Transcript: Adoption Options | Oct 30, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Adoption options. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR DECADES, CANADIAN
FAMILIES ADOPTED CHILDREN FROM
CHINA, UKRAINE AND VIETNAM, TO
NAME JUST A FEW.
BUT WITH THE CHANGES TO CHINA'S
ONE-CHILD POLICY AND OTHER
GLOBAL EFFORTS TO KEEP CHILDREN
IN THEIR COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN,
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS HAVE
PLUMMETED IN RECENT YEARS.
WITH US TO CONSIDER WHAT IT
MEANS FOR CANADIAN FAMILIES:
CATHY MURPHY, PRESIDENT,
ADOPTION COUNCIL OF CANADA...

Cathy is in her fifties, with chin-length wavy blond hair. She's wearing a checkered black blazer, a red sweater and a pendant necklace.

Steve continues KATHRYN CONNORS, TEAM LEAD WITH
ADOPT4LIFE, A GRASSROOTS
ORGANIZATION HELPING ADOPTIVE
FAMILIES...

Kathryn is in her forties, with straight blond hair in a short bob. She's wearing a black blazer and a purple blouse.

Steve continues MARY-JO LAND, REGISTERED
PSYCHOTHERAPIST IN PRIVATE
PRACTICE IN GREY COUNTY, WHO
SPECIALIZES IN ATTACHMENT AND
DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA IN
CHILDREN...

Mary-Jo is in her sixties, with gray hair in a short bob. She's wearing a black sweater and pendant earrings.

Steve continues AND CHEYANNE RATNAM, A CHILD
WELFARE ADVOCATE WHO IS ON THE
BOARD OF THE CHILDREN'S AID
SOCIETY OF TORONTO.

Cheyanne is in her thirties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing a short-sleeved floral print shirt and a silver necklace.

Steve continues WE ARE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME
EVERYBODY TO OUR STUDIO TONIGHT.
TO CAME FROM GREY COUNTY?

Mary-Jo says I DID.

Steve says THAT IS A LONG WAY
TO COME TO DO A TELEVISION
PROGRAM.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
LET'S PUT YOU TO WORK RIGHT
AWAY.
WHY DO PEOPLE GO ABROAD TO ADOPT
IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The caption changes to "Mary-Jo Land. Psychotherapist."
Then, it changes again to "When one door closes..."

Mary-Jo says OH, I THINK THERE'S LOTS OF
DIFFERENT REASONS, ONE OF WHICH
IS THAT PERHAPS THE WAIT TIME IS
SHORTER.
I THINK THAT'S THE PRIMARY
REASON.
ANOTHER REASON IS THAT PERHAPS
THOSE CHILDREN MIGHT BE YOUNGER
THAN ADOPTING DOMESTICALLY.
SO I THINK THOSE WOULD BE THE
TWO PRIMARY REASONS.

Steve says KATHRYN, ANYTHING
YOU WANT TO ADD TO THAT?

The caption changes to "Kathryn Connors. Adopt4life."

Kathryn says SURE.
SOMETIMES FAMILIES FEEL THEY
HAVE A CONNECTION TO THE
SPECIFIC COUNTRY THEY'RE
ADOPTING FROM, WHETHER IT'S
CULTURAL TIES OR SOMETIMES
FAMILIES HAVE GONE ON MISSIONS
SORE THEY FEEL A SPECIFIC
CONNECTION TO A COUNTRY SO
THEY'RE DRAWN TO SPECIFIC
COUNTRIES AS WELL.

Steve says CATHY?

The caption changes to "Cathy Murphy. Adoption Council of Canada."

Cathy says I WAS GOING TO SAY SIMILAR
THINGS.
SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO
THAT SPECIFIC COUNTRY.
BUT WHEN I TALK TO MOST
FAMILIES, MANY OF US WHO ARE
ADOPTIVE PARENTS JUST WANT TO
BUILD OUR FAMILY THROUGH
ADOPTION.
SO LOOKING AT THE DIFFERENT
OPTIONS AND INTERNATIONAL IS ONE
OF THEM IS SOMETHING MOST
FAMILIES DO NOW.

Steve says LET'S BRING A CHART
UP.
I SHOULD SAY PARENTHETICALLY,
CHEYANNE, YOU GET TO SPEAK ON
THE PROGRAM BUT WE'RE GOING TO
LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR YOUR
PERSONAL DISCUSSION TO COME.
LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS.
THESE ARE INTERNATIONAL
ADOPTIONS BY CANADIANS AND WE
TRACK IT FROM THE YEAR 2012 TO
2016, AND FOR THOSE LISTENING ON
PODCAST, I'LL DESCRIBE THE FACT THAT...

A slate appears on screen, with the title "International adoptions by Canadians."

A bar chart shows the decreasing number of children adopted between 2012 and 2016, from 1379 to 793.

Steve reads data from the slate and says
IN 2012, WE'RE ALMOST 1400
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS AND THE
NUMBERS HAVE DECLINED YEAR AFTER
YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR, TO
THE POINT WHERE WE'RE, FOR 2016,
THE LAST YEAR FOR WHICH FIGURES
ARE AVAILABLE, WE'RE DOWN BELOW
800 NOW.
CATHY, I THINK WE'VE GOT TO GET
INTO SOME UNDERSTANDING OF WHY
THIS TREND IS ON THE CONSTANT
DECLINE.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Cathy Murphy, @AdoptionCanada."

Cathy says WELL, THERE
ARE MANY DIFFERENT REASONS.
ONE OF THE LARGEST IS CHINA WAS
ONE OF THE LARGEST COUNTRIES
THAT CHILDREN WERE ADOPTED FROM
FOR OVER 20 YEARS.
IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, CHINA'S
ONE-CHILD POLICY STOPPED.
SO THAT'S A WONDERFUL THING FOR
CHILDREN IN CHINA.
THEY'RE ABLE TO REMAIN WITH
BIRTH FAMILIES OR EXTENDED
FAMILIES.
BUT IT HAS MADE A HUGE
DIFFERENCE IN INTERNATIONAL
ADOPTION.

Steve says IT'S CUT OFF THE
CHANNEL FOR HERE.

Cathy says IT HAS.
IT HAS.
THERE ARE STILL OLDER CHILDREN
IN CHINA AND CHILDREN LIVING
WITH SPECIAL NEEDS IN CHINA WHO
ARE IN NEED OF FAMILIES, BUT THE
NUMBERS ARE MUCH SMALLER.
I THINK ALSO THE HAGUE
CONVENTION HAS SOMETHING TO DO
WITH THAT.

Steve says WHAT'S THAT?

Cathy says SO THE HAGUE CONVENTION
REALLY PROTECTS CHILDREN'S BEST
INTERESTS.
SO IT'S LOOKING AT KEEPING KIDS
WITH THEIR BIRTH FAMILY WHEN
IT'S POSSIBLE, WITH EXTENDED
FAMILY.
WHEN THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE,
HOPEFULLY WITHIN THEIR COUNTRY
OF ORIGIN, IF THAT A
POSSIBILITY.
THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN THEY LOOK
AT ADOPTION.

Steve says I THINK THE
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA THIS PAST
SPRING PUT A WARNING ON WEB
SITES SAYING: WATCH OUT FOR
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS.
WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?

The caption changes to "Kathryn Connors, @Adopt4LifeON."

