Transcript: Adoption in Transition: New Hopes, New Realities | Jul 20, 1988

[general chatter]

An auditorium full of people appears on screen.

A title reads "People Patterns."

A woman says AND LATER ON, IT
HAS
MADE A DIFFERENCE
FOR THOSE CHILDREN.
SO I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU CAN
REALLY, IT'S A NICE IDEAL,
BUT WHETHER IT WILL BE
REALITY IS STILL MANY YEARS
DOWN THE ROAD.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Adoption in transition: New hopes, new realities part 3."

John Sweeney stands behind a lectern. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short graying hair. He wears a white shirt, dark blue blazer and burgundy tie.

A caption on screen reads "The Honourable John Sweeney."

He says A man says THAT'S IMPORTANT.
BUT IT'S EQUALLY IMPORTANT
TO US AS ADULTS, AS PARENTS,
THAT WE NEVER LOSE
SIGHT OF, OR NEVER LOSE
RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY
OF THAT SPECIAL IDENTITY
OF THAT CHILD.

Joan sits in a living room. She's in her mid-fifties, with short, curly dark brown hair. She wears large glasses and a coffee blouse under a brown jacket. Another woman sits next to her.

Joan looks at the camera and says I'M JOAN REED-OLSEN.
THIS IS THE THIRD PROGRAM
IN WHICH WE'VE TRIED TO
DOCUMENT SOME OF THE EVENTS
THAT TOOK PLACE AT THE
NACAC CONFERENCE LAST
SUMMER IN TORONTO.
NACAC IS THE ACRONYM FOR
NORTH AMERICAN COUNCIL ON
ADOPTABLE CHILDREN.
NOW THE CONFERENCE WAS
ABOUT ADOPTION IN TRANSITION.
AND WE THOUGHT WE SHOULD
FIND OUT SOMETHING ABOUT
THE TRANSITIONS THAT HAVE
TAKEN PLACE OVER THE LAST,
OH, 15-20 YEARS WITH
SOMEONE WHO KNOWS PROBABLY
MORE THAN ALMOST ANYBODY
ELSE, VICTORIA LEACH.
VICTORIA, TELL ME, WHAT WAS
YOUR ROLE IN THIS WHOLE
ADOPTION FIELD?

Victoria is in her sixties, with short blond hair. She wears big red glasses, an aquamarine skirt suit and a patterned scarf.

She says WELL, I GUESS MY FIRST ROLE
WAS AS AN ADOPTIVE PARENT.
THEN I WAS A SUPERVISOR OF
ADOPTION WITH THE CHILDREN'S
AID SOCIETY
OF THUNDER BAY.
THEN I CAME TO THE MINISTRY
OF COMMUNITY SOCIAL
SERVICES AS THE
ADOPTION COORDINATOR.

Joan says SO YOU'VE HAD TIME TO
SEE THE GREAT CHANGES
IN ADOPTION.

Victoria says OH, INDEED, I HAVE.

Joan says ONE OF THE THINGS I
THINK MOST PEOPLE SEE AS A
GREATEST CHANGE IS THE
ADOPTION OF CHILDREN WITH
DISABILITIES, BOTH MENTALLY
RETARDED CHILDREN, AND
CHILDREN WITH PHYSICAL
DISABILITIES.
AND I THINK WE BOTH KNOW
THAT HELEN ALLEN HAS HAD A
GREAT DEAL TO DO WITH
CHANGING ATTITUDES TO THAT.

Victoria says YES, INDEED SHE HAS.
SHE'S BROUGHT THESE CHILDREN
TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PUBLIC.
AND CERTAINLY, IF ANYONE
DESERVES A HOME,
IT'S CHILDREN LIKE THAT.
WE'VE BEEN VERY LUCKY
IN THE RESPONSE.

Joan says BUT YOU HAD A LOT TO
DO WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF ALL OF THIS.

Victoria says WELL, I WORK WITH THE 51
CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES IN
THE PROVINCE, AND I USED
TO REVIEW THE CHILDREN IN
THEIR CARE, AND SAY, GET
THEM OUT INTO THE STREAM
OF RESOURCES.
PEOPLE WOULD SAY, SOME
WORKERS WOULD SAY, WELL,
NO ONE WOULD ADOPT HIM.
HOW DO YOU KNOW?
GET HIM OUT.
THROUGH HELEN'S COLUMN, AND
THE FAMILY FINDER PROGRAM,
THEY WERE BROUGHT OUT
TO PEOPLE'S ATTENTION,
AND THEY WERE ADOPTED.

Joan says ONE OF THE THINGS, A
LOT OF PEOPLE LOOK AT THE...
WELL, WE DID FILM ON THE
OSBORNE, FOR EXAMPLE, WITH
THEIR 20 ADOPTED CHILDREN.
AND SEVERAL OF THEM WITH
SEVERE DISABILITIES.
AND PEOPLE SAY, WELL, WE
HAVE ENOUGH LOVE IN OUR
FAMILY, OR WE HAVE
UNDERSTANDING, BUT WE COULD
NEVER MANAGE IT
FINANCIALLY.
SO THEY ALWAYS ASK ME, HOW
DO THEY MANAGE FINANCIALLY?

Victoria says WELL, MANY OF THE
CHILDREN ARE SUBSIDIZED.
THE PROVINCE DOES SUBSIDIZE
A NUMBER OF THESE CHILDREN.
NOT ONLY THE HANDICAPPED
ONES, BUT CHILDREN WHO ARE
PARTS OF LARGE
SIBLING GROUPS.
THEY DON'T WANT
TO BE SEPARATED.
SO IF SOMEONE TAKES SEVEN
OR EIGHT CHILDREN TOGETHER,
CERTAINLY THE PROVINCE
IS WILLING TO SUBSIDIZE,
ARRANGE FOR SUBSIDY.

Joan says HOW LONG DOES
THAT SUBSIDY GO ON?

