11/19/2014 10:38 EST | Updated 01/19/2015 05:59 EST

B.C. adoption rate for families on target, rep says

British Columbia’s children and youth advocate says the government is on target to reach its goal of finding 300 adoptive families for kids and teens who are looking for homes.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says in a report released Tuesday that 153 children and youth who were in government care during the first seven months of the 2014-2015 fiscal year have been adopted.

Turpel-Lafond’s update comes nearly five months after she and Children’s Minister Stephanie Cadieux pledged to increase adoptions in B.C., where 1,000 children are waiting to be adopted at any given time.

Despite what was touted as progress, a North Vancouver parent who has been waiting for three years to adopt a teenager says the government isn’t moving quickly enough.

“There are a thousand kids that say they want to be adopted or who are in position to be adopted,” Robin Woolmer told The Early Edition.

"There's still 700 kids this year that are not going to get a home."

Slow process

Woolmer and his wife, who have adult children and young grandchildren, began the formal adoption application process in Gibsons in 2012.

After moving to North Vancouver later that year, Woolmer said they were placed at the bottom of the list, and they were only approved as adoptive parents last month.

The couple was matched with one teenager, but they found out last week that the youth, who has a say in the matter, picked another adoptive family.

Woolmer says he understands if the teen did not believe he and his wife were a good match, but he was surprised that the ministry only found one youth for them, particularly when Turpel-Lafond’s report on Tuesday indicates 428 B.C. teens are waiting for adoption.

“Knowing that there are 428 kids [who are] 12 and over on the adoption list that could be the ones that we're looking for, and that only one was immediately identified as a match is not very encouraging,” he said.

Complicated process

The Adoptive Families Association of B.C. says the adoption process often takes years because it’s difficult to find the right long-term match and permanent legal solution for a particular child or sibling group.

Some families may also never find a match because their criteria for a child is too limited, said executive director Karen Madeiros.

“Not every family who signs up to adopt is going to be the right family to bring home a sibling group of two or three or four,” she said.

The preparation process becomes even more complicated when teenagers are involved.

“We’re asking a youth to ready themselves for a new family, so those youth and children need to know who they are, who they belong to, where they come from before they’re able to make a really strong step forward into something that is unknown and new for them,” Madeiros said.

“And that process for youth can include file reviewing, family finding, building relationships in the aboriginal community or cultural communities of those children even before you begin to match with families.”