Transcript: Adoption in Transition: New Hopes, New Realities | Jul 06, 1988

[general chatter]

The title reads "People Patterns. Adoption in transition New Hopes, New realities. Part 1."

At a conference, a woman says I DON'T KNOW HOW
OPEN HE WAS ABOUT THE
FACT THAT HE HAD AN AFFAIR.

Another woman says SURE.

A man says AND PEOPLE CAN
INTERPRET IT, SO...

A male voice says ONE OF THOSE HONEY BEARS,
YOU KNOW, THOSE ONES THAT...

A man in his sixties says AND A PERMANENT WAY
OF LIFE FOR THAT CHILD.
[general chatter]

A man with a beard says BUT I SENT OUT LETTERS
TO PEOPLE SAYING
ARE YOU WILLING
TO VOLUNTEER?

Joan is in her early sixties, with short wavy brown hair. She wears glasses, a pink turtleneck sweater, a gray jacket with brown lapels and a chain necklace.

She says I'M JOAN REED-OLSEN.
IN AUGUST 1986, THE 11th
NACAC CONFERENCE WAS HELD
IN TORONTO.
NACAC IS THE ACRONYM FOR
NORTH AMERICAN COUNCIL
ON ADOPTABLE CHILDREN.
THIS EVENT WAS HOSTED BY THE
ADOPTION COUNCIL OF CANADA.
OVER A THOUSAND PEOPLE
ATTENDED THE FOUR-DAY
CONFERENCE ENTITLED "ADOPTION
IN TRANSITION: NEW HOPES,
NEW REALITIES," AND
THIS IS THE PROGRAM.
OVER A HUNDRED WORKSHOPS,
PLENARY SESSIONS, PANEL
DISCUSSIONS, AND THAT DOESN'T
EVEN COUNT THE CASUAL EXCHANGE
OF IDEAS IN THE CORRIDORS.
PEOPLE PATTERNS ATTEMPTED
TO CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF
THE CONFERENCE.
WE EVEN LISTENED IN ON
SOME OF THE CONVERSATIONS
IN THE CORRIDORS.
BUT LET'S START WITH A MONTAGE
OF THE OPENING CEREMONIES AND
THE SPECIAL AWARDS
PRESENTATIONS.

Judy Grover takes the stand at the conference.

She’s in her mid-fifties, with short straight brown hair. She wears glasses and a striped dress.

She says I'D LIKE TO WELCOME YOU ON
BEHALF OF THE ADOPTION COUNCIL
OF CANADA, AND I WOULD
PARTICULARLY LIKE TO SAY
BONJOUR ET BIENVENUE AU CANADA
TO THE REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE
HERE FROM 40 AMERICAN STATES,
AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AND I
UNDERSTAND WE HAVE A PRESENTER
FROM ANGOLA, SO IT'S TRULY
AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE.
I ALSO WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME
MY FELLOW CANADIANS WHO ARE
HERE FROM ALL 10 CANADIAN
PROVINCES AND THE INVITED
GUESTS, THE REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE REGION SIX CHILDREN'S
AID SOCIETIES AND FAMILY
AND CHILDREN'S SERVICES.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS HAVE
TAKEN TIME OUT OF THEIR BUSY
SCHEDULES TO COME, TO BE WITH
US THIS MORNING, AND I REALLY
APPRECIATE THAT.

A caption reads "The Honourable John Sweeney."

John is in his early fifties, clean-shaven and with short straight gray hair. He wears a blue suit, white shirt and patterned burgundy tie.

He says HERE YOU ARE, EACH AND EVERY
ONE OF YOU, REPRESENTING
JURISDICTIONS FROM LITERALLY
AROUND THE WORLD, AND YET,
YOU HAVE A COMMON GOAL THAT
EVERY CHILD HAS THE RIGHT --
AND I NOTICE THAT IN YOUR
PUBLICATIONS, YOU EMPHASIZE
THE WORD
RIGHT
THE RIGHT
TO A FAMILY, THE RIGHT TO
A PERMANENT FAMILY.

Judy says THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF THE
ADOPTION COUNCIL OF CANADA.

A man in his sixties says WELL, THANK YOU.
I DIDN'T REALIZE IT
HAD BEEN 22 YEARS.
[laughter]

[applause]

Judy says THE ADOPTION COUNCIL OF
CANADA, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Another awarded woman says THANK YOU.

A third awarded woman says OH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
WHERE I'M GOING TO PUT IT NOW?
[laughter]
[applause]

A woman in a yellow dress says VICKY, THE ADOPTION
COUNCIL OF CANADA.

A woman in a white jacket says HELEN ALLEN STACY, PROMOTION
AND ADVOCACY, ON BEHALF OF
WAITING CHILDREN
EVERYWHERE, AUGUST 1986.
[applause]
[applause]

Helen Stacy is in her seventies, with short curly gray hair. She wears a lilac skirt suit and a pearl necklace.

She takes the stand and says THE BEST THING THAT'S
HAPPENED, I THINK, TO ALL OF
US SINCE WE WERE AT THAT
MEETING IN MONTREAL SO MANY
YEARS AGO IS WE'VE SEEN HOW
MUCH ADOPTION HAS DEVELOPED.
AND THE BEST THING THAT WE CAN
ALL DO IS TO MAKE SURE THAT
IT GOES AHEAD AND THAT, AS
Mr. SWEENEY SAID EARLIER,
EVERY CHILD GETS THE RIGHT
THAT EVERY CHILD SHOULD HAVE,
THE RIGHT TO
BELONG TO A FAMILY.
AND I JUST KNOW THAT THINGS
ARE GOING TO GO AHEAD AND, AS
A RESULT OF THIS ORGANIZATION,
WE MAY COME TO THAT IDYLLIC
SITUATION WHERE THERE
WON'T BE ANY MORE WAITING
CHILDREN ANYWHERE.
THANK YOU.
[applause]

A woman in her late thirties says I'M AT THE CONFERENCE FOR
PERSONAL REJUVENATION,
AS MUCH AS ANYTHING.
THIS IS A VERY, VERY IMPORTANT
NETWORK TO ME, THESE PEOPLE.
AND THERE'S REALLY ONLY A
HANDFUL OF US IN CANADA TO SEE
EACH OTHER ONCE A YEAR AND GET
RE-INSPIRED AND GO BACK TO
WHERE WE CAME FROM AND TRY
HARDER FOR THE KIDS AND...
ON ALL THE ISSUES THAT WE'RE
WORKING ON AROUND ADOPTION.

