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November 4, 2004
For immediate release

Keaveny Family Honoured with Award for Adoptions

Health and Social Services

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For John and Bea Keaveny, what started out as an act of social responsibility has become a voyage of discovery that has rewarded their good intentions many times over. The Keaveny family recently received the Helen Allen Award for exemplary promotion of adoption by the Adoption Council of Canada.

In 1977, when their birth children were six and four, the Keavenys adopted a five-year-old boy. The Keavenys’ birth daughter remembers her first impression of her new brother vividly. “He had a big blond mop of hair, a face full of freckles, and the sweetest smile you ever saw. I loved him instantly.”

In 1979, they adopted a brother and sister aged 6 and 4. In 1980, they adopted a family of three siblings, two boys, aged 9 and 6, and their sister, aged 8. In 1981, they adopted another son, aged 7, and in 1984 the Keavenys welcomed the six-year-old brother of two of their previously adopted children.

Finding families to adopt sibling groups can be very challenging, according to Richey Mayne, the Keavenys’ social worker at the time. “To meet a family as flexible and enthusiastic as the Keavenys was a godsend,” Mayne says.

Bea and John Keaveny believe that all individuals have the right to be themselves. Their unconditional acceptance for each of the children provided the youngsters with comfort and security that they had previously been lacking. Each child was valued for his or her unique abilities.

“We didn’t try to make them into someone they weren’t, or someone we thought they should be,” explains Bea, “but we certainly placed reasonable expectations upon each child, depending on what their potential was.”

The Keavenys provided the children with a strong family structure and order. There was a genuine sense of routine and organization, where everything happened on time, homework was scheduled, and household chores assigned on a rotating basis. Family and school-related activities were many, but nothing had a higher priority than the evening meal, which was always shared together as a family.

The strong sense of family and responsibility that the Keavenys imbued in the children helped develop ties in spite of the odds, John says. “The older children became wonderful role models for the younger children,” he notes, and “loyalties and love between all of the children run deep and are a great joy to us.”

As is the case with any family, the Keavenys have had their share of tragedies as well as triumphs but, according to John and Bea, their family has given them abundantly far more gifts than tears, and this continues today.

In addition to the children they legally adopted, John and Bea have also informally adopted an older sister of one of the sibling groups and she is now their child, in every sense, and a member of the family like everyone else.

Although the children are all grown now, the family ties that were so painstakingly crafted continue to hold and bind everyone together. The Keavenys birth daughter sees it this way, “... the constant has been love, we love each other deeply, and we know how lucky we all were to find each other.”

Virginia MacEachern, Provincial Adoption Consultant for the Department of Health and Social Services, says that she hopes that there are more families like the Keavenys out there. “We are always looking for families willing to consider adopting school-aged children and groups of siblings.”

November is Adoption Awareness Month. To find out more about adopting older children in Prince Edward Island, contact Virginia MacEachern at 368-6514. To learn more about adoption, visit the Adoption Council of Canada Web site at

Media Contact: Sara Underwood
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