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What types of adoptions are there?

There are three main types of adoptions in Canada:

1) International - adopting children from another country

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2) Private - children are placed by their birth family

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3) Public - adopting children who are in the care of a provincial child welfare authority. Commonly referred to as “Canada’s waiting 


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Different provinces have different names for their adoption programs and so you may come across varying terms such as "domestic adoption," "ministry adoption" with different understood meanings in different provinces. 

Domestic adoption, which usually refers to the private adoption of a newborn when a birth mother chooses the adoptive parents.

Direct Placement Adoptions, which are also done privately, and usually involve the adoption of a family member or known child.

International adoption is the private adoption of a child outside of Canada ranging in ages from newborn to 18.

Embryo adoption is when a family adopts an embryo, goes through pregnancy, and births the child.

All private adoptions are completed through a private adoption agency.

Public adoptions are completed through the province's Ministry of Child welfare (each province has a different name for their ministry).

Additional websites for these agencies are available on our links page.

How much does adoption cost?

There are many factors that can affect the cost of an adoption.

Public adoptions of Canadian waiting children are the only route that has no adoption fees. These adoptions are done through the government and the only costs are typically small fees for such requirements as a criminal record check or occasionally travel, if you are matched with a child outside of your community.

Domestic adoptions are done through private agencies and can range from $15,000 up to $30,000 depending on the circumstances.

International adoption costs vary the most. Depending on the country, these adoptions can run from roughly $20,000 up to $80,000. The average cost, however, is usually around $30,000. There are many financial solutions such as grants, fundraising, and loans, that are available to assist with these costs. ABBA Canada provides adoption grants to Canadian, Christian, adopting couples.


How long does adopting take?

Each type of adoption has its own, unique timeline.  In general, most adoptions can be done in roughly two years. Some factors may lengthen or shorten this time period. Domestic and international adoptions from specific countries have been known to have long waitlists due to the high demand for and the low instance of newborns available for adoption. Typically, the narrower your criteria for adoption, the longer it may take. However, if you are open to older children, sibling groups, or children with various special needs there is typically a much shorter wait. (Please note that most of the children available for adoption truly have some type of special needs given their pasts that have brought them into care - from physical or developmental disabilities to the impacts of childhood trauma from the loss of their birth families. One should not expect to find "normal, healthy, easy" children).

As situations impacting timelines change frequently, we encourage you to research your specific type of adoption or country of choice and contact an adoption agency in your province for current information.


What are the requirements to adopt?

Each type of adoption has different requirements and they often change. It is recommended to research various routes and their requirements. For example, Ministry adoptions within B.C. have a minimum age requirement of 19, while some international countries require you to be 30. Some countries allow single parents to adopt, while others do not. Some require certain financial requirements and health requirements, and again, others do not. Some countries will only work with parents who have no children; some have limits of 2, while others have no limits. It is important to ensure you meet the requirements of a given program before you move forward. Your province's adoption agency will be able to help you identify the programs that match your specific situation.


What does the adoption process look like?

Most adoptions begin with an education component. Each route approaches this differently, from an online seminar, to a weekend workshop, to a 10 week long course. This information is vital in equipping parents to navigating the many complexities involved in adoption.

A formal application to adopt is completed.

home study is done. This can take between 3-6 months and involves a series of interviews, usually in the home and/or agency office, getting to know the parents, their history, their beliefs, their parenting styles, and their desires related to adoption.

For a public adoption, families are now “active” to be matched with a child.

In domestic adoptions, a family binder is made up for prospective birth parents to review when choosing adoptive parents.

For international adoptions, a “dossier” is prepared, including translation, medical and financial documents, legal documents, photos of the house, and more. This is then forwarded to the country of choice where the dossier is inserted into an active wait list waiting for a match.


Each route and each country may differ slightly but this is the general process.


Once a match is made parents carefully make the decision whether to accept the referral, and then move forward with placement. Some countries require several visiting trips before children can come home.

