Pamela's Story of Transracial Adoption: "I consider it a great honour, privilege but also a duty of care to raise three beautiful Cree children."
Pamela shares her story about adoption in the foster care system, with all the joys and challenges it can bring.
Athena: Pamela thank you so much for being willing to open up about your family for AFI. I find your story so inspiring and I cannot wait to share it! I really admire you and you seem so joyful with your family and the choices you made to build it.
First, can you tell our readers how you built your family and if it was different from what you pictured when you were younger?
Pamela: When my partner Dave and I decided to try to get pregnant, we were so full of hope and optimism! I got pregnant easily. Unfortunately, we experienced 5 miscarriages. During that time, we started looking into adoption and realized how many children there are in the foster care system looking for homes. We were particularly motivated to adopt a sibling group of children.
On our sixth pregnancy we were blessed with our daughter Fern, but we didn’t forget about the children we had learned about in foster care. We had been living in the US, but we moved back to Canada in order to adopt. We were approved for adoption and we found our three beautiful children while attending the Adoption Resource Exchange in Toronto. We sped up the process somewhat by using a private adoption practitioner, even though we adopted through the public system (always our intention).
Athena: From what I've learned from attending adoption conferences, transracial adoption is not something to be done without intention, research and care. Can you speak to how your family explores/celebrates/experiences culture and race?
Pamela: Our children are Cree. I consider it a great honour, privilege but also a duty of care to raise three beautiful Cree children. We have been warmly welcomed into the Aboriginal community and we make it a priority to attend events like Pow Wows and participate in ceremony in the community and in our own home.
Athena: What is the hardest part about being an adoptive mother to kids who were adopted through the foster care system?
Pamela: The hardest part is that our children have experienced a lot of trauma and establishing attachment and trust is so challenging.
Athena: What is the most ignorant thing someone has said to you about your family? What is the most heartening?
Pamela: I had someone ask me once if our kids have fetal alcohol syndrome. This is after meeting them and speaking with them for about 2 minutes. I always love it when people tell me that they can see our children getting calmer and more loving, towards themselves and others.
Athena: If someone is considering fostering, what would you say to them?
Pamela: If you are considering adoption, you should attend all the training and read all the books that you can. It is a challenging path! Adoption is so rewarding, but it is not easy parenting. Well, parenting is not easy, adding in the challenges of building attachment and responding to trauma makes it that much more difficult. Invest time in yourself and your relationships, not only your kids. Find a reason to laugh everyday.
Athena: Can you name a biggest challenge you might face in a day, in addition to a greatest blessing?
Pamela: Just yesterday our daughter scratched her fingernails into an antique dining room table because she was upset. Today our son drew a pentagram on the floor of his bedroom in permanent marker. We still face big challenges and big feelings everyday. It can be overwhelming.
The greatest blessing is when our kids have successes. Doing well in a test, making a team, making a new friend; we celebrate all these chances our children have to shine and to build their self esteem.