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Amy Beeman reads with her 18-month old twin son and daughter, Sam(left) and Lucy(right), at their home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail/Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail)
Amy Beeman reads with her 18-month old twin son and daughter, Sam(left) and Lucy(right), at their home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail/Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail)

The painful new realities of international adoption Add to ...

Ethiopia is following a similar trend. In 2010, Canadians adopted 113 Ethiopian children, down from a high of 187 in 2008. Before its troubles, CAFAC had closed its waiting list for Ethiopian adoptions.

Calgary father Evan Dewald and his wife have adopted two Ethiopian children with the help of CAFAC, most recently a 2½-year-old boy in January (“He’s such a fun little guy. He’s trying to find his sense of serenity with us.”) He has been helping circulate a petition urging Manitoba to help CAFAC, hoping that he wasn’t to be among the last to adopt from the African nation.

“There’s so much emotion tied up in wanting to be parents,” he says. “And there are thousands of kids that need homes. I saw them there.”

Domestic adoption opening up

Yet, as international adoption gets tougher, domestic public adoptions are poised to gain traction – especially of older children in foster care, who were once overlooked for the promise of a foreign baby.

Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services says the province increased adoptions by 21 per cent since 2008, and the province is enacting plans to reduce the number of hurdles to adoption of children in its care.

Those who have thrown their hat in the international ring are trying not to lose hope. At the same time, Ms. Murphy, who herself has adopted from China, says she’s trying to alter her clients’ expectations.

“Many people, myself included, do IVF before they come to adoption. So by the time you get to adoption you have many families who are very frustrated” she says. “To hear that, ‘Wait a minute, your dream’s still not going to really happen as you’d planned it,’ that’s a hard message to hear.”

Those hoping to quickly adopt an infant, generally a girl, are unlikely to succeed.

“That just doesn’t exist any more,” she says. “If you’re open to parenting a child around the age of 3, with a minor correctable medical need, you can be home with a child in a year. It really comes down to what are you comfortable with, how much are you willing to adjust that dream?”

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