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Volume 3 Issue 4

January 2012 Vietnam Accreditation Received! Retrospective of 2011: TDH Ontario Adoption Programs:

Vietnam, Ukraine, Honduras, Russia

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Vietnam Accreditation Received!

The first question I am asked by waiting parents is always "How is the process of adoption working in Vietnam and what can we expect?" I have been hesitant to answer because most of the information "out there" is rumor or speculation. I can't really say that that has changed, but a few things I am aware of give credence to the idea that things are starting to move. I met with Mr. Binh, Director of the Department of Adoption, on January 12. At that meeting we received our accreditation - the first of the agencies to receive it.

New Arrivals! Perspectives from the Provinces:

Adoptions in Vietnam



Families Needed 6 Têt Reception: Vietnamese Embassy, Ottawa 7 Helping TDH Make a Difference

Long Hai Centre: for the protection of children 8

Family Features:

Treasures in Ukraine How do you do it? Liam's Bridge, Vietnam 9 11 13 14 14

News, Current Events, Family Functions


TDH Ontario Gala - help needed

Dream Child Why I Won't Buy Unicef Cards

15 16

TDH Ontario Inc.

36 Home Ave. P.O. Box 963 Vankleek Hill, ON K0B 1R0

(613) 482-6306 / (613) 216-2565 (fax) [email protected]

January 12, 2012. Receiving our accreditation at the Department of Adoption

TDH Ontario quarterly newsletter Sharon Kashino [email protected]

Mr Binh also informed us that we would be allowed to send 4 dossiers to the provinces for the first set of children to be cleared for international adoption, a group of 35 children. We feel ourselves very privileged, considering that there are 27 agencies in Vietnam. He also explained to us how the quota system would work. The official document has not been officially released yet (although it was signed and stamped by the DA), but my understanding from speaking with Mr. Binh is that a "quota" would be determined with each group of children who came off the national database and were

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TDH L'Infolettre Québec Rina Arlegui [email protected]

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

cleared through the process which followed (police investigation, 30-day wait for the confirmation of adoptability, child dossier sent to DA). The criteria on which the quota would be determined each time would be based on 100 points, 80 of which Mr. Binh described as being able to be determined by the agency. These include the numbers of special needs children the agency placed, the quality and professionalism of the agency's representative, and the implication of the agency in humanitarian work, especially for children in the community. The last 20 points related to aspects determined by the law and the availability of children. All of this will become clearer when the criteria is actually published (please check on our website for updates after February 1). In terms of special needs adoptions, TDH was able to report that we had done about 75 special needs adoptions prior to 2011, 28 in 2011 (completed or in actual process, including TDH Pour les Enfants and TDH Ontario), and are now looking for families for about 12 children. There are a few concrete things to be mentioned regarding my perception of the new law. First, it is a slow start for the some of the reasons mentioned in my other articles, and that is concerning. While we all hope that adoptions will return to their former rhythm, I do not think that this will be the case for some time. This is not to say that adoptions from Vietnam will stop, but in my personal view the rate of "normal" adoptions will be much slower than in 2009 or 2010. Because of this, I would like to encourage waiting parents to seriously consider a child with minor correctible special needs. Whereas there are many children with serious or "heavy" special needs, there are also some children whose needs are not heavy or are correctible, and if this is not indicated in your homestudy recommendation, you can not be considered for one of these children. In some cases this may mean a wait of a year instead of a wait of 3 or more years, particularly if your dossier was only submitted within the last year or two. The second caution is about adoption costs. I need to advise you that the cost of adoption will be higher under the new law. There is a fee to be paid to the Ministry of Justice at the time of the official deposit of the dossier, and another fee at the time of the proposal. Additionally, donations made to the provinces for children's projects will continue to be made, sometimes at a higher level than previously. We are hoping not to have to increase our fees in Canada, but please remember that our administrative costs are based on a "break-even" point of a certain number of adoptions. If that number is not met (as it has not been for the past 2 years), we may have no other choice than to adjust those costs. When the first adoptions are done, this will become clearer, and we will send a letter to all waiting parents. In the meantime we have put austerity measures in effect to help compensate for the reduced income resulting from the slowdown in adoptions in Vietnam (and in fact in most countries) and the change in age for Ukrainian adoptable children (to 5 years and up). You may have noticed that recently you have not gotten an immediate "live" voice reply to your phone calls or a call back or return of email as quickly as had been done in the past. We want to apologize for this and assure you that we are continuing to work hard to respond to you in the shortest possible delay. Manon and Hélène are participating in a work-sharing program and are only working 2 days per week each. In general, Manon works on Monday and Tuesday and Hélène on Wednesday and Thursday. Because they are attempting to fit a week's work into 2 days, the result is a longer wait for return of phone calls and emails. While my hours have not changed, I receive an average of 60 emails per day, and while I try to get to as many as possible, it is almost an impossible task. I am attempting to put a blog in place which I hope may respond to the more general questions that parents may have. However, if you don't receive an answer to your email in a week, please do re-send, indicating a second attempt, so your message moves back up to the top of the list. Dorinda Cavanaugh ([email protected])

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Retrospective of 2011: TDH Ontario

The year since our last license renewal is marked by considerable change in the area of international adoption. There have been significant changes resulting in the decrease in child proposals from both Vietnam and Ukraine. The first proposals will probably be given to those who had received child proposals under the old law, but who - for one reason or another - were unable to complete those adoptions.

