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All about FASD: A guide for adoptive and permanency families

The back of a little boy sitting on the floor with some toys.

Download this free digital guide for adoptive and permanency families that covers topics such as FASD 101, seeking an FASD diagnosis, advocating for your child, true stories from adoptees living with FASD, and more!  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a diagnostic term used to describe impacts on the brain and body of individuals prenatally exposed […]

How adoptees celebrate Mother’s Day

Little girl and woman at the beach

Mother’s and Father’s Day can be difficult celebrations for adoptive families to navigate. In this article Kira, a 21-year-old who was born in China and adopted by a Canadian family, shares how her family celebrates, and how they acknowledge the importance of her birth family. Origins Happy Mother’s Day to all the future, present, and […]

School and adoption: Navigating the education system

A group of school kids with backpacks, smiling.

This free digital guide includes information about Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings, trauma in classrooms, how to talk to teachers about adoption, and more! Learn how you can help your children cope at school, and what advice to give to teachers.

Parenting a child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

A woman holding a young boy while sitting on he floor. Their faces are not visible.

This video offers information and practical strategies for parents of prenatally exposed children. Parenting a child with FASD: It’s a diagnosis, not a label This video covers topics such as identifying behaviors related to FASD, parenting strategies, diagnosis process and community resources for families. It includes interviews with a young woman living with FASD and […]

Ask the expert: Trauma-informed care

The back of a little girl wearing a white shirt with black dots. There are a lot of pink flowers in the background.

Rebekah Craig, former Education Manager at the Belonging Network, sat down with Registered Clinical Counsellor Carrie DeJong to discuss trauma-informed care. You can also view the full video of the interview here. Why it is important to consider someone’s past that may have had exposure to trauma? Trauma produces a lot of emotional, behavioural, or […]

Meet the Keno family

Heather Keno and her two sons.

Heather always knew she would adopt. She grew up in a busy household with seven other siblings, five of them adopted. At 26 she took the plunge to adopt as a single and has never looked back. Now, with two adopted sons with down syndrome, Heather lives a full life. Here, we get a glimpse […]

Racism and your child

A sad boy holding a book. He is in a classroom.

When kids experience racism, what can their parents do? Here are some resources and tips from an experienced adoptive parent. Editor’s note: Some of these tips are aimed specifically at white parents. The Belonging Network recognizes that adoptive families are incredibly diverse, and that transracial adoptive families include parents from all backgrounds, heritages, and experiences, […]

My life with FASD

A little blonde girl covering half of her face with a maple leaf.

People with FASD struggle with lifelong behaviour and learning problems. In this article, one young adoptee shares her story of life with FASD. All names have been changed. What assumptions do you make when you see someone in a wheelchair? Or with a hearing aid or really thick glasses? What if they have a red […]

10 lessons being adopted taught me

A young woman with long blonde hair walks into an autumn woods, wearing a jacket.

In this article, originally shared on the Lost Daughters website, Lynn Grubb shares some of the key lessons and outlooks on life she discovered as an adopted person. 1. I learned about being a minority Although my skin colour is that of the majority, I learned early in life that I was part of a minority group. […]

A waiting parent’s plea

Happy black family laughing and holding each other close.

Preparing to welcome a new child is one of the most intense, emotional, and demanding times in any waiting parent’s adoption journey. It’s also when friends and family are likely to have the most questions! Keeping everyone in the loop can be overwhelming. One way to handle it is to write a letter. Here’s a […]

4 steps to effective advocacy

A Black couple sitting in front of a Caucasian woman in a classroom.

Advocating for your child’s needs at school is a key part of an adoptive parent’s “job description.” In this article, teacher and parent Alison Wagler shares her tips on how to work with the school as an ally, not an adversary. One memorable Halloween at the school where I teach, a parent kindly offered to […]

Adoptees and suicide risk

A teenage girl with pink hair and a sad expression is sitting on gray stone stairs.

Adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees. There’s no easy way to talk about this topic, but talk about it we must. As the adoptive mom of four young adults — two sons adopted as babies and twin daughters adopted at 6 years old — I know what joy adoption can […]

Mindfulness for youth: A modern take on meditation

A male teenage boy meditating near a pond surrounded by greenery

Why mindfulness? Mindfulness has become a buzzword that’s as likely to be heard in the business world as in a yoga studio, but what is it? Simply put, mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on being present in the moment without judgement, regardless of what is happening. Mindfulness meditation comes from Buddhist teachings […]

Somatic therapy: A new approach to adoption trauma

A pebble tower on a rocky beach.

For more than 25 years, Catherine has worked in and with the adoption community as a therapist, an adoptee, and an adoptive mom, always searching for a truly effective approach to adoption therapy. In this article, she explains an approach that she’s found to be highly effective for issues related to adoption trauma. The lasting […]

ADHD and FASD: making sense of the connections

A woman's hand holding a white piece of a puzzle and a man's hand holding another piece, against a yellow background.

It’s very common for adopted children to be diagnosed with both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). In this article, adoptive father and FASD advocate Robert More explains how his family learned how to manage these conditions effectively. Never a dull moment As the father of three adopted children diagnosed […]

FASD: It’s not just the brain

A hand grasping a miniature plastic brain model.

Research reveals that prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the entire body, not just the brain. A whole-body disorder For the past several decades, the widely held assumption in the field of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) research has been that a fetus’s brain is by far more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol exposure than […]

Adoption-friendly family trees

An image featuring a green plant on the left and the word 'family' on the right.

At some point, almost every child will have to tackle a family tree school project. Classic family tree assignments assume every kid comes from an intact biological family with one mom and one dad, which can leave adopted kids feeling confused, left out, and sad. These alternative family trees welcome kids from all families to […]

Shame and the adopted child

A blond kid, wearing a yellow T-shirt and jeans, is playing on the sand with a yellow and red truck.

Catherine is the co-founder of the non-profit organization We Are Adopted/Adoptees Association. In this article she draws on her personal experience as an adoptee and an adoptive mother as well as her professional experience as a registered clinical counsellor to explain why shame and adoption are so intertwined. Shadowed by shame Shame is something that […]

Filling in the blanks

A hand holding a pen and white paper featuring hand-written text.

Storytelling can help your child receive a more accurate assessment. Introducing Cat In 2006, Cat went to Liberia, West Africa, to adopt a little girl and planned to spend six months working on opening a health clinic. This experience was life changing, though she witnessed only a small portion of the trauma suffered by the […]

Depression in adopted teens: What families need to know

A sad hispanic teenage boy with his hands on his head.

Only 20% of depressed teens ever receive help, yet over 80% of people who are treated feel better as a result. Parenting teenagers can often trigger your own memories of growing up and the roller coaster ride of emotions, drama, unpredictability, and the need to fit in. You may be realizing that being a teenager […]

Trauma matters

A girl of African descent is seated on a windowsill. She's holding her legs.

Advice from a counsellor on how to recognize and help wounded children and youth. Trauma: adoption’s shadow Many children and youth who are adopted have been exposed to highly stressful situations and traumatic events; however, the resulting special needs these children can experience aren’t always recognized or supported. It’s vital for caregivers and professionals to […]

School issues and adoption

School can be a challenging environment for children who have joined their family by adoption. This video is a must for adoptive parents of school-aged children and the education professionals in their lives. Watch this video and learn how to be an ally for adopted children and their families in the classroom and school environment. […]

Health issues in international adoption

Young boy sitting on a couch and holding a globe.

Are you considering adopting internationally? Are you interested in learning about specific health issues facing children coming home to Canada? If so, this video is for you. This video will review common health concerns including infectious conditions such as tuberculosis and intestinal parasites, immunizations—both home and abroad—and review laboratory testing to consider with your family practitioner […]

Infertility to adoption

A couple is sitting on a bench.