A woman in her mid-forties says WELL, MY INTEREST IN COMING,
OF COURSE, IS TO LEARN MORE
ABOUT ADOPTION, ALL THE THINGS
THAT THERE ARE ABOUT PLACING
A CHILD FOR ADOPTION.
I'M AN ADOPTIVE PARENT MYSELF.
I'M ALSO AN ADOPTIVE WORKER.
I'VE WORKED IN CHILDREN'S AID
FOR 17 YEARS, AND I'VE WORKED
IN ADOPTION FIELD
THAT LONG AS WELL.

A man in his forties with a beard says THIS IS THE THIRD ONE IN A
ROW WE'VE BEEN TO, AND IT
JUST GIVES ME HELP TO GET
THROUGH THE REST OF THE YEAR.
IT GIVES ME NEW IDEAS, BECAUSE
I CERTAINLY DON'T KNOW IT ALL.
[laughs]

A middle aged woman with short curly brown hair says WELL, OBVIOUSLY, THE MORE WE
GET TOGETHER, THE MORE WE CAN
SHARE AND THE MORE WE LEARN
AND THE MORE THE BARRIERS
BREAK DOWN.
I KNOW ONE THING THAT HAPPENS
TO US PERSONALLY IS WE GET TO
TALK TO OTHER WORKERS, AND
THEN ONCE WE GET TO KNOW THEM,
WE'RE ABLE TO MOVE CHILDREN
AROUND MUCH MORE FREELY,
WHICH, OF COURSE,
HELPS THE KIDS.
SO IT BECOMES A VERY BIG
BENEFIT FOR EVERYBODY.

The caption changes to "Joe Kroll. NACAC Executive Director."

Joe is in his late forties, with short straight black hair and a thick beard. He wears glasses, a blue suit, white shirt with stripes and polka dotted burgundy tie.

He says WELL, THE CONFERENCE IS AN
ALMOST TOTALLY VOLUNTEER
EFFORT OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS AND
ADVOCATES AND SOCIAL WORKERS
WHO CONTRIBUTE THEIR TIME AND
ENERGY TO SPEAKING AT THE
CONFERENCE, TO ORGANIZING THE
CONFERENCE, TO PUBLICIZING IT,
TO GETTING PEOPLE HERE,
TO GETTING TO THE PRESS.
AND IT'S REALLY THE VOLUNTEER
EFFORT OF EVERYBODY
THAT MAKES IT SO SUCCESSFUL.

The caption changes to "Judy Grove. Conference chairperson."

She says THE PURPOSE OF THIS
CONFERENCE AND THE CONFERENCES
THAT HAVE BEEN HELD IN THE
PAST LIKE THIS ARE MULTIPLE.
THE FIRST IS TO PROVIDE
A FORUM FOR PARENTS AND
INTERESTED PROFESSIONALS TO
GET TOGETHER AND DISCUSS THE
PROBLEMS AND THE ISSUES
RELEVANT TO ADOPTION TODAY.
IT'S TO HELP PEOPLE
FORM NETWORKS.
IT'S EDUCATIONAL,
SOMEWHAT SOCIAL.
IT COVERS MANY, MANY AREAS.

Three woman discuss the conference program.

A woman says THAT'S WHY I WANTED TO
SIGN UP FOR THIS BECAUSE
YOU REALLY GET INTO IT.

Another woman says YEAH.

The first woman says IT'S AN AREA YOU
CAN'T DO IN AN HOUR.

A third woman says BUT JIM MAHONEY'S ONE IS WHERE
YOU CAN SPEAK UP AND SHARE.

The first woman says SEE, THE ONLY THING IS, IT'S
TRUE, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE RIGHT,
THIS GOES ON FOR THREE HOURS.

The second woman says MM-HMM.

The third woman says IT'S A THREE-HOUR...
IT'S AN INTENSIVE ONE.

The second woman says THERE'LL BE A BREAK,
BUT... FOUR HOURS .

An female attendee says WE KEEP TELLING OURSELVES
MAYBE THEY'RE ONLY...
IT'S JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE TWO,
BUT FROM THE TIME WE ADOPTED
THEM, THEY ENJOYED PAINTING
THE WALLS WITH FECES AND
THE CRIB AND RIPPING THE
WALLPAPER DOWN AND, YOU KNOW.
SOMETIMES I DO WONDER WHAT'S
THE GIFT HERE, AFTER A NIGHT
OF DESTRUCTION OR A DAY
OF DESTRUCTION OR...

The speaker says YEAH.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU HAD THEM?

The woman says WE'VE HAD THEM NOW A
YEAR AND A HALF.

The speaker says WOW.
SO THEY WERE SIX MONTHS
WHEN THEY CAME TO YOU?

The woman says YEAH.
AND THEY'RE EXTREMELY...
DESTRUCTIVE.

The speaker says YES.

The woman says AND, YOU KNOW, WE TRY TO TELL
OURSELVES, THIS IS GOING TO
GET BETTER, THIS IS
GOING TO GET BETTER.
BUT SOMETIMES YOU DO WONDER,
WHERE'S THE GIFT, AFTER A DAY
OF, YOU KNOW, TOTAL CHAOS.

The speaker says MM-HMM.
ANY IDEAS?

He woman NO, THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE.
[laughing]

The caption changes to "Jim Mahoney. Child and Family Therapist."

Jim is in his early forties, with short straight light brown hair and a beard. HE wears a blue suit, white shirt and red tie.