The situation for special needs children (as In 2011, we were able to complete 9 adoptions defined by DA, and not necessarily by the from Vietnam, 1 from Ukraine and 1 from agency) remains different. These children Honduras. may be adopted, and in fact, TDH Ontario has completed the adoption of 4 such children in Our present complement is 6 paid staff (total 2011, 7 are in process, and TDH has been of about 145 man-hours per week). Manon asked to find families for several others. continues to work with parents before proposition of a child; Hélène takes charge of More details on Vietnam are provided in this the dossiers from proposition to travel, and of newsletter. the statistics and communication with the Eastern Europe Ministry postadoption; Nadia is in charge of Nadia Lutskaya has worked with the staff this the Ukraine and Russia programs, and Emi is year to further establish Ukraine, and we have in charge of Latin America (Honduras and just completed our first adoption in Ontario, a Ecuador). The decrease in numbers of child of 11 years old. The law in Ukraine has adoptions due to Vietnam's new law and changed this year, and only children over the Ukraine's law modification has required us to age of 5 or sibling groups may be adopted. take some measures in order to conserve Children are generally very healthy. funds. We have been approved for a worksharing project, so two of our staff have been There are currently 5 families in process of adopting in Ukraine, and we hope that these sharing hours until the situation normalizes. adoptions will be finalized in 2012. Several Vietnam other families have also expressed interest, In Vietnam, we had been working in 5 and we hope this program will grow in the provinces: Quang Ninh, Hoa Binh, Vung Tau, coming year (2012). Tra Vinh, and Ho Chi Minh City. The new law Nadia has also continued to work to receive passed by the National Assembly in June went our accreditation in Russia. The application for into effect on January 1, 2011. The law accreditation in Russia has been deposited specifies a longer waiting period (180 days) to and we are currently waiting for their allow children to be adopted locally (in their response. We hope to receive a response own province) or nationally and additionally within the next few months. Children will be centralizes the process, with the greatest mostly from the age of about 1 year to 5 or 6. authority resting in the hands of the Ministry Health screening is available and we will make of Justice. The new format for international this an important aspect of the proposal adoption is indeed in the process of being process. normalized. As is to be expected, the changes Latin America in the law have required that the Vietnamese make changes at the local level. That is never In Honduras, we have received 2 children easy and not very quick anywhere. But since our last license renewal. There are 5 files progress is being made, not as quickly as in process, 1 of which has the number 19 and hoped for, but as fast as the culture allows. thus should receive a child proposal this year, Currently no agency has received an official child proposal. All agencies are waiting anxiously to see how the children will be distributed among countries and agencies. and 2 more who have expressed interest in pursuing an adoption in Honduras. Most of

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

the children up for an adoption in Honduras are older than 5 years except sibling groups of 3 or special needs. It could take a long time to do an adoption of a healthy child younger than 5 years of age. A complete medical profile is provided at the time of proposal. For the moment, the request for accreditation in Ecuador has been put on hold, as the accreditation that remained in the 8 allowed by Ecuador was given to another country. Our lawyer continues to monitor the situation. US Outgoing Adoptions This year, we also applied for an extension of our license to the US. In light of the fact that both Vietnam and Ukraine have slowed and TDH, along with most other agencies, has had to diversify our adoption activity to include smaller numbers of adoptions in more countries. Our research revealed that a number of Hague-approved US adoption agencies are placing children in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, and in fact the Ministry business meeting announced that the US was one of the top three countries for which homestudies were being approved. We have therefore contacted 3 US agencies, and hope to form working relationships with them as soon as our application for extension of license in approved. Communications Marlene Alt continues to maintain and improve our website, and it is becoming more interesting and informative all the time. Sharon Kashino is the volunteer editor of our newsletter, and she has produced a very professional and interesting quarterly edition, now in its third year.

Due to other commitments Christine is no longer able to head up our fundraising efforts, although she will still be involved. Hence, we are hoping a new fundraising coordinator will come forward. We are currently implementing a database, MyAdoptionPortal (MAP), by which clients will be allowed to selfregister and to have access to their own file throughout their adoption process. At the same time it provides a communication tool with parents individually and as a group, and allows for reporting formats and other features which lead to increased efficiency of the process. Financial Stability The difficulties imposed by the changes in numbers of adoptions in Vietnam and Ukraine have put a certain financial pressure on TDH to be able to remain viable throughout this period. Apart from diversifying our countries, we have also taken the step of imposing an annual administrative fee of $1000.00 to support the office and overhead during the lengthening adoptive process. Additionally, we have applied for and received a worksharing subvention from Service Canada which will allow 2 employees to work on this program for six months. We feel that this is the time we need to reestablish Vietnam, and begin programs in Russia and the US. Further details can be found in the following document available online: TDH (TERRE DES HOMMES) ONTARIO, INC.

Christine Morra was our volunteer fund-raising ANNUAL REPORT 2010-2011 coordinator and we are very grateful for her many contributions. The Gala in April brought public_annual_report_2011.pdf in more than $25,000 again this year. We had the delegation of visitors from Vietnam from the Department of Adoption and from Vung Dorinda Cavanaugh ([email protected]) Tau province, and a record number of adoptive families were present.

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Adoption Program Updates: 4th Quarter - 2011


In the 2011 calendar year there have been 9 completed adoptions for Ontario* families including 5 non-special needs children (2 boys and 3 girls) proposed in 2010 ( all from Vung Tau) and 4 special needs adoptions (3 boys and 1 girl, 3 from Vung Tau and 1 from Ho Chi Minh City). 5 special needs adoption are in process for Ontario* families, 2 boys and 3 girls from Vung Tau, Tra Vinh , Go Vap, Thi Nghe, and Hai Duong plus 1 relative adoption. The children have had HIV, risk of cerebral palsy, heart problems, missing limbs, hepatitis.

