Saint John family adopts baby girl after 7 year wait
Wait times continue to be lengthy for couples wishing to adopt an infant in New Brunswick
A seven-year wait to adopt a baby has rewarded a patient Saint John family with an infant girl.
Baby Violet's legal papers, signed by a judge, arrived in the mail last week, making it official: she's now the youngest daughter of Jacquie and Steven Woodruff.
It's almost like it's too good to be true.- Jacquie Woodruff, adoptive mother
Their story begins in the summer of 2007, when the Woodruffs applied for adoption, hoping to grow their family.
The profile they completed back then, updated every year thereafter, only worked its way to the top of the pile this past winter.
The biological parents of a two-week-old girl had read the family's profile and chosen them.
"We had a phone call from our social worker," says Steven Woodruff.
"She says, we've got a little baby for you. You've got five or six hours, or until the end of the day, to decide whether you want to accept her."
Two days' notice
Calls went out to family and friends. People showed up with blankets, baby clothes and furniture.
There were just two days to prepare.
Time moved both slowly and very fast, recalls Jacquie.
"You'd been waiting for so long, it's almost like your mind plays tricks on you," she says.
"As much as you want to believe it, it's almost like it's too good to be true. I was really nervous those two days we waited to go pick her up that somehow everything was going to come crashing down."
Eight months after Violet's arrival, Halloween pumpkins lined the front steps of the Woodruff's west Saint John home.
Inside, Jacquie Woodruff will soon be looking for wall space to hang new family portraits.
I love babies.- Victor Woodruff, 6
Now they are a tableau of five, including older sister Madlyn, and older brother, Victor.
"And it gives me more responsibility, because I'm one of the main helpers."
"I love babies," says Victor, bouncing off the couch as six-year-olds do.
Victor was adopted by the Woodruffs from the foster family system in 2009.
"There's lots of different ways that kids come into families," says Steven Woodruff. "And for us, it was really the same enjoyment as when babies come the natural way."
Jacquie Woodruff says she has offered to maintain an open relationship with Violet's birth parents.
She anticipates that will lead to emotional meetings, and some possibly difficult conversations, but she says she's determined to give Violet a sense of where she comes from.
"They're [the birth parents] going through a grieving process, and this will be hard for them," says Jacquie.
"But I have more than one child I can love. Why can't Violet have more than one mother she can love?"
More families than babies
Infant adoptions are relatively rare, says Suzanne Kingston, executive director of the New Brunswick Adoption Foundation.
"There are more supports now for single mothers, and the stigma of being a single mother has lessened, " she says.
International adoptions are off their peak in 2003, in part, because several countries have changed the rules, and agencies have hiked their fees.
New Brunswick's Department of Social Development cautions prospective parents there are far more families waiting for babies than there are babies waiting for families.
"The wait time can vary," says the government's web site, "but typically the wait for an infant ministerial adoption in New Brunswick is approximately eight years."
Department spokesperson Valerie Kilfoil says, via email, "the Department places approximately 10 infants (0 to two years) for adoption each year."
The Woodruffs say they feel lucky that time did deliver exactly what they hoped for.
"Seven years isn't much of a wait," says Steven. "It goes by quicker than you think."