Like most adoptive parents, Sanjeeta and Jeremy Dewey had been on an emotional journey trying to have a child. The difference in their situation was that this was their second child. Part of their journey included fertility treatment. When that didn’t work, they thought they had come to terms with the outcome.
What they hadn’t anticipated was how much having a little brother or sister would mean to their biological son, Dante, who is now eight years old.
“It started when he was three years old,” said Sanjeeta. “He’d come home from pre-school and ask, ‘When am I going to have a sister?’” They thought his pleading would eventually stop but it never did.
“He was very upset about it. That’s when we realized, we wanted this as much as he did.”
Both Sanjeeta and her husband come from large families. She’s one of five and her husband, Jeremy, is one of nine siblings. In fact, one of Jeremy’s brothers was adopted. “Before we turned to the ministry, we almost looked out of country,” said Sanjeeta. “I thought of going to Fiji, my birthplace, until I realized how many kids in B.C. were in need of a permanent place to call home.”
It was a public adoption awareness campaign that eventually convinced them to adopt a B.C. child in care. So they called 1 877 ADOPT-07 (1 877 236-7807) to begin the process in November 2014.
They were open to adopting a single child, a sibling group or even an older child. They began the adoption education course in February 2015 and an adoption social worker came to meet them in the summer of 2015 to begin the assessment process.
“Home studies can take about three-and-a-half months or longer,” said Trisha Myers, Ministry of Children and Family Development director of Adoption Services. “It’s a very thorough assessment process that considers multiple factors.”
It was June 2016 when the family got the call from their social worker letting them know their file was being reviewed for a two-and-a-half-year-old. The little girl named Leighton had been with the same foster family her entire time in care. She was of Haitian/Caucasian descent which they considered a really good fit for their family. “I’m originally from Fiji but of Indian descent and Jeremy is of Scottish descent. We were already a multiracial family,” said Sanjeeta.
In order to prepare their son, Dante, they began to test him. They asked him questions like, “How would you feel if your new brother or sister accidently broke your LEGO?” His matter-of-fact response: “My daddy has all the manuals – he can fix it!”
“Given how much his LEGO meant to him, we knew he was really motivated,” said Sanjeeta.
The family began to act as if there was another child at the dinner table in order to prepare Dante for the reality of having a new brother or sister he’d have to share things with.
Leighton’s first visit consisted of a swim in the family pool. Sanjeeta had also created a photo album of their family before Leighton came for the visit. They wanted her to be familiar with their faces and their home.
When Leighton finally came to their home for good, for the first two days in the house she kept referring to Sanjeeta as Dante’s mommy. “It took her a day to drop the word Dante in front of mommy,” said Sanjeeta.
Sanjeeta said they had great support from Jane Welton, their ministry social worker, and she acknowledges the well-worn adage, “It really does take a village to raise a child.” The support network for new adoptive parents and other parents waiting for their children was “greatly appreciated,” added Sanjeeta.
As far as the siblings are concerned, Leighton’s only interested in whatever Dante likes. “They’re fighting over Minecraft and the light sabre. They’re right where they should be,” said Sanjeeta. “The honeymoon is over and they’re acting just like regular siblings.”
- There are currently about 1,000 children and youth in B.C. seeking permanent homes.
- In order to begin the adoption process in B.C., you must have been a resident of B.C. for a minimum of six months, and be 19 years of age or older.
- Any one adult or two adults jointly can apply.
- AdoptBCKids (www.gov.bc.ca/adoptbckids) is a personalized hub that connects prospective Adoptive Families to the tools and resources they’ll need throughout the adoption process.
- AdoptBCKids will guide you in your application and will help answer any questions you may have during the process. To access Adopt BC Kids, you must apply for a BCID card to begin the process.
- The adoption education course offered by BC Adoptive Families Association will provide prospective adoptive parents with a strong foundation of knowledge for caring for their adopted child.
- The required screening process covers four areas and includes a criminal records check in B.C., and if applicable, across Canada and abroad. There is also a check for prior child welfare involvement and these records may be reviewed if applicable. Medical and personal references are also required.
To learn more about adoption visit: www.gov.bc.ca/adoptbckids