*includes families in other provinces except Quebec

special needs and a 3 year old boy were proposed to families from Quebec who are waiting for the date for their second trips. An almost 3 year old boy, special needs, and an 8 year old boy were proposed to families from BC who are waiting for their first trips. Most of the children up for an adoption in Honduras are older than 5 years except sibling groups of 3 or special needs. It could take a long time to do an adoption of a healthy child younger than 5 years of age.



For 2011 there have been 16 adoptions in Quebec ­ 7 boys and 9 girls between 6 and 14 years and 1 adoption in Ontario - a 10 year old girl.


A 3 sibling group was adopted by a family from Quebec in October. The eldest is 8 years old (2 girls, 1 boy). At the same time, a single mother from BC completed the adoption of a 7 year old boy. 4 children were proposed this quarter. A 6 year old boy with heavy

Last year we obtained an extension of our license from the Ontario Ministry to open a program of international adoption in Russia. In order to actually work in Russia we need to have accreditation from the Russian government. We completed the lengthy application process and the accreditation application has been deposited. We are now awaiting their response. We are hoping to have this response within the next few months, and we would hope to have a number of dossiers ready to submit within a short time afterwards.

For more information on any program please contact: Manon Parent ([email protected])

NEW Arrivals!

Mom Wendy and sibling Ali of Parksville, BC are thrilled to announce the arrival of Ricardo, born January 15, 2005. He arrived home to Canada from San Pedro Sula, Honduras on October 30, 2011.

To announce your New Arrival

Email: Sharon Kashino at: [email protected] Your Giving and Receiving Ceremony must be completed prior to the newsletter publication date (next issue due out April 15).

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Perspectives from the provinces: adoptions in Vietnam

I encountered a great deal of concern among the orphanage staff that I met during my recent trip to Vietnam concern that makes me worry for the welfare of many children in Vietnam, especially those most vulnerable because they are without families and sometimes without homes at all. One of those told us that they were unable to accept children except very special cases - special needs children, people with whom they had previous and established relationships. This person said that the orphanage doesn't have the money to maintain the children for six months or more, where there is a strong possibility that money will have to be paid out for doing all the adoption paperwork, but where the orphanage will receive nothing in terms of compensatory donations from an international agency. While domestic adoptions can and should be encouraged, most result in no financial benefit to the orphanage or to the other children who remain behind. This makes it difficult to support the orphanage and the children who are there (most of whom are older children with parents or relatives, who are not adoptable). Asked about where these children were going, one director effectively said that that wasn't her problem. Maybe another orphanage, a pagoda, back to the commune - she didn't know. What she did say was that many orphanages were doing the same thing. These directors are hoping that the government will reevaluate the system, see that it isn't working as it should, and if they can't change the law (in fact this would be very difficult) they might reinterpret the practices and become more flexible. adoptions are completed, and that agencies are not certain how donations which they have set aside are to be given in such a way as to be assured that the money goes to the recipients they would designate (i.e. actual help to the orphanage).

Another orphanage told us how difficult they were finding it to survive. Deprived of the former support they received from agencies, and forced to manage on the $20 per month per child received from the government, she told us how they At another orphanage the director had lost their doctor, their nurse, and also told us that although they are three of their nannies, with very frustrated with the slowness of potentially dire consequences for the the process for "normal" adoptions, orphanage and for the children. and finding it hard to cope financially, People also told us that newspapers they are nonetheless continuing to in Vietnam are reporting children left place the children they receive on the to die in marketplaces and roadsides national database. In fact, the because the orphanages feel morning we were there they were themselves unable to take them. called by the hospital to receive a baby abandoned there, and they will Mr Binh, of the Department of start the procedures of domestic Adoption, feels that these are the search. He also informed us that problems of a transitional period, and three children were given in domestic they will regulate themselves as the adoption recently. One of the biggest system becomes established. We problems is that the fees paid to the sincerely hope this is the case. Department of Adoption under the new law only are distributed after the Dorinda Cavanaugh ([email protected])

Families Wanted

Happily, we have already found families for some of the special needs children I met on my recent trip to Vietnam. We are still looking for families for a 3 year old girl with the reconstructed anus and a 1 year old boy with a cyst (we hope to have the medical soon for him). We have a family considering a 5 month old boy with cataracts, but this is not sure yet. We continue to wait for further information on twin girls who are failing to thrive and a baby whose mother had rubella during pregnancy. If you are interested in receiving more information on any of these children please contact me. Dorinda Cavanaugh ([email protected])

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Vietnamese Embassy Tet Reception, Ottawa