Victoria says UNTIL THEY'RE 18, OR LONGER,
IF NECESSARY, IF THEY ARE
IN SCHOOL, AND NEEDING
MORE, THEY CAN CONTINUE ON.
BUT ONCE THEY REACH
ADULTHOOD, 18, IF THEY ARE
HANDICAPPED KIDS,
PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED,
THEY'RE ELIGIBLE FOR A
DISABLED PERSON'S PENSION.

Joan says SO THERE IS LOTS OF
OPPORTUNITY, AND LOTS OF
REASONS WHY PEOPLE CAN
CONTINUE TO LOOK AT THAT
AS A WONDERFUL ALTERNATIVE.

Victoria says YES, YES.

[general chatter]

An auditorium full of people appears on screen. There are many families with disabled children. A woman carries a physically impaired girl.

Joan says VICKY, THE ADOPTION OF
OLDER CHILDREN, THAT IS ALSO
SOMETHING THAT HAS
CHANGED IN THE LAST YEAR.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS PEOPLE
ADOPT OLDER CHILDREN?

Victoria says WELL, I THINK A LOT OF THEM
HAVE, AS YOU WERE SAYING
EARLIER, LOVE IN THEIR
HEART, AND THEY WOULD LIKE
TO GIVE A CHILD WHO IS
IN NEED AN OPPORTUNITY.
I USED TO TELL OLDER
CHILDREN THAT ADOPTION WAS
SOMETHING LIKE A MARRIAGE.
THERE'S A MEETING, AND AN
ENGAGEMENT, AND THEN A
TRIAL PERIOD OF
WHEN THEY MOVE IN.
THAT'S PART OF THE
ENGAGEMENT PERIOD AND WOOING.
AND MOST, LITTLE GIRLS,
ESPECIALLY, COULD GO ALONG
WITH THIS.
BUT THE OLDER
CHILDREN, HAVE TO SIGN
THEIR OWN CONSENT
TO ADOPTION.
THEY HAVE TO BE
PART OF THIS.
IT ISN'T JUST YOU MOVE
THEM LIKE A CHECKER.
IF THEY ARE SEVEN YEARS AND UP,
THEY SIGN THEIR OWN CONSENT.

A woman sits in an office. She's in her mid-forties with brown hair in a bob and bangs. She wears big glasses, a magenta shirt and a necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Judy Grove, Conference Chairperson."

She says WELL, IT'S NOT AN EASY
PROCESS, ADOPTING AN
OLDER CHILD.
THE CHILD COMES
WITH PAST HISTORY.
GAPS IN HIS EDUCATION, AND
YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT
THEY KNOW, QUITE OFTEN WITH
EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS THAT ARE
NOT WELL-DEFINED.
HOWEVER, TO SEE A CHILD GROW
FROM A CHILD WHO COULDN'T
PUT THREE WORDS TOGETHER TO
MAKE A SENTENCE, TO A KID
YOU HAVE TO TELL 'SHUT UP'
AT THE DINNER TABLE, IS A
TREMENDOUSLY
FULFILLING PROCESS.

A woman stands behind a lectern. She is in her mid-forties, with short, curly brown hair. She wears a white jacket over a white shirt.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Kathryn Donley."

She says WHAT WE HAVE TO REALIZE,
UNIVERSALLY, IS THAT ALL
CHILDREN WHO ARE PLACED
ARE, BY VIRTUE OF THEIR
DEFINITION, IN CARE,
NEEDING PLACEMENT,
ARE KIDS IN TROUBLE.
SO WHETHER THE CHILD IS
TWO OR THREE, AND NOT
DEMONSTRATING ANY OF THESE
KINDS OF DIFFICULTIES YET,
I THINK WE WOULD BE
WISE TO PLAN AS IF THESE
DIFFICULTIES MAY, IN FACT,
BE AHEAD OF THE CHILD.

Joan says VICKY, SEVERAL PEOPLE AT THE
CONFERENCE TALKED ABOUT THE
DIFFICULTIES THAT PARENTS
COULD ENCOUNTER IN ADOPTING
OLDER CHILDREN.
OF COURSE THAT CAN
HAPPEN WITH ANY CHILD.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN THEY
ARE GOING TO BE TEENAGERS
THE PROBLEMS THEY HAVE.
BUT ARE THERE SPECIFIC THINGS
THAT PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK FOR?

Victoria says I THINK YOU FIND WITH OLDER
CHILDREN THERE'S A CERTAIN
AMOUNT OF HOSTILITY.
BUT THAT DEPENDS ON THE
PREPARATION THAT'S BEEN MADE
TO MOVE INTO
THIS PROCESS.
THE WORKERS ARE VERY SKILLED
NOW IN MAKING LIFE BOOKS
FOR THEM.
SO UNLESS YOU KNOW WHERE
YOU'VE BEEN, YOU CAN'T
REALLY SETTLE INTO
WHERE YOU'RE GOING.
AND I THINK THAT'S...
THEY'RE DOING A MUCH BETTER
JOB ON THIS.
AND THE FACT THAT THE KIDS
KNOW, THEY HAVE PRE-PLACEMENT
VISITS, AND THEY SPEND
QUITE SOME TIME BEFORE THEY
ACTUALLY TAKE THE STEP
TO LIVE TOGETHER ON
A PERMANENT BASIS.

Joan says JIM MAHONEY HAD A
WORKSHOP IN WHICH HE TALKED
A LOT ABOUT EARLY CHILD
DEVELOPMENT, THE FIRST TWO
YEARS, BEING VERY IMPORTANT
TO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE
CHILDREN AS THEY
BECOME OLDER.

Victoria says THAT'S VERY TRUE.
AND THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT'S SO IMPORTANT FOR THE
WORKERS WHO ARE TAKING THESE
KIDS INTO CARE, TO FIND OUT
WHERE THEY'VE COME FROM.
AND SOMETIMES YOU DON'T GET
THEM INTO CARE UNTIL THEY
ARE EIGHT OR NINE YEARS
OLD, BUT YOU REALLY HAVE
TO GO BACK AND DIG.
HOW WERE THEY BORN,
WHERE WERE THEY BORN,
ALL THESE THINGS.
WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL
HISTORY DID THEY HAVE?
WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL HISTORY
DID THE FAMILIES HAVE?
THIS IS PAINFUL, BUT IT'S
VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.