This video is directed at those facing infertility who are looking to explore family building options locally and abroad. Designed for those in the pre-, current, and post-infertility stages, this video highlights current facts and family building options.  Learn about infertility options both locally and abroad, connect with resources for overcoming grief and loss as well […]

Our journey

It’s been hard to see my things destroyed, my personal space obliterated and my patience shattered. It’s been an adjustment to keep up with multiple appointments, lack of information and countless phone calls. It’s been a struggle to not ask too much, push too hard or back off too far. We’ve been through nightmares, perfect […]

FASD: Becoming the sensory detective at home

A young boy is drawing figures with his finger on a foggy window.

This video highlights the importance of sensory sensitivities in children and youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). In forty years of research on FASD, a lot has been learned about the direct effect on a baby’s developing brain of alcohol in utero. There is a growing body of knowledge about the types of interventions and supports required […]

Meet the Singer family

A young autistic boy shooting bubbles from a bubble gun, with his parents watching and smiling beside him.

The Singer family household–-home to Leo Andriy, eight, and Jack Bogdan, six-–is full of life. And that’s an understatement. Parents Aaron and Melissa frequently have to raise their voices to be heard over the chaos of the boys’ shouts and laughter. Born in Ukraine, Jack and Leo’s raucous exuberance and impulsive energy has defined the […]

Love me, feed me: part two

Various fruits and vegetables surrounding a child's hands forming a heart shape.

Most folks who work with kids and food begin with a question: “What to feed?” There are countless articles and books about how to disguise veggies or sneak in more protein. But without steps one and two in place (the “how” of feeding, or the “feeding relationship”–see “Love Me, Feed Me” part one), step three is […]

Ask the expert: Drug and alcohol exposure

Three glasses of alcohol sit on a surface against a white background. Each glass has a white question mark on it.

Jan Radford is a Registered Nurse with over 30 years of experience working with children as a clinician, administrator, researcher and educator. She worked with substance-exposed infants and children for many years as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children and in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In her recent “semi-retirement” she has […]

Adoption and classroom success

Kids raising their hands in a classroom.

Circumstances prior to adoption often cause adopted children to experience school, among other things, in a different framework than other kids. Orphanage care, foster care or prenatal exposure are all events that can affect behavior as a child grows. This video presents tips and strategies on how to help your child be more successful at […]

Love me, feed me: part one

Blond boy holding a blue bowl in front of his face.

Feeding and attachment The attachment cycle is fulfilled by meeting a child’s physical and emotional needs — feeling hunger, needing attention, being wet or cold — over and over again. Feeding is one of the most reliable and obvious opportunities to help a child feel safe and cared for, and to build trust, whether you […]

How one adoptive family handles racism

A shadow of two adults and two kids on dry grass.

In our experience, the best lessons we can offer are those that teach our children to externalize racism and assure them we will always be there for them. Externalizing racism Because my husband and I do not share our children’s racial or cultural backgrounds, we work extra hard to help them develop skills and strategies […]

Are you up to parenting a child with FASD?

Three people with light skin are shown from the calf down. They are all wearing shoes, socks, and rolled-up jeans. The person in the middle is a teen wearing red shoes that are high-top sneakers. They also wear mismatched colourful socks. The adults on either side wear hiking shoes and their socks are also mismatched. Red shoes are a symbol of FASD with the slogan "Red shoes rock."

When I met Susan Bell* in her large, Surrey home, I was immediately struck by how ordered and tidy it seemed, especially considering it’s home to several teens. I had pictured a far more hectic, cluttered place. Susan ushered me into her equally immaculate office, and we spoke for two hours about parenting kids with […]

Journey to recovery

Mountain retreat

This powerful story was the keynote speech at Growing Together: a retreat for parents of persons with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in January 2010. Hi, my name is Nicolas. First of all, I’d like to thank the organizers of this retreat for asking me here to share with you. I’d also like to thank […]

Romanian adoption research

Three children sit on a wooden log, backs turned, legs dangling.