He says WITH OTHER FAMILIES I'VE
WORKED WITH WHO ARE VERY SELF
SUFFICIENT AND INDEPENDENT AND
PRETTY WELL TAKING CARE OF
BUSINESS, WHAT THEY SEEM TO DO
IS TO GET THE KIDS THAT NONE
OF THEIR INTERVENTIONS WORKED
WITH, SO THE FAMILIES HAVE TO
REACH OUT AND ASK FOR HELP, SO
I MEET SOME REAL INDEPENDENT,
INDEPENDENT-MINDED, TOUGH
PARENTS, SOME LARGE ADOPTIVE
FAMILY PARENTS WHO HANDLE IT
ALL, BUT THEY HAVE ONE KID
AND NOTHING'S WORKING.
AND THEN I COME IN AND THEN
SOMETHING CHANGES, OR IT
DOESN'T CHANGE, BUT
SOMETHING'S DIFFERENT IN THE
FAMILY AND WHAT HAPPENS THERE
IS, JUST A POSSIBILITY, IS THE
GIFT REALLY IS THAT THE
FAMILY HAS TO OPEN ITS GATE,
SO TO SPEAK.
HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE GATE
CONTROL THEORY, OR THE GATE
THEORY OF FAMILIES?
DIFFERENT, DIFFERENT WORDS,
BUT ALL FAMILIES KEEP A FENCE
AROUND THEMSELVES AND THEY
HAVE DOORS AND YOU HAVE A DOOR
WHEN THE CHILDREN GO TO
SCHOOL, A DOOR WHEN THEY GO TO
THE HOSPITAL, A DOOR WHEN
THEY GO TO CAMP, BUT ADOPTIVE
FAMILIES, BY ITS VERY NATURE,
HAVE A NUMBER OF EXTRA DOORS,
WITH THE AGENCY, WITH THE STATE,
WITH THERAPISTS, ET CETERA.
THERE'S A WHOLE BUNCH OF
DOORS, AND SOMETIMES WHAT'S
GOING ON IS THAT THE CHILDREN
ARE A WAY FOR THE FAMILY TO
GET AN EXTRA NUMBER OF DOORS.
AND THE FAMILY CAN FEEL
INVADED ON THE ONE HAND
BUT GETS HELP ON THE OTHER,
YOU KNOW, AND THAT'S
REAL QUESTIONABLE.
I DON'T KNOW ANY FAMILIES THAT
ENJOY THAT, BUT I SURE DO KNOW
FAMILIES THAT HAVE
SELF-CORRECTED AS A RESULT
OF GETTING OUTSIDE
INTERVENTION, YOU KNOW?
AND IT SOUNDS LIKE WITH
TWO-YEAR-OLDS THAT ARE
SMEARING FECES,
YOU GOT PROBLEMS.

The woman says WHEN YOU GO TO A NEUROLOGIST
AND THEY SAY THERE'S NOTHING
WRONG AND YOU GO TO A
PSYCHOLOGIST AND THEY GO,
"THEY'RE JUST THREE YEARS
OLD," YOU KNOW, "THEY'RE TWINS.
TWINS GET IN DOUBLE TROUBLE."
WELL, DOUBLE TROUBLE IS A LITTLE
BIT MORE THAN, YOU KNOW...
AND WE HAVE OTHER CHILDREN
IN THERE THAT, YOU KNOW.
THAT ARE ALSO HANDICAPPED
IN VARIOUS WAYS,
AND WE'VE NEVER
HAD THIS KIND OF...

Jim says MM-HMM.
YOU REALLY ARE THE EXPERT.
YOU'RE A 168-HOUR A WEEK
EXPERT, AND IF YOU SAY THERE'S
SOMETHING WRONG, THERE'S
SOMETHING WRONG, OKAY?
AND MAYBE WHAT PEOPLE NEED TO
KEEP IN MIND IS, LIKE, IF YOU
THINK SOMETHING'S WRONG,
SEVERAL WAYS TO LOOK AT IT IS
YOU'RE A CONSUMER, AND AS THE
CONSUMER, YOU'RE THE BOSS AND
YOU'RE THE EXPERT, YOU KNOW?
AND SO WHAT YOU MAY BE FACED
WITH, AND I DON'T WHAT THE
GIFT IS THERE, BUT YOU HAVE TO
BE AN ADVOCATE FOR THAT CHILD
AND FOR WHAT YOU THINK THE
PROBLEM IS AND JUST TO KEEP
GOING FOR IT.
I USED TO ENTERTAIN THE NOTION
THAT MY DAD WASN'T MY REAL
DAD, YOU KNOW,
BIRTH DAD, AND...
BUT THE FAMILY ALWAYS TOLD THE
STORY THAT WHEN MY MOM WAS
CARRYING ME BY MY DAD'S OFFICE
AS AN INFANT, SOME MAN CAME UP
TO HER AND SAID, "LADY, I
DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT
THAT'S JIM MAHONEY'S SON,"
BECAUSE ALL THAT WAS STICKING
OUT WAS MY NOSE
FROM THE BLANKET.
BUT AS A KID, I'D ENTERTAIN
THE NOTION THAT, WELL, MAYBE
THEY'RE NOT MY REAL MOM AND
DAD AND MAYBE, MAYBE SOMEBODY
ELSE IS, AND I'D
GO THROUGH THAT.
ALL CHILDREN ARE SUPPOSED TO
DO THAT BECAUSE WHAT THEY'RE
LEARNING TO DO IS
EXIST INDEPENDENTLY.
ALL RIGHT.
SO IN AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY, WHEN
THE CHILDREN SAY THE SAME
THING, WHAT HAPPENS IS
THERAPISTS, TEACHERS, SOCIAL
WORKERS AND ADOPTIVE PARENTS
GO, "OH MY GOD, IT'S NOT
TAKING, IT'S NOT WORKING."
[laughing]
IT'S LIKE THEY'RE QUESTIONING
THE BONDING, "WE HAVEN'T DONE
ENOUGH," ETCETERA.
AND SO THEN YOU GET, LIKE, THE
REAL STRESS SITUATION AND IF
YOU HAVE A FAMILY LIVING IN AN
ISOLATED WAY OR NOT SHARING OR
TALKING WITH OTHER ADOPTIVE
FAMILIES ABOUT THIS, THEN THEY
CAN JUST GO THROUGH A
WHOLE LOT OF STRESS.
AND, AGAIN, I CAN COME IN AND
TRY TO LIGHTEN THE SITUATION,
BUT WHAT'S NEEDED FOR HUMOUR
TO EXIST, WHAT'S NEEDED FOR
JOY TO EXIST IS INFORMATION,
INFORMATION AND TOOLS.
AND IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE
INFORMATION AND TOOLS, THE
ONLY KIND OF HUMOUR YOU'RE GOING
TO HAVE IS GALLOWS HUMOUR.
OKAY?
GALLOWS HUMOUR -- THEY
DID IT AGAIN, SMILE.
[laughing]
BUT IF YOU KNOW, LIKE IN THE
DEVELOPMENTAL LIFE CYCLE OF
ADOPTIVE FAMILIES AND IF YOU
KNOW, LIKE, WHAT KIDS DO,
SEVEN AND EIGHT-YEAR-OLD
KIDS ARE SUPPOSED TO SAY,
"YOU'RE NOT MY REAL PARENTS."
THEN, IT'S LIKE I DID A
WORKSHOP YESTERDAY WITH SUE
SMITH FROM ADOPTIONS IN IDAHO,
AND THE KIDS TELL HER, "YOU'RE
NOT MY REAL MOM," SHE GOES,
"FEEL THIS" AND "TOUCH THIS,"
YOU KNOW, "THIS IS REAL, I'M
YOUR REAL MOM," LIKE THAT.

