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Commons recommendations could ease adoptions in Canada

Courtesy: Toronto Star
Tonda MacCharles, Ottawa Bureau
January 17th, 2012

A Commons committee’s work on adoption has been taken up anew by a reconstituted committee. Just weeks away from tabling its report, the committee is considering recommendations to:

• Provide tax support for post-adoption training and counselling for adoptive parents and children — some of whom grapple with difficult effects of parental neglect or substance abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, or abandonment.

• Provide a 15-week federal leave benefit to adoptive parents struggling to form healthy emotional attachments to their newly adopted children. All new parents, adoptive and biological, are eligible for 35 weeks of parental leave. Many witnesses argued the emotional transitions for adoptive families deserve the same support as the physical post-partum transition for birth mothers, which is recognized by a 15-week maternity leave — a benefit adoptive parents are ineligible for. Only Quebec extends additional leave to adoptive parents.

• Ease immigration hurdles to allow Canada’s adopted children to pass on Canadian citizenship to their future children who are born abroad. The law now disallows that. It means the grandchildren of adoptive parents today could find themselves stateless.

• Help establish a memorandum of understanding between provinces to ease inter-provincial adoption. The committee heard it is easier to adopt internationally than it is to adopt inter-provincially in Canada.

• Collect national data on adopted children and children in foster care, guardianship, or kinship care. There is no national data collection in Canada unlike the U.S., which gathers valuable statistics to inform policy-making. The Adoption Council of Canada, an advocacy group, estimates there are between 70,000 and 100,000 children in care. It says statistics suggest between 30,000 and 40,000 are legally available for adoption. Statistics from the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies suggest about 9,400 children and youths up to age 18 are legally available for adoption in this province. They languish longer in care than in the U.S. and nobody knows why.

• Fund a national awareness campaign to promote adoption as a way to build families, to highlight the benefits for children, and the number of children in need of permanent families.

• Fund a Canada’s Waiting Children program that would be the sole national photo-listing service that connects waiting kids to waiting parents.


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