Meet David and Peter (and Chloe): British Columbia’s new breed of adopting parents

On September 17, 2009 the Adoptive Families Association of BC (AFABC) will hold a Gay Adoption Information Session where you can meet gay and lesbian adoptive parents and hear their stories much like that of David Kuefler and Peter ter Weeme.  We caught up with David, past president of the AFABC to learn more about the organization and their own adoption of eight-year old Chloe.

1

Tell us about the Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia (AFABC). What does the organization do?

AFABC is the provincial organization that promotes adoption, supports people through the process and then is the centre of BC’s large and vibrant adoption community.  We’re province-wide and diversity-focused. There is tons of information at http://bcadopt.com. Our key goal is to find loving parents for children, from babies to teens, who need families. Children grow up best with the support and love of parents, and we know that the gay community has many people who would be great parents.

2

AFABC is obviously committed to diversity – was the organization always as open with same-sex adoptions as it is now?

AFABC is very committed to diversity. Adoption is about diversity. It’s about community, love, belonging and life-long bonds. There are many gay parents whose families were created through adoption. As an organization, AFABC has worked hard to promote gay adoption and support for gay families in our communities. I’m a gay parent and I’ve just finished two years as the AFABC’s president and Board chair, and we will continue to be a strong voice for same-sex adoption here in BC and around the world.

3 While becoming more common, same-sex adoption can still be hot button issue for some. How have you seen attitudes change with respect to same-sex adoption in British Columbia?

In urban centres like Vancouver and Victoria, you see gay parents more frequently in schools, the grocery store or at the playground. I remember some years back when my son was in an elementary grade, three of his classmates also came from gay families. In rural areas, gay adoption is certainly growing and becoming more commonplace. Negative attitudes about gay families are almost always the result of ignorance. As gay families become more and more common, and people understand that our families are just as solid and healthy as other families, those attitudes will further evolve.

4 In a recent article you mentioned the difficulties in adopting during these tough economic times. How has the economy impacted adoption in British Columbia?

We’re not quite sure yet, but some families may postpone their international adoptions and local adoptions using an agency. Both of these adoption routes involve significant costs. On the other hand, domestic adoptions through the Ministry of Children and Family Development have minimal costs which may mean that more people considering adoption will adopt take that route. AFABC is also concerned that provincial spending cuts may impact adoption but we are still waiting to see how. Of course, while cost is always a factor, it is love that creates families and there is an abundance of that in our community.

5 You and your partner Peter have three children including your eight year old daughter Chloe that you adopted from Vietnam. How long was the process for adopting Chloe and what was the experience like?

That’s a hard question to answer. My husband and I decided to adopt a child from Vietnam after visiting the country and falling in love with the people. We already had two boys who are my birth kids, with a lesbian, so we wanted to add a girl to the mix. We also decided to adopt a child with special needs and that made our process a little different from a “standard” adoption.

6 How long has Chloe been in Canada and how is she adapting to her new life?

Chloe joined our family at 8 months old and is now a wonderful, healthy and punchy Grade 3 student in Vancouver. She has good friends, a great sense of humour and is becoming a deadly chess player. All is good.

Peter ter Weeme, Chloe and David Kuefler at Vancouver’s 2009 Pride Parade.
Peter ter Weeme, Chloe and David Kuefler at Vancouver’s 2009 Pride Parade.

7 What was your motivation to adopt?

I personally wanted the experience as a parent of raising a girl, and wanted to help a little person who might not be adopted because of her special needs. Peter and I viewed raising a child together was an important way for us to deepen our relationship. All of those things come together with our daughter, Chloe. I want my life to make a contribution to others and adopting is one of the most meaningful, direct and lasting ways for me to do that. I hear that same story echoed by other parents. It’s about love and community in the truest sense of the words.

8 You also have two teenage biological sons. How were they with the adoption?

Blending birth kids and adopted kids can sometimes be a challenge and we’ve had ours. But adoption is a life-long reality and is built with love and acceptance at its core, and those are powerful forces in our lives and our family. Love conquers all challenges. Love endures and life is a journey. When you’re a parent, you take the long-view and that helps get through the challenging spots.

9 Are you planning any future adoptions or children?

We’re discussing the next stage of our life together and are considering the possibility of another child.

10 What piece of advice can you give to other same-sex couples that are looking to adopt?

The advice I give everyone is: if there is love in your heart, there is a child who desperately needs it. There are many reasons to consider deciding to adopt, but it really comes down to knowing in your gut that you can create a family through love and connection, and that the journey will be fruitful and full for both you and your child. I have met so many members of our community who are rich with affection, love and commitment, and I’ve met so many kids who would shine in its glow. I say go for it, your life will be so satisfying.

Adoptive Families Association of BC (AFABC) Gay Adoption Information Session
Thursday, September 17, 2009 At 7:00 PM
Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews (Corner of Davie & Pacific), Vancouver

Have you thought about it? Should you?  If you, or someone you know, would make a loving, committed parent, this Gay Adoption Information session is for you.  Come meet gay and lesbian adoptive parents and hear their stories. Learn the facts about adopting in BC. It’s easier than you think. If you know someone who would make an amazing adoptive parent, encourage them to attend.

For information contact Sarah Reid, AFABC 604-320-7330, Ext 105 or sreid@bcadoption.com.

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