These are the findings of Dr. Elinor Ames’ research on the Development of Romanian Children Adopted to Canada. In 1990, Dr. Ames, an adoptive parent and professor of developmental psychology at BC’s Simon Fraser University, began her research on the effects of institutionalization on children adopted to BC from Romanian orphanages. That same year, 1013 […]

Casey worth the five year wait

A couple smiling looks at the newborn. Mom holds the baby, while dad places his hands on mom's shoulders.

The decision Celine and husband Dan Green live in a small town nestled in the BC mountains. Like many, they could not produce children biologically and found the intercountry adoption option too costly. However, they were sure about one thing: They wanted children. As independent business people well connected to their small community, said Celine,”we […]

Navigating anxiety

A young woman is holding his face with her hands. She seems to have anxiety or depression.

I have always been anxious. I didn’t recognize it until my mid 30s, when I went through full-blown, severe anxiety and depression. After months of hell, I saw the pain as the message it was: “you need to change.” During a lengthy process of growth and learning, I looked back and saw the patterns of […]

The truth about confabulation

A young boy is sitting on the floor and pretending to use his hands as binoculars.

Is it lying? No, it’s confabulation and there’s a big difference! Time and time again we hear from adoptive parents that one of the hardest behaviours to take is children lying to them. They experience the lie as a personal affront, a show of disrespect, and a harbinger of anti-social behaviour to come. There are […]

Services for children with special needs

girl smiling in the park

In BC there are a host of services to help diagnose special needs and offer support to families. This guide explains where BC families can go to get help and what to do if it isn’t forthcoming. Infants 0 – 6 Infant Development Program This program is available free of charge across BC. All parents […]

Teens and driving: A personal perspective

Teen driver

When a young adult has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or other challenges that might affect his or her ability to drive a vehicle safely, what should parents do to protect their child, other pedestrians and drivers? Even a typical teen takes quite a while to develop the skills needed […]

Help your child: Focus on strengths

A blond kid, wearing a yellow T-shirt and jeans, is playing on the sand with a yellow and red truck.

Tara Webber, Registered Clinical Counsellor and adoptive mom, provides her tips on building a struggling child’s self-esteem. If you ask children what they do well, there is usually a long pause as they search for an answer. Ask them what they don’t do well, and they have an instant list. When I was working as […]

When emotional development is delayed

Young girl with black hair in tears, seated on a bed

Your adopted child’s early life experiences may have caused a delay in their emotional development. Child and family counsellor and behav­iourist, Carol Olafson, explains how paying attention to emotional development can help you and your child. Emotional development is thought to be one of the most important factors in individuals being able to function well […]

Hair and skin care for kids: A guide for parents of black and bi-racial children

Happy Black girl with beautiful braided hair

When Kelly Martin brought home her 21-month-old daughter, Kendall, there were all the common new-parent concerns: “How will I ever cut such tiny nails?” laughs Kelly. But Kendall is Haitian, and caring for black skin and hair was to be an additional learning experience for Kelly. Undaunted, she says, “I knew it was something I […]

Helping children cope with and understand abandonment

A young boy with brown hair gazes out the window, appearing lonely and sad.

We know that the stress of  growing within a mother who is considering whether she will be able to raise the child she is carrying affects the developing brain of the fetus. Primed to connect on an unmistakably profound level at birth, the newborn or older baby or child, regardless of the excellence of the care […]

Developing brains: Building attachment in adopted children

Parent and child holding hands up close

Trauma and brain development The brain develops from the inside out. A newborn’s brain has about 100 billion cells. At birth, the primitive brain, called the brainstem, is sufficiently developed to insure that vital functions can be maintained independently for a short period. Baby can breathe, the heart beats, the body temperature self-regulates, reflexes are […]

Adopting a child with a risk of schizophrenia

Photo of child walking in a brown field, seen from behind, wearing a red and white sweater.

Of the 650 children available for adoption through the Ministry, roughly 15 to 20 percent have a genetic psychiatric risk of mental illness such as a mental disability, schizophrenia, manic depression, or a personality disorder. In December, 2001, 77 children (or 16.5 %) carried this risk. Few applicants are interested in adopting children with a […]