Kathryn says WELL, I THINK IT'S MORE ABOUT
LOOKING INTO THE ETHICS OF IT.
WE WANT TO MAKE SURE IN BOTH
CANADA BUT ALSO IN CHILDREN'S
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN THAT ADOPTIONS
ARE DONE ETHICALLY AND THAT IT'S
DONE THROUGH THE HAGUE, THAT IS
THE CHANNELS THROUGH WHICH
CHILDREN ARE FINDING HOMES,
WHETHER IN COUNTRY OR OUT OF
COUNTRY IS DONE IN THE
CHILDREN'S BEST INTERESTS AND SO
THEY'RE DONE SO THAT WE KNOW
EVERYBODY IS CONSENTING AND IS
AWARE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING.

Steve says MARY-JO, WITH THE
NUMBERS GOING DOWN EVERY YEAR,
WHAT IMPACT HAS THAT MADE ON
FAMILIES HERE IN CANADA WHO WANT
TO ADOPT?

Mary-Jo says I THINK FAMILIES ARE TURNING
TO DOING PUBLIC ADOPTIONS
THROUGH THE CHILD WELFARE
SYSTEM.
YOU KNOW, FOR THE CHILDREN WHO
ARE IN THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM,
THAT'S A GOOD THING FOR THEM,
AND THERE ARE GROWING
COMPLEXITIES WITH THE ADOPTIONS
FROM THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
BECAUSE OF THE NEED TO KEEP
SIBLINGS TOGETHER, SO ADOPTIONS
ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE MULTIPLE
CHILDREN AND CHILDREN WHO ARE
OLDER AND CHILDREN MAY HAVE
MULTIPLE DIFFERENT NEEDS.

Steve says CATHY, WHAT ARE THE
KIND OF GO-TO COUNTRIES NOW THAT
CANADIANS WANT TO ADOPT FROM?

Cathy says WELL, I'M NOT SURE THAT THERE
ARE GO-TO COUNTRIES ANYMORE.
AS I SAID THERE'S BEEN A BIG
CHANGE WITH CHINA.
BUT THERE ARE FAMILIES WHO ARE
STILL ADOPTING FROM THAILAND,
FROM SOUTH KOREA, FROM MANY
DIFFERENT PROGRAMS, BUT ALL OF
THE ADOPTION PROGRAMS ARE
SMALLER NOW, AND LIKE MARY-JO
SAID, WE HAVE OVER 30,000
CHILDREN AND YOUTH LIVING IN THE
CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IN CANADA,
AND THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY TO
BECOME A PARENT, BUT WE NEED TO
MAKE SURE THAT FAMILIES HAVE
RESOURCES, SUBSIDIES, RESPITE
CARE, AND THAT THEY AND THEIR
CHILDREN ARE GETTING THE
SUPPORTS THEY NEED.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says WE HAVE HEARD A LOT
ABOUT TRAFFICKING.
WHAT KIND OF AN IMPACT HAS THAT
LAID OVER THIS WHOLE ISSUE?

Kathryn says I'M SURE IT HAS A HUGE IMPACT.
AS AN ADOPTION PEER SUPPORT
AREA, WE DEFINITELY WANT TO
SUPPORT PARENTS IN MAKING SURE
THEY'VE DONE THEIR RESEARCH AND
THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT THEIR
RIGHTS ARE BUT THE RIGHTS OF THE
CHILDREN AS WELL.
SO WHAT THE ACTUAL STATISTICAL
IMPACTS OF THAT, I'M NOT SURE OF
THE NUMBERS, BUT IT DEFINITELY
HAS HAD AN IMPACT.
AND ON THE ADOPTIVE PARENT SIDE,
I THINK FAMILIES ARE A LOT MORE
WARY AND REACHING OUT AND MAKING
SURE THEY'RE DOING THEIR
RESEARCH AND GETTING SUPPORT
FROM THE COMMUNITY AS WELL.
SO I THINK THAT FAMILIES ARE A
BIT MORE OPEN-MINDED GOING INTO
IT AND REALIZING THAT THIS IS
SOMETHING THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL
OF BEING UNETHICAL...

Steve says YOU'VE GOT TO MAKE
SURE THE KIDS ARE LEGIT.

Kathryn says ABSOLUTELY.
THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO IS
GET INTO AN ADOPTION SITUATION,
THE BONDING HAS ALREADY HAPPENED
ON YOUR END AND YOU GO AND
REALIZE THAT THIS PROBABLY ISN'T
ETHICAL.
I THINK FAMILIES DOING THEIR DUE
DILIGENCE BEFOREHAND ABSOLUTELY
IS GOING TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON
THE RATES OF INTERNATIONAL
ADOPTIONS.

Steve says AS PROMISED, CHAI...
CHEYANNE, YOU DO GET TO TALK.
SHELDON, IF YOU WANT MIND, LET'S
BRING THESE GRAPHICS UP.
THIS IS FOR LAST YEAR, THE
2018-19 FISCAL YEAR, AND THIS IS
TALKING ABOUT ONTARIO KIDS IN CARE.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Ontario's kids in care in 2018-2019."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THERE WERE 4,622 CHILDREN AND
YOUTH IN THE PERMANENT CARE OF
THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES OF
ONTARIO IN THAT LAST YEAR,
2018-19.
THERE WERE 1346 AVAILABLE
ADOPTIVE HOMES.
APPROXIMATELY 800 CHILDREN AND
YOUTH WHO WERE IN THE CARE OF
THESE SOCIETIES WERE ADOPTED
LAST YEAR THROUGH THE PUBLIC
ADOPTION SYSTEM.
SO OBVIOUSLY, DO THE MATH.
NOT THAT MANY.
THERE WERE ALSO 423 LEGAL
CUSTODY AGREEMENTS LAST YEAR FOR
CHILDREN IN EXTENDED SOCIETY
CARE.
OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF KIDS NOT
BEING CAUGHT IN THIS SYSTEM THAT
WE HAVE HERE.
SO, CHEYANNE, LET'S TALK.
YOU GREW UP IN THE CHILD WELFARE
SYSTEM?

The caption changes to "Cheyanne Ratnam. Children's Aid Society of Toronto."

Cheyanne says I DID GROW UP IN THE CHILD
WELFARE SYSTEM.

Steve says TELL ME ABOUT THAT.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY.

Cheyanne says I'M FROM SCARBOROUGH.
IF YOU TALK ABOUT ETHNICITY, I'M
SRI LANKAN TAMIL.

Steve says I'M JUST INTERESTED
IN WHERE YOU WERE BORN.

The caption changes to "...another door opens."

Cheyanne says I GREW UP IN SCARBOROUGH.
WHEN I MOVED UP IN CHILD
WELFARE, I WENT TO BRAMPTON.
IT IS THE MECCA OF GROUP HOMES.
MY STORY IS INTERESTING BECAUSE
I CREATED VERY PERMANENT
RELATIONSHIPS WITH A LOT OF THE
ADULTS WHO WERE TAKING CARE OF
ME, AND SO I HAVE A FOSTER MOM
AS WELL, SOPHIE, AND I ALSO HAVE
A LOT OF HEART FAMILIES. IRWIN
ALTMAN IS LIKE MY HEART DAD.

Steve says THE FORMER CHILD ADVOCATE.

The caption changes to "Cheyanne Ratnam, @CheyRatnam."

Cheyanne says JULIE DESPATIES WHO IS THE
CEO OF ADOPT4LIFE ONTARIO IS
LIKE FAMILY TO ME AS WELL.
CHILD WELFARE IS INTERESTING
BECAUSE WE'RE ALWAYS MEETING
MAKING IN TERMS OF WHAT FAMILY
IS AND WHO IS FAMILY AND WHAT
IS OUR IDENTITY WITHIN THIS
ENTIRE SYSTEM.

