International adoption is a
popular choice among Canadians but it's by far, the most complicated
type of adoption. Why? In an international adoption, the laws
of the province, federal immigration laws and the laws of
the child's country of origin must all be followed and met
in order for the adoption to be legal.
For the most part, all families
in British Columbia that choose international adoption will
require the assistance of a licensed private adoption agency.
The licensed adoption agency will work with the prospective
adoptive family to complete an adoption home study and ensure
that all legal requirements are met.
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.
Choosing the citizenship process or the
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
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
- 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
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
International Adoption Expenses
The expenses for international
adoptions are quite high and will vary based on the requirements
of the licensed adoption agency, the child's country of origin
and several other factors. In most international adoptions,
adoptive parents must travel to the country which adds to
the expenses as well as fees for accommodation. Other expenses
adoptive parents incur include home study and agency fees,
fees for documents and reports, examinations, and translation
and authentication of Adoption Dossier documents, immigration
processing fees and child foster or medical care. On average,
most international adoptions take approximately 1-2 years
to complete and can cost anywhere from $18,000 to $50,000.
The children who are available for adoption
internationally may be infants, toddlers and older children.
Usually poverty and the lack of family services are the main
factors in making these children available for adoption. Adoptive
parents must be aware that these children have special needs.
These needs may be due to traumatic early life experiences,
health problems, poor pre-natal and postnatal care, or malnutrition.
These needs could be the result of the following:
- they lived in orphanages and may have
had many caregivers which often leads to attachment problems
- they did not have the stimulation and
human contact a child needs for healthy development
- 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” whose 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.
After the adoption has been completed, many
families need assistance in dealing with post-adoption issues.
For example, older children may need to talk about their earlier
experiences. They may need professional counseling to help
them deal with their feelings and adjust to their new families.
Adopting a Child of Another Culture
In most international adoptions, the child
is of a different race or culture and adoptive families need
to be prepared for dealing with such issues.
Some adoptive families will face different
attitudes from their relatives and the community towards those
who are culturally or racially different. Both you and your
adopted child also need to be prepared for inquiries from
others (often inquisitive strangers) about the child's origins
and adoption. It's also important to recognize that children
of an interracial adoption will face struggles with their
identity in their teen years. That's why it's very important
for the child's adoptive family to teach their child about
his or her country of origin and instill a pride in his/her
culture. It's important for the family to learn about and
honour and incorporate some of the child's culture into their
The Role of the International
When hiring a licensed private adoption
agency, it's important adoptive parents do their research
and ensure that the agency they choose has a good reputation,
reasonable policies and payment schedules, as well as staff
who are compassionate and knowledgeable. The agency you choose
is ultimately responsible for the total management of your
adoption process until the adoption is completed and your
child safely enters British Columbia.
Your licensed international adoption agency
- Ensure that the laws related to international
adoption in Canada, British Columbia, and the child’s
country of origin are followed
- Help you understand the laws and procedures
of British Columbia and the country from which you wish
- Provide information to assist you in
choosing the country from which you wish to adopt, if you
have not yet made the choice
- Review immigration procedures with you
- Prepare you for your experience of adopting
from another country
- Present you with a service contract for
your signature, as indicated under costs
- Review and explain the Memorandum for
Adoptive Applicants to you
Your licensed agency is also responsible
for arranging the preparation and submission of follow up
reports where required by the child's country of origin.
STEP 1: Research and select
the country from which you would like to adopt. Review the
country's requirements of adoptive families and ensure that
your family is eligible.
STEP 2: Choose a licensed
adoption agency that has an international adoption program
for the country from which you want to adopt. Prospective
adoptive parents should research and contact several agencies
to determine the best agency for their adoption. Ask to speak
with other families that have adopted through the agency.
STEP 3: Paperwork! Fill
out the required application forms provided by the licensed
adoption agency. You will also be required to have a home
study assessment completed by the agency.
STEP 4: Your adoption agency
will also work with you and gather supporting documentation
to create your family's adoption dossier. Once completed,
the agency will submit your home study and dossier to the office
of the Director of Adoption. Your dossier will be reviewed
by the Director of Adoption in British Columbia and if approved,
it will be forwarded to the Central Authority of adoption
in your child's country of origin.
STEP 5: The Central Authority
or delegate in your child's country selects a child to be
matched with your family. The matching child's proposal will
be forwarded to the Director of Adoption in British Columbia
and to your adoption agency. The proposal will include a description
of the child, a photograph (sometimes a video of the child
too!) as well as his/her medical and background information.
Included in the proposal is a Letter of Acceptance/Decline
which the family must complete and submit to the Director
STEP 6: If your family
accepts the match, the Director of Adoption will forward the
Letter of Acceptance to your child's country of origin.
STEP 7: Adoptive parents
are responsible for their child’s entry into Canada.
As of December 23, 2007, families can now choose from two
processes: citizenship or immigration. Detailed
information can be found here about Citizenship and Immigration
Canada. For more information
regarding immigration issues, contact Citizenship and Immigration
Toll Free at: 1-888-242-2100
STEP 8: Travel! Your child's
country will advise you and your agency on when you can travel
to pick up your child. Depending on the country, you may be
required to spend a certain amount of time in the country.
During this time, you will be able to bond with and form attachments
to your child as well as learn more about their heritage/culture.
In most cases, you will also attend a court session where
the adoption will be finalized.
STEP 9: Post-Placement. Once
you've returned home with your child, your family will be
required to submit post-placement reports to the child's country
of origin. Most countries require that a social worker submit
these reports which detail the child's safety and well-being,
as well as include several photographs. These post-placement
reports are often mandatory and some countries require the
family to continue sending reports about the child(ren) on
their own for several years (sometimes until the child is
18 years of age).