The lunar new year is the biggest event by far in the Vietnamese calendar. Known commonly as Tt, the new year is a time of cultural and spiritual significance, as well as a great celebration. The year that starts at the end of this month is represented by the zodiac sign of the dragon. The Vietnamese zodiac comprises 12 signs, each of an animal, with the dragon (or 'long' in Vietnamese) being the sole legendary one. The dragon is the most revered of all Vietnamese zodiac signs and people born under this sign are considered to be full of strength and vitality, attractive and flamboyant, with associations to wealth and power. To mark the Year of the Dragon the Vietnamese embassy in Ottawa hosted a reception at the National Arts Centre on January 14th. Among the 300 or so invited guests were members of the Canadian government, Vietnamese Canadians, Vietnamese students studying in Canada, and families with children adopted from Vietnam. The evening started off rather formally, with several short speeches including a greeting in English, French and Vietnamese by the ambassador, 'Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary' H.E. Lê S Vng Hà. To conclude the speeches the M.C. taught everyone how to say the Vietnamese new year's greeting -- syllable by syllable - until the room echoed with 'Chúc Mng Nm Mi!' Then the party started. Guests helped themselves to the buffet, which was topped off by a massive cake decorated with a Vietnamese dragon. At the same time the entertainment began. The were several singers including one that, judging by the reaction of the young women in the crowd, may have been Vietnam's Justin Beiber. Many Vietnamese adopted children were in attendance, most of them dressed in beautiful traditional áo dài. They ran around wherever they could find open space -- which was mostly the stage, so they couldn't help but steal a little of the limelight. It was a lovely, noisy, busy affair but in the end quite relaxed for an embassy function. It was also a wonderful way to welcome in the Year of the Dragon. Marlene Alt ([email protected])

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Long Hai Centre for Protection of Children:

Last year TDH committed to raise funds to help complete phase 3 of the Long Hai Center for Protection of Children. Construction is now complete and the buildings are ready for occupancy! Long Hai is a small coastal city near Vung Tau, situated about 120 km east of Ho Chi Minh City on the East Sea. It has about 100,000 permanent residents and is seen as a refuge for families from poor provinces of Vietnam, who imagine that they will find a better life in the province of Baria-Vung Tau. Here, several thousand families live in precarious situations and are unable to feed and educate their children. Many abandoned or orphaned children find refuge at the Vung Tau Child Protection Centre, supported by the French association Enfants des Rizières and aided by TDH. A significant proportion of the inhabitants of Long Hai consist of small enterprise fishermen and day labourers. Long Hai Centre is both a place to live and a place to learn for disadvantaged children, in what approaches a familial environment. The vocation of the Centre is to receive, nourish, and lodge street children and children of disadvantaged families, as well as handicapped children who were victims of Agent Orange (Dioxin) . Now completed and ready for occupancy, its capacity is for 200 day students under 18 years old to go to school, cared for and taught by 10 to 15 adults. The 2 storey boarding school can accommodate 60 children and 30 infants. Gardens have been planted all around the sleeping and toilet areas. It is very pretty, clean and ready to be used. For more information or to further support this or other TDH projects please contact: Manon Parent ([email protected])

Yes! I'll help Every Day in Every Way!

Enclosed is my VOID cheque as well as my name, mailing address and email address. Please deduct, from my bank account, the monthly amount of: $25/month $50/month I prefer to give $________/month You may alter the amount of your gift or end your contributions at any time by contacting our office. You will receive a tax receipt for your total donations the following spring. Alternatively, you may phone Jose Garcia at (514) 937-3325 to make donation arrangements.

Mail your form and void cheque to: TDH Canada Inc. 36 Home Ave., P.O. Box 963 Vankleek Hill, Ontario K0B 1R0 Fax: (613) 216-2565 Telephone: (613) 482-6306 Charitable Reg.#: 0331249-11-08 OR donate online today at:

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Family Features: Ukraine

Treasures in Ukraine

We want to share a beautiful life experience with you. My husband and I have been together for more than 30 years, and we are parents of a blended family of six children. They are now adults, the youngest being 24 years old. We also have nine grandchildren. Our children are the most beautiful and precious things to us; we love them, and they love us, unconditionally. We have always felt love for all the world's children; the many injustices done to those children concern us, as we imagine they concern most parents. Among these injustices, we are particularly affected by the plight of children without parents. We have felt this way since the birth of our first child. However, we are well aware that not everyone wants or is able to adopt children. Nonetheless, since every child has the right and the need to have a family, we chose to expand ours through adoption, and we encourage all those with adoption in their hearts to press on. My husband and I grew up with 14 and 11 siblings, so we know about big families. I personally always dreamed of having many children, and I had to make the difficult decision to stop after four biological children, due to our circumstances at the time. As there are very few possibilities for adoption in Quebec, we turned to international adoption. We started our journey in November 2010 and on July 17, 2011, we touched down on Quebec soil with two gorgeous, tall adolescents ages 12 and 14. Elia and Kristina, our two treasures from Ukraine, had already been waiting several years for their forever family. Throughout our journey, there were good days and not-so-good days. I must say that the most emotionally difficult day for my husband and me was the day we left the orphanage, leaving behind many children of all ages. Some of them cried, and others looked at us with sad eyes, as if asking "Why not me?" Our desire to return is strong; we will see what the future holds. We had the pleasure of travelling with another couple, our cousins, who were adopting at the same time. They also adopted two adolescents, ages 13 and 14. While in Ukraine, we got to know a few other couples, including two from other countries, who were also adopting sibling groups. We were able to experience several special moments together, which was encouraging and appreciated by everyone. Our adoption was made possible by the marvellous team of TDH pour les enfants. I cannot emphasize this enough because they are always available, caring, and hard-working. Moreover, no matter what happened, we never felt alone on this adventure. They were always close by, ready to solve even the smallest problem, day or night. We were also encouraged by the

Our first meeting - June, 2011

many testimonials we received via internet and telephone from other parents who had adopted from Ukraine. All of this motivated us to forge ahead, despite the many preconceived notions we had before leaving with respect to international adoption in general, and with particular respect to Ukraine and Eastern Europe. I don't know the reasons behind these notions, but they do exist. It is very unfortunate as they can be harmful to these children, who have the same need for a family as all the other orphaned children around the world.