Steve says I DON'T WANT TO ASK
YOU ANY PERSONAL QUESTIONS... OR
LET ME REPHRASE THAT.
I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU A BUNCH
OF QUESTIONS BUT DON'T YOU FEEL
OBLIGATED TO ANSWER IF YOU FEEL
IT'S TOO PERSONAL.
HOW DID YOU END UP AS A KID IN
CARE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Cheyanne says THERE ARE A LOT OF COMPLEX
NEEDS FOR PEOPLE.
IN MY PERSONAL SITUATION, I
ENDED UP IN THE SYSTEM BECAUSE
MY HOME ENVIRONMENT WAS VERY
TOXIC.
THERE WAS A LOT OF ABUSE.
I'M A SURVIVOR OF CHILD SEXUAL
ABUSE.
THAT WASN'T CAUGHT UNTIL
ADULTHOOD.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM CARE
HAVE COMPLEX TRAUMA, AND SO WHEN
I WAS ABOUT 13 OR 14, I STARTED
TO COUCH-SURF, SO I WAS A PERSON
IN THE YOUTH HOMELESSNESS
SPECTRUM AS WELL.

Steve says COUCH SURFING MEANING...

Cheyanne says COUCH SURFING MEANING, I HAD
FRIENDS AND I HAD OTHER PEOPLE
THAT I KNEW AND I WOULD SLEEP
OVER AT THEIR HOUSE, OR I WOULD
END UP AT PARTIES JUST SO I
DIDN'T HAVE TO GO BACK HOME.
AND THERE IS A MISCONCEPTION OF
WHAT HOMELESSNESS IS.
THEY THINK THAT IT IS EXPLICIT
STREET INVOLVEMENT.
HOWEVER, THERE'S A WHOLE
SPECTRUM, AND IT INCLUDES COUCH
SURFING.
ALSO FOR FAMILIES WHO ARE
EXPERIENCING POVERTY WHO MAY BE
ABLE TO PAY FOR RENT BUT UNABLE
TO REALLY PAY FOR ANY
NECESSITIES FOR THEMSELVES OR
FOR THEIR CHILDREN AS WELL.

Steve says THE HOME WAS AN
UNSAFE PLACE FOR YOU.

Cheyanne says YES.

Steve says AND YOU HAD TO GET
OUT.
HOW DID YOU FIND THE SYSTEM YOU
WENT INTO?
HOW DID THAT DO FOR YOU?

Cheyanne says PERSONALLY, IT WAS A SAVING GRACE FOR ME.
IF I HADN'T GONE INTO THE CHILD
WELFARE SYSTEM, I WOULDN'T BE
HERE TODAY, LET'S JUST PUT IT
THAT WAY.
SO IT WAS A TURNING POINT, IT
WAS A GREAT TURNING POINT IN MY
LIFE.
AND I REALLY FOUND CONNECTIONS
THAT I NEEDED, AND THE LOVE THAT
I DIDN'T RECEIVE AT HOME.
SO I WAS NEGLECTED EMOTIONALLY.
BUT EVERYTHING ELSE, MY MOM WAS
AMAZING, BUT THAT NEGLECT WAS
VERY HARMFUL AND IN THE CHILD
WELFARE SYSTEM, I FOUND THAT
LOVE AND I WAS ABLE TO BE
NURTURED AND I GREW UP TO BE WHO
I AM TODAY SO...

Steve says WHICH SEEMS TO BE A
VERY TALENTED, BLESSEDLY NORMAL
PERSON, IF I CAN PUT IT THAT WAY?

Cheyanne says I'M A FABULOUS, AMAZING PERSON.

Steve says THERE YOU GO.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says YES, YOU ARE.
GOOD FOR YOU.
AND HAPPY TO TELL THE WORLD THAT.

Cheyanne says THANK YOU.

Steve says AS YOU SHOULD.
AS YOU SHOULD.
CAN I GET A SENSE AT THE TABLE
HERE, HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE HAD
FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE IN THE AREA
OF CHILD WELFARE OR ADOPTION?
HOW MANY HERE?

Cheyanne says WE ALL HAVE.

Cathy says A LOT OF US.

Steve says DESCRIBE HOW,
PLEASE.
MARY-JO.

Mary-Jo says I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN BORN TO US.
MY HUSBAND AND I WERE
THERAPEUTIC FOSTER PARENTS FOR
20 YEARS.
WE RAISED ABOUT 17 CHILDREN TO
THE AGE OF AGING OUT OF CARE.

Steve says WHICH IS WHAT AGE?

Mary-Jo says 18 AT THAT TIME.
AND WE REALIZED THAT THE FOSTER
SYSTEM WASN'T BEST FOR EVERY
CHILD AND THAT MOST CHILDREN
NEED PERMANENCY AND NEED A HOME,
SO WE CHOSE TO ADOPT A CHILD AND
STOP FOSTERING, AND SO WE
ADOPTED A GIRL, HER NAME IS
PRINCESS, AND SHE CAME INTO OUR
FAMILY WHEN SHE WAS NINE AND WE
ADOPTED HER WHEN SHE WAS 14, AND
SO OUR FAMILY BECAME FIVE
CHILDREN.

Steve says SO DO YOU... I'M
TRYING TO DO THE MATH HERE... DO
YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF THE MOTHER
OF 24 KIDS?
IF YOU ADD THEM ALL UP?

Mary-Jo says WELL, I'M NOT GOING TO SAY THAT.
I'M ONLY GOING TO SAY, YOU HAVE
TO ASK THE CHILDREN IF THEY
STILL CONSIDER ME TO BE THEIR
MOTHER, RIGHT?

Steve says WHAT ANSWER WOULD
THEY GIVE?

Mary-Jo says SO SEVERAL OF THEM WOULD, BUT NOT ALL, BECAUSE A LOT OF THEM
HAD REMAINING CONTACT AND
ONGOING CONTACT WITH THEIR FIRST
MOTHER.

Steve says OKAY.
CATHY, YOUR EXPERIENCE IN ALL OF
THIS?

Cathy says SO I'VE
WORKED IN SOCIAL SERVICES FOR
OVER 25 YEARS AND I'M ALSO A
PROUD ADOPTIVE PARENT OF TWO
WONDERFUL KIDS WHO ARE 28 AND 23
NOW.

Steve says THEY WERE HOW WOULD
WHEN YOU ADOPTED THEM.

Cathy says OUR SON WAS 3 THROUGH THE
CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM AND OUR
DAUGHTER UNDER A YEAR THROUGH
THE CHINA ADOPTION PROGRAM.

Steve says YOU HAVE YOUR BASES
COVERED, DON'T YOU?

Cathy says I DO.
AND THEY KEEP ME REAL.

Steve says KIDS ALWAYS DO THAT.
YES, INDEED.
KATHRYN?

Kathryn says MY HUSBAND AND I ADOPTED
THREE CHILDREN FROM THE PUBLIC
FOSTER CARE SYSTEM ABOUT SIX
YEARS AGO.
THEY CAME INTO OUR LIVES WHEN
THEY WERE THREE AND A HALF, ONE
AND A HALF, AND NEWBORN, AND
THEY ARE NOW 9, 7, AND 4.

Steve says CAN I GET YOU TO DO
THIS...

He shows his forearm.

Kathryn says OH, SURE.

She shows her forearm.

Steve says CAN WE GET A SHOT OF
THIS, PLEASE, SHELDON?

