One big, happy family

 

MP Jeff Watson and wife Sarah adopt Inuit newborn

By Joel Charron

Essex MP Jeff Watson and his wife Sarah always thought about adopting a child and last week, their thoughts became reality.

The Watsons became the proud parents to a newborn Inuit girl. Her name is Beatrice Grace Ulaajuk Watson.

“We were approached Dec. 7 by friends of ours in Ottawa who were approached by the birth mother and her family and they were looking for a family to adopt their, at the time, unborn child,” said Watson. “It’s a miraculous story. It came out of nowhere. It found us.”

Watson said the couple looked into adopting a baby from China several years ago, however that plan was scrapped when China changed their adoption policies.

“We stopped looking at adoption,” said Watson.

Watson said when the opportunity arose to adopt an Inuit baby, the couples desire to adopt resurfaced. He said that he and Sarah both felt the family “wasn’t complete” and the name Beatrice “was still in our heart” to bestow on another child.

“Sarah and I began to discuss the issue. It turned out she and I had the desire very strongly again to adopt,” said Watson.

However before Jeff and Sarah pursued the adoption any further they approached their five children to see their feelings on possibly adding another child.

 

Essex MP Jeff Watson, wife Sarah, and children Sophie, Emma, Elijah, Thaddaeus and Ava welcome newest child Beatrice Friday, January 20.

“If they were not on board, it made no sense to expand the family,” said Watson.

The Watson children – 14-year-old Sophie, 13-year-old Emma, eight-year-old Elijah, seven-year-old Thaddaeus, and four-year-old Ava were ecstatic about the idea so the Watson went forward with the adoption.

The kept in contact with Beatrice’s birth family in Nunavut through email, phone and Facebook.

Watson said he and Sarah headed to Iqualiut, Nunavut Jan. 11 to meet the birth mother and her family to ensure the birth family was comfortable with them. Around 3 a.m. Jan. 13, the Watsons got a call that the mother was headed to the hospital to have the baby. Due to a taxi shortage in the city that night, the Watsons missed the birth by six minutes but shared the bonding time with their new adopted daughter and her birth family right afterward.

On Jan. 17 around 1:30 a.m. Watson and Sarah returned to their Amherstburg home where oldest daughters Sophie and Emma were up waiting for the arrival of their newest family addition. Soon after their arrival the boys, Elijah and Thaddaeus joined them and shortly before dawn the youngest daughter Ava came to welcome her new sister.

“She’s (Ava) been the centre of the Watson universe for four year. We were wondering how she would take to her new sister,” said Watson.

Turned out she took it just fine.

Watson said Beatrice’s transition to her new family has been seamless, but noted it is an “open” adoption. That means that the two families will maintain a connection with each other and that Beatrice will have ties to her birth mother and family in Nunavut. In fact, the Watsons will regularly travel north so that their new daughter can experience her home culture. With the family spending half the year in Ottawa, they also plan on exposing Beatrice to that city’s large Inuit population and cultures as well.

Watson noted that they are “determined to raise her with a strong understanding of her culture and heritage.”

For Watson the open adoption is something new, being adopted himself in 1971. At that time adoptions were closed, meaning there was no contact with the birth parents. Although Watson said he had a “wonderful adopted family” however he always wondered about his biological parents growing up.

“The questions remained about who I am and where do I come from,” he said. “This will be different. Beatrice will be connected to two families being as one.”

“I’m at a stage in my life where I have much to give to this little girl,” he continued. “We’re embarking on a new journey together. I have four princesses. She’s my Inuit princess.”

Sarah admits, in the beginning of the adoption process she had questions as to how she would feel when the adoption was final and the baby was in their arms.

She said she wondered if she would have the same emotion when holding Beatrice as she did her five other children, however Sarah said when she held Beatrice for the first time the emotions were the same.

“I’m just in awe. That’s the best word I can use,” she said. “When someone gives you the gift of their child, I don’t have the words for what that means. The trust put towards us and the honor is amazing to me. She belongs here. She feels like my baby. We’re not a replacement. We’ve just been entrusted with the gift of raising her. It’s a huge honor. I couldn’t be happier to be a mom again.”

Oldest daughter, Sophie, who is already smitten with her new sister said Sarah will have plenty of help when it comes to Beatrice’s care.

“I really like babies,” Sophie said. “My mom is letting me be her special helper. I’m pretty good at taking care of babies because I already help out with the rest of the kids.”

The adoption comes just as the federal government’s human resources committee is set to present a report on a national adoption strategy. Watson said he tabled the motion a few years ago for the committee to study on federal support available to adoptive parents and children respectful of provincial jurisdictions. Although no longer on that committee, Watson said he expects that report by February or March.

The hearings took place in late 2010 and early 2011.

Watson said he plans to pursue the issue, adding he is working on a national adoption action plan and hopes to have further details in the upcoming weeks.

Watson said he has heard from frustrated parents, many of whom turn internationally for adoption because it is hard to access the system in Canada. Wait times are extremely long, he said, and the same level of support isn’t there for adoptive parents.

For example, Watson mentioned that adoptive parents might need more time to bond with their child because of the difficulty of attaching to a new family.

 

Comments are closed.