For example, if someone asks for specifics in your child’s past, you might respond with something like “Most children in care have suffered some form of neglect, abuse or other trauma”. This satisfies their curiosity without invading your child’s privacy

3) It’s natural for people (especially women) to overshare information, but it’s not often necessary for people to know that your child is adopted. If it isn’t imperative to the conversation, simply leaving that detail out altogether will spare you the uncomfortable questions that follow

Are You Sure?

I have a beef with the question “are you sure?”. It gets under my skin. It sends creepy crawlies up the back of my neck. It makes my eyebrow twitch.

I don’t know that I can speak for all prospective adoptive parents, but I imagine a good chunk of them feel the same way that I do.

OF COURSE I’M SURE!!

I’d always wanted to adopt, but before I submitted my application, I spent months mulling it over. I thought up every possibly life scenario, every horrible outcome, every risk, every reward, I confided in my closest friends and I had many, many sleepless nights. I assure you, I thought this decision through thoroughly. By the time I started telling people I was in the process of adoption, I was well past the point of  no return. My mind was made up and my heart was set on following this path.

Like I’ve already said, I’m not sure I can speak for all prospective parents, but this isn’t a decision one makes hastily. The next time someone tells you they’re adopting, please, please, pleasssse don’t ask them if they’re sure. Instead, squash that little voice of concern, put on a smile, and tell them you look forward to supporting them in their decision.

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Friday Nights In

In the first months after I made the decision to adopt, I had a lot of concerns; “little bugs” to work out, you could say. I worked through them one by one, I identified and weighed my options, tried to find the best solutions to each. The concerns I had are pretty typical I think… can I afford this? What about the logistics? Will I be able to find after school care or babysitting? Will I have to move into a house with more bedrooms? Should I stay in the city or go back to the ‘burbs? Where are the best schools located? And the list went on…

But my biggest concern in the beginning was when would there be time for me? What about my Friday nights when I like to hit the take-out aisle of the grocery store and curl up on the couch at home in front of the TV, after a long week at the office? I don’t think I could function now without my night to stay in and veg, so how will I function once I have kids? I still wonder this sometimes.

I do not intend to be one of those mom’s who says “once you have kids there’s just no time left for you!”. I firmly believe that to be a good parent, you need to be good to yourself, and that means taking breaks. Lots of breaks. I’m lucky enough to have an incredible support system in the making. My mother will be my after-school care (one down!), but she’ll also be there for me if I need some time off once in a while. There’s no reason my kids can’t go to Grandma’s for a weekend once in a while, or spend the day at the zoo with my cousins, or once they’re comfortable enough, to have sleepovers with friends. I’m certain there’s another mom out there willing to trade sleepovers once in a while.

Any takers?

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

“There is…nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people.” – H. R. Schaffer

After submitting my application, my life became entirely about preparing for the arrival of my future children. I was (and am) determined to raise my children in a “home” where they can feel safe and loved. I immediately started house hunting. I went to therapy to work out some resentment left over from my parent’s divorce. I read books about abuse, adoption and attachment. I went to a couple of free courses offered through Alberta Health Services, and I talked about it a lot with my family and close friends.

When it came to my family, I knew I was going to need their help and support. I called my mom, my aunt, my cousin and my best friends and I asked them outright if they would be able to support me. I hadn’t ever really shared my plans with many people before (probably because I hadn’t really thought of it as something I was going to do but as something that was just going to happen), but every single person was as thrilled about my decision to adopt as I was (albeit some of them were caught a bit off guard).

My mom is just delighted at the idea of being a grandparent. That probably has something to do with my telling her for years that I wasn’t going to have kids (I didn’t want to turn a certain age and get nagged about it all the time). She’s already prepared to help me with before/after school care and I’m so grateful that she just lives down the street.

One of my best friends is a social worker turned parole officer as well as a mother of three, and has a wealth of knowledge about anything and everything I can possibly think of to ask her. She also lives just a few minutes away and I know will be there for me in a pinch.

Watching my brother get on board is pretty cool, too. He’s just 20 so I don’t expect too much from him, but in the last while he’s been spending a lot of time with our family and seems to really be growing up. I can’t wait to see him as a proud uncle; I think he’ll do a great job.

