International Adoption in Canada
Despite the added costs, overseas adoptions account
for the majority of adoptions in Canada today. More children are available
overseas, which means the chances of finding a baby are much greater.
International adoptions are arranged through the help of private agencies. Unlike domestic adoptions in Canada and the US where you have the option of searching for a child yourself, with overseas adoptions you have to leave everything up to your agency. Many provide a full range of pre- and post-adoptive services, and work with more than one country.
Before choosing an agency, you need to choose a country from which to adopt. Keep in mind that although new doors are opening all the time, not every country overseas allows foreigners to adopt from within its borders. In recent years, the most popular source of overseas infants for Canadians has been China, Russia, Vietnam, and Korea.
After choosing a country, your next step will be to choose a child. Among other things, you'll need to decide what's important to you. The baby's age? Sex? Race? Health? For instance, let's assume you want a girl. Does it matter that she's three years old? Or that her medical condition may be problematic? Depending on which country you choose, you may be able to choose the sex of your child. If you already have a boy and you want a girl, for instance, you may decide to go to China, since almost all the children available for adoption are girls.
Although the adoption requirements and process will vary
from one country to another, the basic steps are as follows:
Depending on the country selected, you have the option of being matched with a child from a:
Although some adoptions need to finalized in the child's
country of origin, others can be completed in Canada. Every placement
will require some form of travel, if only to bring the child into Canada.
Some countries may insist that as part of the placement, you spend time
there getting acquainted with its culture and customs. Always be sure
that your passport is up to date since you never know when you'll have
to hop on a plane. All adoptions are unpredictable in their own way, but
not like those from overseas. They're in a class of their own.
For non-traditional applicants such as older couples or couples with children, international adoptions have fewer constraints than other types of adoption. Many agencies and birth mothers in Canada and the US, for instance, prefer working with traditional married couples.
With international adoption, the rules are somewhat looser, less rigid. Prospective parents who don't fit the standard profile or who would be normally shut out of the process are as eligible as the next person to become a parent. All they need is a valid home study and they're on their way.Disadvantages
If you're thinking about adopting a child from overseas, be prepared for lots of red tape, delays, as well as a increased potential for fraud. In choosing your country, try to select one that is politically stable. The last thing you want is for the government to change hands midway through your application and have to start the process all over again.
If you're interested in newborns only, overseas adoption isn't for you. All of the children are infants--six months old or more. Although most are healthy, a good number of them are considered high risk, having spent their formative months or years in orphanages with substandard living conditions. As a result, they will likely have experienced a lack of stimulation, poor nutrition, and physical and/or sexual abuse. The result is that they'll suffer from developmental, social or emotional problems similar to those of children with "special needs."
It's estimated that institutionalized children lose one month of linear growth for every three months in an orphanage and many have serious attachment problems. Also, because of their circumstances, their family and medical history may be limited or unreliable, if it exists at all. When choosing your child, remember that older children have a harder time adjusting to a new culture and language.
That's not to say that these challenges can't be overcome.
With the right support and conditions, children with developmental delays
can catch up, and go on to live healthy, happy and productive lives. However,
there are limits to what a parent can do. Contrary to what some people
may believe, love doesn't conquer all. High risk children will require
extra help and attention and will severely test your parenting skills.
Finally, don't forget the other big factor in overseas adoptions: race. In some cases, your child's may be different than yours. And so may his/her culture. Be prepared to go through a period of adjustment. Joining a support group can help you deal with many of these issues. While you still have the time, you might want to consider immersing yourself in books about your child's country, customs and history. Remember that when you adopt a baby from another continent, you also adopt his/her culture.