New Brunswick Adoption Foundation marks 20 years of helping kids find forever homes

The New Brunswick Adoption Foundation is celebrating a major milestone as the organization marks its 20th anniversary.

The not-for-profit was founded in 2002 and was the first of its kind in Canada.

"At the time, the government of the day was Bernard Lord, he was premier, and they recognized that there were kids who were in foster care where the parental rights had been severed," said Suzanne Kingston, the executive director of the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation.

"At that time, most of the kids where the parental rights had been severed stayed in foster care or some form of government care, and were not becoming a part of a new family. So, they realized that this is not OK."

Kingston says the organization's original goal was to raise awareness that there were children in foster care in need of forever homes.

She says, over the foundation's 20 years of service, her team realized more needed to be done.

"Through our work over the years, we very much listened to the voices of adoptees, youth who've been in care, adoptive parents and child welfare professionals, and from those voices we realized that it was a lot more complicated," she said.

"And that really, people who are waiting to adopt need support through that process. They also need to really understand what it is to parent a child who has been through what these kids have."

Kingston admits adoption isn't for everyone, adding it takes a special person.

"You need to be someone who understands the complexity, who is ready to be there through thick and thin. These kids are going through an incredible healing journey," she said. "You need to be a strong advocate. You need to be someone who can walk that journey with a child who has had a lot of harm done."

Today, the foundation focuses a lot of its work on helping parents connect with children and supporting them throughout the adoption process.

"So, we heard from others who really knew on the ground and from there, we shifted. We still do awareness work, we still promote adoption, but a big part of our work now is supporting people pre-adoption and supporting people post-adoption," Kingston said. 

More information on adoptions in New Brunswick can be found on the organization's website.