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Zero to teenager The unique experience of adopting an older child

Carol had pretty much given up on her dream of adopting a child. Years of waiting and going through the disappointment of not being able to find the right “match” left her feeling like she would never get the chance to be a mother.  

This all changed when Carol got a call from Peel Children’s Aid. “Out of the blue I got a call from my Peel CAS worker who said she thought I should meet a young woman named Maria,” says Carol. “When you decide to adopt, you have an idea of what kind of child or youth you believe will work for your family. Until I got the call I hadn’t really considered adopting a teenager. However I decided to open up my mind to the possibility that it just might work.”

Carol and Maria met for lunch the next day. “I remember being extremely nervous,” says Carol. “Thankfully my mom and Peel CAS worker were there, along with Maria and her social worker. At first it was awkward, but I had a good feeling that Maria might be exactly who I had been waiting for.”

“Carol did seem a little stressed,” laughs Maria. “But ‘grandma’ was relaxed and I could see that these were really nice people. It didn’t take me long to decide I would like to give it a try.”

Maria’s journey to find her forever family had its share of challenges. Born in Ecuador, Maria was raised by her abuela (grandmother) until coming to Canada to live with her mother at the age of eight. “There were a lot of issues in my family, including various kinds of abuse” says Maria. “Eventually I found the strength to go to the Children’s Aid office when I was 15 and share my story. Four days later I met my worker Amanda and she realized that staying with my family was not an option for me.”

Initially, Maria lived with a foster family. “When my worker mentioned adoption to me I wondered why would anyone want to adopt someone my age?” Then I realized that by giving it a chance there was a possibility I could become part of a family for the rest of my life.”

On November 3, 2015, Maria’s adoption was finalized. “It was a great day. Carol has a large extended family and everyone has been so welcoming,” says Maria. “My family call her the famous Maria” adds Carol. “My mother has always wanted a grandchild and she and Maria already have a special bond.”

Both Maria and Carol are honest about some of the challenges that go along with adoption. “I used to spend a lot of time alone and I’ve had to get used to having people around all the time,” says Maria. “Oh, and Carol hasn’t learned to speak Spanish yet but she did go and get some Spanish cookbooks!”

For Carol, one of the biggest challenges includes going from zero to teenager. “It’s not easy parenting a sixteen year old,” she says. “Luckily I have lots of friends with teenagers who I can call to get advice.” And like many other parents, Carol has been busy teaching Maria how to drive and looking at colleges for next year.

“In the end, it worked, it just worked,” says Carol. “Maria is like the miracle that we’ve been waiting for.” 

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