“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
It isn’t a job that you’ll see listed in the classifieds, but it is a non-stop 24/7 responsibility. This week we are talking about the job of parenting, and as a father myself, it is the most wonderful and rewarding experience of my entire life.
Drew Ferris and his fiancée Alexandria Roelandt are hoping to soon become parents, but not in the “old-fashion way” as Ferris describes.
“We had a couple of conversations and it was one of those instances where you go about making a baby the traditional way. However neither of us was too keen on it because we’ve just heard horror stories of where the mom or the baby doesn’t make it and so we just didn’t have a strong attachment to doing that,” he says.
“So we came around to an agreement to look into the steps needed for adoption.”
The afternoon drive host on Country 90.5 says that research took them to a group called PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education)
Ferris says, “They give you a step by step of the adoption process but also everything you would need to know afterward and I came away thinking that this was just a great overall parenting course.”
“The more information we got about it, the more we realized that this is what we wanted to do. It really put into perspective what actually goes into adopting and raising an adopted child.”
Ferris says anyone would benefit from this course. He says, “I think having this information more readily available might help out people overall. PRIDE is for foster parents and adopted parents but I honestly would love to have something that is government-mandated that shows ‘here is a starting point in learning how to become a parent.’’
“Having that information in what it takes to be a parent needs to be out there. I know people do the best they can, but something that would give people a step in the right direction, I think I would love to see that.”
Ferris says one thing he learned is about the different types of adoption processes, of which there are three routes.
“There’s the public route which is the government-funded way. There’s the private side where you sign on with an adoption agency and that pairs you with a family and helps build a relationship. Then there is International Adoption which could be anywhere between $30-$80,000,” he says.
“We chose the private adoption because with public you don’t really have much of a choice of age. We wanted to take in an infant and that’s why we went with the private sector.”
Ferris says there are a lot of steps to go through.
“There are a lot more than I had anticipated. We had to go through the police to get a criminal record check. We had to go to our doctors and practitioners to show that we are healthy enough. We had to get an adoption practitioner to help guide us through the process, someone who knows the system more than us. We had to get a home inspection and a financial check and if we could afford to have that extra body in the house.”
And he says they are getting close to the point where a family could choose them as the adoptive parents.
“Our adoption practitioner makes a profile for us and so these potential birth parents will be seeing these profiles and if we’re chosen we will meet the birth parents and have an open conversation about what we are looking for and what they are looking for and if everything meshes, once the child is born they get put in our guardianship for 28 days for a grace period, where at any point the birth family can change their mind,” he says.
“After those 28 days, they no longer have legal guardianship of that child.”
Ferris says one of the most important things people have to understand is that adoptive parents are not only there to support the child but also the birth family.
“Whatever circumstances have led them into this path are not important, we are there to provide a supportive environment for the mother who is making the decision and going through the loss of losing the baby that she thought that she was going to be able to raise,” he says.
“But they now realize that it's not going to work out and we are there to keep that connection between the parent and the child and help them understand who they are and where they came from and supporting them in becoming their own person.”
Ferris says they’ve learned that there is more of a hope of the child knowing where they come earlier so that it isn’t a shock to them out of the blue one day.
“There’s usually a stereotype that says, ‘once they turn 13 you should tell them they are adopted.’ Well, one of the recommendations from the PRIDE sessions was that you make it open,” he says.
“As soon as the kid can start processing that reasoning and understanding certain things, you just help them realize that being adopted is just part of who they are.”
And Ferris has been very open about the process on social media.
“When Alex and I made that decision I got to thinking of what is the best way to make it more open and it led me to using my platform as a radio host to talk about,” he says.
“I talked to my instructor at the course and I said, ‘I have this idea of making videos and talking about adoption on air, would you have a problem with me sending you scripts and just generally fact-checking me and making sure I’m not spreading misinformation about the adoption process in Ontario?’ My instructor has gone above and beyond with this idea. He has added ideas and notes to my scripts and videos and it has been really nice to have someone make sure that I’m getting the right information out there.”
Ferris says he knew he was doing the right thing when he was approached while on the job.
“I was doing a live-on-location for Country 90.5 and we were launching our Free Beer Friday promotion with New Ontario Brewery and someone came up and said, ‘thanks for the free beer, but I actually just wanted to talk to you.’ Turns out, he is going through the final steps of adopting his daughter and he just wanted to meet me and thank me for making it more open and starting that conversation in a light-hearted way. That was the moment where I realized that it was a good idea,” he says.
Ferris says there is an excitement building as they get closer to an adoption day.
“Every once in a while I will come to the fact that it's getting closer and my heart beats a little faster, knowing that I will be becoming a father soon,” he says.
“It’s just a different path. I’ve learned a lot going through this and everything is new and different and there is so much to celebrate about the process. It is being given the opportunity to provide a life and nurture them to the best of your ability and then you will have a piece of yourself out there in the world.”
If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future” send Matt an email at [email protected]