A gift exchange program run by the BC government has an administrator acting as Santa to connect adopted children with their birth families this Christmas.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development program is operated by Shi Ning, a registry administrator with the adoption and permanency team.
Ning makes sure cards and parcels addressed to the ministry from birth parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles get redirected to the adoptive children they’re meant for.
The program has been running for 20 years and operates throughout the year, but it becomes especially meaningful at Christmastime.
All deliveries are checked against the openness agreement made previously between the ministry, the adoptive parents and the birth family of the child.
These agreements determine the nature of the birth family’s involvement, and whether everyone is known to each other, or whether this knowledge is limited to specific people.
Ning checks the sender has formal approval to communicate with the child, then aims for same-day turnaround for all the boxes and envelopes that arrive.
In a release, Ning said that in the happiest outcomes, she’s “seen letter exchanges become email or social media connections that, once trust grows, eventually lead to face-to-face meetings and stronger ongoing relationships.”
Trisha Myers, director of adoption services, said the program connects everyone at Christmas.
“Children want to know who they are and where they come from, in terms of family,” said Myers.
“This program opens an avenue of communication and provides a way for adopted children and youth to feel a connection to their biological family — and vice versa.”