A man stands on a stage at a conference room. He's in his forties, with short brown hair and a goatee. He wears a dark suit and dark red striped tie.

A caption reads "Jim Mahoney, Child and family therapist."

He says THAT'S MY INTEREST.
IT WAS EARLY
CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.
AND I KEPT RUNNING ACROSS
LOTS OF KIDS IN FOSTER CARE,
CHILDREN WHO HAD BEEN
ADOPTED, AS WELL AS THE
ADULTS THEMSELVES.
THEY WERE PRESENTING
PROBLEMS, AND NORMAL,
LIKE TALK THERAPY,
JUST DIDN'T WORK.
SOMETHING ELSE
WAS GOING ON.
AND SO KEPT GOING BACK, KEPT
DOING GOOD CASE HISTORIES
AND FINDING THE ADULTS
WHO HAVE A LOT OF CHRONIC
PROBLEMS NOW, AS WELL
AS THE ADOLESCENTS AND
CHILDREN, HAD A LOT OF
CHARACTERISTICS IN COMMON
IN THE FIRST TWO
YEARS OF LIFE.
SO THAT'S WHERE I
CONCENTRATED MUCH OF MY WORK
IS THE FIRST TWO
YEARS OF CHILDHOOD,
AND THEN DIFFERENT
TYPES OF FAMILIES.
LET'S TALK ABOUT PREVERBAL
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT, FIRST.
PREVERBAL STAGE, I THINK, IS
JUST ULTIMATELY VERY, VERY
IMPORTANT, AND I HAVEN'T
READ THAT MUCH IN THE
LITERATURE ON IT.
BUT YOU FIGURE, PREVERBAL
STAGE, LET'S TAKE FIRST YEAR
JUST FOR ILLUSTRATION.
HERE WE HAVE MOM, AND THEN
MOM HAS A CHILD, AND THE
CHILD SHARES THE SAME
SPACE AS THE MOTHER.
THE SAME EMOTIONAL SPACE,
AND THE SAME PHYSICAL
SPACE, CLOSE PROXIMITY.
SO WHATEVER MOM IS FEELING...
HAPPY, MAD, SAD, ANGRY,
CONTENT... THE INFANT
IS ALSO EXPERIENCING.
THAT'S HOW INFANTS LEARN
EMOTION IS THAT THEY FEEL
WHAT OTHER PEOPLE
ARE FEELING.
SO IF YOU ARE REAL CONTENT,
AND YOU'RE HOLDING AND ROCKING
AND TALKING TO BABY,
GENERALLY, THEY'RE CONTENT.
IF YOU'RE UPSET, YOU JUST
HAD AN ARGUMENT, OR YOU'RE
THINKING OF DIVORCE, AND
YOU'RE HOLDING BABY, IT'S
NOT SURPRISING THE BABY'S
REAL COLICKY, REAL UPSET,
CRYING AND FITFUL.
OKAY?
SO WHATEVER EMOTIONAL
EXPERIENCE THAT IS GOING ON
FOR THE ADULT, IT PASSES
THROUGH AND THE CHILD HAS
THE SAME FEELING.
ONLY IN THE PREVERBAL STAGE
OF DEVELOPMENT, WE CANNOT
ARTICULATE EXPERIENCE.
SO WHEN AN INFANT IS
HAPPY, THEY'RE ALL HAPPY.
SO AN INFANT IS HAPPY, THEY
CAN'T ARTICULATE WELL, I'M
HAPPY TODAY, BUT I'M MAD
BECAUSE I DIDN'T GET MY
FEEDING, AND I'M SORT OF
WORRIED BECAUSE I'M GOING TO
WET MY DIAPERS IN A FEW
MINUTES AND I'M GOING
TO BE COLD.
THEY CAN'T COMPARTMENTALIZE
BECAUSE THEY DON'T
HAVE LANGUAGE.
SO INFANTS GO FROM ONE
EMOTION TO ANOTHER TO ANOTHER.
SO THEY'LL BE HAPPY, MAD,
SAD, FITFUL, CRYING, CRANKY.
ADULTS HAVE THE ABILITY,
BECAUSE OF LANGUAGE, TO
COMPARTMENTALIZE EXPERIENCE.
SO IN AN INTERACTION WITH
A CHILD, A MATE, OR AN
EMPLOYER, WE CAN BE HAPPY
BECAUSE WE'RE DOING
OUR JOB WELL.
FEEL ANXIOUS BECAUSE OUR
PERFORMANCE IS BEING
EVALUATED, PREOCCUPIED WITH
WHAT'S GOING ON AT HOME,
AND ALL THAT.
WE CAN COMPARTMENTALIZE
EXPERIENCE AND PUT IT
IN DIFFERENT PARTS.
SO AS ADULTS, WE CAN BE
TRAUMATIZED BY THOSE AROUND
US, AND WE CAN STILL
COMPARTMENTALIZE AND SAY,
WELL, THEY'RE HAVING A BAD
DAY, I UNDERSTAND, AND
TOMORROW, WHEN THEY'RE
FEELING BETTER, I'LL GET EVEN.
AND AN INFANT
CAN'T DO THAT.
