Chelan and Corry Sabiston’s adoption journey has an interesting and happy twist.
When their biological daughters were ten and eight, the couple adopted two-year-old Violet and eight-month-old Copeland through the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Though the children are siblings, they’d lived in separate foster homes and never met prior to their adoptions. Two years later, another bouncing baby boy joined their forever family – three-month-old Begbie, another biological brother to Violet and Copeland.
“Adopting a sibling group was very special – the kids had an instant connection,” says Chelan. “Parenting so many little ones all at once was a bit overwhelming, but our older girls were excited about it. It was a really great experience.”
Last summer, the Sabistons adopted another child, five-year-old Nick. The household is a bustling one, with two teenagers and another four children under the age of eight with a variety of special needs, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The Sabistons are also unique in that every member of the family, except Chelan, shares aboriginal heritage.
“I feel like our family culture is both aboriginal and adoptive,” says Chelan. “We have to be willing to learn, respect traditions and explore everyone’s history and background.”
Each child has a photo album and Chelan and Corry speak openly about how their little ones came to live with them. Still, Chelan realizes that small children can take a while to grasp difficult concepts like adoption.
“Copeland recently told me ‘Violet and I were born in another lady’s tummy but Begbie and my big sisters were born in Mommy’s tummy’,” recalls Chelan. “Of course, Begbie was also born to the same birth mother as Violet and Copeland, but at six he’s still figuring it all out.”
As a parent, Chelan says she feels the same fierce love and protective instinct for each of her children, regardless of whether she gave birth to them or not.
“Because they have special needs, advocating for them was like a natural attachment and connection – my mothering instinct emerged,” she explains. “Maybe it’s my way of grieving the hardships of their pasts, but being really feisty was an almost immediate reflection of our bond. It’s like, ‘These are my children and I know their needs because I am their mother’.”
Chelan cautions that older children of parents looking to adopt must be an integral part of any adoption plan in order for them to feel supported and included. Today, her daughters are loving, patient and compassionate big sisters to their much younger siblings.
“When a little brother or sister gets into their things – which happens often – they go with the flow,” Chelan says. “Our 16-year-old daughter told her little brother, ‘You are more important to me than stuff.’ They are wise beyond their years because of their siblings.”
A passionate advocate of adoption, Chelan encourages people to consider one of the 1,000 children, including older kids and teens, currently waiting for a forever home in British Columbia.
“There are so many kids right in our backyard aching for a forever family and understanding how important it is to belong,” Chelan says. “That’s why adoption is amazing. Every mundane, exciting, monumental, celebratory experience that we have is just richer and deeper and better and bigger and messier and louder because of adoption. It’s intense, but when it’s good it’s intensely good.”
If you’re looking to build your family, call 1 877 ADOPT-07 or visit: www.1000familiesbc.com
- This year’s provincial budget for adoption services is $27.7 million, up $1.1 million from last year.
- Currently, there are approximately 1,000 B.C. children in care waiting to be adopted.
- Potential adoptive parents come from diverse backgrounds and have a range of life experiences. Any B.C. resident 19 and over who is interested in providing a loving, nurturing home may be eligible to adopt.
- Over the past 10 years, an annual average of approximately 270 children have been adopted in British Columbia.
- Approximately 42% of adopted children are adopted by their foster family.
- Many of the children and youth still waiting for adoption are school age. They may be siblings who need to stay together. Some may have special placement needs due to difficult early childhood experiences, prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs, learning delays or other developmental challenges.
- In September 2015, Grand Chief Ed John was appointed senior advisor on Aboriginal child welfare to the Minister of Children and Family Development. His role is to assist in finding forever families for a greater number of Aboriginal youth in care through adoption, guardianship or other options.
- For a list of Adoption Awareness Month events taking place in communities throughout B.C., visit: https://www.bcadoption.com/all-events
Adoption Awareness Month video: https://youtu.be/FtiRPLoqYLE
Adoptive Families Association of BC: www.bcadoption.com
B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations: www.bcfosterparents.ca/
Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks: fbcyicn.ca
Contact the Adoption Reunion Registry toll‐free at 1 877 387‐3660 or visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption/reunion/index.htm