by Patricia Pearson | photos by Krystle Schofield –
Our newborn son has been turning heads in the neighbourhood; in part because he’s so darn cute, but also because I was never pregnant. Addysen is adopted. While those close to us know we’ve been on this journey for many years, it is a wonderful surprise to many.
Although I may have skipped the pregnancy and birth, the uncertainty and complexity of adoption have weighed heavily on our family. Our adoption journey started in 2015. After several years of “unexplained infertility” and fertility treatments, we decided to adopt. We contacted Choices, the only private adoption agency on the Island, and signed up for an information session. It wasn’t a new idea for us, I’d always wanted to adopt, but we didn’t expect it to be a result of infertility. As soon as we’d received the registration application package, we found out we were expecting. In October 2016 we welcomed Emma to the world.
When Emma was a year old we resumed our adoption journey. We went in with an open mind and open heart, and tried not to have any expectations. Friends who have also been on this journey advised us to be patient, but persistent.
The first step was the homestudy. We were assigned a social worker who spent hours with us, asking everything from what our early dating life was like and our personality traits to our medical history, parenting style and more. This was all documented in an 80-page profile.
Once approved, we chose to apply to both the domestic and South Africa programs. The domestic program is for birth parents in B.C. choosing to make an adoption plan for their child. The birth parents choose the adoptive parents, so there is no timeline. The children from South Africa are usually toddlers, and you essentially wait your turn, around two to three years.
We also applied to adopt a child in foster care through the Ministry of Child and Family Services. After completing the paperwork and training we learned our homestudy needed reformatting. We’d either need to pay to have it rewritten, or wait for a ministry social worker to become available. We’re still waiting.
Less than a year after registering with Choices, we were notified by email that they had closed due to financial circumstances. We fought hard for answers, to understand why MCFD, which licenses and regulates adoption agencies, didn’t prevent this from happening, nor put in place any safeguards or recourse for the families impacted. There was nothing.
Several agencies in B.C. had closed in the years prior. Some families were experiencing this for the second time, and some had also endured failed fertility processes. We were devastated that a process meant to bring families together was leaving many in great debt and emotional pain. It felt wrong, and we weren’t sure we wanted to continue.
Finally, in January of 2021, we applied to the Adoption Centre of B.C. We paid a slightly reduced fee, updated our homestudy and completed the paperwork again. In November we were told we had a preliminary match in South Africa, and to prepare to travel in spring. A week later we were advised things had changed and we were no longer matched.
Then, on February 11, 2022 we received a call: we had been chosen by a couple in B.C. to raise their son, Addysen. It was a Friday afternoon, and Emma had just arrived home from kindergarten.
We met Addysen’s birth parents virtually the following day. We listened carefully to their story. It simultaneously broke our hearts and filled us with great honour and joy to know they had put their trust in us to raise their precious son. They were making the ultimate sacrifice for this boy, and they were making our family whole.
Less than 24 hours later, we boarded the ferry to Tsawwassen as a family of three. We met Addysen and his birth parents, along with a social worker, in a park. We asked everything we could about Addysen and his birth family. They shared their hopes and dreams for him and we promised to fulfill them. As Addysen’s birth Dad placed him in our truck, my husband asked if one day they could sit down and share a beer together. He said he’d like that. We hadn’t expected to feel such a connection to his birth parents. It was falling into place, as it was meant to be, and we returned home as a family of four.
People always told us that the day our child was placed into our arms, all of the challenges, the disappointments, the heartbreak would no longer matter. I can say with certainty that that is the case. Although I wish the process was different, I would not change the outcome for anything.