SO IN THE FIRST YEAR,
WHATEVER THAT PREDOMINANT
EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE IS IS
ALMOST THE EXPERIENCE OF
THE WORLD THAT THEY'LL TAKE
WITH THEM FOR THE REST OF
THEIR LIFE, UNLESS SOME
REAL MAJOR WORK IS DONE.
EXAMPLES OF THE POSITIVE
FIRST TWO YEARS WOULD BE
LIKE ORPHAN ANNIE, THE PLAY
AND THE CARTOON STRIP.
ORPHAN ANNIE OBVIOUSLY
HAD GOOD FIRST TWO YEARS.
GOOD PREVERBAL EXPERIENCE OF
THE WORLD BECAUSE SOMEHOW
SHE DOESN'T
MISS HER MOTHER.
MOTHER IS TOTALLY OUT OF
THE PICTURE, AND HER DAD IS
GALLIVANTING ALL OVER THE
WORLD, DADDY WARBUCKS, AND
SHE ONLY HAS POSITIVE
FEELINGS FOR THE GUY.
BUT HE ABANDONS HER AND
LEAVES HER WITH HER DOG,
AND THEY TRAVEL AROUND THE
COUNTRY, HITCHHIKING, AND
ALL THIS STUFF, GETTING
INTO WEIRD EXPERIENCES.
IN REAL LIFE, CPS WOULD
GET THE GUY FOR... CHILD
PROTECTIVE SERVICE WOULD
ARREST HIM, OR HAVE HIM
ARRESTED OR HELD FOR CHILD
ABANDONMENT, ORPHAN ANNIE
WOULD BE PUT IN A
FOSTER HOME, ETC.
BUT WHAT ORPHAN ANNIE HAS IS
A PERMANENTLY OPTIMIST WAY
OF LOOKING AT THE WORLD.
TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.
AND EVEN THE SONG
TOMORROW
BRINGS TEARS
TO PEOPLE'S EYES.
AND THAT'S NOT BASED ALL THE
TIME ON A VIEW OF HOW THE
WORLD IS, IT'S BASED ON HOW
SHE'S VIEWING THE WORLD.
ARE YOU FOLLOWING?
SO THE WORLD DEALS HER A LOT
OF BAD KNOCKS, BUT SOMEHOW
SHE INTERPRETS THOSE
KNOCKS DIFFERENTLY.
AND ONE WAY OF LOOKING AT IT
IS PREVERBAL EXPERIENCES,
THINGS ARE OKAY.
EVERYTHING WILL TURN
OUT OKAY, ALL RIGHT?
COMPARE THAT TO A CHILD
THAT'S RAISED IN A CHAOTIC,
DISORGANIZED ENVIRONMENT,
NOT QUITE SURE WHEN THE
NEXT MEAL OR FEEDING IS
COMING FROM, SITTING IN THE
DIAPERS, ETC.,
THEY'RE NOT SURE.
AND THEIR STATE OF EXISTENCE
IS GENERALLY CHARACTERIZED
BY ANXIETY, RESTLESSNESS,
IRRITABILITY, FEAR, PANIC, OKAY?
AND WE'RE DESCRIBING A
LOT OF THE BEHAVIOURS
WE ENCOUNTER WITH CHILDREN
WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE FOSTER
CARE SYSTEM, BEEN IN
ORPHANAGES, OR HAVE JUST
BEEN PASSED AROUND THROUGH
THE SYSTEM, EITHER IN THIRD
WORLD COUNTRIES
OR THIS COUNTRY.
ALL THOSE EMOTIONS OF THE
SURVIVALIST... PANIC, WORRY,
ANXIETY, DISTRUST,
HOSTILITY, ETC. AND THOSE
FEELINGS FOR THE MOST
PART ARE PREVERBAL.
BECAUSE IF YOU GIVE A CHILD,
YOU LOVE HIM, YOU TAKE CARE
OF HIM, ETC., AND EVEN
AFTER A YEAR OR TWO OR
THREE, AND THEY ARE STILL
ENGAGING IN A HOSTILE,
SUSPICIOUS MANNER WITH YOU,
IT'S COMING FROM SOMEWHERE.
SO WHAT I SEE HAPPENING IS A
LOT OF PARENTS, THERAPISTS,
COUNSELLORS, TEACHERS
THINKING, IF I JUST TALK
WITH THE CHILD
AND MAKE SENSE.
IF WE JUST USE INSIGHT THEY
WILL SEE SOMETHING ELSE IS
GOING ON.
THEY WILL SEE THE ERROR OF
THEIR WAY AND THE BENEFITS
OF
MY
WAY.
AND IT WON'T WORK.
WHEN THERE'S SERIOUS
CHILDHOOD TRAUMA,
IT JUST DOESN'T WORK.
SO AS A THERAPIST, I USED TO
GO REAL BATTY WORKING WITH
THESE KIDS AND
GETTING NOWHERE.
SOMETHING ELSE
WAS GOING ON.
THEN HITTING ON EARLY
CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND
PREVERBAL EXPERIENCE.
IT SEEMS TO BE THE ANSWER.
ANY QUESTION OR
COMMENT ON THAT?

