By Vanessa Thomas
In August Judy and Franklin were excitedly anticipating the birth of their first baby. They had just found out that after years of Judy having to attend and infertility drug clinic for treatment, the Toronto couple was finally going to have the baby they longed for.
Judy tried to prepare herself for the trials and tribulations of motherhood by reading books such as The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. While reading, she’d often turn to Franklin and tell him the latest intriguing detail. He always listened attentively to her fatherhood tips.
But six weeks ago, Judy’s pregnancy was terminated because of medical complications. The miscarriage was the couple’s second one. The loss is an emotional ordeal they are trying to overcome.
“I was reading my book all the way before they wheeled me into the operating room. I just couldn’t put it down, but I did finish it,” said Judy, as tears swelled in her eyes.
“It’s been a very emotional and drawn out process. But the process has brought us even close together.”
Judy, 42, and Franklin, 38, have been married for six years. They have been trying to conceive a child for the past four. The couple placed their names on the Children’s Aid Society’s adoption waiting list two years ago. But with more adoptive homes available than children, Judy and Franklin will have to wait an estimated 10 years to adopt a child.
“Before the 1960s there were more healthy children available for adoption than adoptive homes to be filled,” said Betty Ann Streeter, the social worker and adoption licensee for Franklin and Judy. “but since the late 1970s there’s been more adoptive homes than there are healthy children because of a movement to keep [birth] families together.”
To help speed up the adoption process, Streeter encouraged Franklin and Judy to take a more active approach. The couple decided to target campus newspapers to find a child to adopt. They have sent 100 letters to campus newspapers in Ontario and British Columbia in hopes of finding a mother between the age of 17 and 30 who would be willing to give up her baby for adoption to them.
Adoption advertising has appeared in community and mainstream newspapers for the past five years. But now, more and more campus newspapers are being approached by desperate parents looking to advertise their search for a child to adopt into their homes and call their own.
“It’s a practical target group because the age group is most likely to be in the position of being pregnant, but looking at adoption as a viable option,” said Franklin.
“Being in school, the woman may not be emotionally or financially ready for a child. It’s not exploitative because the child has already been created, and we are providing the couple with an alternative to raising the child themselves.”
But Chelsea Balzan, Ryerson’s student council’s women’s issue commissioner, believes targeting campus newspapers is inappropriate. While she empathizes with the new couple’s struggle, she feels the ad could coax a young pregnant woman, who is feeling confused, into making the wrong decision.
“It concerns me because the ad is trying to get a woman that is most likely in a vulnerable who may not have examined all her options,” Balzan said.
“It’s not that I don’t trust a woman’s decision, but if I were pregnant I would feel vulnerable and if the wording [of the ad] was great I might jump at it without making an informed decision.
Franklin and Judy have placed an ad seeking to adopt a child in this issue of The Eyeopener. Another couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous, asked Campus Plus, a national newspaper advertising agency, to inquire if its 70 campus newspaper clients who agree to run their adoption classified ad.
Barbara Tate, an advertising sales representative at Campus Plus, believes this is the first couple to inquire about an adoption ad with the company. She said 60 per cent of the newspapers plan to run the couple’s ad. The other 40 per cent have chosen not to run it. The ad is expected to run in a couple of weeks, after the couple’s lawyer reviews the wording of the classified.
One of the papers refusing to run the ad is the University of Toronto’s biweekly newspaper The Varsity. Editor-in-chief Carl Warren says the paper refuses to run ads soliciting sperm donors, egg donors, or in vitro fertilization.
“Any ad that deals with the transaction of human being sand anatomy is not appropriate for our newspaper.”
While The Varsity will not be running the ad, York Unviersity’s campus newspaper the Excalibur, voted in favour of placing it in their paper. “No one objected against targeting university students [with this ad] because we [students] have the resources and support to make intelligent decision,” said Derek Chezzi, the paper’s editor-in-chief.
“We’re pursuing a post-secondary education and we’re in an environment to discuss the issue.”
Like the Excalibur, The Eyeopener’s editorial board voted in support of placing the ad.
Judy and Franklin hope their ad placed in campus newspapers will help bring them closer to fulfilling their four-year dream. Like all people wanting to adopt, they had to complete an adoption home study — an evaluation of their capacities for adoptive parenthood required by the government.
Streeter said she tries to match a voluntary birth mother with compatible adoptive parents, but it’s up to the birth mother to decide whether she wants her child to be with the parents chosen. The decision is sometimes based on details such as religion, occupation, hobbies or photographs.
“It’s like going through an audition based on what you look like on paper,” said Judy. “I’m not getting any younger but we’re anxious to begin our family and fulfill our homes.”
But even if the couple gets a response to the toll free number posted in the ad, their search may not come to an end.
“There is a remote chance that someone will actually read our ad and call, but it’s a chance we have to take.
“The obstacles are endless. She would have to make the decision to call, but by the time she is assigned a social worker she may be presented with several other couples, and choose one of them.
“And at the end of the day after she gives birth she could change her mind and keep the child. There’s no guarantees the child will ever be yours.”
- Prospective parents must complete an adoption home study to be considered.
- A birth parent voluntarily plans adoption for their child through public (The Children’s Aid Society) or private adoption (agencies and adoption licensees). Both are monitored by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.
- If a birth parent is unable to adequately parent a child, the court may make the child a Crown ward, becoming legally free for adoption.
- Prospective parents can be on more than one adoption waiting list, but can apply to only one foreign country for international adoption at a time.
- Voluntary birth parents are assigned a different social worker than the prospective parents.
- Voluntary birth parents are matched up with compatible prospective parents and are allowed to choose the parents they want to adopt their child based on profiles provided.
- Birth parents have the option of meeting the parents after choosing the adoptive parents.
- Prospective parents can only pay for government approved legal and counseling services of the birth parent. Paying for a child is illegal in Canada.