For this reason, I am sharing with you the various objections that we had to seriously consider before pursuing our adoption. First, I must thank the person who did our homestudy. Our social worker was beyond extraordinary, very professional and--above all--a woman with heart. While she warned us of the very discouraging risks that were associated with our request, she knew to respect our choice, offered us all the help she could, and told us about all the resources we could access upon our return. The most prominent risk, against which we were strongly warned, was attachment issues. We prepared ourselves for such issues, but attachment was not our biggest concern. In fact, it was very easy for us to understand that adolescents would have difficulty attaching. The thing we dwelled on was our ability to give them as much love as possible and a better future. Period. Surprise! Our children are very affectionate and after just five months, they are becoming more and more attached to our whole family. They have not had any kind of negative reaction that would lead us to believe otherwise. All the adoptive parents we know tell us it is the same in their families, at least on the part of the children. Often the issue is one of adaptation for some family members, which is completely normal. (Continued on page 10)

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Most social workers and members of the Quebec adoption community doubted the transparency of the children's health information with respect to fetal alcohol syndrome. False alarm! Yes, we were presented some children with health problems, which is certainly reasonable since those children also need parents. But we had the option of declining those proposals. When we chose our children, we read their health records and were free to decide whether we would accept them. Our children are as they were described in their files. If new information surfaced along the way, we were quickly informed and still had the option to decline the referral. Nontransparency is not an issue; in fact, the transparency and honesty exceeded our expectations. The children we met in Ukraine are beautiful, intelligent, healthy, obedient, and well disciplined, which has great benefits once they arrive home. We saw these children twice a day, every day for more than three weeks. We held them close and talked a lot with several of them. Many of them joined us for every one of our visits. We celebrated the birthdays of our son and the son of another couple with their whole class, as well as the departure party. These were three good opportunities to observe and study their behaviour, etc. This reassured us and confirmed for us that the things other adoptive families had said about these children were true.

the other hand, there is more and more time between these calls, and our children's anxiety is decreasing. For older children like ours, we believe in making the transition as smooth as possible, and giving them a feeling of security during this tumultuous adventure. They have to adapt to much more than we do, including a new country, new daily routines, etc.

Christmas 2011 - in Canada!!!

We are home now, but we left a piece of our hearts in Ukraine. We have so many precious memories! In conclusion, I would simply say that preconceived notions or ignorance about the children and orphans in this country, or even about Ukraine itself, do nothing to help the plight of all these orphans who, statistically, have little or no hope of a future. I say this in the sincere hope that I can radically change public opinion about these adoptions, and give to as many of these children as possible the chance not only to dream of a family, but to live their dream. Could the dream of a family for every child become a reality? One little heart at a time welcomed into our lives, our homes, our hearts....

Let's think and talk about the children's cause! Have we seriously thought about the future of all these children? They could be yours and ours. For my husband and I, nothing could have stopped us. This experience has been a true blessing for everyone in our Getting to know each other in Ukraine - June and July, 2011 family and we have the same hope for all the Moreover, we were at a fairly poor orphanage (in Quebec, it treasures in Ukraine. would be considered extremely poor), yet most of the children We are happy to have shared a bit of our amazing experience were very joyful, approachable, warm, polite, etc. They called with you. their caretakers, teachers, and even the director "mom". This Monique and Jérôme Beaupré facilitated communication, which helped the children feel like ([email protected] - French only) they were part of a family and had a safe and secure home. Translated by Karen Mayer Despite all the things they may have experienced, they had "moms" that they could confide in and trust. Since their arrival Thank you to our adult children and to everyone near and far in Quebec, our children make regular calls to those "moms" who helped to make our adoption dream a reality. and to the other children, which brings them a lot of joy. On

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Family Features:

How do you do it?

twenty, not so much. In fact we actually do not have the feeling of being a large family and sure do not want to use the number of children we have to draw attention. We also made the choice to build our family through international adoption. This brings with it another realm of open curiosity and interrogation from those we meet. Again, not something we have done to draw attention, and certainly a topic that could be explored in depth on its own.

When we passed the threshold of 4 children the comments and questions began : ''How do you do it? How do you cope? You and your wife must be nuts.'' Now that I am a father of seven children I get even more questions, looks, and comments concerning my lifestyle choices. Some are nice, some, not so much. Some are judgemental, some come from curiosity. I thought it would be good to try to answer some of these questions or comments. Not to be preachy, but since some people have no issue with making comments on my choices, if it does sound preachy, well, so be it. You can take what you want out of it! It might however help you, or help you help someone else realize that this adoption dream is reachable. Whether you are childless, or already have children, adoption may not seem to be something you can financially achieve. Raising a family, much less a `large' family is costly, even before you factor in the expenses required to bring a child home through adoption. It is challenging sometimes, but we are still going for a third adoption, because we are not done yet, we are not complete. We know in our hearts there is another child who waits to be part of the `Wagner crew'. Before I could put any of this down in writing, I had to reflect and ask myself how we really did it, and keep doing it, on a daily basis. A lot came to me over many kilometers of running, and while talking with my wife and with trusted friends. In the end I realized that because this is what both my wife and I fully wanted, we just did it and that it was not that hard after all. To begin: I am a 42 year old Captain in the Canadian Forces . I have been married for 13 years. I have seven children, five blessed to me the old fashioned way, and two blessed to me by the miracle of international adoption. We live in a 1,540 square feet, two storey house with a finished basement. The bank owns the house still and is nice enough to let us occupy it, as long as the mortgage payments are made. We own a 15passenger van (aka the guzzler) and provide a large subsidy to the Alberta economy every month. My wife (I call her Joey) and I both run: she is training for a marathon and myself, I just run for fun and the occasional race. The children take part in extra-curricular activities, such as karate, ballet and swimming. We do manage to have spare time and even spare money at the end of some months. Other than the size of the van, my life looks very similar to that of my friends' with fewer children. I have basic appliances, a simple kitchen; the only difference is the size of the pots we cook with. The best way to sum this up is that we made the choice to have a larger sized family, ''large'' being a very relative term here. Compared to a family of four we are large, to a family of

