GUEST COMMENT: B.C. children need a thousand families

NANAIMO – More than 1,000 children in care of the government are still waiting for the stability of an adoptive family.

By Stephanie Cadieux and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

November is Adoption Awareness Month in British Columbia and we are looking for 1,000 families willing to step up and help improve the lives of some of B.C.’s most-vulnerable young people.

Over the past five years, nearly 1,300 children and youth in B.C. have found loving homes through adoption. Unfortunately, more than 1,000 children in continuing care of the government are still waiting and hoping for the stability and care of an adoptive family.

Why so many? Part of the problem seems to be a matter of perspective. Too often when people think of adoption, they imagine a healthy infant being united with a traditional two-parent family. While this scenario occasionally rings true, it does not reflect the demographic diversity of our province, nor does it consider the particular life circumstances of those children in care whose needs are greatest.

The reality is that many of the young people who are waiting for adoption are school-age. They may be siblings who need to stay together. Some may have special placement needs due to developmental challenges.

These are children and teens in foster care who are waiting for a forever home. They’ve come into government care for a variety of reasons – sometimes they have been abused or neglected in their birth home, their parents may have passed away without naming a guardian, or, in some cases, their families were unable to provide proper care and instead looked to adoption as the best option. Whatever their personal circumstances, these waiting kids need families who will love them, encourage them, give them a sense of belonging and provide them with opportunities for a better life.

Just like children in care, potential adoptive parents come from diverse backgrounds and do not necessarily represent traditional family structures. Anyone 19 years of age and over, who is interested in providing a loving, nurturing home, may be eligible to adopt.

More than 60 per cent of all children in continuing care of the B.C. government are Aboriginal and certainly more must be done to ensure that adoptive homes are found for these waiting children. Aboriginal children have a right to stay connected to their culture and family and we encourage aboriginal adoptive parents to come forward.

Help us reach our goal of finding 1,000 adoptive families for B.C. kids in need. Don’t miss out on the love a child can bring to your life. If you are thinking about growing your family, find out more about adopting a waiting child.

Stephanie Cadieux is B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.