Alison Lowe is an adoptive momma. She’s also Canadian-born, with a great love for her birth country. But Alison and her husband would probably be childless if she hadn’t moved to the United States and become a citizen. You see, in all but two provinces in Canada it is illegal to advertise, in any way, that you are hoping to adopt. This means no posting a parent profile, no creating a hoping-to-adopt-blog, no creating a Facebook page promoting your desire. None of that. In fact, it’s even illegal to verbally share your desire to adopt.
This makes it very difficult for prospective adoptive parents and prospective birth parents to connect with each other. There is simply no way for adoptive parents to let expectant mothers considering adoption know that they want to adopt. And how does a prospective birth mother find a family she feels is well-suited for her child?
Considering prospective birth mothers, Alison says that allowing for parents to advertise increases an expectant mother’s options and improves chances at openness. She says, “I am hoping with the large audience Adoption.com has that we can help educate others on the importance of the needs of those hoping to adopt and to have the same rights or privileges as others to build their families. This also helps birth mothers not feel guilt or shame about their situations and allows love and openness to flow.”
When Alison was first introduced to the concept of open adoption, her immediate response was a resounding, “NO THANKS!” But it didn’t take too many statements made by birth mothers at an event she attended to soften Alisons’ heart. Alison’s 9-year-old son, Elliot, has an amazing birth family and an open relationship with them. “Six years into our marriage we were chosen by a birth mom to raise her son . . . my eyes, heart, and soul were captured by adoption and the wonderful experiences that it held. I love birth mothers. I love birth families. I love the whole process of loving another.”
When Alison became a citizen of the United States of America, she took the opportunity to share her feelings: “They opened up the mic for people to share their experience in coming to the USA. Many shared amazing stories of patience and war and struggle. I spoke about how my adoption to our son was able to come to pass because of the freedoms we all share in the United States. Here we have more openness (for good or bad) in all things. In Canada, things are still pretty British or hushed up. We don’t talk about some things, we keep a lot of things to ourselves. Though times are changing, the world of adoption is still a step or two behind the United States. The rights of individuals are held to upmost importance . . . sometimes to the detriment of others! In many provinces it is against the law to state your desire to adopt. It is considered advertising and soliciting, trying to ‘purchase’ something or lure something from someone else. Two provinces (the most liberal in Canada) BC and Ontario, have passed the law (to some extent) that it is okay to share that you are hoping to adopt . . . verbally, on media, etc. It is heart-breaking to see my family and friends not have the support and ‘ease’ of working to build their families.”
Of course, these strict laws were put into place for the purpose of protecting children. One Canadian Provincial Judge told Lowe: ” … I have made a few inquiries of people who are involved in adoptions in Canada. They are somewhat frustrated as well with the restrictions in the law; however, the purpose is to ensure safe adoptions and not transferring a child to a harmful environment. I do not expect that will change at any time soon in this country … There may be ways of changing the law over time … The best way to change things is to form groups to attempt to persuade governments to make changes, but in the current environment I would not be optimistic about the chances of success.”
So for now, maybe an increase of gratitude for all the freedoms US citizens enjoy is in order. Additionally, any who would like to help Canadians gain the same freedom of expression regarding the desire to adopt, consider contacting a representative in Parliament and sharing your concern.