I posted this on the blog's FB page, but thought I'd make an entry, since they don't always have the same audience (which seems odd to me, but that's another matter...).
My friend Jen, author of A Nickel's Worth of Common Sense, and her family were featured in a news segment about adoption from foster care. Watch the video. I completely relate to Jen, when she talks about the ignorant comments that they receive. I also love Tanner's remark about not knowing what a "fake" sibling looks like.
The Nickel family is one of many adoptive families in Williams Lake and across North America honouring Adoption Awareness Month this November.
Over the past ten years, several thousand children in Canada have found permanency through adoption into new families. Citizenship and Immigration Canada reports that in 2010 there were 1,968 international adoptions and in BC, the latest statistics available from 2007 point to almost 300 children that were adopted from the foster care system.
Due to their family's large size and multi-racial make-up, the Nickel's often find themselves educating the community on adoption and foster care year-round. "We are visible where ever we go! laughs Jennifer Nickel, the busy mother 7 children ranging in age from 8 months to 19 years. "A real life billboard for growing your family through adoption."
A former foster family, and now a complete adoptive family, the Nickels take seriously the responsibility to offer accurate information for those interested in adopting or fostering. With a dose of reality, Jennifer notes, "It is a tragic truth that not all children can be raised in their family of origin and as such it is very important for adoptive and foster parents to be prepared and educated on how they can best meet the needs of their children."
Support for all members of adoptive families, including biological parents, is available through organizations like the Adoptive Families Association of BC (www.bcadoption.com), as well as in-person or online support groups. Specialized groups, like the Harambee Society, (www.harambee.ca) provide specific support for multi-racial families. The Nickels are committed to all their children having a real understanding of their cultural heritages, and it is apparent in their connection to local the First Nations communities. When questioned as to why those relationships are so important to her, Jennifer states, "We aren't just the white parents of multi-racial kids, we all are part of a First Nation and African-Canadian family and we integrate that reality into our everyday lives".
The visibility for multi-racial families has its drawbacks and Jennifer took the time to offer some advice for those people who might be curious about multi-racial families in the community. "The most important foundation for any child growing up is a sense of belonging and connection. When people question that connection by asking the child about their past, or questioning the legitimacy of their connection to the people they love -- it violates that child's right to security and privacy."
Tanner, the Nickel's 16 year old biological son states that he is often asked if his older brothers or little sisters are his 'real siblings.' "What does a fake brother or a fake sister look like exactly?" jokes Tanner. "Of course all my brothers and sisters are my real brothers and sisters," he continues. "We are a real family and our love each other is real. That ... that is what makes us brothers and sisters."
Those interested in growing their families through adoption can contact the Adoptive Families Association of BC 1-877-ADOPT-07 and those families interested in fostering can contact the BC Foster Parents Association at 1-800-663-9999.