He pads himself on the face.

He continues AND
THAT IN THERE, BECAUSE SHE HAS
THE COURAGE OF HER CONVICTION,
SHE HAS, LIKE, A JOYFUL
APPROACH, REAL FIRM.
IT'S LIKE IRON HAND IN A
VELVET GLOVE, BUT THERE IS NO
QUESTION IN HER HEART ABOUT
WHO THE PARENT IS, SO SHE'S
ABLE TO SAY, WITH SOME DEGREE
OF HUMOUR, YOU KNOW, TOO BAD,
"FEEL, I AM REAL," YOU KNOW,
"TRY TO TELL ME I'M NOT."
AND SO WITH THAT, WITH THAT
HUMOUR THAT SHE HAS, WITH THAT
COURAGE OF HER CONVICTIONS,
IT'S LIKE THE KIDS KNOW IT,
SO THEY KNOW THEY BETTER
GIVE UP THAT GAME.
IT AIN'T GOING TO WORK.

A man in his sixties says MY SON'S FRIENDS ASKED,
WHEN HE WAS ABOUT 10,
ABOUT ADOPTION, "IS
ALAN REALLY ADOPTED?"
AND I SAID, "YES."
I SAID, "WE STARTED OUT...
WHEN I MARRIED ALAN'S MOTHER,
WHEN WE GOT MARRIED, WE WERE
NOT BLOOD RELATED BUT WE
ADOPTED EACH OTHER AS HUSBAND
AND WIFE AND THEN WE DECIDED
WE WANTED TO HAVE KIDS," AND
I SAID, "BUT, YOU KNOW, YOUR
PARENTS AREN'T BLOOD RELATED
EITHER," AND THEY LOOKED
AT EACH OTHER AND SAID,
"GEE, THAT'S RIGHT, THEY'RE
NOT BLOOD RELATED."
I SAID, "THEN WE DECIDED WE
WANTED TO HAVE CHILDREN AND WE
ADOPTED ALAN AND HE BECAME
PART OF OUR FAMILY, SO WE ARE
RELATED TO EACH OTHER JUST AS
HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE RELATED
TO EACH OTHER."

Judy says I GREW UP IN A FAMILY
THAT ISN'T THAT DIFFERENT
FROM MY OWN.
I HAVE A BLACK BROTHER AND AN
INDIAN BROTHER AND A CAUCASIAN
BROTHER WHO WAS NOT BORN TO
THE SAME PARENTS AS I WAS,
SO IT CERTAINLY HAS --
ADOPTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART
OF MY LIFE, AND I JUST ASSUMED
THAT THE FAMILY THAT MY
HUSBAND AND I CREATED WOULD
BE SIMILAR TO THE FAMILY
THAT I GREW UP IN.
AS A RESULT, I NOW HAVE EIGHT
CHILDREN, TWO OF WHOM WERE
BORN TO ME AND SIX
OF WHOM WE ADOPTED.

A man with a beard says LET'S SEE, I HAVE SEVEN
ALREADY ADOPTED, AND THEY...
I ADOPTED THEM
ANYWHERE FROM 12 TO 17.

A man in his sixties says WOW.
ALL OLDER.

The man with the beard says YEAH.
I'M A SINGLE PARENT.

The man in his sixties says OH.
[laughing]

The man with a beard says THEY WON'T GIVE
ME LITTLE ONES.
THEY WON'T EVEN CONSIDER IT.
[laughing]

The man in his sixties says AH.

The man with the beard says THEY WILL NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT,
AND I DON'T THINK I WILL EITHER.
THIS NINE-YEAR-OLD
IS A HANDFUL.

The man in his sixties says AND HOW MANY DO
YOU HAVE AGAIN?

The man with the beard says I HAVE SEVEN ADOPTED.

The man in his sixties says SEVEN ADOPTED.

The man with a beard says AND ONE THAT I'M TRYING TO
ADOPT AND A FOSTER CHILD THAT
THEY JUST PLACED THAT THEY
DON'T KNOW IF THEY'RE GOING TO
GO ADOPTION OR FOSTER CARE.

The man in his sixties says AND SINGLE PARENT.

The man with the beard says RIGHT.

The woman with the short curly blond hair says WE'VE HAD A GREAT DEAL OF
SUCCESS IN AMERICA WITH SINGLE
PARENTS PARENTING SOME VERY,
VERY TOUGH KIDS, AND THEY SEEM
TO BE, YOU KNOW, EVERY BIT AS
GOOD, IF NOT BETTER, AT SOME
KIDS THAN MARRIED COUPLES.
AND SO WE HAVE FOR YEARS
PROMOTED THESE KINDS OF
ADOPTIONS IN THE STATES, AND
NOW WE'RE, OF COURSE, SEEING
CANADA DOING THE SAME THING
BECAUSE THEY'RE HAVING THE
SAME KINDS OF RESULTS.
YOU KNOW, THESE ARE PHENOMENAL
PEOPLE THAT COME TO US AND ASK
TO TAKE THESE KIDS AND
THEY DO A GREAT JOB.