Kathryn says OH.

She shows a tattoo of an adult elephant walking, followed by three calves.

Steve says THAT'S YOU.

Kathryn says THAT'S ME.

Steve says YOU'RE THE MAMA
ELEPHANT.

Kathryn says I AM.

Steve says AND THOSE ARE YOUR
THREE BABY ELEPHANTS.

Kathryn says IT IS.
I TELL MY HUSBAND WE KEEP IT
OPEN BECAUSE WE NEVER KNOW IF
THERE'S GOING TO BE MORE BABY
ELEPHANTS JOINING US.

Steve says THAT'S WHAT I WAS...

[MIXED VOICES]

Kathryn says YOU NEVER KNOW.

Steve says VERY COOL.
THAT'S VERY NICE.
THEY ARE ALWAYS CLOSE TO YOUR
HEART THEN.

Kathryn says THEY ARE.

Steve says THAT'S BEAUTIFUL.
BEAUTIFUL.
I WANT TO DO THE MATH AGAIN
HERE.
1,346 AVAILABLE ADOPTIVE HOMES.
IS THAT THE NUMBER OF FAMILIES
IN ONTARIO WHO ARE LOOKING TO
ADOPT BY ANY METHOD?
CATHY?

Cathy says SO THE FAMILIES WHO ARE
WANTING TO ADOPT, THAT WOULD BE
FAMILIES WHO ARE HOME STUDY
READY AND HAVE DONE THEIR PRIDE
TRAINING.
BUT THE CHILDREN LIVING IN CARE,
THERE ARE DIFFERENT REASONS FOR
THAT.
NOT EVERY CHILD WHO IS LIVING IN
THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IS
ELIGIBLE FOR ADOPTION.
THEY MAY STILL BE HAVING CONTACT
WITH BIRTH FAMILY.
THEY MAY NOT BE A CROWN WARD.
SO THERE'S DIFFERENT REASONS FOR
THOSE NUMBERS.
HOWEVER, WE REALLY WANT TO
PROMOTE ADOPTION WITHIN CANADA,
AND MANY OF THE CHILDREN WAITING
ARE BETWEEN 10 TO 18 YEARS OF
AGE.
SOME LIVING WITH VISIBLE AND
INVISIBLE DISABILITIES.
AND WE KNOW, THIS PANEL KNOWS
FIRSTHAND, HOW WELL CHILDREN CAN
DO WITH A FORM OF PERMANENCY,
WHETHER THAT'S ADOPTION OR A
DIFFERENT CONNECTION, LIKE
CHEYANNE WAS TALKING ABOUT.

Steve says WHEN, CHEYANNE, YOU
WERE IN THE SYSTEM, WERE YOU
HOPING THAT A FAMILY WOULD
EVENTUALLY ADOPT YOU?

Cheyanne says YOU KNOW, WHEN I WAS IN THE
SYSTEM, IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE
THERE'S ALSO STIGMA ATTACHED TO
THE PEOPLE COMING INTO THE
SYSTEM DEPENDING HOW THEY CAME
INTO THE SYSTEM.
AT THAT TIME IF YOU WERE GROWING
UP IN GROUP HOMES, YOU WERE
UNADOPT BELIEVE, LITERALLY.

Steve says BECAUSE...

Cheyanne says BECAUSE YOU WERE GROWING UP
IN A GROUP HOME AND YOU'RE NOT
FROM THE FOSTER SYSTEM.
HAVING SAID THAT, IF THEY HAD,
IF THE WORKERS, WHICH I
ABSOLUTELY ADORE, HOWEVER IF THE
WORKERS HAD ASKED THE RIGHT
QUESTIONS, THEN THEY WOULD HAVE
KNOWN THAT I ACTUALLY WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE PLACED IN A
FOSTER HOME AND PERHAPS ADOPTED.
HOWEVER, I'M VERY GLAD THAT MY
STORY DIDN'T GO THAT FAR BECAUSE
I WAS ABLE TO NURTURE VERY
PERMANENT RELATIONSHIPS
NONETHELESS AND I'VE BEEN ABLE
TO GET TO KNOW OTHER FOSTER
SIBLINGS.
SOME OF THEM HAVE BEEN ADOPTED.
ONE OF THE REALITIES OF THE
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM IS THAT WE
THINK OF ADOPTION AS A PERMANENT
SOLUTION.
HOWEVER, THERE'S ALSO ADOPTION
BREAKDOWNS WITHIN THE SYSTEM,
AND LIKE CATHY WAS SAYING
BEFORE, IT'S ALSO DUE TO THE
LACK OF RESPITE AND THE LACK OF
SUPPORTS AND RESOURCES THAT ARE
AVAILABLE TO ADOPTIVE PARENTS,
AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT NEEDS
TO BE IMPROVED BUT ALSO TIME TO
ATTACH.
TIME TO ATTACH TO SOMETHING THAT
CATHY'S ORGANIZATION ADOPT4LIFE
ONTARIO HAS BEEN DOING AND
THEY'VE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR
THAT.
BECAUSE ATTACHMENT IS ONE OF THE
MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THAT WILL
TELL YOU WHAT THE OUTCOME OF THE
PERSON OR THE YOUNG PERSON'S
OUTCOME IS WITH THAT FAMILY.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO
ATTACH, THEN THAT RELATIONSHIP
IS NOT GOING TO BE BUILT
PROPERLY.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says CAN YOU SAY WHAT THE
TYPICAL LENGTH OF TIME IT TAKES
TO ATTACH IS?

Cheyanne says IT DEPENDS ON THE PERSON.
IT REALLY DEPENDS ON THE PERSON.
SOME YOUNG PEOPLE ATTACH VERY
QUICKLY.
OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE TAKE TIME.
WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT MENTAL
HEALTH.
WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT TRAUMA.
AND LIKE I HAD SAID EARLIER IN
THE SEGMENT, COMPLEX TRAUMA IS A
REALITY FOR A LOT OF YOUNG
PEOPLE.
SO IT'S ABOUT OFFERING AND
PROVIDING THE RIGHT SUPPORTS TO
FAMILIES SO THAT THESE COMPLEX
TRAUMA SITUATIONS AND THE YOUNG
PEOPLE THEMSELVES ARE FINDING
HEALING... THEIR OWN HEALING
JOURNEY WHILE THEY'RE ALSO
TRYING TO ATTACH TO FAMILIES.

Steve says HOW OLD ARE YOU NOW?

Cheyanne says I AM 32.

Steve says 32.
HOW OLD WERE YOU AT THAT
POINT... I GOT A LOOK THERE
LIKE, "WHAT ARE YOU ASKING ME
THAT QUESTION FOR?"

Cheyanne says I KNOW I LOOK YOUNGER THAN THAT.

Steve says YOU DO.
I ASK BECAUSE I WONDER AT WHAT
AGE YOU WERE WHEN YOU KIND OF
CAME TO THE REALIZATION THAT
THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN FOR
ME?

Cheyanne says IN TERMS OF...

Steve says BEING ADOPTED.

Cheyanne says SO I REALIZED THAT WHEN I WAS 14.

Steve says HUH.

