News Local

B.C. pushes for teen adoption

By Stefania Seccia

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth.
File photo

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth. File photo

New adoption numbers released Wednesday show “modest” improvement in B.C.’s provincial adoption process, according to a report from the representative for children and youth.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s latest report found the number of approves adoptive homes increased from about 31 homes per month in 2013/14 to 39 homes per month now. The number of available aboriginal adoptive homes increased as well, from 34 at the end of March 2014 to 56.

Last April, the province set a goal to place 600 children and youth in adoptive homes over a two-year period ending March 31, 2015. So far, 451 children have found “forever families”.

Between April and Nov. 2015, there were 974 children still waiting to get adopted, according to the report, and in the same time period there were 313 newly approved adoptive homes.

The province and B.C.’s youth watchdog are appealing to British Columbians to consider supporting children and teens in care — and not just through adoption.

Depending on each youth’s situation and preference, other forms of guardianship are available. For example, some older teens in are aren’t necessarily looking for new parents, but an adult they can trust to help guide, mentor and assist them through a guardianship arrangement, and in some aboriginal communities a legal transfer of custody can provide a means of giving a youth a home while maintain cultural connections.

Minister Stephanie Cadieux, of children and family development, said the focus this year is finding permanent homes for older children and teens.

“Adoption may not be right for every caregiver, just as it may not be right for every child or youth,” she said in a statement. “But there are other alternatives available that can build on and draw from a child or youth’s existing social, family or cultural connections.”

Turpel-Lafond called the findings a “modest gain” in approving adoptive homes for youth.

“I am hopeful the ministry will meet its two-year target of 600 adoptions, although the need extends well beyond that goal, with 100s more children waiting for their forever families,” she said. “A forever family is vital to everyone’s development and well-being.”