A woman with short curly graying hair says IT CERTAINLY HAS BEGUN.
THERE ARE SINGLE PARENTS IN
MOST PROVINCES THAT I KNOW OF.
IT HASN'T BECOME
AS WIDESPREAD HERE.
THERE ARE STILL MORE
ROADBLOCKS AND MORE
ATTITUDINAL PROBLEMS.

The caption changes to "Kathryn Donley."

Kathryn is in her mid-forties, with short puffy curly graying hair. She wears a pink top and jacket and a pair of earrings.

She takes the stand and says I'M JUST GOING TO TRY TO
SKETCH FOR YOU, IF I CAN, THE
COMPLEXITY OF THE WORLD THAT
WE'RE FACING AS MORE AND MORE
SINGLE PARENTS ARE AVAILABLE
IN THE WORLD AT LARGE AND AS
MORE AND MORE CHILDREN ARE --
ESPECIALLY AMONG OLDER
CHILDREN OR MORE SPECIAL NEEDS
CHARACTERIZED CHILDREN, ARE
NEEDING FAMILY PLACEMENTS, AND
AS AGENCIES AND SOCIAL WORKERS
AND APPLICANTS HAVE TO OPEN UP
THEIR HORIZONS TO THE
POSSIBILITIES HERE.
WE'RE TRYING TO LOOK A LITTLE
CLOSER AT SINGLE PARENT
ADOPTION ISSUES, AND WE REALLY
WANT TO EXAMINE ASSESSMENT OF
SINGLE PARENT ADOPTERS AND
THE INTERVENTION SERVICES
AVAILABLE TO SINGLE
PARENT ADOPTEE FAMILIES.
I THINK THAT A NEW
CONCEPTUALIZATION OF
SINGLENESS AS A MORE POSITIVE,
NON-DEFICIT MODEL STRUCTURE
FOR FAMILY LIFE HAS TO BE
GAINED, AND IT SIMPLY ISN'T
IN PLACE JUST YET.
SO AS WE APPROACH WORKING WITH
OTHER SINGLE FAMILIES, AS WE
APPROACH THEM AS SOCIAL
WORKERS OR HELPERS OR AS WE
APPROACH THEM AS PEERS, OTHER
FOLKS STRUGGLING WITH CHILD
REARING, I THINK WE HAVE TO
MAKE CERTAIN DISTINCTIONS
BETWEEN THE SINGLE PARENT
FAMILY WHO IS THAT WAY BECAUSE
OF WHAT I CALL DEFAULT AND THE
SINGLE PARENT FAMILY STRUCTURE
THAT IS THAT WAY OUT
OF A SENSE OF CHOICE.
THESE FAMILIES TEND TO
APPROACH ADOPTION ISSUES IN A
VERY DIFFERENT SPIRIT AND
IN A VERY DIFFERENT SENSE OF
COMPETENCE IN TERMS OF BEING
ABLE TO COPE, BOTH WITH THEIR
OWN PERSONAL LIVES AND
ALSO WITH THE ISSUES
OF FAMILY BUILDING.
THAT'S THE ARGUMENT
THAT I WOULD MAKE TO US.
I WROTE A LITTLE ONE-PAGE
HANDOUT PIECE THAT I USED TO
GIVE OUT AT FAMILY PREPARATION
MEETINGS, AND IT'S BEEN PICKED
UP IN NEWSLETTERS AND
PUBLISHED IN VARIOUS PLACES.
WHAT I DID WAS I DESCRIBED THE
CHILDREN WHO MIGHT BE SUITABLE
FOR SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES AS
KIND OF HAVING THREE BASIC
CHARACTERISTICS I
WAS ABLE TO IDENTIFY.
THOSE CHILDREN WHO HAVE
COMPLEX FUNCTIONING WAS ONE
OF THE CHARACTERIZATIONS I
MADE THEN IN THE LATE '70s.
[coughs]
EXCUSE ME -- AND MY FEELING
ABOUT THOSE PARTICULAR
CHILDREN WAS THAT WHEN
CHILDREN FUNCTION IN A VERY
COMPLICATED SORT OF WAY,
PUTTING THEM INTO A SINGLE
PARENT ENVIRONMENT OFTEN
GIVES THEM WHAT I CALL A VERY
FOCUSED NURTURE EXPERIENCE.
THAT IS WHERE THE ENVIRONMENT
HAS BEEN GROSSLY SIMPLIFIED
FOR THEM, RIGHT STRIPPED DOWN
TO THE BASICS, AND WHERE,
INDEED, THE COMPLEXITY OF
THEIR FUNCTIONING CAN BE TENDED
TO BY SOMEONE WHO'S PREPARED TO
FOCUS IN ON THAT CHILD WITH A
LOT OF EXCLUSIVE ATTENTION
AND CONCENTRATED ENERGY.
OFTENTIMES WHEN YOU READ THE
PSYCHOLOGICALS ON THE CHILDREN
OR THE SCHOOL REPORTS, WORDS
WILL START LEAPING OUT AT YOU,
LIKE DISTRACTIBLE, COMPLEX,
SCATTERED FUNCTIONING, POOR
IMPULSE CONTROL, UNTRUSTING,
UNABLE TO EXERCISE
GOOD JUDGMENT.
THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF WORDS
AND PHRASES THAT APPEAR IN THE
PSYCHOLOGICALS AND ANY KIND
OF A PSYCHO-SOCIAL WORK-UP
ON THESE YOUNGSTERS.
YOUR JOB BECOMES, FIRST OF
ALL, WHETHER YOU'RE THE PARENT
OR THE POTENTIAL PARENT FOR
THAT CHILD, OR WHETHER YOU'RE
THE SOCIAL WORKER FOR THAT
CHILD, IS ASCERTAIN WHETHER
OR NOT THAT'S AN ACCURATE
JUDGMENT ABOUT THE CHILDREN.
OFTENTIMES EVALUATORS OF
CHILDREN DO NOT SEE
THEM ACCURATELY.
WE SEND KIDS OFF FOR
EVALUATIONS, THE EVALUATOR MAY
SEE THE CHILD FOR AN HOUR OR FOR
TWO HOURS AND DO SOME TESTING.
THE TESTING RESULTS COME IN
AND TO THE PERSON WHO KNOWS
THAT CHILD BEST, THE DESCRIPTION
MAY NOT BE RECOGNIZABLE.
SO ALWAYS, ALWAYS BE PREPARED
TO TEST THE VALIDITY OF
THOSE JUDGMENTS MADE
ON THE YOUNGSTER.
BUT BEYOND THAT, IF THE
JUDGMENTS APPEAR TO BE
ACCURATE IN TERMS OF HOW THIS
CHILD IS REALLY FUNCTIONING,
THEN I WOULD SAY TO MYSELF, I
HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL THEN
IN TERMS OF FAMILY CHOOSING
WITH A CHILD LIKE THIS.
I MAY, INDEED, HAVE A CHILD
WHO IS A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE
FOR A SINGLE PARENT FAMILY
STRUCTURE JUST AS EQUITABLY
AS WITH A TWO-PARENT
FAMILY STRUCTURE HERE.
LET ME SEE WHAT ELSE EMERGES
IN THE COURSE OF EVALUATING
THIS CHILD FOR PLACEMENT.

