Cathy Gilbert, 52, can bond with a child just by reading their biography.
The adoption support worker from Nanaimo, B.C. has four biological children and 12 adopted children — six of whom came from adoptions that didn’t work out.
She and husband Dave, 52, a marine instructor, started “serial adopting” when they realized some children with attachment disorders were being given back to children’s aid societies.
“We’ve had all of it, the lying, stealing, setting fires,” says Gilbert, who has had to padlock the pantry to keep food in the house, drive kids to school because they don’t behave on the bus and sent a teen to wilderness camp so he wouldn’t disrupt a family wedding.
This is not the way she expected to parent, she is quick to admit, but she has had to adjust as she has tackled serious behavioural issues with children who have been abused, neglected and abandoned.
One teenager has still not “attached” to her after a decade. But that’s okay, says Gilbert, as her need for parental rewards have been met by the other children and she is strongly bonded to that child herself.
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But there’s never any doubt that they are hers forever.
“We’re in this for the long haul. This is what we do because we like kids and think they’re fun.”
Crocodile tears for immigrant children.
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