Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Labours of Love: An Interview with Deborah Brennan

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Labours of Love: An Interview with Deborah Brennan

November is National Adoption Awareness Month in North America and to mark the occasion, Dundurn Press has announced the publication of Labours of Love: Canadians Talk About Adoption by Deborah Brennan. Labours of Love is an honest look at what it means to be an adoptive parent, an adoptee and a birth parent. In this interview with Dundurn, Brennan talks about writing her book, international and Canadian adoption laws and her own experience with adoption.

Dundurn:

What led you to write a book on adoption?

DB:

The book ultimately began with our personal experiences of adoption. When we pursued adoption initially 13 years ago, and then in earnest again 10 years ago...there were no CANADIAN books that I could read or research with. This was frustrating, and I decided after our daughter turned 4, that I should write the book that I wish I could have found in the beginning of our journey.

Dundurn:

You tell an extremely emotional story of your own experience with adoption. Tell us what kind of a journey it’s been for you.

DB:

Our adoption journey has been life changing...and continues to be. Adoption is like politics and religion (sort of) in that it is an extremely subjective issue that is fraught with every human emotion you can think of. We have experienced pretty much all of them...but I am so happy to have this open adoption relationship with Diana’s birthmother. This is a wonderful gift for us all, and especially for Diana.

Dundurn:

What for you personally was the most surprising aspect of the adoption process?

DB:

Two surprising things...that the process was difficult, challenging, frustrating, and that there are still so many misconceptions and stigmas surrounding adoption in 2008!

Dundurn:

Are there any archaic laws pertaining to the process that still exist in Canada? Are adopted children able to find out who their birth parents are relatively easily?

DB:

I am not the expert on adoption legislation in Canada, but I do know there are many inconsistencies in the laws about adoption, from province to province, which I believe needs addressing, and yes I believe there are some things that need to be seriously examined about the system. When there are approx. 22,000 children eligible for adoption in Canada, waiting for permanent loving homes... there is something wrong with the picture. Regarding adoptees ability to find out their birth origins... it is still time consuming, but next June 2009 , when legislation comes into effect regarding disclosure... it will be easier. There is still a veto clause, which I am opposed to, but we are making progress.

Dundurn:

Who will read your book?

DB:

I hope anyone interested in adoption will read the book...adoptees, adoptive parents, birth families, educators, legislators...It is a big topic...1 in every 5 Canadians have been personally touched by adoption, yet people still seem hesitant to discuss it. I’d like that to change.

Dundurn:

You have interviewed and included several professionals in the field. Why did you feel it necessary to include their advice and comments in the book?

DB:

I included the professional perspective because I am not one! These are the people who have worked tirelessly in adoption for decades. They are the experts...they are people who have wanted to/ tried to advocate for children for their entire careers. Their voices needed to be heard too, so that there can be more progress made in adoption in our country.

Dundurn:

What is the number one suggestion you would make to someone thinking of adopting for the first time?

DB:

There are three top suggestions: 1. Do your homework... research, research, research, and decide on what KIND of adoption you would like to pursue, domestic, international, public or private. 2. Know yourself/partner/limitations/goals. 3. Once you’ve done #1 and# 2... BE PROACTIVE in any way you can...and believe me... you can, so that you can advocate for yourself, and the children/children, waiting to join your family!

Dundurn:

Why do people wishing to adopt tend to travel overseas? Are the Adoption rules in other countries very different to ours in Canada?

DB:

I can’t answer this question... but there can be many reasons... some decide on international adoption because they may believe it is more of a sure thing; some may adopt internationally because of their own ancestral roots; some may wish to because they want to avoid the possibility of birth family involvement; some turn top international because they find our system too difficult/restrictive to navigate.... The tides seem to be turning in international adoption.... It is not as easy (China for example) as it once was. I am hoping this will bode well for Canada’s Waiting Children.

Dundurn:

What is the most challenging thing about adoption?

DB:

The most challenging thing about adoption: EVERYTHING! Adoption has a beginning but no end, so there are challenges all along the way. To adopt is a challenge, to live the experience can be a challenge, to find post adoption supports is a challenge. If you asked 10 different people, you would hear 10 different answers!

Dundurn:

What is the single best thing about adoption?

DB:

The single best thing about adoption is the joy and privilege of being able to parent a child... period.

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