The next three months were full of pain and anxiety as we fought to have our children returned to us. We went to lawyers, but apparently we had no legal right to fight for custody of our children, as we didn’t have finalization on our adoption.
We spoke to child protection, who also told us they wanted the children returned to us… at least until the ministry switched out our child protection workers. Many of the specialists – the ones who were most involved with our family – told us they thought the children should be with us.
But the ministry would not listen. They took a long time even to have the police speak to me, and when I went to the police, they told me it was not a legal issue or a child protection issue from their end, but the ministry had their own rules.
We went to behaviour management groups, workshops on behaviour and workshops on fetal alcohol (which all of our children had), and as before, put all of our effort into bringing our children home.
The challenge as I see it was mainly this… we saw the children as ours since the beginning. I am not sure if this is an autistic thing, but for me, there was no middle ground for me. My daycare children were not mine. My adoptive children were. I knew there was an adjustment period after placement before finalization was given, and for us, as we were adopting three at once, that adjustment period was made longer.
At the end of the first year with our children, our son had the adoption finalization interview. It went well, and the paperwork was completed. We were told it would be handed before the judge, which would get a quick stamp or signature, and within three months, our adoption would be finalized.
If we had that, we could have fought for our children as birth parents can fight for their children – but somewhere along the way, the ministry “lost” that paperwork, and it never got before the judge. By the time they acknowledged their error, all of the plan of care paperwork, and the interview, were invalid as too much time had past.
I think that paperwork was lost on purpose, and the reason for that was on the day of that finalization interview with our son, our social worker told us their was another child born to our children’s mother. As we had three of the siblings, we were first to be asked if we wanted to adopt him. I wanted to, as I felt it was important to keep the siblings together. My husband didn’t as he felt we had enough to handle as it was. It is my opinion that the social workers wanted to work through this before putting the adoption through – a valid point, but they were dishonest about how they went about it, and it was many months before we found out this was going to take a lot longer than they had told us.
So as I said, I believed the children were mine. Not as in my property, I can do whatever I want with them – not that kind of ‘mine’ – but as in they are my children, my family, belonging in my home… no different than my birth son. Legal paperwork means nothing when it comes to who belongs together… not really.
They were “my children.” I still think of them that way, though it has been six years since they lived with us… six years since the last time I spent time with two of them.
But for the ministry, without the paperwork, we were nothing. Not really. We were foster parents – no more than babysitters, really – and in that position, they could pull the children out for any reason, or none at all.
We had nothing to fight with, and it broke my heart, but I fought anyway. It wasn’t right what they did – moving them, and telling them there was no chance at all that they would be coming back. For three months we fought.
And then the ministry decided to do a miraculous thing… they decided to let our children come home.