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Adopting in Canada


FAQs
Adoption in Canada is ever changing. In fact, change seems to be about the only constant. Today, the process is very different from what it was, say, five or even two years ago. With the rise of international adoption and the advent of new search tools like the Internet, not only has the face of adoption been altered, so have the rules and regulations.

But not everything is in flux. There are still some basic things you'll need to know -- and might have questions about. Hence, our FAQs.

If you're an adoptive parent and have additional questions, click here.
If you're a birth mother and have additional questions, click here.

Questions:

  1. Who can adopt in Canada?
  2. How long does it take?
  3. How much does it cost?
  4. How does the adoption process work?
  5. Can we adopt a baby from another province?
  6. Can we adopt a baby from another country?
  7. What's the first thing we should do if we're ready to adopt?
  8. Who can help us get started?
  9. What's the next thing we should do?
  10. What's a home study?
  11. What kinds of adoption are available in Canada?
  12. How do they differ?
  13. What's public domestic adoption?
  14. What's a private domestic adoption?
  15. What's an international adoption?
  16. What's the difference between adoption and foster care?
  17. Which of the adoption alternatives do most adoptive parents choose?
  18. What are the most popular sources of overseas babies?
  19. How many babies are adopted each year from overseas?
  20. How many healthy newborns are adopted each year from within Canada?
  21. Why are there so few newborns available?
  22. What's open adoption?
  23. What's the difference between open adoption and private adoption?
  24. What's the difference between adopting through Canada Adopts! and going through a private agency?
  25. Is one alternative better than the other?
  26. What kind of professional help will we need to adopt?
  27. Is there a way of speeding up the process?

Answers:

