And Then We Were Three
23rd October 2017
This story appeared in the Fall issue of Our House Magazine for Dominion Lending Centres.
Considering adopting a child? Here are some things to keep in mind as you welcome a new family member into your home.
November is Adoption Awareness Month in Canada. For Brianna Brash-Nyberg, the public relations coordinator for Adoptive Families Association of B.C., it’s a time to get the word out about the adoption process, but also a reminder of her own adoption story.
Ever since Brash-Nyberg could remember, she’d always intended to adopt a child. So several years ago, she and her then husband set out to become adoptive parents.
The young couple was far from established. Her husband was still in university and the couple was living in student rental housing. Completing the application process, Brash-Nyberg assumed it would be a couple of years before they got the call. Instead, it came just two weeks later. A baby had just been born and the birth mother picked the couple’s profile. They were told to come by the hospital the next day to meet their new family member.
They were living in a one-bedroom apartment and they didn’t have a single thing for their new daughter. They bought the wrong baby formula and the wrong car seat three times. But none of it mattered when they were taken to the hospital nursery.
“She was just lying there in the bed with her hands folded on her chest and this really calm expression on her face,” Brash-Nyberg says of meeting her first child, who is now eight. “I went and picked her up and started talking to her. It was so surreal. This whole person exists and is now part of your family and a day ago I didn’t even know she was coming.”
The second adoption was just as surprising. The couple was looking to adopt a teenager, but the matches didn’t work out. Then they got a call about a baby due in a couple weeks and the adoption was urgent. The couple once again found themselves parents to a newborn. In this case, the walk-in closet in their apartment would be their new child’s bedroom until they could get a larger place.
One of the common misconceptions among prospective parents is that you have to be well off or a homeowner to adopt, Brash-Nyberg says. “A lot of people think you have to have a lot more in terms of financial resources than you do,” she says.
Each province has its own rules regarding adoption. The first step is to get in touch with an adoption agency. There are a number of resources available, including the Adoption Council of Canada, a national organization that connects and supports domestic, private and international adoptees and families. In B.C., for example, there are three streams of adoption: international, foster care and through a private agency. Adoption through a private agency can cost between $10,000 and $30,000; an international adoption can cost between $20,000 and $70,000.
Brash-Nyberg notes that anyone adopting through the government will need to go through an adoption education program; in B.C. it takes 13 weeks. The adopting family is assigned a social worker. Meeting with the family, he or she will ask probing questions around how the adopting parents were raised and how they want to parent. They then conduct an examination of the home. “It’s a very intimate process. You have to be willing to talk about pretty much everything,” Brash-Nyberg says.
There are some things you can to do to get your home ready for a new arrival. Depending on their ages and sexes, a certain number of kids can share a room up to a certain age, and not everything has to be set up prior to approval of the adoption. Other basic requirements include fire alarms on every floor, fire extinguishers, and medicine and alcohol locked away in a cabinet. With infants, the stairs need railings, and a proper baby gate needs to be installed.
Across Canada, there are some 30,000 children waiting for adoption. As Brash-Nyberg looks back on her journey and decision to adopt, she admits the family dynamic can be “complicated;” the joy she experienced is founded on loss, grief and trauma. “It’s also a huge sense of responsibility. You’re raising someone else’s kids,” she said.
The pictures of her to two growing children at her desk, however, are all the confirmation she needs that she made the right choices. “It’s easily the most profound and joy-filled experience of my life,” she says.
For more information about adoptions in Canada, go to www.adoption.ca.