A woman appears on screen. She's in her late thirties with short light brown hair. She wears a yellow shirt under a white jacket.

She says WELL, I ASK HIM TO EXPAND ON
THE TRAUMA TO THE CHILD IN
PREVERBAL STAGES BECAUSE
I'M FROM FLORIDA,
CHILDREN'S HOME SOCIETY.
AND WHEN ADOPTION AGENCY,
TRADITIONALLY WE PLACE THE
HEALTHY WHITE INFANT.
AND THE HEALTHY WHITE INFANT
IS VERY SCARCE ANYMORE.
AND WE'RE SEEING MORE AND
MORE CHILDREN WHO ARE KEPT
BY PARENTS AND RELINQUISHED
LATER, SOMETIMES A FEW
MONTHS, SOMETIMES A
YEAR OR TWO LATER.
SO WE SEE MORE CHILDREN
WHO HAVE BEEN THROUGH THAT
TRAUMA STAGE COMING
INTO ADOPTIVE SETTINGS.
AND WE NEED MORE KNOWLEDGE
TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH THEM.

Another woman appears on screen. She's in her forties with short light brown hair. She wears a white shirt.

She says I THINK WHAT I HAD
ANTICIPATED I AM GETTING
OUT OF THE LECTURE.
I THINK IT'S EXCELLENT.
IT'S WELL-PREPARED, AND IT'S
GIVEN ME A LOT OF ROOM FOR
THOUGHT, AND WAYS IN
HANDLING CHILDREN AND
LOOKING AT THE DIAGNOSES
AND SORT OF AFFIRMING MY
OWN BELIEFS, WHICH WERE
SORT OF PERHAPS MUDDLED AT
TIMES, AND KIND OF BEING
ABLE TO PUT A LITTLE MORE
ACADEMIC BELIEF BEHIND WHAT
I DO IN PRACTICAL TERMS.

A woman in her mid-forties, with short, curly brown hair says to the camera I THINK WE HAVE A LOT TO
LEARN FROM THE AMERICANS.
WE CERTAINLY HAVE IN
ALBERTA, LEARNED FROM GOING
TO NACAC
CONFERENCES BEFORE.
AND I KNOW PEOPLE IN
ONTARIO, AS WELL.
BECAUSE THE AMERICANS HAVE
BEEN DOING SPECIAL NEEDS
ADOPTION AND RECRUITMENT AND
SO ON, MORE INTENSIVELY,
AND OVER A LONGER
PERIOD THAN WE HAVE.
OUR SITUATIONS ARE SOMEWHAT
DIFFERENT IN THAT IN THE
STATES ADOPTION COMES
UNDER FEDERAL JURISDICTION
IN SOME WAYS.
IN CANADA, THAT'S
NOT TRUE AT ALL.
SO ONE OF THE MAJOR
ACHIEVEMENTS OF NACAC,
WHICH WAS THE PASSAGE OF
PUBLIC LAW 96272, SEVERAL
YEARS AGO, HAVING TO DO
WITH THE PROVISION OF
ADOPTION SUBSIDY IN EVERY
STATE, IT'S A FEDERAL LAW,
THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE IN
CANADA BECAUSE ADOPTION IS
STRICTLY A PROVINCIAL
JURISDICTION.
SO WE HAVE THE SAME BATTLES
TO FIGHT, BUT OUR TACTICS
HAVE TO BE SLIGHTLY
DIFFERENT.

Back in the living room, Joan says THERE WAS A FAIR AMOUNT OF
TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES
IN CANADIAN AND AMERICAN
POLICIES ON ADOPTION.
IS THERE ANY ONE AREA IN
WHICH THERE IS A GREAT
DEAL OF DIFFERENCE?

Victoria says I GUESS THE FACT THERE ARE
MANY PRIVATE AGENCIES IN THE
STATES, WHERE PEOPLE PAY A
TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY.
I THINK YOU HAVE THE STATE
AGENCIES ARRANGING ADOPTIONS
FOR THE KIDS WHO, SOME
PEOPLE WOULD CONSIDER THE
LESS DESIRABLE.
I DON'T LIKE THAT WORD.
WHEREAS THE EXPENSIVE
AGENCIES ARE MORE LIKELY
TO HAVE WHAT WE USED TO
CALL BLUE RIBBON BABIES.
THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS,
ONE OF THE CHANGES.
THEY DON'T SEEM TO HAVE AS
MANY INDEPENDENT ADOPTIONS
AS WE DO IN ONTARIO.
MOST OF THE STATES HAVE
LARGE AGENCIES, BUT OUR
AGENCIES ARE HAVING
TROUBLE MAKING IT GO.
AND I THINK ONE REASON
IS BECAUSE WE ALLOW
INDEPENDENT ADOPTION.
THAT IS A LAWYER OR DOCTOR
ARRANGING FOR AN ADOPTION
WITH THE COUPLE.
AND THE CONCERNS I HAVE,
AND PEOPLE MAY LAUGH AT ME,
WHEN YOU HEAR A BABY IS
COMING, AND A DOCTOR SAYS THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR
BABY, IT DOESN'T MATTER
WHAT YOU SAY TO THOSE
PEOPLE, THIS IS THEIR BABY.
THEIR ARMS ARE READY
TO TAKE THIS BABY.
IT MAY BE TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE,
AND THE DOCTORS AND LAWYERS
ARE NOT SOCIAL WORKERS.
AND QUESTIONS LIKE
RELATIONSHIP ARE NOT
RELATED, WHEN WE REALLY
MEANT, WAS IT A MEANINGFUL
RELATIONSHIP, OR WAS THIS
A CASUAL RELATIONSHIP.
IT'S IMPORTANT FOR THE CHILD
TO KNOW, AS HE GETS OLDER,
WHERE DID HE COME FROM?
WHAT WAS THE RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN THESE TWO PEOPLE.
THIS IS GETTING BETTER WITH
PRIVATE ADOPTIONS BECAUSE
IT'S BEEN MONITORED VERY
CAREFULLY BY THE MINISTRY.
AND THEY DON'T ISSUE
LICENSES UNTIL THEY'RE SURE
THAT PEOPLE WILL GET ALL THE
INFORMATION THAT THE CHILD
HAS A RIGHT TO HAVE.

In a clip, Judy says PRIVATE ADOPTION IS NOT AS
COMMON IN CANADA AS IT IS
IN THE U.S.
THE PRIVATE ADOPTION AGENCY
HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART OF
THE U.S. SOCIAL
SERVICE STRUCTURE.
IT'S A RELATIVELY RECENT
INNOVATION, CERTAINLY HERE
IN ONTARIO, THE PRIVATE
AGENCY HAS ONLY HAD A LEGAL
MANDATE TO EXIST FOR
THE LAST EIGHT YEARS.
ITS LEGISLATED AND
CONTROLLED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND
SOCIAL SERVICES, JUST THE
SAME WAY A CHILDREN'S AID
SOCIETY IS CONTROLLED.
AND THERE ARE RESTRICTIONS
ON FEES, ETC., THAT IS
IMPOSED BY THE LEGISLATION.

