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Background on Family Helper web site

By Robin Hilborn

What is Family Helper?

Family Helper web site aims to publish books of value and to supply accurate and useful information on infertility and adoption. Our motto is "No fancy graphics, just solid information".

Family Helper web site is produced by Robin Hilborn, working in his home office, where he publishes books. Formerly he published the print magazine Family Helper, which incorporated Adoption Helper and Post-adoption Helper magazines. Reach Robin by emailing or by writing to 421 Clarendon St., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada.

Working behind the scenes

Robin Hilborn ( [1990 to present] -- webmaster, publisher and organizer. Site designer of Family Helper web site. Formerly worked as Content Specialist for the Adoption Council of Canada, (See his biography.)
Katherin Jones [1990 to 1996] -- Founder, with Robin Hilborn, of Adoption Helper magazine in 1990. Editor of Adoption Helper, No. 1 to No. 21. She lives in Toronto with sons David (b. 1989, Peru), and Cristopher (b. 1996, Guatemala).
Deborah Tennant [1995 to 1996] -- Editor of Infertility Helper magazine, no. 1 to no. 6.
Philip Whitcombe [1996] -- Did the original three graphic images.
Jennifer Smart [1997 to 2001] -- Occupational therapist, co-founder of the Canadopt support group in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and parent of two adopted children. First editor of Post-adoption Helper, no. 1 to no. 9.

Description of Family Helper web site

Born in April 1996, Family Helper web site,, unites information on local history, infertility, how to adopt, post-adoption and adoption search and reunion. Family Helper is the creation of Robin Hilborn, who also published and edited Family Helper magazine.

Family Helper web site features books on local history of the Lake Huron area. The four sections devoted to infertility and adoption are:

The Infertility section helps people who have trouble having children. It includes:
-- Directory of infertility newsletters in Canada and the U.S.
-- Guide to infertility web sites
-- Directory of infertility support groups in Canada
-- Directory of fertility clinics in Canada

The Adoption section helps people adopt domestically and internationally. This is where you can decide how and where to adopt, choose an agency and find a support group. It includes:
-- Directory of adoption newsletters in Canada and in the U.S.
-- Adoption web sites
-- Why you should join a support group
-- Directory of adoption support groups in Canada, with descriptions
-- Private agencies in Canada
-- Selected U.S. agencies
-- Provincial adoption coordinators
-- Research on adoption in Canada

The Post-adoption section features the Parent's and Teacher's Guide to Adoption. Here is information on support after the adoption: medical issues; developmental concerns; behaviour management; family and society; culture and heritage; news from homeland countries; and community resources.

The family research section, called Family Tree, has two aspects: searching for birthparents or adult adoptees (adoption search and reunion), and searching for ancestors (genealogy). Here you can find:
-- Directory of adoption reunion newsletters and magazines.
-- Web sites for adoption search and reunion
-- Directory of reunion support groups in Canada
-- Directory of reunion registries and search agencies
-- Online genealogy resources
-- Hilborn family research

The resource area Adoption Resource Central has 28 topics and thousands of resources. Click a topic, read a summary of that topic, and see the best web sites, articles, books, videos, newsletters and support groups. Find resources on domestic and international adoption, dealing with special needs children, and raising adopted children.

Heart of Adoption houses many "articles to inform and inspire" on both adoption and post-adoption topics.

A note on financing: We have no sponsors, and no-one pays us to operate Family Helper web site. We manage to cover operating costs using advertising revenue. We have no contact with the companies whose ads appear here; they do not influence the content.

Tell me some history

By Robin Hilborn

It all started with David, whom Katherin Jones adopted as a single mother in 1989. She brought him home from Peru to Toronto and in no time at all I became his father. Back then there was no good information about adoption for Canadians, so Katherin and I tried to fill the void by founding Adoption Helper magazine in September 1990. "Our magazine was born of necessity," Katherin said. "We started it because there just wasn't any comprehensive adoption information available." She edited Adoption Helper (later, Family Helper) up to July 1996 and then I took over the reins, acting as both editor and publisher.