Cheyanne says I WAS VERY YOUNG.
AT THE SAME TIME, MY MOM DID NOT
WANT THAT PROCESS TO BEGIN
ANYWAYS, AND AT THAT TIME I WAS
VERY DISCONNECTED FROM MY
FAMILY.
THERE WAS A LOT OF TRAUMA WITH
MY FAMILY.
AND I WAS VERY AGAINST THAT.
HOWEVER, I'M VERY GLAD, YOU
KNOW, IN HINDSIGHT, THAT
ADOPTION DIDN'T HAPPEN FOR ME
BECAUSE I HAVE A LOT OF ADOPTIVE
HEART FAMILIES WHO LOVE ME AND I
ADORE THEM.
AND EVEN MY FOSTER SIBLINGS,
THEY DON'T LOOK AT ME AS, LIKE,
THAT'S MY FOSTER SISTER, IT'S
THAT'S MY SISTER.
FAMILY IS MEANING-MAKING.
FAMILY IS A VERB, NOT A NOUN.
FAMILY IS ALWAYS CREATED.
AND EVEN WITHIN THE RECRUITMENT
PROCESS OF RECRUITING ADOPTIVE
FAMILIES OR POTENTIAL ADOPTIVE
FAMILIES, IT'S IMPORTANT TO
RECRUIT DIVERSIFIED FAMILIES AS
WELL AND MAKING SURE THERE'S
ANTIBLACK RACISM TRAINING, AOP
TRAINING, AND THESE THINGS ARE
VERY IMPORTANT.

Steve says AOP?

Cheyanne says ANTI-OPPRESSION TRAINING AS WELL.
BECAUSE WHEN WE ARE TRYING TO
MATCH YOUNG PEOPLE FROM
RACIALIZED BACKGROUNDS, WHETHER
THEY'RE INDIGENOUS OR BLACK,
WHICH BOTH OF THOSE POPULATIONS
ARE OVERREPRESENTED IN THE CHILD
WELFARE SITUATION, THE
POPULATION, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT
THAT FAMILIES ARE ALSO
UNDERSTANDING WHERE THEIR
BACKGROUND COMES FROM AND WHAT
TYPES OF POTENTIAL COMPLEX
TRAUMA THAT THEY HAVE AS WELL.

Steve says LET ME GO TO MARY-JO
ON THAT.
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THERE
ARE... WHY ARE SO MANY CANADIAN
FAMILIES APPARENTLY NOT ADOPTING
DOMESTICALLY WHEN CLEARLY THERE
IS PLENTY OF SUPPLY AND PLENTY
OF DEMAND?

Mary-Jo WELL, I'M NOT
REALLY SURE.
I'D ACTUALLY YOU DEFER THAT TO
CATHY.

Steve says I'M HAPPY TO DO IT.

Mary-Jo says SHE HAS DONE BOTH.

Steve says FIRE AWAY.

Cathy says I THINK THE ISSUES ARE
COMPLEX AND WE TOUCHED ON
SUBSIDY AND RESPITE.
WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE RIGHT
ACROSS CANADA THAT EVERY CHILD
WELFARE AGENCY ATTACHES
SUPPORTIVE SUBSIDY AND RESPITE
DOLLARS TO EVERY CHILD THAT
JOINS THEIR FAMILY THROUGH
ADOPTION.

Steve says WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE?

Cathy says THAT LOOKS LIKE FUNDING
FAMILIES IN A VERY REAL WAY AND
SUPPORTING THEM AND GIVING THEM
THAT MENTORSHIP THEY NEED FOR
THE LONG HAUL.

Steve says PUT A DOLLAR FIGURE
ON IT.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

Cathy says WELL, EACH YEAR, IF YOUR
CHILD IS REQUIRING THERAPY, AND
THEY'RE GOING TO A THERAPIST
LET'S SAY ONCE A WEEK, YOU'RE
LOOKING AT ANYWHERE BETWEEN 250
TO 300 dollars PER WEEK FOR YOUR CHILD.
THAT'S JUST A STARTING POINT.

Steve says YOU WOULD LIKE SOME
SUBSIDY FOR THAT, SOME HELP.

Cathy says WE WOULD.
WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE HELP FOR THAT.
OUR FAMILIES NEED A BREAK.
MANY OF OUR CHILDREN WHO ARE
LIVING WITH VISIBLE AND
INVISIBLE DISABILITIES TAKE ALL
KINDS OF WONDERFUL CARE.
BUT IN ORDER TO DO A REALLY GOOD
JOB AS ADOPTIVE PARENTS, WE NEED
TO BE ABLE TO RECHARGE OUR
BATTERIES.
SO HAVING RESPITE AT LEAST ONCE
OR TWICE A MONTH FOR FAMILIES
THAT'S REALISTIC.
WE NEED AGENCIES, THE CHILD
WELFARE AGENCIES, TO COMMIT TO
THAT AND COMMIT TO THE KIDS,
BECAUSE WE NO LONGER TERM THAT
FAMILIES AND CHILD STAY TOGETHER
WITH THOSE SUPPORTS.

Steve says I DON'T KNOW, SO YOU
EDUCATE ME HERE ON THIS.

Cathy says OKAY.

Steve says IS IT THE FACT THAT
IN THE MAIN WHITE FAMILIES WANT
TO ADOPT WHITE KIDS, BLACK
FAMILIES WANT TO ADOPT BLACK
KIDS, JEWISH FAMILIES WANT TO
ADOPT JEWISH KIDS.
HELP ME WITH THAT.

Cathy says WE DEFINITELY SUPPORT
CULTURAL COMPETENCY.
WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE NEED TO BE
LOOKING AT MORE DIVERSE
FAMILIES, RIGHT?
WE NEED TO BE RECRUITING
DIFFERENTLY.
AND EVERYONE WITHIN THE CHILD
WELFARE SYSTEM, NOT JUST THE
RECRUITMENT TEAM, NEEDS TO BE
PART OF THAT RECRUITMENT
PROCESS.
IF WE ARE ADOPTING A CHILD OF A
DIFFERENT RACE AND DIFFERENT
ETHNIC BACKGROUND, AS ADOPTIVE
PARENTS, IT HAS TO BE TOUGHER
FOR US.
WE NEED TO HELP BUILD THOSE
BRIDGES FOR OUR CHILDREN AND
TRULY INCORPORATE, YOU KNOW,
PEER MENTORS, RACIAL MIRRORS,
THINGS INTO THEIR LIVES THAT
THEY MIGHT NOT OTHERWISE HAVE.

Cheyanne says CAN I ACTUALLY JUMP IN?

Steve says PLEASE.

Cheyanne says WHEN WE TALK ABOUT SUPPORTS,
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO ALSO
NOTICE THAT THE CHILD WELFARE
SYSTEM IS INTERCONNECTED TO
OTHER SYSTEMS, AND SO I'M VERY
GLAD THAT CATHY HAD MENTIONED
DIFFICULTIES AND DIFFERENT
ABILITIES THAT OUR YOUNG PEOPLE
COME INTO CARE WITH OR INTO THE
ADOPTIVE FAMILY WITH, BECAUSE
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE ALSO
NEED TO, YOU KNOW, TAKE ISSUE
TO, IS THE ALLOCATION OF
RESOURCES AND SUPPORTS TO
DISABLED PEOPLES IN CANADA OR
ONTARIO, AND WHETHER THEY'RE
EQUITABLE OR NOT.
SO RIGHT NOW... I'M THE LEAD AS
WELL AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE
ONTARIO CHILDREN'S COALITION AND
WE ARE LEADING A PUSH FOR A
NATIONAL DISABILITY STRATEGY
THAT IS EQUITABLE SO THAT
FAMILIES, WHETHER THEY'RE
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES OR BIRTH
FAMILIES, WHOEVER THEY ARE, CAN
ACTUALLY ACCESS THE RIGHT
SUPPORTS AND EQUITABLE SUPPORTS
FOR ALL DISABILITIES REGARDLESS
OF WHAT THAT LABEL IS.

