So You’ve Decided to Adopt, Now What?

You’ve decided to adopt, now what?

Adoption represents an incredible and exciting journey for people intent on creating or building a family. People choose adoption for many reasons. If you have decided that adoption is the right choice for you, this decision inevitably raises many questions and concerns.  There is much you will need to know about adoption.

In Alberta, there are several ways to gather the information that you need: you can contact private companies that specialize in personalized adoption consulting and educational seminars; Small Miracles Adoption is one such company. You can also contact one of several adoption agencies active in Alberta (Adoption By Choice, Adoption Options, Christian Adoption Services, Church of Latter Day Saints) or Alberta Children & Youth Services.

Deciding whether private or government adoption is the best route for your family is an important first step. If you prefer to adopt an infant, private adoption may be the best choice. If you would like a child or sibling-group that is older, or a child with special needs, then government or international adoption may be the way to proceed.

Is International Adoption The “Right” Choice for Me?

If you haven’t previously considered international adoption, perhaps now is the time to explore this alternative. Adopting a child from a country other than Canada can be spiritually and emotionally rewarding but it can also come with challenges.  Choosing which country, and deciding on the age of a child desired, can be difficult. Infant adoption is not common in most international adoption. Usually the youngest adoptable children from developing countries are toddlers, with a majority of the children between 3 -12 years of age.  You must consider that international adoption represents much more than simply “rescuing” a child from a poverty-stricken country.  International agreements and conventions are in place to ensure that children do not become commodities and that adoption occurs to ensure that the needs of the child are considered before those of the adopting families.  The implication of removing children from their original birthplaces, regardless of their economic circumstances, is not a small matter.

Families considering international adoption need to reflect on their readiness and willingness to participate in inter-racial and/or inter-cultural families and how to deal with the potential of racism and discrimination. Once you have decided that international adoption is the right choice for your circumstances, you will need to hire an adoption agency to help you prepare your application.  This includes attending an international adoption seminar; having a home assessment report completed; a dossier prepared, and many other documents that may need to be completed and potentially translated. You will also need to hire a coordinator to assist in the preparation of your dossier and to assist with travel arrangements for the country of origin.  There are no coordinators in Alberta, but services are available in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario. In international adoption, the adoptive parents are responsible for costs associated to: adoption education training and home assessment reports, preparation of supporting documents and notarization, authentication and verification of signatures, translation, courier fees, immigration fees, child’s medical, agency fees in the child’s country, travel and accommodations, adoption finalization, legal fees and post placement reports. The average length of time associated with an international adoption is twenty-four months with an average cost in the range of $31, 000.

Perhaps You Have Considered Local Private Adoption

Alberta has two types of private domestic adoption: private agency adoption or private direct placement adoption. You can employ the services of a private adoption agency or Alberta Children & Youth Services (government). You may also be fortunate enough to connect with someone who is pregnant and chooses you to adopt their child (private direct). The Alberta Child, Youth & Family Enhancement Act and Regulations outlines the legal steps for adoption and for obtaining an adoption order, which can only be granted by a Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Act and Regulations can be ordered through Alberta Queen’s Printer.

Domestic adoption can be just as daunting as adopting internationally, but it is not as costly. In Alberta, only a licensed adoption agency can facilitate an adoption. So, your first task is deciding which agency to employ. After completing the application you must attend the pre-adoption seminar, pay the required fees and complete the necessary documents. Once the agency has approved your application, a social worker will be assigned to meet with you and complete a home assessment report. When your home assessment is approved by the agency, your names will be placed on a waiting parents list. When you are chosen or otherwise matched with birthparents, a meeting will be arranged. When the child arrives, and after the necessary documents are signed (guardian’s consent to the adoption), you are usually able to take the baby home from the hospital. In Alberta, there is a mandatory ten-day revocation period. This means that the birthparents have ten days to revoke their consent. This occurs in approximately 5% of the cases. After the ten days have passed, the adoption agency will begin preparing the adoption application for approval by the Court. A social worker will visit with you and complete a post-placement report, which will be filed with your adoption application. It can take the Courts several months to finalize an adoption. When the adoption is granted, you will receive a certified copy by mail. A family can be placed with a child through domestic adoption as quickly as within a few months of their application or it can take several years. The average cost of a domestic adoption is $11, 000.

If the birthparent decides on a family that they have already met, and subsequently places the child or children with this family, this is referred to as a private direct placement. A “Consent to a Guardian” for adoption document must be completed by a lawyer. The next step involves the adoptive family contacting a representative, like Small Miracles Adoption, to assist in the legal requirements and in the filing of the adoption in order for the adoption to be granted in the Court of Queen’s Bench. (Some lawyers and adoption agencies also provide these services).

Is There Anything Else That I Need to Consider?

Adopting a child is an amazing way to build or augment a family but the adoption process can also take a toll on couples, so please join a support group and meet families who are also adopting or who have adopted previously. Adoption laws also change, especially with respect to international adoptions, so please stay informed and stay connected.  Learn about open adoption; most adoptions are now considered to be open.

Remember that adoption is about creating and building families; it is for the love of the children. “Adoption is the ultimate expression of a committed heart” (Small Miracles Adoption).

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