My wife Tracy and daughter Lauren recently ap- peared before the House of Commons committee now studying adoption. Tracy’s policy research,
based in part on her own access to information requests,
offered MPs wading in on the issue some quick insights
into the child welfare landscape of Canada.
As Tracy pointed out, the federal government or agencies do not have national standards for describing a child
or facilitating adoption across provincial
boundaries, nor are there common services or equal access to services across
Without a national framework, how
do we know how we are measuring up to
care for children in need, and how will we
know if the current approaches are working? Without this information children become invisible to national policy makers.
If you want to know a simple thing such as how many
children are in foster care or waiting to be adopted, instead
of going to the government, you need to go to a foundation
established by Wendy’s restaurant founder Dave Thomas.
Lauren, age 10, felt a responsibility to give MPs a
snapshot of ground zero: the implications of the lack of
healthy resources about adoption, specifically for teachers in Canada’s schools. The MPs wondered aloud if she
were the youngest person ever to make a presentation to
a parliamentary committee.
One of Tracy’s recommendations was to encourage the
committee to hear from more children and youth, particularly those in government care and those who have “timed
out,” that is those who are now too old to be in care and
The old adage that children should be
seen and not heard is not something
What is it
a child that is
to serving God?
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The evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association of
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need to find their way in life with no place to call home
(in some provinces the age is 16). The committee may
heed the advice, and if so, we will be among the first to
Hearing from those too young to vote is not tokenism, something done so we can say that children matter
and have been consulted. And hearing from children is
not just empowering for them. It gives decision makers
important insights and perspective. It helps adults see
the world through the eyes of a child, and to more carefully consider these usually voiceless ones as decisions
are being made.
The old adage that children should be seen and not
heard was not something Christ practised. He did not
turn away children as His disciples wanted to do; nor did
He see children as nuisances or potential problems to be
managed until they were old enough to be productive.
He valued children, gave them priority and
encouraged adults to be more like them.
Not only did He welcome children to be
among His disciples, to be in their midst,
but He told His disciples that unless they
become like children, they would not enter His Kingdom. How are we to hear this
instruction? What is it about being a child
that is so essential to serving God? Could it
be a child’s curiosity, energy, playfulness,
The reality in Canada today is that our country’s children are increasingly being “seen” at food banks, in homeless shelters, on the intake sheets of help lines and in the
files of children’s protective services. We must not stand
by, ignore or devalue children in our priorities and planning practices in any sphere of life.
Jesus said to welcome a child is to welcome Him, and
to cause a child to stumble is a most grievous failure.
There is something vital to our view of life when we see
and hear it from the perspective of a child and allow them
to speak into our lives. This adds to the necessity to protect children, to allow them to be children and to provide
care and nurture. In the process, we will find ourselves
better informed, perhaps transformed, and hopefully
better equipped to make the world a better place for all
BruCE;J.;CLEMENGEr is president of
The evangelical Fellowship of Canada. read
more of his columns at theeFC.ca/clemenger.