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Adoption 101: Types of Adoption

What is Private Adoption?

In Canada, private adoption involves two families that consent to, and make an adoption plan for a child. Government agencies are not involved in private adoptions; instead, families enlist the services of a lawyer or a licensed private adoption agency. Provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario have numerous licensed private adoption agencies that offer services to both expectant parents and families hoping to adopt. For families in provinces and/or territories that don't have any private agencies, these kinds of adoptions can still be arranged but with the assistance of lawyers and the government adoption agency in that jurisdiction.

Most expectant parents who are considering adoption for their child use private adoption agencies. Why? They can choose the adoptive family and have an open adoption (if they choose). Private adoption agencies also offer counseling and support services to expectant parents at no charge. For families hoping to adopt, private agencies offer training programs, counseling services, home study assessments or referrals to a home study practitioner, and of course, licensed adoption placement services.

Families that want to adopt a healthy newborn or young infant will have a much greater chance of adopting through a private agency. Before registering with an agency, however, families need to thoroughly research the adoption agency. Find out as much as you can about the agency and ask to speak with families that have used their services. At the initial consultation with the agency, it's important to ask lots of questions and get a copy of the agency's payment schedule ahead of time. Private adoption is expensive and can range anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 depending on the adoption situation. Most of the fees for a private adoption are for the agency's administrative and legal services but adoptive families are often required to pay for the birth parents' counseling and travel expenses.

The Private Adoption Process

Private adoption agencies have numerous families on their active waiting lists. When an expectant parent makes an adoption plan through a private agency, they often meet with adoption workers to discuss the characteristics of the adoptive family they want for their child. The agency will then present them with a number of profiles based on their criteria. These profiles are created by the prospective adoptive families and often contain a "Dear Birth Mother" letter and photos of themselves and their home. Most adoption workers will tell you how important it is that a family's profile is honest and 'real' since you just never know what it is that makes a potential birth parent select a family. They might choose a family because of their religion, the family's size, or they may connect with a photo of the family or just the overall 'feeling' they get when reviewing the profile.

Once the expectant parent(s) choose a family to adopt their child, the agency will arrange for a meeting between the expectant parents and adoptive family. This meeting gives everyone a chance to get to know each other and to establish a relationship if the adoption is to move forward. An agency worker is often present to help the families feel comfortable, answer questions and discuss openness in adoption. If everyone involved agrees on the match, the agency's worker will discuss the next steps in the adoption and counseling services available after the adoption placement. Once the child has been born, the birth parent(s) must sign a consent form for the adoption. Depending on the province/territory, there will be a period of time in which the birth parent(s) can change their mind. Once this period expires, the birth parents cannot revoke their consent. If the birth parents do withdraw their consent to the adoption within the allowed period of time, the child must be returned to them.

There are no timelines when it comes to private adoption. Some families are chosen very quickly and others may wait a year or longer before a potential birth parent selects them. Adoptive families must be proactive and network while they wait. Some families use the newspaper to advertise their desire to adopt while others advertise online and through e-mail.

Note: If you do plan to network, it's extremely important to ask your adoption worker if 'adoption networking' is legal in your province or territory (some provinces/territories have laws prohibiting adoption advertising with hefty fines and penalties).

Overview: The Private Adoption Process

Depending on the province or territory, the process to adopt a child through a private agency will vary, but looks similar to the following:

    • Research licensed private adoption agencies in your province and/or territory
    • Attend information sessions and register with an adoption agency (some families register with more than one agency)
    • Hire a private, licensed social worker to conduct your home study
    • Complete medical and police checks, submit references as well as family and social histories
    • Attend adoption training classes if required by your province/territory
    • Create and submit a family profile to the agency
    • Wait to be chosen by a birth family
    • A match is made! Attend a meeting with the agency and birth parent(s) before the child is born
    • Bring your new son/daughter home from the hospital once the adoption consents have been signed
    • Depending on the province/territory, you will have to wait out a time period where the birth parent(s) can revoke their consent. Once this period has expired, they cannot have the child returned to them.
    • Probationary period (with follow-up visits from your worker)
    • Your worker will submit a post placement report and begin the paper work for finalization
    • Adoption Order is granted by the Court
Advantages of Private Adoption   Disadvantages of Private Adoption
  • Open adoption - There will never be any doubt or wondering about your child's heritage and his/her biological family's medical and social history. You'll be able to share information and photos and many families agree to meet several times a year. Children benefit greatly from open adoptions because they will know where they came from and how they joined the adoptive family. This will help the child have a healthy self esteem and identity.

  • Child's Health/Age - Families hoping to adopt a healthy newborn will have the best luck with private adoption. (There are, however, no guarantees that the child will be born healthy).

  • Control - Private adoptions allow adoptive parents greater control in terms of selecting the agency, what kind of relationship with birth parent(s) as well as adoption networking (if permitted in the province or territory).
  • The Cost - Adopting privately is expensive with fees ranging anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000.

  • Fewer Infants Available - Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, there are fewer infants available for adoption. Why? There are more social assistance programs for those facing unplanned pregnancies, more unwed women choose to parent and more unplanned pregnancies are terminated.

  • Revocation of Consent - The birth parents can revoke their consents after the child is placed in your home. There is a small window of time after consents have been signed that varies depending on the province or territory. The child must be returned to the biological parents if both or one withdraws his/her consents.



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