Steve says DO I TAKE IT IT'S A
GIVEN THAT IF YOU ARE A DISABLED
CHILD, PHYSICALLY DISABLED
CHILD, YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING
ADOPTED ARE MUCH TOUGHER?

Cheyanne says I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE
CASE.
I THINK THAT THERE ARE VERY
SPECIAL FAMILIES OUT THERE WHO
WANT TO ACTUALLY ADOPT YOUNG
PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT ABILITIES.
SO I WOULDN'T SAY THAT IT'S A
DETERRENT OF A YOUNG PERSON WITH
A DISABILITY.
HOWEVER, FAMILIES ARE ALSO AWARE
THAT THEY WOULD NEED MORE
SUPPORTS, AND SO I WOULD SEND IT
BACK TO THE INSTITUTION, TO THE
GOVERNMENT, AND TO ASK THEM:
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE DOING
SO THAT WE CAN ACTUALLY BETTER
SUPPORT THE OUTCOMES OF THESE
FAMILIES WHO DO WANT TO ADOPT
YOUNG PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.

Steve says LET ME ASK ABOUT AGE.
WHAT HAPPENS... IS IT STILL 18
WHEN YOU AGE OUT?

Cathy says IT DEPENDS ON THE PROVINCE.

Steve says DEPENDS ON THE PROVINCE.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU AGE OUT?

Cathy says WELL, THAT'S A VERY GOOD
QUESTION.
WHAT DOES HAPPEN WHEN YOU AGE
OUT?
I MEAN, THE FACTORS AREN'T GREAT
ALWAYS.
SOMETIMES IT'S HOMELESSNESS,
SOMETIMES THERE ARE SUBSTANCE
ABUSE ISSUES, EDUCATION IS A
CHALLENGE.
MANY CHILDREN WHO AGE OUT DON'T
HAVE THAT SAFETY NET THAT OUR
FAMILIES PROVIDE, AND MAY NOT
HAVE SOMEWHERE TO GO FOR
HOLIDAYS, FOR BIRTHDAYS.
SO IT'S A HUGE SUPPORT SYSTEM
AND THEIR TRANSITIONS ARE GOING
TO BE MUCH TOUGHER.
MANY CHILDREN NOW ARE LIVING AT
HOME UNTIL 25 OR BEYOND, AND SO
SOMEONE WHO IS AGING OUT IS IT
ASKED TO TAKE ON A WHOLE LOT OF
RESPONSIBILITY.
THAT'S VERY TOUGH AT THAT AGE.

Steve says RIGHT.
WHAT ARE... I DON'T KNOW IF YOU
EXPERIENCED ANY KIND OF TYPICAL
OBSTACLES AS YOU WERE TRYING TO
ADOPT YOUR THREE CHILDREN.
DID YOU?

Kathryn says ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says SUCH AS...

The caption changes to "Challenges."

Kathryn says I THINK EVERY ADOPTIVE PARENT
WILL SAY THAT THEY WILL.
GOING BACK TO THE SPECIAL NEEDS
ADOPTIONS.
TWO OF OUR THREE CHILDREN ARE
IDENTIFIED AS HAVING COMPLEX
SPECIAL NEEDS.
OUR ELDEST DAUGHTER HAS BOTH
PHYSICAL AND INTELLECTUAL
DISABILITIES. SO WHEN WE WERE
GOING THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS,
OBVIOUSLY WAIT TIMES ARE HARD.
IT'S HARD TO MANAGE THE WAIT
TIMES OF BEING MATCHED AND HOME
STUDIES AND HOME INSPECTION AND
SAFE STUDIES.
THAT WAS DEFINITELY DIFFICULT.
ONCE YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THAT
MATCH, ESPECIALLY WITH A CHILD
WHO HAS NEEDS, ENSURING THAT
THEY HAVE ACCESS TO SERVICES AND
THAT THERE ISN'T GOING TO BE A
GAP IN THE SERVICES WAS A REALLY
BIG CHALLENGE FOR US.
OUR CHILDREN LIVED FOUR HOURS
AWAY FROM US, SO THEY WERE
RECEIVING SERVICES IN THEIR
CITY.
SO WHEN THEY WERE MOVING TO OUR
REGION, TRYING TO GET ACCESS TO
THAT WAS ABSOLUTELY A BIG
HURDLE.

Steve says CAN I ASK YOU WHY IT
WAS NOT A DETERRENT IN YOUR CASE
TO ADOPT... AND I WANT TO GET
THE LANGUAGE RIGHT HERE... OTHER
ABILITIED?
YOU DON'T SAY PHYSICAL
DISABILITIES ANYMORE?

Kathryn says DIFFERING ABILITIES.

Steve says WHY DID YOU WANT TO
GO THAT ROUTE?

Kathryn says WE DIDN'T WHEN WE FIRST ADOPTED.
I THINK LIKE A LOT OF FAMILIES
WHO ARE ADOPTING, WE WANTED A
HEALTHY NEWBORN INFANT.
ONCE YOU GO THROUGH THE HOME
STUDY PROCESS AND YOU GET
CONNECTED WITH THE ADOPTION
COMMUNITY, YOU LEARN THAT THE
REALITIES OF CHILDREN WHO ARE
WAITING FOR THEIR FOREVER HOMES.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE SAW A
PROFILE OF A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE
GIRL, AND SHE HAS NOW 27
DIFFERENT DIAGNOSES AND ON PAPER
SHE SOUNDS LIKE A VERY SCARY
CHILD, BUT THE REALITY...

Steve says YOU DON'T HAVE TO
TELL ME ALL 27.
GIVE ME A FEW OF THEM.

Kathryn says HER LEFT AND RIGHT BRAIN
DON'T TALK TO EACH OTHER.
SHE IS LEGALLY DEAF, LEGALLY
BLIND.
SHE IS UNVERBAL.
SHE HAS VARIED GENETIC
ABNORMALITIES, CRANIOFACIAL
ABNORMALITIES.
SHE IS FASD, SO SHE WAS
PRENATALLY EXPOSED TO ALCOHOL,
EXPOSED TO NARCOTICS, WHICH
ABSOLUTELY AFFECTS HER
INTELLECTUAL FUNCTIONING.
SHE IS 9 BUT ON PAPER AND ON THE
STANDARD TESTING, SHE RANGES
ABOUT 6 TO 8 MONTHS IN HER
FUNCTIONING LEVEL.
THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT WHO SHE
IS.
SHE IS A SPUNKY, LOVING LITTLE
GIRL WHO LIKES TO TERRORIZE HER
SIBLINGS LIKE EVERY OTHER
9-YEAR-OLD.
I THINK WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING INTO
ADOPTION AND LOOKING INTO
CHILDREN WITH THESE COMPLEX
NEEDS, YOU HAVE TO READ ON
PAPER, YOU HAVE TO KNOW, YOU
KNOW, WHAT THE POTENTIAL
OUTCOMES IN THE FUTURE ARE FOR
THESE CHILDREN, BUT THESE ARE
JUST CHILDREN.
THAT'S HOW SHE CAME TO US WAS
JUST A LITTLE GIRL WHO NEEDED A
HOME.
WE FELT THAT WE COULD LEARN HOW
TO CARE FOR HER AND SHE WAS
NON-MOBILE WHEN SHE MOVED HOME.
WE HAD TO CHANGE OUR WHOLE HOUSE
TO MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE AND THREE
WEEKS LATER, SHE TOOK HER FIRST
STEPS.
YOU JUST NEVER KNOW, RIGHT?

