Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Road Block

So we had been excited that our social worker was going to come and check out our apartment and discuss our application with us. Kind of a pre-homestudy homestudy.

Well that is not to be as our social worker has informed us that she will be taking medical leave for an undetermined amount of time. She hopes that we will hear from someone by Christmas about where we are on the homestudy wait list.

So we are a little sad. We are sad for our social worker who has had to leave her job at least for now. We are sad for all the children and families who were in her care as they will have to learn to get to know someone new. We are sad for our kids who are somewhere, waiting for stability. And we are feeling a little sorry for ourselves too.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

"Avril Lavigne" a parable

So I was reading along in my Aboriginal Pre-Adoption Training materials the other day and I came across this:

"Culture is Privileged: It is important to recognise that non-Aboriginal people may not be privy to many aspects of an Aboriginal culture such as sacred and traditional teachings. They do not necessarily need to have this knowledge for themselves – although the community will ‘privilege’ the adoptive parent with the information they need to know - they only need to ensure that the Aboriginal child has meaningful relationships, support and access to the community, including family and cultural teachings. An important way to facilitate this for the child is through the development of positive relationships by the adoptive parent."

Call me terrible, colonial and ignorant but this made me really defensive. Like, wait a minute, you're telling me that my children should have relationships with random people and go off and do a bunch of stuff that is kept secret from me. Why should culture be privileged? We are all children of this world. I believe in unity. I believe in harmony. I believe in equality. Why should I be left out?

Well this seemed like a rather unhealthy train of thought so I got a cup of coffee and went to work and mulled over it for a while. It came to me later when I was thinking about the term "privileged". Privilege is something that can create distance from people but it is also something innately important to all of us. I mean, look at hipsters; I knew ________ before it was cool.
My tie!

As a teenager, my friend gave me the tie that she had worn as a prefect in her private school. It was a great tie. Small, feminine and striped. I wore that tie to my public junior high school with wide-leg jeans, chains, hemp bracelets, black tank tops and bright red lipstick and purple hair (I was the very essence of high fashion). I looked rebellious. I looked alternative. I looked awesome. My outfit was showing the world that I was free and unique.

I wore some form of this outfit to a family dinner one night and my cousin said something that I will never forget. He asked me if I was an Avril Lavigne fan. Was I a what? No way! He thought that I was wearing my tie to try and emulate the singer of 's8er boi'?! I had worn the tie long before Avril came into popular culture. I was so embarrassed and upset and soon after that the tie was relegated to the back of my closet. The tie had lost it's specialness and appeal when it became trendy and everyone and their dog had one.

Now I'm not saying that my children's culture is on the same level as my choice of teenage apparel but it made me think about how hard it was to have something that was a part of my identity shared by the world. This is a small scale parable to help me remember that it is ok for my kids to be Cultural Hipsters. They need to have ownership of their culture and choose what and when to share.

P.S. Shout out to Luke (or your Dad, since I know he reads this). Thanks for asking me about Avril all those years ago!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

like a new species

This morning over coffee, AH and I were talking about his future business plans. In a year's time he plans on working for himself, doing what he loves. This would give him more flexibility and a more stable paycheck. But it is so hard to plan a year into the future when we have no idea what will be happening next fall. We could still be going through our homestudy, we could be waiting for "the call", we could be in pre-placement visits and (strangest of all) there is even the (extremely slim) chance that we could have children.
AH commented that if we were pregnant we'd at least have a pretty clear idea of our family's time line. I said that this feels like being some new kind of species with no idea how long our gestation period is. So we're planning on not being able to plan. It's all good.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

fall cleaning

Time to do some fall cleaning.
Our social worker wants to meet with us... at our home! She has been very clear that she is not starting our homestudy yet but she wants to go over our file and see our home. To me this sounds pretty promising as she obviously wants to get a feel for who we are and how we live.

Probably best to get our other bedroom ("the closet of hell/storage room of death") in slightly better order. It wouldn't look very good if we have G. (<--- social worker) over and refuse to let her see our second bedroom.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

more classes

Europeans were therefore legally justified in assuming full, sovereign ownership of the “discovered” lands, since Aboriginal peoples could not possibly have the civilized and Christian attributes that would enable them to assert sovereign ownership (p. 121). 
                                                                                               -Henry et al (2000)

Having kids seems to mean a lot of schooling. This is what I get for not finishing college- education karma has come back to haunt me. If karma haunts, that is.

I am taking a course through the local Caring for First Nations Children Society. You see, there are a lot of kids in the system who come from Aboriginal families (decide for your self what that says about the care our government gives to Aboriginal families). But I am not here to debate who's fault it is that a huge percentage of foster kids are Aboriginal. The fact is there are more Aboriginal kids in the system than there are Aboriginal adoptive parents. This means that non-Aboriginal parents will sometimes be eligible to adopt Aboriginal children. This is where an online course comes in.

I am learning about the history of colonisation in Canada and North America. Most of this isn't new to me but it is always difficult to learn about. Forget what you thought you knew about Pocahontas and Thanksgiving; colonization has meant millions of dead men, women and children and government sanctioned lies to cover up a horrible history. The Canadian Government has only recently started publishing statements and reports as to the extent of racist and even genocidal policies. It is important to learn about this history because the history directly effects the lives of aboriginal people today. I will be learning how to help my potential future children stay connected to there heritage. I will be learning how to provide them with positive role models, positive stories from their history and learning how to teach them about themselves without the filter of colonization. Not an easy task for a little white lady.

So I am back to reading texts and doing homework. I'll tell you one thing- it sure beats morning sickness.

Monday, 1 October 2012

we're busy and the social worker is busy

It has been a long time since I last posted.
We graduated from the Adoption Education Programme. We have certificates to prove it.  We've been enjoying the summer and keeping busy. Our social worker has a huge caseload and we're not her first priority. This is going to happen in it's own time, in God's time. We are very content with that.

Towards the end of the AEP we both discovered that we had been harbouring some rather natural yet unhealthy attitudes about adoption. The initial age range on our application had been 0-4. We kept on justifying this saying, "we're first time parents, it's only natural that we want a baby". As the course went on, we found that our minds and hearts were being expanded in a new direction. After one of our long drives home from the AEP we spoke honestly about feelings that we had both been toiling over. We both wanted to expand our age range to accept the possibility of adopting kids who are a little bit older. It seems that even though we had entered into this process by choice, we still hadn't been able to wrap our heads around the fact that families don't have to start with babies.

We are changing our application to accept children between the ages of 0-7. If a baby is proposed to us, it would have to be an extraordinary situation before we would consider accepting that placement. Our preferred age-range at this time is 3-6. It was such a relief to come to this decision. It just felt so right.

Feelings aside, there are also some practical reasons for adopting in this age range:

1.) Children who have been prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol may have severe neurological abnormalities that can never be cured. These are often undiagnosable when the child is a baby or toddler. By adopting someone over the age of 4, we have more information on a particular child's needs and whether or not we can meet them.

2.) It is easier for a child who is verbal (opposed to pre-verbal) to communicate some of the complex emotions that they are experiencing during the adoption process. This in turn would make it easier for us to help them.

3.) The older the child is, the less "desirable" they are to potential adoptive parents. Many children stay in the foster care system just because they are 6 or older. Six isn't very old! A six year old needs a loving, stable, forever home as much as anyone but they are often over looked.