A.R.E (Adoption Resource Exchange)

Today was Remembrance Day but I didn’t spend it at the cenotaph with my Army brother and grandfather even though it may be his last.   I went with a fellow foster mom to the A.R.E in Toronto.   The A.R.E stands for Adoption Resource Exchange.   What on earth is that? Well, this morning we didn’t really know either.   We had heard a bit about it from Amanda: an amazing worker in Niagara who works with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.  It sort of sounded like parading children around to help adoptive families choose a child.   We felt quite uneasy about going but we were determined to learn more about this because so many people ask us about fostering and adoption we felt it was important to gain a good understanding of what it is.

What I suspected was that it was like the Orphan Trains in the past where agencies would put children who needed a home on a train and bring them out to potential waiting families around the U.S.   Each train stop the children were taken out, picked out a few at a time for various reasons and the rest who were not chosen were put back on the train.   Siblings were even torn from the arms of their older siblings and placed in families who didn’t want the older sibling; just the baby.   I’ve read stories and they are heartbreaking.    This is sort of what I imagined.   I was quite wrong.

The A.R.E does have the waiting children but only in photos.   I knew when I walked in and saw all the sweet faces that I was in trouble.   All these children need a family.   We spoke to almost all of the agencies there and all the workers were of the same mindset….we need a family for these children.   NOT the other way around.   They were not interested in trying to convince anyone why they should adopt any specific child.   They are looking for families who have room in their hearts for love.

In a little room off the side, they played the video profiles of all of the children; scripted by a social worker to highlight the children and display their best side.   The videos were sweet, funny, adorable and heart wrenching.   And I mean rip your heart out and throw it out the window.  How could these children not have a forever family?  My friend and I both teared up and I have cried since over some of the amazingly sweet kids who have no one to call Mom, no one to go home to for Christmas and no home to call their own.  Some of these children are 17 years old.   They were asking for a family who they could have to love and support them as they move into adult hood and someone who would always welcome them home for Thanksgiving.  Imagine the prospect of being 17 and knowing that very soon you will be all alone in the world and have nowhere to go for Christmas. After watching several videos we got the gist and I had fallen in love.

When we went to speak with the social workers we assumed they had probably had many requests for some of the amazing children and teens but their answers were so sad.   Most of the people in the room were there looking for a child under 5.  No one had inquired about the child that stole my heart.  That meant that most of the kids in the room who were over 5 and up to age 17 looking for their forever family weren’t going to find that this time around.   My heart breaks just thinking of them all.   Over 30,000 children and teens waiting for a family in Canada.  Now that’s way too many for our family to adopt so that means other people need to start stepping up!

We have adopted two and are currently updating our home study to be able to adopt a few more.   Our family is pretty unique, open, fun and welcoming.   It became that way because we believe we are called to love others.    We could have very well stayed with the “normal” path of having the traditional girl and boy and that’s enough.   We decided before we were married that we didn’t want that.   We wanted our children to grow up with a whole bunch of people who love them; who work together to help others.  So when I came home with a profile and we discussed it over the dinner table they looked at each other and laughed because they knew this would happen!

Some people worry that their children wouldn’t be able to share with a new sibling or siblings.   How do you think they learn???   Our children are so great at sharing because we have taught them how their entire lives.   We are so proud of who all of our children have become as people and adoption and fostering have taught them that.   They have all brought home or led us to strangers with needs at times because they know our family will help.   They all have a love for the lonely and I believe they each would have chosen someone to bring home if they had come with me.

I know that there’s nothing I can say to help these kids find families but if anyone out there has been feeling like they can extend their family and want to give a child a family, maybe this post will help them make the call to their local agency and start asking questions.   There are so many great online resources too like Adopt Ontario and the Adoption Council of Canada and your local Children’s Aid.  Consider asking questions and talking to your family.   Kids are waiting for you!

Amanda from Wendy’s Wonderful Kids helps children find forever families.



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