Adoption Helper started in September 1990 as a quarterly magazine, with articles on many subjects in domestic and international adoption, including first person experiences of Canadians who adopted in Canada and abroad. I changed the format in 1998 so that it became a mini-book -- each issue on a single topic, such as "Adopting from China", and "Health Issues in Intercountry Adoption". The latter was used by the Ontario ministry's Adoption Unit in Toronto in its seminars for social workers and agencies.

"All About Domestic Adoption" covers both domestic public and domestic private adoption. International adoption is covered by "Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption".

In 1995 Adoption Helper received an Ontario Adoption Award from the Adoption Council of Ontario, "in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the adoption community of Ontario." The magazine continued under its original title until 2003.


Over the years Adoption Helper helped many Canadian adoption dreams come true, and by 1997 it became clear that it was time for a magazine dedicated to the joys -- and challenges -- of the time after the adoption: Post-adoption Helper.

However, with my hands full editing Adoption Helper, I knew I couldn't edit a second magazine. I needed an editor, someone experienced in adoption, certainly, but more than that: a crusader for better post-adoption support. That person was Jennifer Smart, occupational therapist with pediatric experience, parent of two adopted children, co-founder of Sault Ste. Marie's adoption support group, and tireless advocate for adoption causes -- she fought for reform of discriminatory UIC rules. For her work she won an Ontario Adoption Award from the Adoption Council of Ontario in November 1997.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Post-adoption Helper followed the same road as its older sister, starting in June 1997 in a magazine format, then shifting to single topic editions, starting with "Adoptive Parents' Guide to Your Child in Primary School" in December 1998. Each magazine had a circulation of about 400, in Canada and the U.S., and appeared quarterly.

Jennifer covered many of the key issues of concern to parents of children adopted domestically and internationally ... fetal alcohol syndrome, attachment disorder, attention deficit disorder. She also wrote excellent guides to raising your adopted child. She resigned in May 2001 and I took over as editor of Post-adoption Helper, which continued under that title until 2003.

You can read excerpts from the following at Family Helper web site:
Guide to Infants and Toddlers
Guide to Your Preschool Child
Guide to Your Child in Primary School
Guide to the Special Needs Child
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Helping The Adopted Child with FAS


In July 2003 I launched Family Helper magazine, a quarterly incorporating both Adoption Helper and Post-adoption Helper. The first title was "Conference 2002: The best from Toronto ". Further titles are shown at Family Helper. The last edition of Family Helper was published in 2008: "Health Issues in Intercountry Adoption".


Family Helper web site didn't actually start as a web site. In 1994 I began contributing adoption information to Toronto Free-Net, one of the free text-only information services in the Free-Net network. At the launch of TFN on Nov. 3, 1994, Adoption Helper became the first online adoption magazine [see Adoption Helper No. 14, October 1994, p. 8]. The adoption area on TFN, from November 1994 to April 1996, held about 1 MB of information in 51 files.

I began sketching a possible web site design on July 27, 1995. I taught myself HTML and launched Family Helper web site in April 1996 with the sections Infertility, Adoption and Family Tree. I added Post-adoption on Feb. 17, 1997. To track the number of visitors, counters were added to some pages on Nov. 19, 1996 and were restarted on May 18, 1998.

In September 1995 I launched Infertility Helper magazine, with Deborah Tennant as editor. It was not successful and ceased publication after six print editions, ending with the December 1996 issue.

In May 1998 I moved from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Counters were started on July 11, 1999.

On Nov. 1, 1999 I moved to Southampton, Ont. Counters were started again on Nov. 12, 1999.

To see if funds could be found to help support Family Helper web site, in July 2003 I added revenue-generating ads at the bottom of some pages. I also added the Google search engine to a number of pages. This helps users find anything on the site quickly.

