After encountering challenges on their path to parenthood, the Jolicoeur family wholeheartedly embraced adoption, navigating complexities with both the Ministry of Children and Family Development and an adoption agency. From the initial decision-making to opting for adoption over surrogacy, their path unfolded with resilience. Amidst a rollercoaster of emotions, delays, and uncertainties, the Jolicoeur discovered profound joy in welcoming their daughter.

How and when did you decide to adopt, and when did you make that choice?

We always knew we wanted to adopt, even while dating. It was a mutual decision for us to build a family through adoption, and that choice was clear from the beginning. We opted for adoption over surrogacy, and after being together for three years, meeting in 2017, and getting married in 2019, we began the adoption process around six months into our marriage. Our daughter joined our family in 2021.

How was your experience with the adoption process overall?

Our adoption was like a textbook case- everything went perfectly, which is rare. We completed all the required steps, like education programs and record checks, in just six months. Once we went live, it took less than two months to receive the phone call.

Did you face any challenging points during the adoption process or experience?

Navigating the adoption process was an emotional roller coaster for us, especially dealing with both the ministry and the adoption agency, Sunrise. The ministry had its share of ups and downs, with potential matches raising hopes only to fall through. It was a heart-wrenching experience. On the other hand, private adoption had its own challenges, notably the 30-day revocation period. Waiting during that time was the toughest part, as we were in limbo emotionally, feeling protective over the child we had seen as ours. The uncertainty made it a particularly difficult period in the adoption journey.

Are you in an open adoption?

To an extent. Unfortunately, her birth father passed away three months ago. Despite the circumstances, [her birth parents] had met their daughter three times, including visits to the hospital during his passing. The birth family remains open for communication, with an understanding that they can provide information when needed. However, the level of involvement is minimal, with communication occurring around twice a year to check in on each other.

How did you emotionally and practically prepare for becoming parents through adoption? Did you seek therapy or attend any courses to help with the preparation process?

We completed the six-month program through private agencies, and the experience felt similar to attending school for an online education program. Surprisingly, it proved comprehensive in preparing us for various aspects of adoption. However, despite the training, the actual experience was something we couldn’t fully anticipate until it happened. When the moment arrived at the hospital room and we were left to dress and care for our newly adopted child, the reality set in, and we realized no amount of training fully equipped us for that moment. It was overwhelming yet exciting, underscoring the idea that the true understanding of adoption only comes when you go through it yourself.

What’s something about adoption that you wish people knew?

For those still contemplating or in the process of adoption, especially with the ministry (MCFD), I would say it was an “emotional roller coaster. It’s absolutely horrible”.

Disorganization and lack of sensitivity, illustrated through delays and miscommunications, can be frustrating and emotionally draining.  It’s crucial to understand that adoption is not a smooth, quick process, and the children involved are caught in the middle of these administrative issues. One key takeaway is the need for more awareness about the challenges and potential improvements in the system’s efficiency and sensitivity. Additionally, while the adoption education courses were beneficial, it’s important for prospective parents to be prepared for the time-consuming and emotionally consuming nature of the entire adoption journey, despite its ultimate worth and blessing.

How did you hear about the Belonging Network, and did it make any difference to your family?

We learned about the Belonging Network through the education program, and even before that, during  a period when I wasn’t working, I started looking into adoption options. A search for adoption agencies near me led me to the Belonging Network, even though it wasn’t exactly what I was initially looking for. It became a valuable source of information for us. We’ve connected with other adoptive families through the Belonging Network, and this has been incredibly beneficial. While we have supportive people in our lives,  “until you’ve been through adoption, you don’t know the whole scope or the toll that it takes on you”. Talking to people who can relate to our experiences has provided us with a supportive community, and we’ve made great friends who have gone through similar journeys.