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Becoming a parent

A few months ago, one of my closest friends told me that her and her partner were looking to adopt a child.  She shared with me the lengthy interviews and application forms that they had to fill out as well as the numerous parenting classes they had to attend to even qualify as a potential foster family.  She then asked if I could be her reference for me to vouch for her as a person, her capacities as a parent as well as provide a safe environment for this potential child.  I immediately accepted the honour to be able to share with others how wonderful a person she was, how her home would be one of the best places for a child to grow up and how if anything would happen to me and my husband that I would want our daughter to live with her.  It brought me great joy to think that she might be able to adopt a child and experience motherhood. 

However, on the flip side, I started to think about the whole process that she and her partner must go through to be able to adopt a child and how strange that today, we ask others to jump through hoops to become an adoptive or foster parent and yet there are no requirements, legislation, licensing for any other human being who wants or ends up having a child.  Why is it that those who truly want children and who have given it a lot of thought and planned to foster a child need to go through this intensive screening? Yet, anyone else can just become a parent?

Millions of children around the world are neglected, abused and born in unhealthy environments.  They are raised at times by people who never wanted children or have not been able to deal with their own issues which in turn leaves thousands of children and youth growing up without the love they deserve.  So how is it that when two people such as my friend and her partner come forth with great intentions to love, provide and raise a child, they are faced with an overwhelming number of steps and questions in comparison to the rest of society who, without any questions asked can have a child?

In our society, we must get a license to drive, get a construction permit, get authorization to have a wedding in a public space, register for this that and the next thing and yet, there is no permit, licensing or even screening process to become a parent…  And even if there was, who would regulate it? What would that look like from a structural perspective? Who would be deemed a “fit parent”? What would a “fit parent” mean?

I know that as a parent myself, there are many times that I wished that motherhood came with a manual and yet every time I watch and admire my daughter, I think to myself….what if there was someone out there who told me that I was not able to be a mother because I didn’t fit their criteria, I would be devastated.  So how is it that for those that want to adopt, this possibility can be taken away from them in a blink of an eye versus the rest of society who has every right and access to become a parent?

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Janice Hamel

Janice Hamel is a devoted social worker working in the health care field and proactively engaged in the international field.  She graduated from the University of British Colombia with her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in International Social Work.

Over the last 20 years, Janice has taken on the role of advocate, researcher, counselor, group animator, guest speaker and manager. She has worked with adults and children living with mental health issues, woman and children affected by violence, seniors and those in palliative/hospice care. As well as in combatting to end human trafficking.