Once a child is home, several post-placement visits are usually required, including a social worker visit and recent photos.


Are there any health concerns when adopting a child?

Before moving forward with an adoption, parents discuss which health concerns or special needs they are open to. Many needs, however, are unavoidable. There are certainly healthy children available for adoption, but all children available for adoption have experienced substantial trauma in the loss of their birth family (even if they were adopted the moment they were born). This loss does have an impact which can often be identified in attachment, behaviours and stress responses and coping strategies that adopting families will need to walk through and heal from together.

Many international adoptees suffer from the effects of institutionalization from living in an orphanage. Common health concerns and special needs to be aware of include: malnutrition, parasites, global delays, HIV +, institutionalization, FASD, down syndrome, cleft palate, missing digits, or club foot, to name a few.

In Public adoptions FASD is one of the most common special needs and it is not atypical for children to have experienced prenatal drug exposure.

Health concerns and special needs are usually included in referral documents and parents can bring these diagnoses to their pediatrician for review before moving forward on a decision to adopt a child.


Are children waiting for adoption actually orphans?

Many people think that only true dictionary definition orphans are available for adoption. And orphan is typically defined as a child who has lost one or both parents. There are many reasons, however, why children come up for adoption. Orphan status from the death of both parents is certainly one reason, but there are many other reasons both locally and internationally. Some parents lose custody of their children due to abuse or neglect. Some parents choose not to parent for various reasons, and many parents are unable or unwilling to parent children with special needs. Most children identified as orphans still have a living parent or close relatives. However, poverty is a leading cause of children globally becoming orphaned. There are various reasons children come up for adoption but it is always important to do your own due diligence and to research each individual case in order to ensure ethical adoptions.





How long do kids in care typically stay with you?

Kids coming into foster care can stay anywhere from 1 day to 18 years. The average stay in care of most children, however, is two years. The goal of foster care is always to try and achieve reunification with family, and when not possible, permanency is sought. When committing to foster care it is important to remember that there are no definitive answers on how long a child might stay as each situation is unique.


How old are kids in foster care?

Children in foster care can range from newborn to 18 years old. Some younger children with prenatal drug and alcohol exposure must be placed in a Safe Baby approved foster home, and kids with special needs are placed in specialized “leveled” homes who have more training and experience. Foster parents can state a preferred age range that they are open to fostering. In addition to specifying age, foster parents can also specify the gender of children that they feel will fit best in their home.


Why do children come into foster care?

Children come into foster care for many reasons:

Sometimes parents might be in the hospital and have no extended family or friends to care for the child during their illness/recovery.

Parents may voluntarily place their children in foster care during a challenging season of life when they feel that they are unable to safely care for them.

Some children are brought into care due to neglect, abuse or abandonment.

Whatever the reason, they are all children who require a safe, stable and loving environment to care for them during their time of need.


What do I need in order to be a foster parent?

Although the specifics vary by province, the main requirement to become a foster parent is to have a separate bedroom with a window, to complete and have approved a home study, and to be able to show you are a capable home for providing care to a child. Training is provided before and immediately after becoming a foster parent, with addition training expected long term.


Are foster parents paid?

Fostering is not considered employment income and fostering should not be considered a replacement for employment. There is a maintenance payment provided to foster families to cover the direct cost of raising a child and specialized foster parents are provided with an additional payment.


Can foster parents adopt?

When reunification with family is not possible for a child in foster care, they may become available for adoption. Foster parents are often considered when making an adoption plan due to their history and attachment with the child. Other factors are also considered and it is important to be aware of this from the beginning. When a foster parent chooses to adopt, the child does not have to undergo any further transitions and it is a beautiful opportunity to maintain a bond. It is important to note, however, that if you are purely interested in adoption, Canada does not have a foster-to-adopt program. Foster parents are specifically trained to work with birth families and reunification is always the primary goal. If your goal is to adopt rather than to foster, then plan to pursue adoption right from the beginning.

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