By Stephanie Cadieux
Minister of Children and Family Development
Oct. 31, 2013
VICTORIA - Throughout October, B.C. has been recognizing and celebrating foster families for the integral role they play in helping to raise some of the province's most vulnerable citizens.
Foster parents and families, along with grandparents, relatives, family friends and other guardians are all deserving of praise for stepping in and taking care of a child or youth that, for any number of reasons, is unable to live with their traditional family. While many kids are able to return to their traditional families, for many others this is not a possibility.
All children and youth need the support of a permanent family. Whether it's developing healthy relationships with adults, the encouragement of having a family cheer them on at a hockey game, science fair or dance recital, or simply an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on when life gets tough, adoption gives kids a sense of belonging and helps provide them with an identity.
Having a permanent family to love and support them can mean the difference in achieving their highest potential through graduation, post-secondary and pursuit of a career. Many foster families understand this as well and have adopted kids that have come under their care. Last year, 32 per cent of children adopted from care were adopted by their foster family.
Children and youth come into government care for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a parent is unable to provide a safe, stable home or is unable to provide the type of care a child or youth needs. Maybe the child or youth's parents have passed away without naming a guardian or have decided that adoption is the best option for their child.
Nearly 1,300 B.C. children and youth in government care have been adopted over the past five years; however, more than 1,000 kids still need a forever family and a permanent place to call home.
Unfortunately, many people believe they can have a greater impact on a younger child's life. This means teenagers can be more difficult to place. I urge you to consider for a moment how much it means to a young person to have family present at their high school graduation, a special meal to help them celebrate their first job, parental guidance for advice on post-secondary options, a place to go home to during the holidays and parents to walk them down the aisle or stand with them at their wedding.
While youth over the age of 12 make up more than 30 per cent of the children and youth in care waiting to be adopted, sadly, they only represent approximately 12 per cent of annual adoptions in B.C.
I encourage anyone interested in exploring adoption or ways in which they can get involved to visit the government's adoption website at http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption - the Adoptive Families Association of BC at http://www.bcadoption.com - or call 1 877 ADOPT-07.
November is Adoption Awareness Month. Please join me in recognizing the many families and individuals who have welcomed a vulnerable child into their lives with open arms and discovered the joyful rewards that adoption can bring.