We were warned that one of the hardest times during adoption is when you are AdoptReady but still waiting for your match. Actually, I don’t think anything can really prepare you for the frustration, the anticipation, the tears, and the feeling of futility.

About two months ago, we were matched with a child in Lithuania. It was an extremely exciting time. We gazed at the photos and profile sent to us and made the very dangerous leap into hope and action. We were going to be parents! The joy was all encompassing. It was on our minds every morning, afternoon, and evening. Little things like preparing meals meant conversations on what type of food would we need to start buying for a toddler. Trips to the bookstore meant a stroll into the kid’s section for an indulgent purchase of one of our childhood favourites. Queuing at Starbucks meant watching children run around while parents placed their orders with a quiet glance and smile between us: that would be us someday soon! In a word, all of it seemed delightful.

We knew something was wrong after we stopped receiving emails from Lithuania. Weeks passed, then a month. After two months it was pretty clear. On a Friday afternoon, we got a call from our international adoption practitioner – we had been rejected. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day other than just leaving my office and crying the entire subway ride home. The tears continued for days – in the kitchen, the shower, the garden. Martin and I clung to each other for the weekend, fragile and exhausted.

After awhile, we knew we had to collect ourselves and get started again. And for those who know me, when I get disappointed or frustrated, it turns into an annoyingly unstoppable force and pursuit of goal. Now that we knew our chances in Lithuania might now be less than we originally hoped, we decided to reignite our efforts in Ontario.

Many people have asked why we are pursuing international adoption instead of local. We actually always wanted to adopt in Canada. Unfortunately, the system, as I have ranted before, isn’t easy. Sorry, did I say “isn’t easy”? I meant, it’s broken, shattered, and completely incomprehensible.  Yes, this is another diatribe on the faults of the Canadian adoption system – I apologise that you’ve probably heard much of this before, but it seems like the only thing I can do is get the word out and hope for change.

Twice a year, there is an event called the Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE) here in Toronto. Profiles of children available for adoption are presented in handouts and videos. We’re veterans of this conference and decided to prepare. Because I couldn’t attend due to a travel conflict, on the advice of our social worker, we built our own profile to hand out, complete with a link to a video about us. We professionally printed out 100 glossy, two-sided, flyers to present to all of the social workers at ARE.

ARE has come and gone and we have 99 flyers leftover, and zero views of our video.

What happened? Well, basically not much. Either there wasn’t interest, we didn’t live in their region, or were told to register on the AdoptOntario database….

Let’s talk about that database for a moment. I certainly applaud the efforts to build a single Ontario system that would match prospective parents with waiting children. Right now, Children’s Aid Services are completely divided by region, meaning, there is no formal connection between say Toronto and York Region CAS despite a difference of 20 km on a highway. So this database is a terrific move forward and we have eagerly registered.

Remember that number I mentioned about 30,000 children waiting for forever homes in Canada? 47 of them are registered, as of this morning, on the AdoptOntario database. Forty. Seven. Not even 50 children.

These are direct quotes from the AdoptOntario website:

 “On average, adoption matches when the child has been placed on the Databank take approximately half as long as placements where the child was not in the databank”.

“Currently, over 20,000 families are registered to view the photolisting”

How many children are NOT on that database being connected with the 20K+ registered families? I’m just guessing here, but in not so scientific terms I’d say a helluva LOT. That means children not being matched; thousands of children at long-term risk; and many, many, forever family opportunities lost.

Yes. This system is broken.

I’m not a social worker. I’m only involved from the outside looking in and I know I’m wearing my project manager hat whenever I try and detangle this web. However, I would be extremely grateful for someone in the system to explain to us how exactly this mess happens. Are we missing something completely?

I have sent emails and follow up emails to Toronto and York Region CAS explaining that we are AdoptReady and looking to be matched. There is no work required on their part to do a Home Study; we aren’t seeking a newborn (most available children are older) AND are open to either gender, any ethnicity. Basically, we could be potential parents for a child in their region needing a home, if there is a match.

No replies. Nothing. Not even an Out-of-Office notification.

I’ve since found out from my own research that we cannot register with York Region CAS (we live 20KM away in Toronto!). As for why Toronto CAS hasn’t replied, no clue.

I could go on and on, and likely already have said too much. There are also experiences I could share that aren’t suitable for a public blog (but happy to tell to anyone interested).

There is a time when we will need to respectfully say “enough”. Our adoption story might seem fresh to those around us, but is has been a few years in the making for us. We hope friends and loved ones will understand our decision and allow us to quietly let go, should that moment arrive.

Until then, we have 99 glossy, full-colour, adoption profile flyers kicking about our house. Anyone interested in origami?