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Filipina mother forms adoption foundation


Filipina mother forms adoption foundation

For The Daily Gleaner

Jorge Geronimo-VanSlyke wants to help children from other countries find hope in New Brunswick homes.

Geronimo-VanSlyke, 28, founded Beacon of Hope International Foundation, Inc. in Fredericton last month. The foundation aims to offer international adoption services.

A wife and a mother of a two-year-old girl, Geronimo-VanSlyke was a social worker in the Philippines.

In her native country, she has also set up an adoption foundation. When she worked in China, she tried to start one, but faced difficulties in gathering information.

Now that she's in Canada, her passion remains the same.

"I was an adoption worker and I also worked with the youth in an independent-living program. I wanted to do the same here in Canada, but I found out that there's no private agency that offers these kinds of services," she said.

The light bulb turned on when she learned the New Brunswick government is drafting new regulations for its inter-country adoption law.

The amendments would allow non-profit agencies to facilitate international adoptions, a first in the province.

Shannon Hagerman, communications co-ordinator for the Department of Social Development, said it hopes to finalize the new regulations this spring.

"These regulations have the details that would spell out some of the amendments to the Intercountry Adoption Act ... to modernize the adoption process," Hagerman said.

"And one of the elements of that is the establishment of non-profit community social service agencies in the province. That would help develop a more efficient means of delivering services to families who are interested in international adoption."

Hagerman said she welcomes Geronimo-VanSlyke's foundation.

"We're looking forward to the establishment of these agencies in New Brunswick," Hagerman said.

The agencies will offer various bilingual services, such as training to prospective adoptive parents, post-placement adoption services and completion of assessments.

The Department of Social Development, however, will continue to be the central approving authority.

According to the department's website, it processed 57 international adoptions from 2006-07.

Its website states that most New Brunswick families adopt from China, but there are also families who adopt from the United States, Haiti, Philippines, Columbia, Russia, Ethiopia and India, among others.

Fees can range from $5,000 to $40,000.

Geronimo-VanSlyke has informed the department of her intent to apply for a licence for her foundation once the regulations are in place.

"The sooner they implement licensing guidelines for adoption agencies, the sooner we can work on it and the sooner we can truly serve by helping these children to have families. We will be ready when they are," Geronimo-VanSlyke said.

In the meantime, her foundation offers free research services for those interested in international adoption. She can be reached at beaconofhopeintl@gmail.com.

"We would like to hear from those who are interested to adopt, who are currently undergoing the process and who have already adopted internationally. Confidentiality of information will be strictly observed," Geronimo-VanSlyke said.

"When people ask for information, I'd like to be able to walk them through the adoption process."

A mother who attended the anti-racism event at the Boyce Farmers Market this week noticed the foundation's poster in the market.

This aroused her curiosity because she wants to adopt a child from another country.

"There's a lot of interest in international adoptions. And right now the system is very complicated and anything that will make it easier and can provide more information about the process is a good thing," she said.

2008 Mar 22