Steve says SHE WON THE LOTTERY
GETTING YOU AS HER MOM.

Kathryn says I THINK IT'S THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND
OBVIOUSLY HAD TO HAVE SOME
INTENSELY DEEP HEART-TO-HEART
DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHETHER YOU
WOULD BE PREPARED TO TAKE THIS ON?

Kathryn says YOU HEAR IT ALL THE TIME.
THEY GET A PROFILE OR MATCH OR A
CALL AND THEY JUST KNOW.
WE DIDN'T GET THE KNOW.
WE WERE SCARED THROUGHOUT THE
ENTIRE THING.
WE WEREN'T SCARED ENOUGH TO WALK
AWAY.
AS WE LEARNED ABOUT THE MEDICAL
DIAGNOSES, AS WE GOT HER SOCIAL
HISTORY, AND HER BROTHER, OUR
SON, WE ADOPTED THEM TOGETHER SO
LEARNING ABOUT THEIR PAST AND
THEIR POTENTIAL NEEDS, I MEAN,
YOU HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION AND
YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO THINK
WITH YOUR HEART AND YOUR HEAD ON
ANY DECISION, AND SOMETIMES IT'S
ABOUT JUST JUMPING IN AND HAVING
FAITH AND MAKING SURE THAT
YOU'RE NOT IN IT ALONE BECAUSE
ADOPTION IS VERY ISOLATING AND
MAKING SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE
RIGHT COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT YOU
IS DEFINITELY... IT DEFINITELY
MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

Steve says HOW RELATIVELY
HEALTHY ARE THE OTHER TWO KIDS?

Kathryn says THEY'RE RELATIVELY HEALTHY.
OUR SON HAS SOCIAL DIFFICULTIES
AND BEHAVIOURAL DIFFICULTIES,
BUT OTHER THAN THAT, HE'S
FUNCTIONING MORE OR LESS AND OUR
4-YEAR-OLD, I MEAN, EVERY
4-YEAR-OLD HAS THEIR MOMENTS.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says IF YOU HAD TO DO IT
ALL OVER AGAIN...

Kathryn says IN A HEARTBEAT.

Steve says YOU WOULD.

Kathryn says IN A HEARTBEAT.
ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says THAT'S AMAZING.
GOOD FOR YOU.

Kathryn says THANK YOU.

Steve says OKAY.
TALK TO US ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT
YOUNG PEOPLE CAN OR OUGHT TO
HAVE MORE OF A SAY IN THEIR
ADOPTION JOURNEY.

Cheyanne says WELL, I DON'T THINK THE
QUESTION IS, CAN THEY, IT'S THEY
NEED TO.

Steve says THEY NEED TO.

Cheyanne says ACCORDING TO THE UNITED
NATIONS CONVENTION ON CHILD
RIGHTS, YOU KNOW, THERE IS THE
PARTICIPATORY PILLAR, AND
PARTICIPATION RATES ARE VERY
IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.
SO SOMETHING WE ADVOCATE FOR,
WHETHER IT'S CAS OR ONTARIO
CHILDREN'S ADVOCACY COALITION,
IS EVERY SINGLE YOUNG PERSON HAS
THE CAPACITY TO SOMEHOW BE
MEANINGFULLY ENGAGED IN THEIR
JOURNEY, AND WHEN I SAY
MEANINGFULLY ENGAGED, IT DOESN'T
MATTER WHAT AGE THEY ARE.
YOU CAN ASK VERY SIMPLE
QUESTIONS.
WHEN I USED TO WORK AT THE OCA,
THE ONTARIO CHILD ADVOCACY
OFFICE, I WORKED FOR THE
INITIATIVE.
A VERY REPETITIVE QUESTION WAS:
WOULD YOU ASK A FIVE-YEAR-OLD TO
MAKE A DECISION?
AND WHAT I WOULD SAY BACK IS,
LET'S SAY THAT THE CHILD BROKE
THEIR ELBOW.
WOULD YOU ASK THE CHILD IF THEY
WANT TO HAVE SURGERY OR NOT?
NO, BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY DON'T
UNDERSTAND FULLY WHAT THE
IMPLICATIONS ARE.

Steve says RIGHT.
BUT A 14-YEAR-OLD...

Cheyanne says EXACTLY.
HOWEVER, YOU COULD ASK THAT SAME
FIVE-YEAR-OLD AFTER THE SURGERY
IS DONE, DO YOU WANT CHERRY
FLAVOURED MEDICATION OR
BLUEBERRY FLAVOURED MEDICATION?
AND THE CAPACITY TO MAKE
DECISIONS IS BUILT OVER TIME.
AND SO IT'S UP TO... THE ONUS IS
ON US.
IT'S UP TO THE SYSTEM TO MAKE
SURE WE'RE ASKING THE RIGHT
QUESTIONS SO THEY CAN HAVE SOME
SORT OF SAY, REGARDLESS OF WHAT
AGE THEY ARE.
IF THEY'RE OLDER, FOR SURE.
YOU NEED TO ASK THEM, YOU KNOW,
DO YOU HAVE PEOPLE... WHO DO YOU
THINK OF AS AN ALLY?
IS IT YOUR TEACHER?
IS IT YOUR NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR?
YOUR AUNTIE?
WHO IS THAT?
WHO IS YOUR FAMILY.
OFTENTIMES FAMILY IS NOT ALWAYS
BIOLOGICAL TO THEM BECAUSE OF
THEIR OWN TRAUMAS.
SO IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO FIGURE
OUT WHO FAMILY IS TO THEM AND
FIGURING OUT WHETHER THEY ARE
ABLE TO ADOPT THEM OR PROVIDE
KINSHIP CARE FOR THEM AND MAKING
SURE THAT THEY ARE ALSO READILY
AVAILABLE TO TELL PEOPLE THAT
THEY WANT TO ALSO INDULGE IN
THEIR OWN CULTURE, INDULGE IN,
YOU KNOW, PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT
FROM THEIR CULTURE.
NOT EVERY PERSON WHO IS FROM MY
CULTURE MIGHT WANT TO BE PLACED
WITH SOMEONE FROM MY CULTURE AS
WELL.
OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS.
WE TALK ABOUT CULTURAL
COMPETENCY.
I DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT.
I SAY CULTURAL HUMILITY.
IT'S ABOUT ASKING THE RIGHT
QUESTIONS AND BEING OPEN-MINDED
AND MAKING SURE YOU'RE GIVING AS
MUCH ROOM AS POSSIBLE AND
RIGHTFULLY SO FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
TO VOICE THEIR CONCERNS AND
TRAJECTORY IN LIFE.