The woman with short curly graying hair says CERTAINLY, CONFERENCES LIKE
THIS, WE FEEL ONE OF THE BASIC
ADVANTAGES IS THAT SOME OF THE
WORKERS AND THE ADMINISTRATORS
AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN
CHARGE ARE FINDING OUT THAT
SINGLE PEOPLE CAN ADOPT
SUCCESSFULLY, THEY'RE WILLING
TO, THE CHILDREN GET GOOD
FAMILIES AND SOME OF THOSE
NEGATIVE OR DISCOURAGING
ATTITUDES ARE BEGINNING
TO BE OVERCOME.
WE HOPE THAT SINGLE PARENTS
WILL BECOME MORE ENCOURAGED TO
ADOPT AND NOT JUST TO GET THE
KIDS THAT NOBODY ELSE WANTS,
BECAUSE SINGLE PARENTS DESERVE
A CHANCE TO HAVE THE KIND OF
CHILD
THEY
WANT.

Judy says THE NATIVE DELEGATION IS
AT LEAST 20 PERCENT OF THE
CANADIAN DELEGATION.
NOW, THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY
300 CANADIAN DELEGATES,
SO THERE'S PROBABLY ABOUT 60
NATIVE DELEGATES FROM AT LEAST
SIX CANADIAN PROVINCES AND
FROM NOT JUST CHILD WELFARE
AGENCIES BUT ALSO SOME
ADOPTIVE PARENTS.

Two middle aged men talk at the conference.

The man in a blue shirt says YOU HAD ALL YOUR TRAINING
IN NORTHERN ONTARIO THEN.

The man in the blue jacket says YEAH.

The man in the blue shirt says NOT IN TORONTO?

The man in the blue jacket says NO, BECAUSE THEY FELT THERE
WAS NO RELEVANCE BETWEEN THE
SOUTH AND THE NORTH.
POLITICALLY, EVERYTHING'S
DIFFERENT, AND THE LIFESTYLE
WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
IT'S LIKE, YOU KNOW, WE'RE
ALWAYS COMPLAINING UP NORTH,
WE GET PEOPLE DOWN HERE IN
TORONTO TELLING US HOW WE
SHOULD LIVE AND WHAT WE SHOULD
DO, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE AN
IDEA OF WHAT IT'S
LIKE TO LIVE UP NORTH.

A woman in a polka dotted blouse says I WORK WITH THE NATIVE CHILD
WELFARE SERVICES IN SUDBURY.

A woman in a blue shirt says MM-HMM.

The woman in the polka dotted blouse says AND I'M ORIGINALLY FROM THE
WHITEFISH RIVER RESERVE
IN GEORGIAN BAY,
NORTH OF YOU GUYS.

The woman in the blue shirt says OH.

The woman in the polka dotted blouse says MCGREGOR BAY?
AND I'M OJIBWE.

The woman in the blue shirt says YEAH.

The woman in the polka dotted blouse says THAT'S MY TRIBAL AFFILIATION.

The woman in the blue shirt says MM-HMM.

The woman in the polka dotted blouse says AND I WORK WITH THE
CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY IN
SUDBURY, AND I WORK IN
THE DISTRICT OF SUDBURY
AND MANITOULIN.

The woman in the blue shirt says OH.

The woman in the polka dotted blouse says WITH THE NATIVE CHILD
WELFARE PREVENTION PROGRAMS.

The woman in the blue shirt says YEAH.

The woman in the polka dotted blouse says SO WE PROBABLY SORT OF DOING
THE SAME KIND OF BUSINESS, EH?
[laughing]

A man in a striped suit says I'M NOT SURE WHAT
ETHNIC MEANS...

A woman in a beige dress says I DON'T EITHER.

The man in the striped suit says IN TERMS OF THE COMMUNITY.

The woman in the beige dress says AND THEY, THEY DENY
THE ETHNICITY OF WASPS.
[laughing]

The man in the striped suit says THAT'S RIGHT, THAT'S RIGHT.
ALL COMMUNITIES ARE ETHNIC
OF ONE TYPE OR ANOTHER.

The woman in the beige dress says RIGHT.

A man with a moustache says IT'S AN EXTENSION
OF A FAMILY.

A woman in a blue blouse says THE ELDERS ARE CONSIDERED
THAT, THOUGH, AREN'T THEY?

The man in a moustache says YES, THEY ARE.

A man in a gray jacket says WELL, WE ALL LIVED
IN ONE HOUSE OR...

A woman with short black hair says AND YOU LIVED IN A
LONGHOUSE, YEAH, NOW?

The man in the gray jacket says NO, JUST A...

Joan says THIS WORKSHOP,
MULTICULTURALISM AND NATIVE
AWARENESS, BEGAN WITH AN
EXERCISE IN WHICH PEOPLE
ANSWERED A QUESTIONNAIRE AND
SHARED PERSONAL BACKGROUND
INFORMATION IN THE AREAS OF
RACE, CULTURE AND RELIGION.

The caption changes to "Stan de Mello."

