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If you've decided to pursue private adoption, there will be a number of crucial decisions you will need to make that will greatly impact your adoption journey. How long you wait and your adoption experience is dependant on many factors - the main one being the adoption professional/agency you hire.

Types of Adoption Professionals

Adoption Agency/Licensee - a private agency in Canada (or individual in Ontario) that is licensed to facilitate private or international adoptions. Not every province and/or territory has licensed agencies/individuals in Canada.

Adoption worker - a social worker hired by a government or private adoption agency who conducts home studies, works with adoptive parents and birth parents, and supervises adoption placements.

Adoption Practitioner - a title for social workers in Ontario who are licensed to conduct home studies and supervise adoption placements until finalization occurs in court.

Issues to Consider

Not all adoption agencies are created equal. Private adoption agencies/licensees are businesses and unlike public agencies, they charge prospective adoptive parents for their services. These agencies are regulated in Canada, however, their services are not cheap! The average private domestic adoption costs adoptive parents anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 depending on each adoption situation.

A private adoption agency/licensee's roles in a domestic adoption are numerous and include:

  • ensuring that all the laws and regulations governing adoption in your province are being followed
  • ensuring that prospective birth parents receive counseling about the pregnancy and all of the options available to them (i.e. adoption, parenting the child, abortion etc.). The agency must also ensure that the birth parents receive independent legal advice prior to signing the consents for the adoption of their child.
  • training/educating prospective adoptive families and conducting home studies.
  • coordinating all of the documentation and the flow of information between you, the ministry responsible for adoption and the prospective birth mother or father.
  • providing prospective birth parents with the opportunity to review and choose from a variety of approved adoptive families.
  • provide counsel and guidance to birth families and adoptive parents about openness.
  • placing the child with you after the revocation of consent period has expired
  • taking custody and care of the child during the probationary period until the adoption has been legally finalized
  • receiving the ministry's approval to the proposed placement

Below you will find a few tips on hiring the right agency for your adoption:

  • Research! Check out the agency online - you can search for the agency at the Better Business Bureau, in discussions on various message forums or through web sites by families that have used their services. Simply type in the agency's name on a search engine like Google and see what happens!
  • References. Ask the adoption agency if you can speak with other families that have successfully adopted through their agency. Any reputable agency will provide you with references. Don't be afraid to connect with other families - they've been through the process and will give you the 'low down' on the agency.
  • Attend any information sessions held by the adoption agency. Ask lots of questions and if you're satisfied with the answers, look elsewhere. Don't settle for mediocrity or register with an agency that has workers who don't seem to care about you and customer service.
  • Interview the agency. You will most likely have to meet with the agency's representative or coordinator before registering. Most agencies charge a fee for the initial intake interview but this will give you an opportunity to get a feeling for the agency's practices and how committed they are to families.

During your initial interview with an agency, it's important to ask questions and become informed. After all, these are the people who will hopefully help you find your child! Below is a list of questions all prospective adoptive parents should ask adoption agencies before registering:

General Questions

  • How long have you been in the business?
  • How many adoptions have you facilitated?
  • What are your philosophies on adoption?
  • How many adoptions do you typically arrange each year?
  • What is the percentage of failed adoptions each year?
  • Do you conduct home studies and adoption training? If not, can you make referrals for such services?

Agency Fees

  • Do you charge an hourly or flat rate for consultations?
  • What are the fees involved?
  • Do you have a payment schedule?
  • If our adoption fails, will we lose any money? If so, how much?

Agency Services

  • How many approved adoptive families do you have actively waiting?
  • Do you put a cap on the number of waiting families you will accept?
  • How many birth mothers are you currently working with?
  • What kind of 'family profile' do you require? Can we see some examples?
  • How many family profiles do you present to prospective birth parents?

There are many private adoption agencies/licensees from which to choose and it's important to employ the services of one that will answer your questions, return phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner, and offer support during this sometimes stressful, but mostly wonderful journey. Good luck!



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