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The Book

The Experience

The idea of writing this book began because of my frustration about finding very few Canadian resources at the time we began our adoption journey. That was 1998. Ten years later, there are still none in the form that Labours of Love has taken. I came to realize that the publishing industry believes the market for such a book, is very narrow; that few people would have an interest. Prior to that disappointing realization however, I had already attended a course on how to create a non-fiction book proposal, created that proposal; and set about locating eager Canadian families to share their stories. I was at the point of no return.

I applied that same blind faith and perseverance towards the book, as I had with the adoption of our daughter Diana.

Through connecting with agencies, word of mouth, a notice in Today’s Parent Magazine and other networking efforts, I managed to find families from as many parts of Canada as I could muster. The majority of these families stayed the course with me for the next three years until I was able to find a publisher. To overcome that hurdle was incredible, but even more incredible, was the opportunity to finally meet and interview the families, whose words make Labours of Love what I hoped it would be.

It was a wonderful adventure, to fly, drive, seaplane and climb a mountain, to share a small part of these families’ lives. Besides being in the company of extraordinary people, I was reminded of the true majesty of this country, and the privilege I feel to be Canadian. We are indeed fortunate.

An unexpected bonus during this time was the people I met along the way, from whom I have learned so much – about adoption, about diversity, about compassion. Every person I encountered, upon hearing of the project, was enthusiastic, interested and anxious to share their experiences of adoption. These encounters encouraged me to keep going with renewed energy during moments of uncertainty. I have also learned with more conviction than ever, that there really are no accidents in life; no coincidences. Things happen as they are meant to; people enter our lives to support our purpose and to enrich the experience. Many of the people instrumental in creating this book aside from the contributors, have been profoundly touched by adoption themselves. Their involvement has also enhanced Labours of Love.

From here, my hope is that this book will inspire, inform, and shine a light on adoption in Canada, where there is darkness. There is much that can be done still, to find children in care the permanent families they so deserve, and it is up to us to help make it happen.




The Families

The families in Labours of Love are all unique and amazing. They have left an indelible impression on my heart. When you get to know them, you will understand why. Here are just a few excerpts.

Paying it Forward

Cathy, Biological and Adoptive mother
“The system goes overboard telling people what can go wrong with adoptions of kids in foster care, in order to protect themselves. Instead, they need to capture people with an image of the kids that’s not too scary, educate them about what that might look like, and then give them a lot of support along the way. The system has to say, ‘Okay, you’ve done something risky and challenging, and your kid’s going to need a lot of support and so are you, and you can do it!’ People aren’t hearing the right stuff and getting the supports to help them be successful. Ultimately, that’s what leads to adoption breakdowns."


Open Hearts

Ryan, Birthfather
“It’s becoming more comfortable. To me the house itself doesn’t matter so much. It’s what is going on inside that counts. Their values were my first concern. When I came, Kate took me by the hand and [led me] up the stairs to show me her room. I have kept every email that Marj and I have corresponded with, and I go back and reread them.”

Perfect Harmony

Jeff Healey, Adoptee
"When I was three or four, I remember telling Mrs. Upton, our social worker, that I wanted a sister and that I was going to call her Linda. One day at the cottage, someone came over on the boat from the general store (we had no phone) to tell us there was a message from Children`s Aid. It was Sept. 1970."


Daddy and Papa

Gary and Darrin, Adoptive Fathers
"The best part of being a parent is having your kids put their arms around you and hold on with everything they possess. To know that, right now, we are their whole world and that no matter what we look like in the morning, or how many times we say no, their love for us is never-ending. Our greatest joy is to see them cross some milestone and see the pride that they feel in that accomplishment.”

The Next Chapter

Sandra, Biological and Adoptive mother
“It was just a wonderful trip. China is an absorbing culture, and it was fascinating and heartening to see the Chinese expressing their appreciation with thumbs up and smiling gestures to us. They very evidently wanted us to know their happiness about us adopting their country’s children.”


The Professionals

During my research for Labours of Love, I interviewed nine adoption professionals, seven of whom appear in the book. They all share a profound sense of compassion for children and families with the endurance to remain committed to a profession that is exhausting beyond description. The emotional rewards of finding the right families for children and helping them succeed in the future, is what keeps them going.

Sandra Scarth – President, Adoption Council of Canada
“A lot of provinces have post-adoption services, but in some provinces they are quite minimal and again underfunded. They may not be adequate for foster parents who wish to adopt but who worry about the loss of the supports they need to help them raise the children. The other thing we need to work on is mental health services that are appropriate for adoptive families, that don’t blame the parents for the challenges the children present but help them to understand and manage the issues better.

Michael Grand – Psychologist and Professor, University of Guelph
“I believe the easiest way to understand adoption is to understand paradox. Whatever you think it is, it’s usually the opposite. The more adoptive parents try to push away birth family, the more birth family will have a prominent place in the mind of the adoptee. The more adoptive parents respect the child’s origins, the less birth family will fill a threatening emotional space in the life of the adoptive parents. The more adoptive parents can embrace that understanding, the closer will the child come to them. If you block out that reality, the more they push the child away. That is a great paradox.”


The Photographers

Twelve photographers from across Canada joined me in profiling the families in Labours of Love. We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” How much have their photographs spoken volumes? You be the judge…





Adoption Council of Canada
Tel: (613) 235-0344

Adoption Council of Ontario
Tel: (416) 482-0021

Family Helper
Robin Hilborn, Editor

Childrens Action Network 

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
Joe Kroll, Executive Director

Canada’s Waiting Kids
Tel: 1-888-542-3678 (toll-free)


Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Tel: (416) 537-9499
201 Harbord Street
Toronto ON, Canada
M5S 1H6

Canada Adopts! Inc.
550 Eglinton Ave West, Suite 23052,
Toronto, ON, M5N 3A8

Brenda McCreight, PH.D., R.S.W.
Therapist, International Speaker & Author
Brenda McCreight's Blog

Spark ::: ignite their potential - www.ignitethespark.ca

The Wilsons - thewilsonsofficial.com/index.htm


  © Labours of Love by Deborah A. Brennan 2013