On Dec. 21, 2003 I opened the Adoption Resource Central section of the site, with one index page and 28 topic pages containing descriptions and resources.

On May 4, 2004 I opened the Heart of Adoption section, which houses many "articles to inform and inspire" on both adoption and post-adoption topics.

From Feb. 9-28, 2005 my "Teacher's Guide to Adoption" was featured at the home page of "Adoption", at About.Com, See Adoption Blog,

Starting in November 2006 I volunteered for the committee planning the 150th Anniversary Celebrations of Southampton in 2008. Family Helper hosted at no charge the interior pages of the web site (and continues to do so). I posted 150th anniversary pages from Feb. 13, 2007 through to Dec. 5, 2008. See, for example, 150th Events.

I decided to upgrade the design of the web site by using the improvement on HTML called CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and by standardizing the names and mottos of each of the four main sections. Given my success in learning HTML in 1995, I tackled CSS in autumn 2008. My reference work of choice was CSS: the Missing Manual, by David Sawyer McFarland. I converted pages to CSS in stages: Fertility Helper home page and news pages on Nov. 25, 2008; Adoption Helper home page on Dec. 19, 2008; Family Helper home page on Mar. 12, 2009.

Counters were (unfortunately) started again on May 5, 2009, because our ISP (BMTS) changed servers. Counters on all pages started at zero on May 5. Most counters now read "visits since May 5, 2009" but occasionally an old date may appear which has not yet been corrected. Changing code meant that I had to reload all pages, on May 12, 2009.

On July 5, 2012 I finished converting Post-adoption Helper to CSS, totalling revising the contents. I divided "Teacher's Guide to Adoption" into ten pages, and created 19 pages under the title "Parent's Guide to Adoption", for those with school-age children.

On Dec. 1, 2012 I determined that it was time to pull back from my involvement in the adoption field, which had always been voluntary. I will keep the Family Helper web site open, still at, for the archival value of the information there. However I won't be updating the news or events pages. In the sections on infertility and adoption the site now represents the state of affairs at the start of 2012. Researchers into the history of adoption will find good coverage for the period 2000-2012. Much good information still resides in Adoption Resource Central and Heart of Adoption.

In 2009 I began writing a local history of the town of Southampton titled Southampton Vignettes, and published it in 2010.

In 2010 I began research on a follow-up to Southampton Vignettes. Eventually titled Heart of the Great Lakes: Lake Huron and the Saugeen, the book appeared in November 2015.

In November 2015 I reworked the site's home page to feature books published by Family Helper Publishing.


There may be available back issues of these magazines:
Adoption Helper and Family Helper ...
Post-adoption Helper ...

Reach Robin by email to, or by letter to 421 Clarendon St., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0.

Robin's photo at shows how he looked in 1986.

All four magazines -- Adoption Helper (40 editions), Family Helper (9 editions), Infertility Helper (6 editions) and Post-adoption Helper (13 editions) -- are archived at the National Library, Ottawa.


1995 -- Adoption Helper magazine received an Ontario Adoption Award from the Adoption Council of Ontario, "in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the adoption community of Ontario."
1997 -- Jennifer Smart, editor of Post-adoption Helper, received an Ontario Adoption Award from the Adoption Council of Ontario for her work on behalf of adoption causes.
2001 -- Robin Hilborn, editor of Adoption Helper, received an Adoption Activist Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children for "dedicated work in making adoption information more accessible and providing materials for post-adoptive support".

"You can put your web page here"

Family Helper web site used to host infertility- and adoption-related web pages for agencies and support groups. There were fees for agencies, and free pages for support groups. For historical reference, here is the old offer of Web Page Service for agencies, last updated Apr. 21, 2004. These support groups had chosen to place their web pages here:
Families in Adoption
Infertility Network

Infertility Adoption Adoption Resource Central Post-adoption Family Tree
Contact: Robin Hilborn,
421 Clarendon St., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
Copyright 2017 Robin Hilborn. All rights reserved
Updated   Dec. 21, 2016

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