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Adopting in Alberta

International or "Inter-country" Adoption

International adoption is a popular choice among Alberta families especially since there are more children overseas who need homes and the process is often faster than a domestic adoption. Adopting internationally is, however, a complex process and families will require the assistance of a licensed adoption agency, an international adoption coordinator and Alberta's Children Services.

There are three types of international adoptions available in Alberta:

Hague Convention Adoption - refers to an adoption of a child who lives in a country that has implemented the Hague Convention. In a Hague adoption, the governments of both countries are fully involved in all aspects of the adoption process through their own designated Central Authorities. Click here to review the process

Government Adoption for Non-Hague Countries - refers to an adoption where the child is in their government's care (or in the care of a government authorized adoption agency) and there is an adoption process established between the child's country and Alberta. The adoption is processed by the child's country through government channels or through licensed agencies. Click here to review the process

Private International Adoption - refers to the adoption of a child who resides in a country that has not implemented The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The child is not in the government's care and the adoption is finalized in the child's country as it cannot be finalized in Alberta (it can be finalized if the adoptive parents obtain permanent residency status for the child. Note: Immigration Regulations require that a permanent resident visa be obtained before the child enters Canada). Click here to review the process

What is the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption?

With the increase of child abduction and trafficking around the world, many countries have signed the Hague Convention in an effort to make international adoption a safer and more secure process. The Hague Convention is an international agreement which lays out guidelines to govern adoption processes in these countries and to protect the best interests of children. The Convention also has safeguards in place to protect birth and adoptive families but its main goal is to ensure that an international adoption is in the best interests of a child and that his/her fundamental rights are protected. More information about the Hague Convention.

Canada has been a partner in the Hague Convention since 1993 and all provinces and territories follow the Convention's guidelines. Canadians can adopt from countries that have not ratified the Hague Convention. These adoptions have similar steps but lack the assurances of Hague Convention adoptions.

International Adoption Expenses

The expenses for international adoptions are quite high and will vary based on the requirements of the child's country of origin, agency programs, coordinator fees and several other factors. On average, most international adoptions cost anywhere from $18,000 to $50,000.

In Alberta, adoptive parents are responsible for the following costs:

  • the home assessment report fees and parent training courses
  • application and registration fees for a licensed adoption agency
  • translation and courier fees
  • immigration fees
  • the child's medical evaluations
  • the agency fees in the child's country
  • travel and accommodations
  • legal fees and post placement reports

The Role of a Licensed Adoption Agency

Due to Alberta legislation, licensed adoption agencies in Alberta are only permitted to do the work required in Alberta and families will need to find an adoption coordinator to act as a 'link' to the country from which you hope to adopt. The licensed adoption agency in Alberta provides families with home study assessment services, training, assistance with preparing the family's dossier, post placement reports and support.

The Role of an Adoption Coordinator

Alberta families often employ the services of an adoption coordinator/representative. An adoption coordinator ensures that the family's documents are in order, they organize the trip to the child's country and communicate with officials in the other country on the family's behalf.

The Role of Alberta Children and Youth Services

Tthe International Adoption Program from the Adoption and Permanency Planning Unit of Alberta Children and Youth Services is also involved in the process. The agency's roles include:

  • providing information/procedures for adopting from specific countries.
  • reviewing home assessment reports completed by licensed agencies and determining that the applicants are suited to adopt.
  • ensuring all documents are provided as per the requirements of the country of origin (e.g. translated, notarized, authenticated, verified).
  • forwarding the adoption dossier to the child's country of origin.
  • agreeing to the adoptive match
  • proposing the match to the adoptive family.
  • ensuring that the child meets immigration requirements and will be admissible to Canada.
  • providing provincial acceptance of the match for immigration purposes.
  • finalizing the adoption order in Alberta if the order cannot be finalized in the child's country.
  • forwarding post-adoption reports to the child's country of origin.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Choosing the citizenship process or the immigration process

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada's web site, as of December 23, 2007, anyone adopted by a Canadian citizen after February 14th, 1977 can apply for a grant of Canadian citizenship without first becoming a permanent resident. Some new adoptions, however, will still need to use the immigration process. The following explains the two processes and will assist you in deciding which to pursue.

The Citizenship Process:

You can apply for citizenship for an adopted person if:

  • at least one adoptive parent is, or was, a Canadian citizen when the adoption took place
  • the adoption severs (or severed) all ties with the adopted person’s legal parents
  • the adoption was or will be completed outside Canada (except for Quebec)

The adopted person does not meet the requirements for the citizenship process if:

  • neither parent was a Canadian citizen when the adoption took place
  • the adoption took place before February 15, 1977
  • the adoption did not fully sever all ties with the child’s legal parents
  • the adoption will be completed in Canada, or
  • a probationary period is to be completed in Canada before a final adoption order is issued from the child’s birth country.

More information on how to apply for Citizenship can be found here: How to apply for Citizenship
More information on what happens after you apply for Citizenship can be found here: After applying for Citizenship.

The Immigration Process:

You can use the immigration process to apply for permanent resident status for the adopted child if:

  • the adopted child is going to Canada to live right after the adoption takes place, or
  • one or both parents are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The adopted person does not meet the requirements for the immigration process if:

  • the adopted person is not going to Canada to live right after the adoption takes place
  • you are an adult adoptee living outside Canada and not returning to Canada to live right after your application is approved.

More information on Immigration can be found here: How to Apply for Imimgration, After Applying for Immigration, Arriving in Canada with Your Child

For more information regarding immigration issues, contact Citizenship and Immigration Toll Free at: 1-888-242-2100

The Children Available for Adoption

Like Canada, there are children of all ages waiting to be adopted from overseas. Most children waiting to be adopted are available due to poverty and lack of family services. Many children are abandoned by their biological families or made orphans due to war and/or disease.

Prospective adoptive families pursuing international adoption must be aware that these children are considered special needs. Why? In most cases, these children have had traumatic early life experiences, health problems, poor pre-natal and/or postnatal care, or malnutrition. These special needs could arise due to such situations:

  • the child has lived in an orphanage where there were many children and few caregivers. This leads to attachment problems and disorders.
  • there is little or no background on their biological families or their own early life experiences
  • they had to fend for themselves “on the street” and their past independence may make it difficult for them to adjust to life in a family environment
  • they suffered physical or emotional deprivation, leading to long-term problems despite receiving loving care in their adoptive homes.

Adopting a Child of Another Culture or Race

With an international adoption, the child is often a different race and/or culture from their adoptive family. An inter-racial adoption raises a number of issues that adoptive parents should be prepared for ahead of time.

An Asian child adopted by a Caucasian couple will be recognizably different and might have more difficulty 'fitting in' than a child from Russia or the Ukraine. Adoptive parents are now being encouraged to learn about the child's country and culture so that they can teach their child about his/her heritage and incorporate parts of the child's culture into their family life and identity. Honouring the child's heritage will instill a sense of pride in the child and help them in the teenage years with their sense of identity.

Some adoptive families also face the reality of racism and attitudes from others (even relatives, friends and colleagues) towards those who are culturally or racially different. Adoptive families must also be prepared for inappropriate inquiries from others (often inquisitive strangers) about the child's origins and adoption. Many adoption agencies offer seminars and training courses that can prepare families for such situations and issues. There are also support groups for families that have adopted internationally. These groups are wonderful supports for not only parents but as well, their children, who find friendship with other adoptees possibly from their country of origin.

Click here for the International Adoption processes for Albertans