We do it every day with the same ease as a family of four. We have a house, a car, enough to eat; we all have lives filled with people and activities of our choosing. What's more, it is filled with nine people who love to spend time with each other and love each other Big - Like the Sky.

As a result of our choices we face some consequences. The first consequence is that we cannot be a two salary household, because one would be working to pay daycare solely. Many who adopt or have fewer children will find a difference balance, but we had children so we could raise them, and adopted children to take them out of institutions. In a way, our necessity to have a stay-at-home parent for practical as well as ideological reasons has in turn fed our ability to welcome more children. The choice of who would stay home ended up being simple: the one who had the best job security, who could make the most money with the best benefits would be the one going out the door every morning. The Military won over the teaching job. However, choosing the Military led to many more consequences, which could also make an entire article on their own. Being in the Military required someone to be the anchor for the house, to hold it together when I am going (Continued on page 12)

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(Continued from page 11)

TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

every which way. We chose the strongest person to be the anchor; and that was Joey. So this is how it all started. I make a very good salary and have outstanding benefits . However, it does have its limits as the pie is cut into nine pieces, and when you consider about 13% of my annual take home pay is required to cover the costs of our two international adoptions. Another consequence of balancing the costs of adoption and of having a large family is that most of our choices are based on money. After we pay for our needs we do have some extra but it does go fast. We all need food, water, shelter, and security. For us, lucky enough to live in Canada, it is easy to get all this stuff with little effort. Fifty percent of my pay goes to the government for the security stuff, via a number of different taxes which I really do not mind: I like to be able to trust the police and fire department and not having to pay to go to the hospital. The remaining 50% goes to housing, food, clothes, and other obligations. Some of it can make its way towards the fun stuff or desires. In my mind, life is a choice between meeting your basic needs and meeting the needs you have created for yourself, which I call desires. In the end, we need very little to be happy. Throughout my travels I have encountered very happy people who have very little compared to Canada standards. So some of the choices we make are pretty simple. We may not keep up with the Joneses but we live in simple abundance. We do not have the latest and greatest electronic gadgets (although we do have a pretty decent cappuccino maker, a necessity for my wife when I am away on duty); we cannot save and play back instantly 500 channels on our HD TV; it takes at least a minute to download music on our computer; and I am unwilling to waste my or my children's time with video games. I cut my own hair, which is not difficult because I am going bald. My wife is beautiful with her hair turning grey. We buy our bread at the bread outlet, our meat by the 1/4 or 1/2 cow. We do not mind wearing second hand or hand me downs. My wife and I alternated going to Vietnam to bring home our internationally adopted children since it was just too expensive to consider everyone going. It all adds up when you start thinking about it. We want to live simply. We chose not to be house poor: we selected our house based on the maximum number of bedrooms with the smallest monthly payments. All of these so called sacrifices save us a lot of money. In three little words: we-are-frugal. Is my family deprived, bored and unhappy? I do not think so. The occasional outings to the restaurant or to the movies are appreciated and we have fun at our living room dance parties under the disco ball. Our children haven't experienced flying on a plane yet or had breakfast with Mickey Mouse, but they have had the chance to open their hearts more than once to welcome new additions to the family, and that, is priceless.

One of our strengths is that we are well-organized. The best way to be organized is to keep it simple. From the way you live to what you eat, to the activities you do, keep it simple. We like to eat all of our meals around our kitchen/dining room table (which happens to be `the everything table': homework, arts and crafts, first aid station, and whatever else you can think of). We only have room for one oversized table in our house. It is important for us to eat our meals together at the table (nothing keeps a family together and talking like a good meal). We need our meals to be as basic as possible. We prep most meals for the week on Sunday using fresh real food in very simple tasty ways (avoiding over processed foods as they are expensive), then just go from there. Also, everyone in the family has to pull their weight: the older kids make lunches, help clean the table and are now starting to help prep the meals. The younger ones get their pajamas ready for baths and help out the older ones with the recycling, emptying the dishwasher and so on. Another key to success is to organize your time simply by avoiding activities and people that waste your time. We avoid doing activities at peak hours when it is crowded: it makes it easier to keep an eye on seven children in a crowd, and our children don't have to wait to do fun activities. So we usually go very early in the morning when the world is still in bed. As they say, the early bird gets the worm and the early family has more fun. A big calendar on the wall is a good ally. Joey and I have a weekly time management meeting to ensure we know what is happening to whom, and when. It works. So as you can see we do it every day with the same ease as a family of four. We have a house, a car, enough to eat; we all have lives filled with people and activities of our choosing. We are not overwhelmed by demands and by no means are we poor. We chose this life; we wanted this; and we are happy with the mess we made. Our life is not full of trips to places I cannot spell, or material things that just lose their luster overtime. But it is filled with nine people who love to spend time with each other and love each other Big - Like the Sky. Michael Wagner

