Being an adoptive parent is very different from being a biological parent. In many ways it is more difficult and yet at the same time, very rewarding.
Tim and Amber Neufeld, already parents of two biological children, took the Adoption Education Program (AEP) through the Adoptive Families Association of BC to help prepare for an anticipated adoption through BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).
“The AEP prepared us for the adoption,” says Amber. “And like any schooling, you don’t realize how valuable it’s been until you’re in the thick of a difficult situation.”
The online format of the AEP proved particularly valuable to help the Neufelds complete the requirements for a Ministry adoption. Tim’s shiftwork made it nearly impossible for him to attend classroom sessions. Instead, each week Tim and Amber watched instructive and compelling videos and slide presentations in the comfort of their own home. Their online instructor was not only professional and experienced, but also cared about them individually and validated their questions. “There was so much information, but all of it has been of great value to us in one way or another,” says Amber.
Tim and Amber’s adoption journey began three years ago when they thought about adopting internationally. But the closer they got to finalizing their decision the more they felt compelled to adopt through MCFD. They waited a long time – two and a half years – to be matched with a child, and then received a proposal for twins! Although two weeks to prepare for twins was a bit of a shock, thanks to the AEP, Tim and Amber felt prepared to manage the unique ways that parenting adopted children is different from parenting biological children.
The Neufelds experienced each of the transition stages of attachment with the twins and were prepared for those stages because of the AEP. They learned to have a much better appreciation for birth parents and are now open to inviting them into their children’s lives, which is something they were sceptical about in the beginning. Amber explains that the AEP has helped them be more sensitive to the behaviour that all of their children are exhibiting and also to manage the impact of the drastic changes in their family over the past six months.
The AEP gave the Neufelds and their twins a great start to their adoption and connected them with wonderful social workers and abundant resources. Their knowledge base will guide them as they grow and parent in a special needs adoption. “We have been overwhelmed by the support of AFABC,” says Amber. “Any time we need help there is a social worker there to talk to us, books to guide us, and a plethora of resources. We have never felt alone in this adoption, and we have the AEP Online and AFABC to thank for that.”