Friday, 6 June 2014

everyone needs an advocate

When I last left off (my last post) we were waiting to hear from the MW about the girls on the adoption bulletin- not with any real expectation but just wanting to know if this was something we could pursue.

 Last night (26 days after first asking about the girls) I got an email from MW saying that she sent an email to their social worker but didn't hear back. She was able tell me that the girls live at the opposite end of our province. She then said that she was looking for a home for two boys around the same ages but the only other descriptor she gave me was that they are Caucasian. I don't know what she is basing this potential match on as she has never met us and hasn't yet seen our home study. The fact that they are Caucasian doesn't really matter to us- we are more concerned about their special needs and their interests and how we would be prepared to meet those special needs and interests. This email also seemed to imply that if we wanted more information then we had to act fast as she is trying to match children to other couples as well. 

This is the kind of stuff they don't prepare you for in the Adoption Education Program.They make it sound pretty straight forward: your social worker meets with you, does the home study and will eventually propose children based on the information they have about your family. At any point along the way you can ask your worker questions or ask about profiles of waiting children. 

Instead we have had a home study done by a private worker who we will never see again once our home study is approved and we are being proposed (well not quite proposed... "softly proposed"?) children by someone who doesn't know much about us. The communication breakdown between ministry offices is absurd (we have heard this from other adoptive parents as well) and the communication between the office and families is lacking as well. They also tell you that they do not try to find children for couples- they try to match children with the family who will best suit the needs of the child. I mean, permanency is obviously the end goal (however it is arrived at) but all parties are better off if the match makes sense.

Ok... I have typed out all my frustration and it feels better.

Now I have to remember a few things:

1. I have to believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they are given. 
2. This is a learning experience wherein we grow stronger by learning how to find advice, support and advocacy and also how to be support and advocate for our family. 
3. Sharing my frustrations is not about shaming or blaming anyone. I share because a) it is cathartic and b) it is important that folks understand just how difficult this system is to navigate. Hopefully some of us will take this information and use our votes and our voices to try and improve the situation for families (birth, foster and adoptive), for social workers and other ministry staff.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

postmaster says undeliverable

With our home study complete and our profile almost done, our home study social worker from the private agency (we'll call her Private Worker- PW) suggested that we follow up on a sibling group that we saw on the on-line adoption bulletin (a website with profiles of "waiting kids"). With an understanding that the on-line bulletin is often very out of date, we tried to email our adoption social worker (we'll call her Ministry Worker- MW- because she works for the government ministry*). Now I will share with you what it is like communicating with an over-worked, under-funded system.

May 12- Send an email to MW. Email gets bounced back (twice) as the email address I was given for this worker is wrong. Try calling the number I was given to reach her. She now works "upstairs". Am given a new number. By some fluke I actually get through. I explain that we wanted to know if certain sibling group was still available and that the email address I had wasn't working. She says that the wrong email was given out to everyone, gives me current address and tells me to email then hangs up. I resend the email.

May 13- Never received confirmation that new email address worked. I send another email asking for confirmation of receipt.

May 15- Receive an email saying, "Are you First Nations?". I email back saying that we are not but explaining that I've completed the course required to potentially adopt First Nations children. We receive a reply saying that she will ask about these children.

May 22- I email to ask if there is any more information.

June 4- Still no reply. I write this because I don't know whether to keep badgering this woman or not and I feel like venting about the whole communication issue.

For contrast, when I email PW I usually get a detailed reply within an hour (sometimes within minutes). If she can't answer a question right away, she emails and tells me that she's looking into it. Sometimes she even calls me on the phone to clarify!

Can we get some money put into the Ministry of Children and Families please? I know that it is important to pay for fancy government ads about how awesome natural gas is and how I should be training to work in the trades but maybe we could also hire an extra social worker or two and get some permanency plans in place for a few kids.

*To my lovely, American readers- a government ministry has nothing to do with religion. It's just our fancy Canadian (British) term for a government department. I just wanted to clear that up for ya'll :)