I’ve always been lucky to have a close family and a small group of amazing friends. Having that support in place really does make all the difference when you’re adopting as a single person. Even though I’m doing this on my own, I really don’t feel alone.

“There is…nothing to suggest that mothering cannot be shared by several people.” – H. R. Schaffer

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” –Win Borden

Finally deciding to pursue adoption was pretty scary. I’d always imagined having adopted children, but I hadn’t ever realized that having adopted children meant I actually had to adopt them. Doesn’t a stork just drop them off on the doorstep?

I spent a lot of time browsing the internet for information on adopting in Alberta. I read everything I could find so many times that it was nearly memorized. At some point I landed on the government site with the profiles of the cutest damn kids I’d ever seen. I’d been to this site a few times over the years and I noticed that a lot of the profiles hadn’t changed during that time. There was one sibling group in particular that caught my eye; they had been on the site as long as I could remember and it broke my heart that they still didn’t have a forever home. That was the day I picked up the phone and called the head office in Edmonton for more information on the adoption process. I talked to a very helpful woman for nearly an hour, and I gained a lot of information. I knew right then and there that I was going to submit an application, but there was one thing I needed to figure out before I did.

I was in a relationship at the time. It wasn’t a particularly serious one, but still it brought up a lot of questions about adopting as a young single person. I wondered if I was giving up something I might one day regret. I wondered if I was willing to put my love life on hold for at least a couple of years until my kids were settled, and I considered that being a single mother might make me less desirable to potential husbands in the future.

It was a tough situation to be in, and one I thought about for a few months. What I concluded was that adopting was my dream and not one I would ever be willing to give up, so if that made life more complicated in the future then that would be okay. There are only so many things you can control in creating the life you want for yourself. I couldn’t force “Steve” to show up before the time was right, but I could go ahead with the rest of my life, anyway.

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” –Win Borden

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” -Napoleon Hill

“What made you decide to do that?” is the most common question I’m asked when I tell people about my ambitions to start my family via domestic (government) adoption, and that’s where I’m going to start my story.

I never really “decided” to adopt. It was already decided for me; be it by early life experiences, my subconscious, or God, I don’t really know.

Honestly, I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t simply envision adoption being a part of my life. As a kid, I loved playing “house” with my friends. We had dolls, but much of the game was made up of imaginary people. My make-believe husband’s name was always Steve, I had a baby doll named Samantha, and each time during this little game of grown-up, I would somehow welcome more imaginary “adopted” children into my pretend-life. The circumstances behind my pretend adoptions were never played out; I was too young to understand those kinds of things, but my longing to be a mother to anyone who needed mothering was always very apparent.

As I grew into my teenage years, this image of Steve, Samantha, and my adopted children remained in the back of my head; I assumed that someday that would be my life, and I didn’t think about it any further than that until I was well into my twenties.

Going from the point of imagining I would adopt to actually filling out the application wasn’t really the smooth and natural process you would assume. For a few years in my twenties, I forgot about my childhood dream. I was doing a lot of “growing” as a person; finding my place in the world. I focused on my career, had a few relationships and got my heart broke once or twice. There was even a period (however short-lived) when I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids at all. I was finally past that point in life where every day was a struggle to survive. I was enjoying my career and making decent money and I liked the freedoms that came with it. I wasn’t sure if I would ever want to give it up. That feeling didn’t last very long however and soon I was once again under the impression that I would one day find my “Steve” and have a family of my own. At that point, I hadn’t considered adopting on my own, and I wasn’t really in a rush for a family, so life went on for a couple of years with nothing in particular happening.

It’s strange how sad things in life can turn into really amazing opportunities. In November of 2011 I unexpectedly lost my father. The year following that was an emotional roller-coaster but I took the necessary steps to work through my grief and I came out the other side with a lot of clarity. I was a different version of the same person; I had “grown up” you could say.

I realized that waiting around for life to happen is stupid. I had goals, dammit and there was nothing but fear standing in between us. I didn’t have my “Steve” but I had a good job, a supportive family and a lot of love to offer. I was ready to move into the next phase in my life, and if I had to do it on my own then I would.

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” Napoleon Hill

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985