The woman with the curly short hair says IN SOME PROVINCES, AT LEAST,
FOR EXAMPLE IN ALBERTA,
THERE HAS BEEN, AND STILL
IS, A CENTRALIZED ADOPTION
SYSTEM, WHERE THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT,
SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT,
IS THE ONLY ADOPTION AGENCY.
AT PRESENT, THERE ARE A
COUPLE OF SMALL, PRIVATE,
UNLICENSED AGENCIES BECAUSE
THERE'S NO PROVISIONS FOR
LICENSING, BUT THE
CENTRALIZATION OF SERVICES
MEANS WE DON'T HAVE A GREAT
DISPARITY, AND THERE ISN'T
THE SAME PROBLEM IN CANADA
THAT I SEE IN SOME PLACES
IN THE STATES OF WEALTHY
PEOPLE GETTING ONE KIND OF
SERVICE, AND PEOPLE WHO ARE
NOT WEALTHY NOT HAVING THAT
AVAILABILITY OF SERVICE.

A man in his forties sits at a conference table. He wears glasses, a dark gray suit, white shirt and dotted gray tie.

He says I'M LARRY BETTS.
I ALSO AM A SOCIAL WORKER
BY TRAINING, AND I WANT TO
CONGRATULATE ALL OF YOU
WHO ARE STILL AWAKE IN THE
FOURTH MEETING ON THE SECOND
DAY OF THIS CONFERENCE.

[laughter]

He continues THAT'S AN ACCOMPLISHMENT
IN AND OF ITSELF.
AS YOU GO INTO THIS, FROM
WHATEVER YOUR PERSPECTIVE,
YOU SOON START ENCOUNTERING
THE MYTHS OF THE ADOPTION WORLD.
AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH
YOU TEN MYTHS THAT WE HAVE
STRUGGLED WITH
AT SUNNY RIDGE.
THE FIRST OF THOSE MYTHS IS
THAT INDEPENDENT ADOPTIONS
COST LESS.
WHAT YOU'VE HEARD HERE TODAY
IS THAT THEY COST AROUND
10,000 DOLLARS BECAUSE THEY INCLUDE
THE COST OF THE MEDICAL
BILLS FOR THE MOTHER.
OUR COST AT SUNNY RIDGE IS
6,500 DOLLARS, AND WE INCLUDE ALL
THE MEDICAL COSTS
FOR THE MOTHER.
ADOPTION IN THE PRIVATE
SECTOR, IN OUR EXPERIENCE,
GENERALLY COSTS MORE.

A woman in her mid-thirties sits at a conference table. She wears big glasses and a white blouse under a red jacket.

A caption on screen reads "Marilyn E. Shinyei."

She says EVERYTHING IS
FREE IN CANADA.
NOBODY, WE DON'T PAY FOR
HEALTHCARE EXCEPT WHERE
WE'RE FIGHTING
ABOUT EXTRA BILLING.
THERE'S SOMETIMES A
SURCHARGE, BUT OUR BASIC
HEALTHCARE AND HOSPITAL
CARE IS FREE IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND THE SAME IS TRUE
OF OUR SOCIAL SERVICES.
SO THAT IN THE PROVINCES IN
WHICH IN FACT WE'RE TALKING
ALL OF THEM EXCEPT NOVA
SCOTIA, MANITOBA, AND
ONTARIO, WHERE THERE ARE NO
PRIVATE AGENCIES, THERE ARE
NO PRIVATE AGENCIES, THERE
IS ONLY THE MONOPOLY OF THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT THAT IS
INVOLVED IN ADOPTION AT ALL.
IN THOSE PROVINCES, ADOPTION
COSTS NOTHING, WHETHER IT'S
A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD, A
BRAND NEW INFANT, OR IF
IT IS A PRIVATE PLACEMENT,
THEN YOU WILL HAVE LEGAL FEES,
ALTHOUGH PERHAPS THIS IS A
POINT TO ZERO IN ON ALBERTA.
IN ALBERTA, FOR EXAMPLE, IT
ISN'T NECESSARY TO HAVE A
LAWYER IN THE ADOPTION.

A woman sits next to Marilyn. She's in her late forties with short, curly blond hair. She wears a pink shirt and blue jacket.

A caption reads "Arlene Betts."

She says OUR AGENCY PLACED 61
NEWBORNS LAST YEAR.
TEN OF THEM WERE
PREARRANGED, WHICH I'LL
SPEAK TO IN A FEW MINUTES.
WE ALSO DID 36 ADOPTIONS
FOR THE INTERSTATE COMPACT
WHERE WE WERE STUDYING THE
FAMILIES, AND THE BABIES
WERE BORN IN ANOTHER
STATE OR PROVINCE.
IN ALMOST ALL OF THOSE CASES,
THE BIRTH MOTHERS WERE SEEN
BY AN ATTORNEY IN ANOTHER
STATE AS OPPOSED TO AN AGENCY.
I CAME FROM RICHMOND,
VIRGINIA, TEN YEARS AGO,
AND MY STATE DID NOT
ALLOW PRIVATE ADOPTION.
SO IT WAS QUITE A SHOCK
TO COME TO CHICAGO.
I WOULD HAVE TO SAY, AFTER
TEN YEARS, I REALIZE THAT
WE'RE BOTH HERE TO STAY.
PRIVATE ADOPTION IS A VIABLE
ALTERNATIVE, AS IS AGENCY.
WE'RE BOTH TOUGH, AND WE'RE
BOTH GOING TO MAKE IT.
WHAT WE WANTED TO SUGGEST
TODAY IS A COMING TOGETHER
IN A COOPERATIVE EFFORT IN
WHAT WE CALL A PREARRANGED
ADOPTION, OR MANY OF MY
COLLEAGUES IN CHICAGO WOULD
CALL IT THE ADOPTION
OF IDENTIFIED CHILD.

Marilyn lifts up a sheet of paper that reads "Not enough babies."

