Paul and Ben had lived with us for a very long time as foster children, but other than the rare visit from a social worker, we never thought of them this way....they were our sons, they were part of our family....Paul and Ben had both come, obviously in different years, but both when they were three years old. Ben had visited on and off since he was a toddler but was not officially apprehended til three.
Now they were teenagers.....still foster kids....the worker kept saying they were going to do something permanent but never did....
Don and I were getting to the point of wanting to get out of the fostering world. It was becoming increasingly difficult to work with Children's Aid....one worker in particular had a reputation in the agency of being a stickler for rules and regulations....unfortunately, she was assigned to us.....I learned very quickly to be careful what I said to her, to never volunteer information. there was a particular time when she prevented the boys from staying with my parents one weekend, ( who the boys considered their grandparents and vice versa) . The worker asked if we had any upcoming plans and I innocently shared with her that we were going away. When she questioned me as to where the boys were staying, I told her that my parents had offered. She immediately questioned the safety issues, the police checks, whether their home had been 'approved'.....we were forced , by her,to scramble and ask an old friend , who had been our 'approved' relief home ten years previous that we hadn't used in as many years. Fortunately, they were available that weekend and graciously agreed to have the boys. I learned, very quickly after that not to share any information with this worker....when she would question me I would be very reserved and cautious in my replies. When she wanted to come for a visit I'd always make sure that I had an appointment that I had to go to thirty minutes after the scheduled visit time and I would have to leave. I dreaded her visits and did everything I could to minimize them. The decision to leave fostering wasn't because we no longer desired to help other children but because we couldn't deal with the social workers anymore and all the red tape!
When we adopted Emma, we were paired with a marvelous social worker named Janet...all the kids loved her and were always excited when they found out that Janet was coming for a visit! Janet had kept us informed when siblings of any of our kids came into the system. This happened both with Emma and with Paul, Ben and Maya.
Emma had a sister who was about five years younger than her. We found out that this little girl had come into care and was going to be adopted out....we applied for her and waited. We really believed that this little girl belonged in our family, and so did Janet. The file kept being delayed and moved from desk to desk at the agency...it was an extremely frustrating time. When the adoption worker was finally assigned for this little girl, it wasn't Janet and even though we already had two daughters 'of colour', and one of them was this little girls half sister , we were denied the adoption. We were devastated, we appealed the decision, but were still denied. The little girl went to a home near Ottawa....this couple were approved because they were dark skinned...the worker felt it would be better if she grew up in a black family instead of with her half sister. It was a dark time in our family as we grieved this loss. We didn't understand, at this time, why it had happened...years later, we did.
As I mentioned in previous chapters,Paul, Ben and Maya had three younger siblings...a boy named Daniel and two girls named Tamara and Kaitlyn . Daniel grew up and I believe was adopted by his foster family....there's a good chance that his name is no longer Daniel because the foster mom said that she didn't like that name. We have had no contact with them at all so we have no further information. Tamara and Kaitlyn lived with the birth mother for a few years. Those years of neglect and exposure to a promiscuous lifestyle caused a great deal of damage. When the girls were finally apprehended at ages six and four, they ended up being in care for three years before they were adopted. We had inquired about having the girls join our family, but a couple from the Oshawa area applied and were approved for their adoption.
When Paul was close to having his sixteenth birthday, the agency, spearheaded by our adoption worker Janet, put the big push on to get the boys adoptions through before Paul's sixteenth birthday. Ben was thirteen at this time but his comprehension level was about eight. It wasn't going to increase, unfortunately his comprehension level had plateaued. When older children are adopted they have to have meetings with the lawyers to see if this is truly their desire. I didn't have a problem with Paul but since I knew Ben wouldn't understand, I didn't know what he would say! Don and I weren't allowed to go into the meeting room with them, but I did convince them that the boys should be interviewed together. I was hoping that Ben would follow Paul's lead in the conversation. When the boys came out, we were informed that they had done well and had both signed the consent papers.
It was a momentous occasion because even though we had parented the boys for thirteen years ( for Paul and ten for Ben) , I felt this cloak of responsibility fall on me that was almost physical when I heard the news that it was all approved...that the boys were officially ours. In our hearts, it had been that way for years but now it was official, now it was real. When I asked Ben how the meeting was, he said fine.....when I asked if he understood it...he smiled and said no.....but he was good with it. He was happy. Paul never verbalized it but I think he was finally relieved....for all those years he had felt this parental responsibility towards Ben and now someone else had that responsibility. It was good.
We continued on, we had our own family difficulties and excitements to contend with...this was the year of Emma's illness and surgery. Corey was living in different illegal situations and periodically had contact with us, to rescue him at times. Lauren was having rough time with her birth family.....our eldest son had married......our eldest daughter had just had our second grandbaby, .......we found out that Corey and his girlfriend were expecting a baby....and on and on it goes.....
But,...we found out that we weren't finished....