The provincial government has been campaigning in recent week through social media and other means to try to help some of the more than 1,000 kids in B.C. waiting for adoption to help find their “forever families”.
The campaign kicked of on November 3rd and is still running, using online advertising, tweets and Facebook posts not only encourage potential adoptive parents, but also dispel adoption myths and promote unique and adoptive families.
As part of the campaign local Kootenay couple Jane Byers and Amy Bohigian have been sharing their story. The couple adopted their now seven-year-old twins, Franny and Theo, six years ago.
“We knew there were all these kids waiting (for adoption) in B.C., so we wanted to adopt locally,” said Byers. “It has been such a positive experience, really I can’t say enough about it.”
Although tremendously worthwhile, the adoption process is neither easy nor quick — the time from when Byers and Bohigian first got ready to do the first stage in the process (the home study) to finally having the twins placed with them was more than 18 months. For many couples the process can take even longer.
Even beginning the home study took awhile, with delay pushing it back several months. The home study consists of 10 visits by a social worker to the couple’s home, each involving extensive interviews.
“It’s a whole gamut of interviews. It’s extraordinarily rigourous, they really ask every thing about you, your background, about your life. You forget what privacy is, but it’s good that it’s so thorough,” said Byers.
The home study ran from March to August and in September Byers and Bohigian got a call saying the couple was being consider along with almost 10 other couples as the potential adoptive parents of a set of twins.
“We were then in this process that was like the most most excruciating playoffs you can imagine,” said Byers. “Every two weeks we’d get another call, saying ‘we’re now down to seven couples and you’re still in the running.’ Then two weeks later, another call, ‘we’re down to six couples and you’re still in the running.””
The couples were pared down by a committee, and Bohigian and Byers were dealing with three social workers at any given time — the one appointed as guardian of the kids, one dealing specifically with the adoption and one from the couple’s hometown.
“The interesting part of our story is that we are a same-sex couple and the foster parents (who were raising the kids in the meantime) were fundamentalist Christians and initially they were opposed to us as the choice (for adoption),” said Byers. “Initially we were told that the ministry (of Children and Family Development) didn’t discriminate (against same sex couples) but we were told to expect to wait for a longer time than a traditional family for a placement. As it turned out we didn’t, we were matched with our first prospective adoptive kids.”
Part of the adoption process included a meeting with the foster parents, for which Bohigian and Byers were nervous. But the meeting went well and, as one of the final steps in the adoption process, Byers and Bohigian spent about two weeks staying in the foster parents’ home.
“A same-sex couple and fundamentalist Christians living together, you could almost write a sitcom about that, but in the end we all got along really well and we’re friends,” said Byers.
The ministry and social worker continued to offer support and resources to Byers and Bohigian after the twins were placed with couple.
The process of adopting in the Kootenay region is quite similar to adopting in a more urban area of B.C., with the only difference being some parenting courses here are done by teleconferencing instead of in-person, according to Byers.
Adopting twins of a difference race (Franny and Theo have Indian heritage) in the Kootenay region does also mean Byer and Bohigian frequently go to big cities, so the twins can be around other people who have the same physical appearance.
“It’s essential. Even if you talk about it (transracial family identity), you still need to take them to see other people who look like them,” said Byers.
But despite the hurdles presented by adoption, Byers and Bohigian couldn’t be happier.
“There can be challenges, but prospective parents just need to be honest about what they can manage. It’s all about the match (of parents and kids),” said Byers, adding she hopes her family’s story can help other potential parents come forward to begin the process of adoption.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development is aiming to have 300 of the B.C. kids waiting for adoption placed in adoptive homes by the end of March.