She says PRIVATE ADOPTION
IS HERE TO STAY.
THERE'S NO QUESTION
ABOUT THAT.
IF PEOPLE CAN'T GET BABIES
THROUGH AGENCIES, THEY ARE
GOING TO FIND WAYS
TO GET BABIES.
THERE IS ALSO EVIDENCE TO
SUGGEST THAT OPEN PLACEMENT IS
GOING TO MEAN THAT IT'S
MORE LIKELY THAT A YOUNG
WOMAN WILL PLACE HER
BABY FOR ADOPTION.
THAT SHE'S JUST ASKING FOR
SOME NORMAL THINGS THAT ANY
ONE OF US WOULD PROBABLY
WANT IF WE WERE TO PLACE
OUR BABY SOMEWHERE ELSE,
AND THE WHOLE SITUATION IS
GOING TO BE MADE MORE
HUMANE BY THAT, AND IT'S
MORE LIKELY SHE WILL
ENTERTAIN THAT OPTION,
IF IT'S AVAILABLE TO HER.

Now, Joan says VICKY, THERE WAS ONE QUITE
DRAMATIC PANEL DISCUSSION.
A LOT OF PEOPLE ATTENDED,
AND I THINK MOSTLY AMERICAN
DELEGATES, ON THE
TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION.
THERE SEEMS TO BE AN
AWAKENING, PERHAPS, IN THE
BLACK COMMUNITIES, IN THE
NATIVE COMMUNITIES, A CHANGE
IN THEM WANTING TO ADOPT
THEIR OWN CHILDREN.

Victoria says I DON'T KNOW THAT THAT'S
SUCH A GREAT CHANGE.
I THINK THEY'VE ALWAYS
WANTED THEIR OWN CHILDREN
TO GO IN THE SAME RACE AS
THE CHILD, BUT THEY HAVEN'T
ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO.
THERE WAS A VERY GOOD GROUP
IN DETROIT WHO OPENED A
PLACE CALLED BLACK HOMES
FOR BLACK CHILDREN.
AND SOME OF THE BLACK
FAMILIES WERE JUST
INTIMIDATED BY FILLING OUT
FORMS, SO THESE WORKERS
WENT INTO THE HOME AND
FILLED OUT THE FORMS FOR
THEM, AND THEY DID A GOOD
JOB OF GETTING BLACK
CHILDREN INTO BLACK HOMES.
NO BLACK CHILD WOULD GO INTO
A WHITE HOME IF THERE IS A
BLACK HOME WAITING FOR
THEM, AND THAT'S ONE OF THE
PROBLEMS WE DON'T HAVE
ENOUGH BLACK HOMES,
OR ENOUGH NATIVE HOMES.

Joan says BUT THEN, SHOULD THESE
CHILDREN NOT GO INTO A HOME?

Victoria says NO, THEY'RE IN A FOSTER HOME
ANYWAYS, SO THEY'RE LIVING
USUALLY IN WHITE FOSTER CARE,
SO WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
THERE ARE TRANSRACIAL
ADOPTIONS, THERE ARE
TRANSRACIAL MARRIAGES NOW.
AND I THINK THE CHOICE IS
ALWAYS THE CHILD DOESN'T
HAVE TO HAVE ADOPTED ACROSS
HIS FOREHEAD WHEN HE GOES
OUT WITH HIS FAMILY.
BUT IF THEY HAVE NO CHOICE,
PUT HIM IN A HOME THAT'S
THE BEST ONE TO MAKE HIM
PROUD OF HIS RACE AND
PROUD TO BE A MEMBER
OF THAT FAMILY.

Judy appears on screen.

She says MULTIPLE PLACEMENTS CAUSE
MANY PROBLEMS FOR THE CHILD.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM,
HOWEVER, IS IN THE
EMOTIONAL AREA.
THE CHILD STARTS TO PUT
DOWN ROOTS, STARTS TO FEEL
SECURE, STARTS TO KNOW
WHERE HE IS, AND ALL OF
A SUDDEN, HE'S HAULED
OUT AND MOVED.
YOU CAN'T TREAT A PLANT
THAT WAY, AND YOU CERTAINLY
CAN'T TREAT A HUMAN
BEING THAT WAY.
AND THE DAMAGE THAT'S
DONE CAN QUITE OFTEN
BE IRREVERSIBLE.

A man appears on screen. He's in his forties with short dark brown hair. He wears glasses and a blue checked shirt.

He says I WAS A FOSTER CHILD MYSELF,
COMING UP, AND PRACTICALLY
EACH HOME I WAS PLACED
IN, I WAS BEING BEATEN OR
MISTREATED, AND I WOULD RUN
AWAY FROM THE FOSTER HOMES.
EACH TIME THEY PUT ME IN ONE
THERE WAS ALWAYS A PROBLEM.
SO THEY GOT TIRED OF ME
RUNNING AWAY, AND THEY JUST
PUT ME IN AN
INSTITUTION FOR A YEAR.
AND THAT DID NOT HELP.
BECAUSE WHEN I WAS OUT OF
THE INSTITUTION, THE ONLY
THING IT DID, WHEN I
WAS IN THE INSTITUTION,
IT MADE ME WORSE.
I SET UP THIS DEFENCE WHERE
NO ONE COULD KEEP ME,
AND WHY WOULD THAT THEY PUT ME
IN PRISON FOR RUNNING AWAY
FROM HOME, PLACES I
DIDN'T WANT TO BE?
SO WHEN I GOT OUT AT THE AGE
OF 15, I JUST STAYED OUT
ON MY OWN.
SO I STAYED AWAY UNTIL I WAS
18, SO THEY SAID I WAS TOO
OLD TO BE IN A HOME.

Joan says VICKY, HAVE YOU ANY
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FUTURE?
HOW THE WHOLE AREA OF
ADOPTION MIGHT CHANGE
OR STAY THE WAY IT IS?
MAYBE SOMETHING ABOUT THE
FACT THAT THERE AREN'T ENOUGH
BABIES ANYMORE BECAUSE,
WELL, WE ALL KNOW THE
REASONS FOR THAT.

