Family life

Family life
What’s life like in the various types of families? Parents talk about what they go through and the prejudices they are sometimes up against.
What’s life like in the various types of families? Parents talk about what they go through and the prejudices they are sometimes up against.
“At my age, I have a little less energy, but on the other hand, I’m more relaxed with my daughter and I have more time to be with her because I’m retired. We spend fantastic moments together and we get along extraordinarily well. The hardest thing is thinking about how long I’ll be there for her. I’m trying to stay fit to stay in good health.”

Richard Morency, 71 years old, father to 5-year-old Mila.
“Sometimes people are surprised and curious to see a family with two moms, but up to now, we’ve never experienced any prejudice. Other women have paved the way before us. Some people sometimes worry about the absence of a male figure for our girls, but there are many men in our circle of friends and family.”

Julie Bérubé, mother to 5-year-old Adèle and 2-year-old Emma-Jeanne.
“We’re a little like a blended family. In most cases, I have a good relationship with the biological parents of the children I foster. It’s definitely hard to let some of them go, and sometimes I’m a little more worried than usual. But I tell myself that I’ve made a difference in their lives. I try to help them as best I can; they are part of my gang and I make no differences between them and my own children. If we go on vacation, we bring them all. As soon as they cross our threshold, this is their home.”

Lucie Brisson, foster mom for twenty-six years. She fosters nine children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years old. She is also the mother of three grown-up children.
“Because of our work and activities, my partner and I don’t see each other much during the week. But weekends are reserved for family time and each other. We take time to do simple things like go to the park or have a home movie night. We make a good team raising the children and sharing the household chores. I used to think I could be perfect and do it all, but now I just do my best, and it’s no big deal if the clothes aren’t folded.”

Caroline Théorêt, mother to 7-year-old Samuel, 5-year-old Laurie and 2-year-old Émilie.
“My partner and I tried to have a child for seven years before deciding to adopt. It took 17 months before we were able to go and get Nathan in the Philippines. It’s a relatively short time, but the wait seemed forever to us and that was hard. For Daniel-Joshua, we waited 46 months! We love them so much; they fill our lives with joy. People are very open and we’ve never had any inappropriate comments because of their colour. But we do often get asked how much it costs! I don’t hold it against these people as I know they’re curious. But it would be nice if they also congratulated us and asked about us first. The boys know they were adopted, but they haven’t asked us many questions about it yet. We’ll be ready to answer them when the time comes.”

Christian Loignon, father to 9-year-old Nathan and 4-year-old Daniel-Joshua, originally from the Philippines.
“An agency in Toronto helped us find ovules and a surrogate mother. We chose this method to be sure that everything was done properly and no one was exploited. The surrogate mother chose us as parents and not the other way around. We were there for most of the ultrasounds and we met her family – her parents, her husband and her children – in Calgary. It all happened with mutual respect. We will explain to our children where they come from and how they were conceived.”

Vincent Monet, father to 21-month-old Élizabeth and 2-month-old Nycolas.
“In fairy tales, the step-mother is always the mean one. I would say that I’m stricter with our children than I am with my partner’s children. They’re part of our family. I love them and I worry about them even if they aren’t mine. They’ve been a part of my life for ten years! The children talk to each other and interact just like any normal brothers and sisters.

Dominique Beaumont, mother to 4-year-old Rafaële and 7-year-old Rosie, and step-mother to 11-year-old Zachary and 15-year-old Maya.
“I searched for the right person to build a family with for a long time and I finally had my son on my own at 41 years old. Some people think that we’re less in shape in our forties, but I’m in better shape now than I was in my twenties. I didn’t exercise much and now I run half-marathons. I also have a good job, which provides my child with financial security I wouldn’t have had younger.”

Sylvie Côté, mother to 10-month-old Maël.
“My son’s father has mental health issues and addiction problems while my daughter’s father is violent. The children haven’t had contact with them for about the last three years and it’s better that way. To get through it, we’ve had to get all the help we can from different organizations, the school, the CLSC and even the youth protection services. People might be afraid of going to them, but they can help. The hardest thing for me is not having enough time for myself. I try to set some time aside because it’s so important.”

Émily Loiselle, single mom to 8-year-old Caleb and 4-year-old Alyson.
“The children adapted very quickly; it’s as if they’ve always lived here! There are a lot of coloured children in their school. It took my wife and me longer to adjust. We come from a country where people speak easily to one another. Here, people protect their privacy more, so we needed to get used to that.”

Charlie Yetemgue, who arrived from Cameroon two years ago with his wife and their three daughters: 7-year-old Ketsia and 4-year-old twins Yemima and Kerima.
“My ex-partner and I separated a year-and-a-half ago and we organized joint custody based on our schedule for our 4-year-old daughter. It’s going well. I haven’t seen any signs of trauma in her. People tend to analyze all her behaviour through the filter of our separation, as though it were the cause of everything, but it’s not the case. However, her mom and I do need to talk a lot to remain consistent in the way we react to her, for example.”

Hugo Roy, who has joint custody of his 4-year-old daughter Érika.

Remember

  • Living in a type of family that is different from the traditional family does not hinder a child’s development.
  • It’s important to speak openly to your child and to explain why her family is different.
  • Major changes, such as a separation, blending and immigration require an adaptation period for toddlers.
Naitre et grandir.com

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, January-February 2016
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Côté
Fact checking: Claudine Parent, author and professor at Université Laval’s School of Social Work

Photos: Maxim Morin