Stan stands in front of a classroom. He is in his late thirties, clean-shaven and with short curly black hair. He wears white trousers and a short-sleeved yellow shirt.

He says I'D LIKE TO, FIRST OF ALL,
EXPLAIN TO YOU WHY WE STARTED
OFF WITH THIS EXERCISE BECAUSE
I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO
UNDERSTAND WHY WE DO THIS.
TRADITIONALLY, AND I'M TALKING
ABOUT FROM A SOCIAL WORK
PERSPECTIVE, WHEN YOU'RE
LOOKING AT EITHER FOSTER CARE
OR ADOPTIONS OR...
THESE ARE NOT THE TYPES OF
QUESTIONS THAT ARE NORMALLY
RAISED AT AN INTERVIEW, AND
INCREASINGLY NOW, I GUESS,
CHILD WELFARE AGENCIES IN
CANADA, AND I GUESS RIGHT
ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, ARE
BEGINNING TO PAY MUCH MORE
ATTENTION TO THESE THINGS AND
REALIZING HOW IMPORTANT
THEY ARE.
SO PART OF DOING THIS IS
TO GIVE YOU SOME SENSE OF
AWARENESS OF THE TYPES OF
THINGS, I GUESS, THAT YOU
SHOULD BE LOOKING AT YOURSELF
BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT
OTHER GROUPS IN TERMS
OF YOUR OWN ATTITUDES.
SO TRADITIONAL ASSESSMENTS,
I GUESS, HAVEN'T DONE THIS.
WHAT I'D LIKE TO DO THOUGH
IS TO GET A SAMPLING OF
THESE KEY AREAS, THE FIVE
AREAS AND JUST RANDOMLY GET
PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT EITHER
THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES OR
SOMEBODY ELSE'S EXPERIENCES
FROM WITHIN THE GROUP
IN THESE FOUR AREAS.
FIVE AREAS -- FAMILY, COMMUNITY,
EDUCATION, EXPECTATIONS AND
CUSTOMS, AND WHAT THE IMPACTS
WERE WITH REGARD TO RACE,
CULTURE, RELIGION,
SOCIOECONOMICS, AND THEY'RE
VERY MUCH LIKE THE
QUESTIONS THAT YOU HAD.
SO I'M WONDERING IF WE CAN
HAVE A VOLUNTEER VERY QUICKLY
TO TALK ABOUT THE
AREA OF FAMILY.

A man with a ponytail says THERE'S A KIND OF FAMILY THAT
I CAME FROM WAS MORE DYNAMIC
IN NATURE.
WHO WAS A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY
AND HOW PEOPLE LOOKED AT
FAMILY DEPENDED ON WHAT
YEAR IT WAS SOMETIMES.
AND WHO WAS THERE, YOU KNOW?

A female voice says ALL OF US.

The man with the ponytail says WE HAVE PEOPLE CAME IN AND
PEOPLE CAME OUT AND, YOU KNOW,
AND THAT WAS...
THAT'S FAMILY AND THOSE PEOPLE
STILL TO ME ARE FAMILY WHEN I
SEE THEM, AND SOMETIMES TO
THEM, EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE NOT
BLOOD RELATIVES, IF I GO TO
THEIR HOMES, I'M FAMILY
TO THEM, TOO.

A man in a striped polo shirt says FOR ME, IT'S...
I WOULD HAVE TO SAY
IT'S A DIFFICULT AREA
FOR ME BECAUSE IT'S...
I HAVE BEEN RAISED IN SO MANY
DIFFERENT COMMUNITY ATMOSPHERES.
BOTH BEING...
HAVING BEEN TREATY AND BEING
RAISED IN THE BLACKFOOT FOR
THE FIRST NUMBER OF YEARS AND
THEN MOVING FROM THERE INTO
VARIOUS WHITE COMMUNITIES
ACROSS CANADA, THERE'S AN
APPRECIATION, I GUESS, THAT
I'VE FOUND THAT'S BEEN HELPFUL
FOR ME, IS I'VE BEEN MORE OPEN
TO OTHER GROUPS, OTHER...
OTHER RACES BECAUSE OF THE FACT
OF WHERE I HAD TO LIVE IN
ETHNIC PARTS OF TORONTO AND
NOVA SCOTIA AND GETTING A
DIFFERENT FEELING FOR WHAT
VALUES DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE.
SO IT SORT OF HAS ALLOWED
ME TO BE MORE OPEN IN THAT
RESPECT AND A LITTLE
MORE TOLERANT.
FOR THAT, I GUESS I'M VERY
APPRECIATIVE I'VE HAD
THAT OPPORTUNITY.

Stan says I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY, THERE
ARE SOME OTHER VERY STRICT
DEFINITIONS WHERE IT'S VERY
MUCH A NUCLEAR FAMILY, AND
THOSE WORK JUST AS WELL
AS OTHER FAMILIES.
BUT I GUESS IT'S THE
UNDERSTANDING AND
APPRECIATION OF THE TWO SIDES
OF THIS ISSUE THAT ARE
IMPORTANT, PARTICULARLY WHEN
WE'RE THINKING ABOUT PLACING
CHILDREN OF MINORITY
BACKGROUNDS.
OKAY, WHAT ABOUT COMMUNITY?
CAN WE GET A QUICK SENSE OF
HOW COMMUNITY HAS AFFECTED
YOUR ORIENTATION?
ANY EXAMPLES?