Victoria says YES, WE DO.
WELL, WHAT I WOULD REALLY
LIKE TO SAY, IF I WERE
SEEING UTOPIA FOR CHILD
WELFARE WOULD BE THAT THERE
WOULD BE RESOURCES
DEVELOPED FOR FAMILIES
WHO WOULD TAKE A CHILD.
AND IF HE COMES AVAILABLE,
BECOMING A WARD OF THE CROWN,
THAT HE STAYS WITH THAT FAMILY
AND THEY WOULD ADOPT HIM.
I'VE SEEN TOO MANY DISTURBED
KIDS WHO HAVE HAD 13 FOSTER
HOMES BY THE TIME
THEY'RE 14 YEARS OLD.
ONE FAMILY, ONE CHILD,
DON'T CHANGE IT.

Judy says THE CONFERENCE HAS BEEN, I
THINK, AN EYE OPENER FOR THE
CANADIAN PROFESSIONALS, IN
PARTICULAR, WHO HAVE NOT HAD
THE OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND A
NACAC CONFERENCE IN THE PAST.
I THINK IT ALWAYS ASTOUNDS
THEM WHEN THEY REALIZE THAT
THIS IS A PARENT-RUN CONFERENCE,
AND THAT WE CAN DO THINGS AT
A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL.
OVER THE YEARS, THROUGH OUR
OWN CONFERENCES, WE HAVE
CERTAINLY IMPROVED THE LEVEL
OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN
PARENT AND PROFESSIONAL, AND
THIS IS CERTAINLY GOING TO
ENHANCE OUR POSITION.
BUT, ALSO, IT'S GIVEN THEM
SOME DIFFERENT APPROACHES
TO SITUATIONS.
IT'S BROUGHT IN SOME FRESH
NEW IDEAS FROM SOUTH OF THE
BORDER WHICH THEY MAY NOT
HAVE ENCOUNTERED, AND IT'S
ALSO FOR PARENTS PROVIDED
NEW IDEAS AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
IT'S GIVEN THEM SOME IDEA
OF WHAT THEY ACTUALLY ARE
CAPABLE OF DOING BECAUSE
THEY HAVE SEEN OTHER
PARENTS WHO HAVE
GONE OUT AND DONE IT.

A conference room full of people appears.

A woman stands on stage. She's in her forties, with short, curly dark brown hair. She wears a green dress.

She says THANK YOU TO THOSE OF YOU
WHO STAYED FOR THE CLOSING.
I REALIZE THAT LOTS OF
PEOPLE HAD TO LEAVE.
TODAY'S CLOSING IS, YOU WERE
TOLD EARLIER, REALLY GIVES
THE KIDS AN OPPORTUNITY
TO SPEAK OUT.
AND SINCE I'M STILL A KID, I
GUESS, THAT'S WHY I'M UP HERE.

A panel of boys accompanies her.

She says TODAY, IN ONE WAY, IS
BOYS' DAY, I GUESS.
I SEE WE HAVE A PANEL
OF YOUNG MEN UP HERE.
AND WE'LL BEGIN
WITH Mr. OSBORNE.

[laughter]

A boy in his early teens, with short brown hair grabs the microphone. He wears a light gray suit, white shirt and light blue tie.

He says I COME FROM A
FAMILY OF 20 KIDS.
I'M THE ONLY HOME BRED,
AS YOU WOULD CALL IT.
SOME PEOPLE THINK THE HOME
BRED, WELL, THE HOMEMADE,
WOULD THINK THAT THEY WERE
JEALOUS AND EVERYTHING, BUT
ACTUALLY, I'M NOT BECAUSE
WITHOUT THEM, I WOULDN'T
KNOW HALF THE
STUFF I KNOW NOW.
IN FRONT OF ME,
HERE'S MY FAMILY.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO
STAND UP, PLEASE.

The members of the family stand up.

[applause]

Now, another boy speaks. He is in his tween years, with short brown hair. He wears a striped polo shirt.

He says LONG AGO, WHEN I WAS WITH
ONE FAMILY, WELL, THEY
WERE, YOU KNOW, I WAS NO
GOOD WHEN I WAS A LITTLE
BABY, I COULDN'T REMEMBER.
BUT THEN WHEN I WENT... WHEN
I WAS OLDER, ABOUT FIVE
YEARS OLD, I REALIZED THAT
SOMETHING WAS GOING WRONG,
AND I WASN'T DOING NOTHING
RIGHT, SO IT WENT BACK AND
FORTH AND BACK AND FORTH.
SO, FINALLY, I JUST
STAYED THERE WITH JIM.

Now, a boy in his late teens appears on screen. He wears a checked blazer, light blue shirt and green tie.

He says I'D LIKE TO THANK MY MOTHER,
VIRGINIA STURGEON, FOR
GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY
TO HAVE SUCH A FAMILY.
AND I'D LIKE TO THANK ALL
THESE PEOPLE FOR COMING OUT
HERE AND CARING ENOUGH FOR
EACH ONE OF THESE KIDS
AND TO FIND A BETTER
HOME FOR THEM.

A boy in his tween years appears. He wears a checked white shirt.

He says ALSO FIND OUT HOW MANY KIDS
ARE IN THE INSTITUTION
AND GET THEM OUT.
AND PARENTS, AND BRING BACK
THE PARENT, GET THEM OUT,
AS WELL.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[applause]

The woman in the green dress says THE ADOPTION CREED:
NOT BREATH OF MY BREATH,
NOR BONE OF MY BONE,
BUT STILL MIRACULOUSLY
MY VERY OWN.
NEVER FORGET FOR A SINGLE
MOMENT THAT YOU DIDN'T GROW
UNDER MY HEART,
BUT IN IT.

The end credits roll.

Special thanks to the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Technical directors, James Livingston and William Pearson.

Cameraman, Denis Rindsem.

Sound recordist, Fred Sangmeuller

Editor, David Bevan

Production manager, Rodger G. Lawson

Production assistant, Mary Louise Lynde

Producer-director, Joan Reed Olsen.

A production of TVOntario, copyright The Ontario Educational Communications Authority 1987.

Watch: Adoption in Transition: New Hopes, New Realities