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Family Features: Vietnam

Liam's Bridge -

Liam is a little boy who's life began in Vietnam. He has a muscle-joint disorder called arthrogryposis. He lived some of his first few months in an orphanage and has since been adopted by my husband and I! I'm launching a new blog about our special needs adoption of Liam, completed through TDH Ontario. Check it out: I hope that Liam's story can be a bridge to many important issues: the plight of vulnerable children, international adoption, arthrogryposis and faith. Here is the story of how we were united: Our adoption agency publishes a quarterly newsletter which I always look forward to reading. One particular day did not seem remarkable because the newsletter was not published at 8:30 a.m. At 10:30 a.m., something unusual happened! My husband had not been on our agency's website in 5 months and decided to check their website on that special morning. He did not even read it as he was on a break from work. He scrolled down to see the newly adopted babies pictures. The heading, "Families Needed!", following the babies section, caught his eye. "In Vietnam there are two special needs little boys for whom we are seeking families. The first child, like the child profiled in the October 2009 newsletter, has arthrogryposis. He will likely require casting and surgery to improve his condition." (TDH Ontario Newsletter, Vol 2, Issue 2, page 17) The October 2009's profiled boy had beautiful, bright eyes. He prompted me to research this rare condition a while back and hope that a similar baby would be presented to us. My heart pounded and we scrambled to contact our agency. After a few emails back and forth, we were sent an exclusive proposal for the baby boy with arthrogryposis!! (A proposal means that your agency is formally asking if you would like to adopt a particular child.) After 9.5 years of marriage, 1 year in queue for an adoption and God's amazing providence, we were offered a son! Here is one of the first pictures we saw of our baby boy, and one of us now!

Edison Photography (

One of the first pictures we saw of our baby boy, and one of us now!

There is so much more to our story that I want to share! I hope it will inspire you in your waiting process as well as provide you with a bridge to the plight of children in need and organizations who are helping these children.

May God bless, protect and nurture every orphan, tonight. May they find their forever home soon and arms of love to hold them.

Joanna ([email protected])

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

News, Current Events, Upcoming Family Functions

Tet Celebrations

Special events for Tet are planned in many communities and families with children adopted from Vietnam have always found these interesting and welcoming events. Be sure to check your local community listings to see what is happening in your area! In Toronto join `Families with Children from Vietnam' as we celebrate Tet Nguyen Dan and the Year of the Dragon on Saturday, February 4th. A wonderful Vietnamese buffet meal is planned. Date/Time: Saturday February 4th, 2:00-4.30pm Place: Xe Lua Restaurant, 254 Spadina Ave. Cost: $20 per adult; $10 per child between 3 and 13 years. RSVP to: [email protected] Please specify your names, number attending and ages of the child(ren). RSVPs will be honoured on a first come, first served basis, although we hope to be able to welcome everyone, including any friends or family who may not yet be members of FCV! Attendance numbers will be given to the restaurant on the morning of February 1st, at which time FCV Toronto is liable for all costs. Families will be responsible for payment, even if they are unable to attend. Thank you for your understanding. [email protected]

TDH Ontario Gala

A date for the 2012 TDH Ontario Gala has not been set as of the publication of this newsletter. We are hopeful that a new Gala Coordinator will come forward to carry on the valuable tradition set by Christine Morra. In the past, the Gala has provided an important opportunity for TDH families and friends to gather for a fun social evening while supporting a cause near and dear to our hearts. This year, it is as vital as ever to show our support of the work that TDH does, and it would be a shame to lose the momentum that Christine has built over the last few years. If you feel you can contribute to the organization and implementation of a Gala Fundraiser, or have ideas for other fundraising initiatives, please contact: Manon Parent ([email protected])

Blog Notice

Where blogs are listed it is as a courtesy to our adoptive families. They are not to be considered publications of TDH. They represent the personal experiences and interpretations of individual families. TDH does not monitor and does not approve their content. We ask families to use discretion in their blog posts with the knowledge that public blogs may be monitored by officials in Canada and abroad. We recognize the value of sharing experiences and building common bonds among families who share the experience of adoption; therefore we publish these blog locations. However, their inclusion here does not imply that they reflect the positions of TDH or any of its staff nor does it indicate TDH's approval of the blog for accuracy, or interpretation of the information.

Content Requests, Family Features, Questions, Comment Submissions

We endeavour to make each issue of our newsletter informative and interesting. If you have a suggestion for an article, wish to contribute an article, have comments, feedback, questions or a request for information on a particular topic, please let us know! You may also submit photos, with descriptive captions. We love your comments and feedback!

