Permanency matters: research shows that with a stable family environment where they feel loved and connected, children and youth have far better odds of graduating from high school, advancing to post-secondary education, finding rewarding work and staying connected to adults who care for them.
My Story by Barb Tighe, Ambassador of Adoptive Parent’s and Advocate for Child Welfare
When my husband Clint and I started down the path to have children together, we thought it would have gone smoothly, just like it does in the movies... well my journey wasn't like a movie, that’s for sure but the results have been more than I could have ever expected.
Clint already had a beautiful 1 1/2 year old daughter when I met him. I was a step-mom, and that was a big and meaningful role which seemed to be enough for us. But as time went on, our daughter would go to her mom's place, and the house would be empty. As she got older, it felt that we were missing more and more milestones, like a lost tooth, an "ouchie" or just a regular Tuesday night. We got to experience a lot, don't get me wrong, but we still missed so much. That is when my maternal instincts kicked in and Clint and I talked ... a lot… and decided we would try to have a child together. As time went on, I would find out that this decision would come with a lot of heartache. There was a great deal of frustration every month from not getting pregnant. But finally I got a positive pregnancy test. I was so excited that this was it, we finally did it!
But then the unimaginable happened...miscarriage... which I found out no one really talks about as they don't know how to deal with it.
Clint and I started discussing adoption because we wanted to have a big family. Both of us have siblings or cousins that were adopted so we had some experience with adoption. We felt that with so many children in Canada that need forever homes, that adopting from the local Children's Aid Society was the best decision for us.
Now a lot of people have their opinions about Children's Aid, like; it will take forever; you won't get any child under 4; they already have enough problems or; we don't want to run into the birth parents. Well everyone is entitled to their own opinions and every case is different. We still decided to go with the Children’s Aid Society to adopt a sibling set of 2 children. Soon after this decision was made, we started the process of a home study and PRIDE training rather quickly. I thought this was going to happen really quickly!
I later found out, this is not something that you rush. We had several bumps in the road beyond our control with attempting to adopt. My worker was great through it all and gave me the best advice, like, be your own advocate. That is exactly what I did. I searched and made phone calls and found an event that was outside the area of my Children’s Aid Society... a small event, but still an Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE).
Clint and I attended the ARE event and as soon as we walked in, right there in front of us was a whole board with pictures of children, 6 siblings from the same family. We walked up and took a closer look. We knew right away it was meant to be, that those were our kids. After speaking with the Children’s Aid Society worker we knew that we had everything that the kids had on their wish lists; a big house, a dog, a pool and more. We saw other people looking at the kids and when realizing they were a large sibling group, they quickly walked away. We talked it over and then Clint said to the CAS worker, “you can take the little faces down. Those are the kids we are going to adopt and we’ll be their forever home.”
Everyone always said to me, you will know when they are the right ones, and we sure did. Within 2 months, we had adopted 6 children and they were all moved in!
I have nothing but praise and respect for the adoption workers that I had the privilege of working with. They really did the best that they could with really terrible circumstances and it is nice to see happy outcomes.
There was also a surprise that we really weren't expecting... about 10 months later, the birth mother was in the hospital having another baby, and the baby was going to need a forever home as well. We could not resist, we didn't want the siblings separated. We also adopted the little girl and now are a family of 7 adopted kids and my step-daughter. I also am a grandmother to 2 beautiful little girls.
We have the normal ups and downs that any biological family may have, but we know that these children are meant to be with us. So yes, the house is crazy and loud, yes, there is way more laundry than one person could even imagine doing in a week and the food is well…we won't go there. But there is also laughter, love and a great big family.
Here are the lessons that I have learned through all of this...
- Be your own advocate. If I hadn’t, I would not have met my kids.
- You will know when you know!
- You can't rush the process, it's that way for a reason and it does work. It might seem like it took forever, but looking back it wasn't really that long since we will have a lifetime with our children.
- Your heart is never too big to love, don't ever doubt that you can make a difference in a child's life.
I can't imagine my life any other way, it didn't start out the way I planned or take the path that I thought it would, but every day, I am grateful and full of joy that everything has happened the way it did.