What’s It Like To Be A Waiting Adoptive Parent In A Province That Doesn’t Allow Online Profiles

This guest post is by “P and R,” waiting adoptive parents in Alberta.

With the news about the regulations regarding online adoption profiles changing in Alberta, I thought I’d give you a perspective on what a typical wait is like for prospective parents in that province.

I’m writing this for couples, singles, and parents-to-be in general—those who are beginning their adoption journey, those who are en route, and hopefully those who will soon become a family.

Alberta’s adoption laws are outdated. In Alberta and a few other provinces, hopeful parent cannot advertise their desire to adopt a baby online or anywhere.

You must go through an accredited agency, often with long waiting lists.

From what I understand this had lead to some birthparents choosing families from other provinces, because the profiles are readily viewable online.

When we first attended our adoption seminar, we were filled with wonderful stories about all those who had adopted, and how happy and amazing it is, was, and can be.

We were warned that sometimes things can go awry through revocations or legal struggles.

Our agency was wonderful in explaining most everything in those two days.

To be honest, I don’t think we were fully prepared for how emotional those days would be.

Often couples would cry as they explained their journeys with infertility and the emotional, physical, and financial toll it had taken on their lives.

But we weren’t one of those couples. We didn’t cry. We weren’t angry. We didn’t feel life was unfair to us.

I wonder if we didn’t react the same way because my husband had a child from a previous relationship and I had always dreamt of adopting.

Every type of couple was at that seminar. Some mixed families like us, some couples just starting their journey, and some who had already travelled the long road of infertility to get to adoption.

What a weird feeling it was to look around the room and rank the other couples, as in who would most likely be chosen first or who would likely have to wait the longest.

At that time, our agency had told us that the average wait was 2 – 2.5 years. So, for the first year, I tried not to think about it. I told myself that there was many couples who had waited longer and they deserved to be first.

In our first year of waiting, our agency did not show our file to expectant parents who were looking at adoption, which we were told was normal. By the second year, I had hoped for phone call. At almost 2 years in, we had still not been shown.

Finally, we got a call about a prospective birth mother. However, our agency warned us that usually couples are not chosen the first time out.

So we didn’t get too excited and when the woman chose another couple we expected it.

Early on, I set a proverbial time frame for our wait time—2.5 years. But 2.5 years came and went.

When I reached out to our agency, they responded by saying that now the wait was more like 3 – 4 years.

We continued our wait. Every year we changed our adoption profile letter, although recently I have become so critical of things we should have changed: Why I wasn’t smiling in a photo? Maybe we shouldn’t have included that sentence about all the places we travelled because it sounds like we are gloating?  Will birthparents think we’re bragging?

We wanted an open adoption, but what if the birth parents didn’t want that? How do we make our letter appear realistic but still optimistic?

Over time we grew somewhat resentful. But not at anyone. Just at the way the Alberta adoption system works really.

Every year our agency charged us for an update, only to keep our letter filed away until the next yearly update, which we equated to the price for having to wait.

Some of the couples we met in our adoption seminars or through social media have adopted or gone on to have biological children.

Many of my friends and relatives have had children or are in the process in having them. Each baby announcement is harder to take. You wonder why do you have to work so hard for something that comes so naturally to everyone else.

Last week, while cleaning our spare room I found a book called, “So you’re going to be a father.” I didn’t know my husband had bought it. He must have tucked it away. Seeing it, I felt like a failure.

Now we’ve been over three years on the waiting list. Our emotions have gone from excitement to confusion to anger.

And yet we’ve somehow remained hopeful.  I wonder if the families who have been waiting longer or even less than us feel the same way?

This wait has been difficult, and continues to be difficult. But every parent tells me it’s worth it.

We will keep on keeping on, as the saying goes. We will hang on to hope, and remain hopeful because in our heart we know this is our journey.

If that is what it takes, we will continue to wait. But until then we will continue to advocate for adoptive parents, birth parents and foster parents alike.

Happy waiting!

“P and R” are waiting adoptive parents in Alberta.

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