Who are Canada’s waiting children?

Meet the many children in government care who long for a forever family

By Focus on the Family Canada staff

Not long ago, someone called our office to express their intention to begin an orphanage in Canada. I stammered a bit, unsure how to respond, and finally said, “We don’t do that in Canada.”

This person truly had a heart for Canada’s waiting children. Many of us, however, are oblivious to the children in our country who do not have family who is committed to them for the long term. If we are to help meet their needs, we need to first understand who these children are.

Canada’s waiting children are usually children who are available for adoption. They typically live with foster families, as the rights of their birth parents have been terminated by the courts. These children are in the care of a foster family while they wait to be adopted.

The majority of these children are between the ages of six and eighteen, and many are one of a group of siblings. While some of these children may be adopted by their foster families, most are not.

Many of these waiting children have experienced neglect and abuse, and have moved from one foster home to another. Some have been exposed to drugs or alcohol before birth, struggle with behavioural or learning disabilities, or may develop mental health issues. Some have lost parents through death. Nearly all of them are still waiting for permanent families for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They are more than two years old, but many adopting families want babies;
  • They are part of a sibling group;
  • They were prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol in the womb, which may cause brain damage, resulting in some behavioural issues and/or learning disabilities;
  • They’ve moved from one foster home to another so many times, they find it difficult to attach to yet another new family and therefore exhibit some challenging behaviours;
  • They have suffered abuse or neglect as children and this has delayed their ability to learn and develop normally.

Many of these children are considered “special needs” children because of the trauma they have faced, unwanted and uninvited, early in their lives. But they are also:

  • Precious souls, loved by God;
  • Hungry for affection, stability and grace in their lives;
  • Responsive to those who will work with them, patiently teaching and re-teaching the skills these children need to thrive;
  • Sponges who will soak up good nutrition, security, spiritual truth and love;
  • Hearts who need to hear that they are valued, worthy, seen and cared for in ways that matter;
  • Bodies whose physical development can catch up if their emotional, spiritual and mental health needs are adequately addressed;
  • Children in need of what all kids need: a family to call their own, a place to belong!