Steve says MARY-JO, I WANT TO
FOLLOW UP WITH YOU ON HOW YOU
DEALT WITH THE CHALLENGES OF
INTEGRATING THE KIDS YOU GAVE
BIRTH TO WITH THE KID YOU
ADOPTED, WITH THE KIDS YOU
FOSTER-CARED OVER THE YEARS?
THAT SOUNDS LIKE A HANDFUL.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Mary-Jo says WELL, YES,
MAYBE A HANDFUL, BUT IN REALITY,
I THINK THAT I... AT SOME POINT
IN OUR FAMILY LIFE, I ASKED THE
FOUR CHILDREN THAT ARE BORN TO
ME, I GAVE THEM A LITTLE
QUESTIONNAIRE ABOUT BEING THE
NATAL CHILDREN IN A FOSTER HOME
AND WHAT THIS HAS MEANT TO THEM.
BECAUSE THERE'S VERY LITTLE
RESEARCH DONE ABOUT IT AND
THERE'S VERY LITTLE SUPPORT FOR
THOSE CHILDREN.
AND I THINK THAT EVERY FOSTER
CHILD SHOULD BE GETTING A LETTER
FROM THE PREMIER OF THEIR
PROVINCE TO SAY: THANK YOU FOR
SHARING YOUR PARENTS WITH A
CHILD WHOSE PARENT IS CURRENTLY
THE GOVERNMENT AND THE
GOVERNMENT ISN'T A VERY LOVING,
NURTURING PARENT.
IT'S A BIG BODY.
IT'S AN ORGANIZATION.
SO ALL OF MY CHILDREN SAID THEY
WOULD DO IT AGAIN, AND I THINK
THAT ALL OF MY CHILDREN GAINED A
LOT OF CAPACITY IN TERMS OF
EMPATHY AND COMPASSION,
UNDERSTANDING THAT PEOPLE HAVE
STORIES, AND THOSE STORIES MIGHT
DRIVE WHY THEY DO WHAT THEY DO,
BEHAVE THE WAY THAT THEY BEHAVE,
AND THINK AND FEEL THE WAY THAT
THEY DO.
AND I THINK THEY'VE GAINED AN
ALL TRUISM.
THEY CERTAINLY GAINED ABOUT
CHILD DEVELOPMENT.
MY TWO OLDEST SONS WERE OFTEN MY
RIGHT-HAND HELPER, BEING THE
DRIVER TO THE SPORTS AND PICKING
UP AT LESSONS AND THINGS LIKE
THAT.
FOR MANY YEARS THEY WERE A VERY
BIG HELP AND I THINK THEY
LEARNED A LOT FROM IT.

Steve says KUDOS TO THEM.
BUT OBVIOUSLY KUDOS TO YOU
BECAUSE YOU MADE THIS HAPPEN IN
A WAY THAT WORKED.
FAIR TO SAY?

Mary-Jo says YEAH.
YOU KNOW WHAT?
IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK.
IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK.
AND I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO BE
VERY CAREFUL ABOUT UNDERSTANDING
HOW THAT... GOOD WAYS OF PUTTING
CHILDREN IN A FAMILY WHERE
CHILDREN ARE ALREADY THERE.
I THINK IT'S ALWAYS VERY WISE
THAT CHILDREN COMING INTO THE
FAMILY ARE YOUNGER THAN THE
CHILDREN WHO ARE ALREADY THERE.
SOMETIMES THAT'S ABOUT SAFETY.
SO THE MOST COMMON REASON FOR A
CHILD TO BE TAKEN OUT OF A
FAMILY, WHETHER THAT'S THE
FOSTER CHILD OR OTHER, IS THAT
THAT CHILD IS HURTING OTHER
CHILDREN.
SO THAT YOU CAN SET UP THE WHOLE
SITUATION TO MAKE IT SO THAT YOU
CAN REDUCE THE CHANCES OF A
CHILD HAVING TO PREMATURELY
LEAVE A FAMILY.

Steve says I WAS GOING TO SAY.
THERE'S AN OLD EXPRESSION,
RIGHT.
IT CAN'T ALL BE BEER AND
SKITTLES THE WHOLE TIME.
I'M SURE YOU HAVE YOUR MOMENTS.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THOSE
MOMENTS WHEN YOU START TO ASK
YOURSELF: I'M NOT SURE THIS IS
GOING TO WORK.
WHAT DO YOU DO THEN?

Mary-Jo says MOSTLY, YOU SET IT UP TO
WORK.
SOMETIMES YOU TRY UNTIL YOU
CAN'T DO IT ANYMORE.

Steve says AND THEN WHAT DO YOU DO?

Mary-Jo says AND THEN THE CHILD SOMETIMES
HAS TO BE REMOVED FROM YOUR
HOME, AND IT'S ALMOST ALWAYS FOR
SAFETY REASONS.

Steve says FOR THE SAFETY OF
THE OTHERS?

Mary-Jo says FOR THE SAFETY OF EVERYBODY. FOR THE SAFETY OF EVERYBODY, YEAH.

Steve says CAN WE TALK ABOUT
OPEN ADOPTIONS FOR A MOMENT
HERE?
WHAT'S THAT?

Kathryn says SO OPEN ADOPTIONS IS JUST A GENERAL TERM TO SAY THAT THERE
IS CONNECTIONS WITH FAMILY OF
ORIGIN OR IMPORTANT MEANINGFUL
PEOPLE IN THE CHILD'S LIFE.
SO I THINK A LOT OF TIMES
GENERALLY SPEAKING PEOPLE ASSUME
THAT OPEN ADOPTIONS MEANS YOU
GET FACE-TO-FACE VISITS WITH THE
CHILD'S FAMILY OF ORIGIN, WHERE
IN REALITY, OPEN ADOPTIONS CAN
BE LETTERS AND PICTURES, IT CAN
BE e-mail UPDATES, IT COULD BE
RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE CHILD'S
FOSTER FAMILY OR OTHER IMPORTANT
KEY MEMBERS IN THEIR LIFE.
IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN
BIRTH FAMILY.
AND, AGAIN, IN ONTARIO, THERE'S
THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF
ADOPTIONS, SO OBVIOUSLY CLOSED
ADOPTION, WHICH CAN TYPICALLY
MEAN NO CONTACT, ALTHOUGH WE'RE
LEARNING IN THIS DAY AND AGE
WITH SOCIAL MEDIA AND DNA
TESTING, IT DOESN'T EXIST
ANYMORE.
OPENNESS AGREEMENTS, WHICH IS
MORE OF A VERBAL-WRITTEN
CONTRACT THAT STATES THE MINIMUM
OF WHAT TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP YOU
ARE ABLE TO HAVE WITH A CHILD'S
FIRST FAMILY, AND THEN OPENNESS
ORDERS, WHICH IS MANDATED
THROUGH THE COURTS.
SO WITH MY THREE CHILDREN, WE
HAVE AN OPENNESS ORDER, AN
OPENNESS AGREEMENT, AND A CLOSED
ADOPTION.
BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT THAT
DOES NOT DICTATE THE
RELATIONSHIP THAT WE HAVE WITH
OUR CHILDREN'S FAMILIES.
IT'S SOMETHING WE CONTINUE TO
WORK ON AND GROW AND I'M HAPPY
TO SAY THAT BECAUSE IT IS A SAFE
AND HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP, WE
HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH
OUR FAMILIES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas; Student Intern: Linda Bicho-Vachon."

Steve says THAT SEEMS LIKE A
NICE POSITIVE PLACE AT WHICH TO
LEAVE THIS DISCUSSION.
I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR
COMING IN TONIGHT AND SHARING
YOUR VIEWS ON THIS.
CHEYANNE RATNAM FROM THE
CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY OF
TORONTO, KATHRYN CONNORS,
ADOPT4LIFE IS HER ORGANIZATION.
AND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE
TABLE, KATHY MURPHY FROM THE
ADOPTION COUNSEL OF CANADA AND
MARY-JO LAND, WHO HAS A THREE OR
FOUR HOUR DRIVE BACK TO GREY
COUNTY AFTER THIS PROGRAM IS
OVER. IT'S REALLY GREAT OF ALL
OF YOU TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME
WITH US TONIGHT HERE ON TVO.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Cheyanne says THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING US.

The rest of the guests say Thank you.

Watch: Adoption Options