February 5, 2019 6:39 pm

B.C. family feels parents are forsaken when ministry takes over care of teens

A B.C. couple is speaking out over frustration that their daughter is now homeless, by choice. The Frasers, from West Kelowna, said all they see is the ministry advocating for their teen, but no one advocating for the parents, who suddenly lose control as primary caregivers. Doris Maria Bregolisse reports.

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When the Frasers adopted their daughter 17 years ago, they realized there would be challenges ahead.

“She had issues with developmental delay, cognitive delay, executive function deficiencies,” Frank Fraser said.

The child had been exposed to drugs and alcohol in the womb, he said.

But the Frasers were determined to be there for their daughter, no matter what.

“We adopted her with the best intentions to try and provide this child with a good, decent life.”

READ MORE: Homeless man living ‘day by day’ as Arctic blast chills Okanagan

Fraser said the Ministry of Children and Families always fully understood his daughter’s dependence on them to ensure she was safe and fully supported them in their role as caretakers.

But that would all change when the teen missed classes, started drinking, doing drugs and left home.

“Various authorities said that because our daughter had reached the age of 17, that ‘it’s up to your daughter to make those decisions,'” Fraser said. “‘Unfortunately not you, the parents. If she wants to be treated for drug addiction, she has to make that decision. If she wants to come home even, that’s her decision.’

“She’s making poor decisions and there’s nothing we can do. And that surprised us completely.”

Fraser said all they see is the ministry advocating for their teen. But he sees no one advocating for the parents who suddenly lose control as primary caregivers.

“They should be so frustrated,” said Celine Thompson, executive director of the Bridge Youth & Family Services.

“On a weekly basis, we have parents expressing their frustration, anger, and absolute loss of power and influence over their children because there is nowhere to go.”

There is some talk of keeping parents better informed of their child’s welfare, until they are 24 years old.

“And we would be supportive of that. Parents are often the caregivers and they need to know what’s going on,” she said.

Fraser said fighting for his daughter has been impossible.

He has taken to buying her cigarettes just to see her for a moment, but intervening in any other way is forbidden.

“I can see my child on the street as I drive by and I keep being told I can’t stop, I can’t physically do anything forcefully . . . do anything to get her into the car . . . and take her anywhere to get help, which is what any parent wants to do,” he said. “If I did that, I would be charged with assault or some stupid thing. But I have to live with it.”

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