November has been proclaimed 'Adoption Awareness Month' in Saskatchewan.
The purpose is to acknowledge and celebrate Saskatchewan’s adoptive families as well as making people aware of the Adoption Centre of Saskatchewan, a non-profit community organisation which started almost thirty years ago. The organisation started as parents met together to discuss experiences of parents adopted children. It grew from there.
"I believe it started to make it known, that there are these children that needed families. Now it's about awareness, it teaches you about resources and to make people aware that there are children waiting. Adoption is a part of becoming a family. For some families that is how they become a family," explained Weyburn's Annette Lohse, Board of Directors, Adoption Support Centre Saskatchewan.
"We adopted 20 years ago and they were our support group then. I used a lot of resources from them."
Lohse talks about the resources needed to help families who are hoping to adopt or have adopted being particularly important and helpful when adopting someone from a different culture or someone who has learning difficulties or other needs.
Lohse said that there may be questions such as "Why do I not look like mom or dad?" and that it is great to be able to connect to others that have been through similar issues.
"We just think of adoption as truly a blessing. We were blessed to have a biological child and blessed to be able to adopt. We have got family now in Florida where Mikayla is from. She is in contact with them. She visits them and it just broadened our family. We just became a bigger family. They've accepted us and we've accepted them."
For the Lohse family, they were very open about the adoption of Mikayla.
This has not been the same for every family throughout the history of adoption in Canada and around the world.
Adoption has changed over the years.
"Today adoption is very different than in the past, years ago adoption was a very secretive process," explains Leah Dean, Resource Director, ASCS.
"There was no connection most of the time between birth parents and the adoptive family and the child that was adopted. Today it is vastly different. Today if an Infant Adoption Plan is being made, almost always, probably 90% of the time, what we call an openness arrangement will be a part of that."
"There will be a plan laid out at the beginning, in a foundation, for the adoptive parents to communicate with the birth parents on some level, and to have a relationship-possibility with the child and the birth parents."
Dean adds that the communication plan often consists of letters and photos being shared between them and visitations throughout the year. It is not legally binding but is now considered to be in the best interests of the adopted children, adopting parents and birth parents.
"Even language around adoption has changed," explains Sylvia Cholodniuk, Executive Director, ASCS
"There was a lot of secrecy and stuff before but things like saying 'Our family is formed through adoption' is very different to people not talking about it before,"
Most families think about adopting babies but they are not the only ones in need of adoption.
"Older children also need to have permanent homes, often times, I don't think people realise that and they think only newborn or younger children. People need to explore that possibility in-depth," says Dean.
"There are so many great aspects to adopting an older child, even a teenager."
In celebration of Adoption Awareness Month, the Adoption Support Centre hosted an Adoption Human Library event in Saskatoon last weekend as well as writing an editorial in a Children Wish Foundation magazine.
The Human Library involves people bringing their perspectives and experiences on adoption. The event gives people the opportunity to find out more by having a fifteen-minute conversation, one-on-one compared to researching online.
"One of the things we always have found is that people instantly go to the internet to learn things around adoption from whatever perspective they are coming from but not always are they getting very in-depth information about real-life experiences," added Dean.
The Ministry of Social Services for the Government of Saskatchewan stated there were 156 adoptions that occurred in Saskatchewan in the 2016-17 government fiscal year. Since 1922, there have been almost 37,000 adoptions in Saskatchewan.
More information about adoption can be found here.