A woman in a striped blouse says I LIVE ON A FARM SO I'M
PART OF A RURAL COMMUNITY.
THE COMMUNITY IS ALMOST
ENTIRELY OF CAUCASIAN
BACKGROUND, SOME FRENCH
CANADIAN, VERY LIMITED
NUMBERS, MOSTLY EUROPEAN
HISTORY, QUITE TRADITIONAL IN
THEIR VALUES, VERY SUPPORTIVE
OF ONE ANOTHER WITHIN THE
COMMUNITY BUT THE MAIN
EMPHASIS LIES IN LOOKING
INWARDLY RATHER
THAN OUTWARDLY.
WE HAVE A LARGE FAMILY OF
CHILDREN WHO WERE ADOPTED AND
CHILDREN WHO WERE
BORN TO OUR FAMILY.
THE COMMUNITY HAS ACCEPTED
THE CHILDREN WHO ARE OF A
DIFFERENT RACIAL HERITAGE FROM
OURSELVES QUITE WELL, BETTER
THAN I MIGHT HAVE ORIGINALLY
THOUGHT THEY WOULD, AND OUR
INDIAN CHILDREN PARTICULARLY
SEEM TO HAVE FIT VERY WELL
INTO THIS RURAL SETTING.
THEY'RE WELL RECEIVED BY
NEIGHBOURS AND FRIENDS AND
HAVE BECOME PART OF OUR CLOSE
COMMUNITY, AND THE COMMUNITY
SEEMS TO HAVE EXPANDED IN
THEIR UNDERSTANDING, I THINK,
BECAUSE OF THEIR PRESENCE.
BECAUSE WE LIVE ON A FARM, OUR
RURAL VALUES PERHAPS ARE NOT
THAT DIFFERENT FROM MANY
INDIAN VALUES, AND I THINK
IT'S AN ASSET.

A man in a white and gray polo Tshirt says ADOPTION IS A WORD THAT I
LEARNED LATER ON BECAUSE
IT DOESN'T SEEM
TO EXIST WHEN THE...
WHEN PEOPLE WHO NEEDED TO BE
ADOPTED WHEN THEIR PARENTS
DIED OR SOME OTHER REASON.
IT WAS A NATURAL STEP FOR THE
CHILDREN OR WHOEVER ELSE,
OR WHOEVER TO BE TAKEN TO
OTHER FAMILIES AND, YOU KNOW.
THE WORD 'ADOPTION'
WASN'T USED.
IT WAS JUST A NATURAL...
IT SEEMED LIKE A NATURAL EVENT
THAT THEY BE TAKEN BY UNCLES,
AUNTS OR WHOEVER.
YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T... IT'S
NOT UNUSUAL, YOU KNOW?

Stan says I MEAN, SOME OF THE
DIFFICULTIES WE SEE IN CARE
WHERE SOME OF THE NATIVE
CHILDREN ARE VERY SERIOUSLY
DISTURBED, ESPECIALLY OLDER
CHILDREN HAS RESULTED FROM
SOME OF THIS TYPE OF ACTIVITY
WHERE THEY WERE VERY, VERY
SERIOUSLY DISCIPLINED, FOR
EXAMPLE, FOR USING NATIVE
LANGUAGES IN RESIDENTIAL
SCHOOL SETTINGS.
I MEAN, THOSE KINDS OF THINGS
HAVE BEEN VERY HARMFUL.
BUT I GUESS THE GOOD NEWS IS
THAT AT LAST, WE'RE BEGINNING
TO REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT ALL
THIS IS, AND WE'RE BEGINNING
TO SEE THAT IT'S IMPORTANT
TO PRESERVE AND ENHANCE THE
CULTURAL IDENTITY OF CHILDREN.

A man in a blue suit says MY FAMILY'S EXPECTATIONS OF A
COLLEGE EDUCATION WAS VERY LOW.
THEY DIDN'T SEE ME TO GO
PAST GRADE EIGHT ANYWAY,
BECAUSE THEY HADN'T.
THE PEOPLE THAT RAISED ME
NEVER REACHED GRADE SIX
AND, THEREFORE, DIDN'T SEE THE
VALUE IN EDUCATION, AND IN THE
BOARDING SCHOOL SYSTEM I
ATTENDED, THERE WAS A VERY
LIMITED OPPORTUNITY FOR US
TO GO PAST GRADE EIGHT.
BUT THERE ARE SOME OF US
THAT DID GET TO HIGH SCHOOL.
VERY FEW AND THOSE...
I REMEMBER THERE WAS SIX OF US
THAT STARTED IN GRADE NINE,
AND I THINK THERE WAS ONLY ONE
THAT COMPLETED, OUT OF THE SIX,
COMPLETED GRADE 12.
PERSONALLY, I WAS KICKED
OUT IN GRADE 11, SO...
[laughing]

Jim says WELL, IN MANY OF THE
WORKSHOPS, THERE'S JUST SUCH
A NATURAL HIGH INVOLVED WITH
PEOPLE SHARING IDEAS, SHARING
EMOTIONS, SHARING THEIR LOVE
FOR CHILDREN, AND IT'S THE ONE
GATHERING A YEAR ON THE
SUBJECT OF ADOPTION THAT'S
HELD, AND I SHOULD ADD, IT
IS PLANNED PRIMARILY BY THE
PARENTS AND OVER HALF OF THE
AUDIENCE IS SOCIAL WORKERS.

The woman with short curly graying hair says THE ADOPTION COUNCIL OF
CANADA, WHICH IS STILL IN ITS
EARLY FORMATIVE STAGES, HAS
GOTTEN SUCH A BOOST FROM THIS
CONFERENCE, AND AS THE
CHAIRPERSON OF THE STEERING
COMMITTEE OF THAT COUNCIL, I'M
REALLY DELIGHTED TO SEE SUCH A
LARGE NUMBER OF CANADIANS
HERE AND THE EXCITEMENT AND
ENTHUSIASM THAT'S
BEING GENERATED.
IT'S DOING EXACTLY WHAT WE'D
HOPED, AND I THINK THAT
ADOPTION IN THIS COUNTRY WILL
BE CHANGING AND GROWING AND
IMPROVING IN THE
YEARS TO COME.

Joe says IT'S A VERY
ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE.
SEEING THE KIDS
ADDS A LOT TO IT.
IF IT WAS JUST THE PARENTS
HERE, IT WOULDN'T BE THE SAME.
AND THE FACT THAT WE MAKE IT A
FAMILY GATHERING, THAT WE HAVE
IT IN THE SUMMER SO IT'S A
VACATION AS WELL, AND THE KIDS
REALLY KEEP YOU GOING.
[general chatter]

The end credits roll.

Special thanks, Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Editor, David Bevan.

Production manager, Rodger G. Lawson.

Producer-director, Joan Reed-Olsen.

A production of TVOntario.

Copyright. The Ontario Educational Communications Authorities. 198.

Watch: Adoption in Transition: New Hopes, New Realities