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Dream Child

13 years ago I married a gentle man and in the course of our `marriage preparation' we vocalized in seriousness for the first time the fact that our combined purpose in marriage was primarily the creation of a family. Our intentions were not easily met. What seemed to be a never-ending four years of escalating disappointment later, we welcomed our first son by birth. Six weeks later we went on a different emotional rollercoaster ride, discovering our perfect child had a congenital birth defect that required immediate and invasive surgery. Thanks to the wonderful Canadian health system his diagnosis and treatment were quick, cost-free and effective. It haunts me to this day that a child born elsewhere with his condition might never be properly diagnosed, might not receive treatment in time to prevent irreversible damage, might die a premature and painful death. Despite this early challenge in our experience as parents, as quickly as possible we started trying to add to our family again. Alas, our efforts did not meet with the same success and not wanting the gap between siblings to be too large, and having had open hearts to adoption from the beginning, we began identifying our options. With the advise and help of several individuals, most notably TDH, within a year of starting our homestudy we returned home from Vietnam in May, 2007 with a healthy 4 month old baby boy. Whether it was luck, good timing or destiny we are forever grateful for our first miracle through adoption. Within a couple months we registered, again with TDH, in the hopes of welcoming a sister for our 2 boys. We knew we would be waiting for this latest, and last, addition to our family, and were prepared for that. However, as the months, then years passed I grew increasingly anxious as the climate for international adoption was changing and my own understanding of the intricacies increased. Throughout this time my husband took a supportive back seat...equally excited but similar to a pregnancy willing to leave the planning and preparation mainly to me, stepping in as required to assist. Three years following our second application we received a referral of a baby girl. 2 months later we lost that referral. After another 2+ months we received a referral of a baby girl who we were able to, joyfully, bring home in April, 2011. I realize now the seed of my discontent during the wait for our second adoption was the reality of what the waiting meant. Waiting for a child to be conceived, born and relinquished. Who was I to stand idly by while a woman on the other side of the world embarked on such a selfless journey? What more fruitful benefit could have come of the dollars spent updating paperwork to stay in the queue of waiting families? And who was I to expect a shift of focus from finding families for children to finding children for families, or specifically, a child for us? There are many reasons to want a young, healthy baby...the closest replication of what you hope for at the end of a pregnancy. Through our infertility training we learned about mourning the loss of our dream child. For our first adoption, we wanted a healthy sibling for our first son. For our second adoption we mostly didn't mind the wait since our youngest son was not ready for another sibling. When the desperation started to set in we were `so close' that we were advised not to consider special needs. Why compromise, we were told, especially after you have already waited so long? We couldn't be happier with the outcome of our two adoptions, but this particular piece of advice has never set well with me. Nor has the assumption that for the money you are `paying', you deserve a perfect child, and that anything less should be `discounted' (although there are subsidies and sponsorships available in the case of some special need adoptions). I realize now that the process of parenting has changed my outlook on bringing children into a family. I can completely understand and empathize with the majority who wish a healthy child as young as possible. It is best for the child not to have suffered neglect, hardship, a long stay in an institution. Attachment is most successful at a young age. It is easier, perhaps more enjoyable, for the family and the siblings, if any, to have a healthy child without ongoing needs for specialized attention join the family. Or as an inexperienced parent, perhaps even a single parent, the unknown of parenting alone is overwhelming in itself, without the added, and perhaps unspecified, complication of a `special needs' child. But for those who are able to see beyond the `dream child', to open their hearts and minds to the other possibilities, great things are possible. Rather than being a waiter for your child to be found, you can be the parent, the family, that is found for a child. A child who waits and who might not find a forever family except for you. And the reality of the international adoption scene seems to point to the possibility that just as there are `special needs children', there may be `special needs parents'. Parents who may never qualify, or be selected, for a `young, healthy baby'. We are pretty sure we are done building our family now. But with the knowledge and experience I have gained I know if we were to try for another adoption we would not select the `young-healthy' route. If asked for my advice I would say...are you waiting for a dream child...or will you open your heart to a child that already waits for a family...for you? Perhaps a child with a limb abnormality, a toddler who is slow to speak, an infant with a correctible heart condition or a removable tumour? All of these situations presented themselves in the first 3 days of Dorinda's most recent trip to Vietnam. A child matching each of these descriptions, and others, wait for families. Those who have already received medical treatment, a shunt to treat hydrocephalus, completed anal reconstruction surgery, and those who still await diagnosis and treatment. Life offers none of us guarantees. Offering a chance for a family, proper medical care and ongoing love and support to a child who otherwise faces an uncertain future is a very special type of parent calling. Perhaps it is yours. Perhaps this is your dream come true. Sharon Kashino ([email protected])

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TDH Ontario Quarterly

January 2012

Reader feedback and comments are always welcome by emailing our Editor-at-large, Brendan Cavanaugh at: [email protected] or our Editor, Sharon Kashino, at: [email protected]

Why I won't buy UNICEF holiday cards

By Andrea Poe for Communities NEW YORK, December 5, 2011 -- Excerpted with permission. UNICEF holiday greeting cards have been an iconic symbol of the spirit of the holidays since 1949. Ubiquitous during the holiday season, you can buy them on UNICEF's own website, or at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and many other major retailers. And who can resist images like cute multicultural cadre of kids, smiling and holding hands as they circle the globe? Who can't get behind the idea of children from all nations coming together across borders, showing the one-ness of the human race? Well, actually UNICEF can't. It has declared national borders sacred; country of origin rigidly defining. Sadly, all that's left of UNICEF's "we are one people, one world" message is what's found in a twelve-buck box of paper cards.

`In recent years, UNICEF has taken a radical position against orphans, insisting that life in the country of birth is always preferable than life with an adoptive family in another country even when that means children are condemned to orphanages. So much for those handholding holiday cards. Goodbye, one-ness. Hello, border patrol.'

Read more here.... neighborhood/red-thread-adoptive-family-forum/2011/dec/5/why-iwont-buy-unicef-holiday-cards/

TDH Ontario quarterly newsletter - TDH Ontario Inc. For content submissions, suggestions or comments: [email protected]


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