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Child Adoption in Canada

New Brunswick Hosts 2004 National Adoption Conference, OCT. 14-16, 2004

Adoption Council of Canada, (ACC) www.adoption.ca

Saint John, New Brunswick hosted 2004's national adoption conference, from Oct. 14-16. The conference was a joint presentation of the Adoption Council of Canada, the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation and the Province of New Brunswick.

The website of that conference was in 2004 located at http://www.lifelongconnections.ca.

From left: N.B. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Percy Mockler, ACC Executive Director Eugnie Dor and Erminie Cohen, chair of the N.B. Adoption Foundation, launch the 2004 national adoption conference.

Based on the theme "Building Lifelong Connections: Permanency Options for Children and Families", the conference promotes the belief that every child deserves a permanent family, and promotes awareness of adoption and other permanency options for children.

The conference will interest those concerned with building and maintaining healthy, lifelong connections for children, including adoptive and foster families, parents-to-be and professionals in child welfare, health, education and justice.

"Research indicates that the percentage of children in continuous custody of Canadian provinces or territories has been increasing constantly over the past 10 years," said Eugnie Dor, executive director of the Adoption Council of Canada, speaking at a news conference on Sept. 8. "Children need to develop a secure attachment to at least one person in order to flourish and acquire a higher level of emotional security."

The Saint John conference focused on the latest approaches to finding positive outcomes for children. Families, practitioners, policy-makers and researchers discussed the many issues related to permanency options for Canadian children.

"Too many children remain in the care of ministries throughout Canada, and we have to work together to develop permanent solutions for them," said Erminie Cohen, retired member of the Senate of Canada and chair of the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation. She stated before the conference that "The conference will encourage debate on new ideas and understandings in round table discussions, poster displays and exhibits."

Since its founding in 2002 the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation has had notable success in finding adoptive homes for hard-to-place children -- older children, siblings and kids with special needs. There were over 600 of those children at the start but thanks to the Foundation's advertising campaign, about 300 of them have been adopted since then. Previously, only about 30 New Brunswick children were adopted each year. New Brunswick currently reports 922 children in its care, of whom 643 await adoptive parents.

(According to the May 2002 "Report Card on Adoption" by the Adoption Council of Canada, there are over 66,000 Canadian children in foster care. About 22,000 are permanent wards, and less than 1,700 of them are adopted annually across the country.)

The focused adoption campaign has made New Brunswick the "envy of many, many jurisdictions," said Percy Mockler, N.B. Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, at the news conference on Sept. 8, 2004.

Mrs. Cohen said provinces like British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario have been in contact, looking for the tools that made the adoption program work.

Noting the successful campaign in New Brunswick, the Adoption Council of Canada proposed in 2002 to N.B. Family and Community Services that they co-host a national adoption conference on permanency. The province has not only joined the Adoption Council of Canada and the N.B. Adoption Foundation as conference co-chairs, but is also contributing $130,000 toward the conference's $200,000 budget.