  1. Who can adopt in Canada?
    In theory, practically anyone. Although some agencies have certain rules and regulations regarding issues such as religion, race, age, marital status, sexual orientation and so on. In general, as long as you're a Canadian citizen over 18 and don't have a criminal record, you have as much right to become a parent as anyone else.
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  2. How long does it take?
    There's no set time. It all depends on which route you pursue. For instance, if you're looking to adopt a newborn in Canada, it could take you at least a year. Overseas, on the other hand, the wait will be longer. A lot will depend on you -- what kind of child you're interested in, how much time, money and energy you're willing to invest in your search, how anxious you are to become a parent, and of course, luck.
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  3. How much does it cost?
    Once again, a lot will depend on what kind of child you're interested in adopting. For children adopted through the public system, for instance, there is usually no fee at all. Most private adoptions, on the other hand, range from about $15,000-$25,000 (for a child born in Canada) to about $25,000-$50,000+ (for a child born in the United States or overseas).
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  4. How does the adoption process work?
    Every case is different. Adoption and child welfare come under provincial jurisdiction, so each province has it own laws and regulations.
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  5. Can we adopt a baby from another province?
    In many cases, yes, you can. Keep in mind that some provinces are more restrictive than others. It all depends on where you live and where the child you want to adopt lives or is born.
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  6. Can we adopt a baby from another country?
    Yes, you can, although it's a little trickier. In addition to meeting the adoption criteria within your province, you have to meet the criteria of your child's country of origin. For more information, contact a private agency, since they're the only ones who can help arrange an overseas adoption.
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  7. What's the first thing we should do if we're ready to adopt?
    Adoption is all about options. Therefore, the first you should do is gather as much information about the process as you can. This will save you time, money, and frustration down the road. Find out the laws in your province, the requirements and the limitations, and don't rush into any situation until you've got all the facts.
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  8. Who can help us get started?
    There are many groups, organizations, individuals and resources you can turn to. The Adoption Council of Canada is a good place to start, particularly the How-to-Adopt Seminars that are offered in some provinces. If you know couples or individuals who have gone through the process, speak to them. Support groups, you'll find, are another great resource to tap into. Also contact public and private adoption agencies, adoption licensees and adoption practitioners to see what they can offer you. As far as web sites go, Familyhelper.net is a great resource, as is its companion newsletter of the same name. As well, read up on as much as you can. For more information, check out out our Adoption Books and Helpful Links pages.
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  9. What's the next thing we should do?
    Develop a strategy. One of the first things you'll have to do is decide what kind of child you'd like to adopt -- newborn, international or special needs. Then, based on the information you've collected, find out the best way to reach your goal. Focusing on a specific goal is important, but be prepared to pursue other avenues, just in case things don't work out. Also, make arrangements to get a home study.
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  10. What's a home study?
    A home study is an assessment of your skills as a person and prospective adoptive parent. It's also something of an adoption primer, designed to prepare you for some of the responsibilities that lie ahead. Although you can start your search for a baby before or while your home study is being completed, your adoption won't be approved until it's done.
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  11. What kinds of adoption are available in Canada?
    The main choices are: public domestic, private domestic, private international overseas and private international US.
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  12. How do they differ?
    The main differences are the costs, time line and the type of child available.
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  13. What's public domestic adoption?
    Public adoptions are arranged through government agencies like the Children's Aid Society. There's usually no fee involved but the waiting period for a healthy newborn is long -- at least eight years. Most of the children available through public agencies are special needs children -- older children with behavioural or learning disabilities, sibling groups or children that are difficult to place for adoption.
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  14. What's a private domestic adoption?
    Private domestic adoptions are arranged by provincially-approved licensees or agencies. They're more expensive but the waiting period for a newborn is much less -- anywhere from one to three years, although there's no guarantee. The costs for a private domestic adoption range from about $10,000 to $15,000.
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  15. What's an international adoption?
    International adoptions are arranged through private agencies. The waiting period can often be as short as two years, and the costs run between $30,000 and $50,000+. The children are not newborns and of a different race or nationality. US adoption is also considered an international adoption.
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  16. What's the difference between adoption and foster care?
    Adoption is permanent, whereas foster care is a short term or temporary arrangement. With foster care, a child is usually placed with a family for a limited time while the birth parents make a decision regarding their - and the child's -- future. In the end, they may choose to raise their child themselves.
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  17. Which of the adoption alternatives do most adoptive parents choose?
    Overseas adoption, by a wide margin. The main reason is that they tend to be less volatile than domestic adoptions since birthparents are not involved, and there are more options to choose from.
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  18. What are the most popular sources of overseas babies?
    In recent years, it's been China, Russia, Korea and Haiti.
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  19. How many babies are adopted each year from overseas?
    About 2,000.
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  20. How many healthy newborns are adopted each year from within Canada?
    It's hard to say for sure, but the number is thought to be in the hundreds rather than the thousands, with the majority of them coming from Ontario.
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  21. Why are there so few newborns available?
    Many reasons: While the pool of adoptive parents has steadily grown, partly because couples are starting their families later in life, the number of birth mothers has shrunk, partly because of the growing acceptance of single parenthood and our generous social programs.
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  22. What's open adoption?
    Open adoption is any situation where the birth mother and the adoptive family know each other and exchange identifying information. How much information is determined by the two parties, and can include everything from swapping social and legal histories to letters and photos, and in some cases, even visits. It is the opposite of closed adoption, which until recently was the adoption standard.
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  23. What's the difference between open adoption and private adoption?
    A private adoption can be an open adoption. Private adoption simply means it's a non-governmental adoption.
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  24. What's the difference between adopting through Canada Adopts! and going through a private agency?
    Canada Adopts! is a search tool -- a method to help you find a woman with an unplanned pregnancy considering adoption. We don't arrange adoptions and we don't facilitate them. As a result, you still need to go through an adoption licensee-- an individual or private agency -- to help you get your adoption processed. In some cases, licensees may be able to help you in your search as well, although outreach is generally not a huge priority for them due to the time and financial commitments involved.
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  25. Is one alternative better than the other?
    As far as your search is concerned, no. It really depends on your budget and what type of person you are -- whether you like to take the initiative or whether you'd rather have someone else take it for you. If you belong to the first group, then Canada Adopts! is a great place to start your search. If, on the other hand, you fall into the second one, then you're better off considering an agency, even with the extra costs. Then again, you could consider using both methods. Just remember that no matter which route you choose to search for a child, you'll still need to get your adoption processed. And, given that some provinces have restrictions on advertising by adoptive parents, you may not even have a choice.
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  26. What kind of professional help will we need to adopt?
    A provincially-approved adoption practitioner can walk you through the home study. You can find one through an adoption agency or, in some provinces like Ontario, independently. Depending on which route you take, you'll also need an adoption licensee or agency to help you with the legal requirements.
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  27. Is there a way of speeding up the process?
    On the domestic front, registering with more than one agency will increase your chances of finding a match. Another way to beat the odds is to pursue more than one alternative at a time. For instance, just because you've decided that you'd like to work with a public agency doesn't mean you can't explore a private one. If, on the other hand, you've set your sights on international adoption, some countries such as China and Vietnam can offer you a child faster than others. Again, it all depends on what kind of child you're after and what your tolerance to risk is.
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