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Adopting in British Columbia

Ministry Adoptions

Approximately half of all adoptions in British Columbia are conducted by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The majority of children who are waiting to be adopted in British Columbia through the Ministry are between the ages of 4 and 10 years old. There are some who are younger and some are as old as 18. Many of these children have special physical or medical needs; some were exposed to drugs and alcohol while in utero and others were abused or neglected. Many of the children have family ties that need to remain intact and some children are part of a sibling group that needs to be placed together.

The Ministry Adoption Process

To adopt a waiting child in British Columbia, the Ministry outlines a series of steps for applicants on its web site:

STEP 1 - Find out more about adoption. For helpful information about adopting British Columbia's waiting children, Call: 1 877 ADOPT 07 / 1 877 236-7807. Or, contact an adoption support coordinator in your region.

STEP 2 - Meet with a social worker. A social worker from your region will contact you and your family to arrange a meeting to talk about adoption and the special needs of the waiting children in British Columbia. After this meeting, if you are still interested in a special needs adoption, you can fill out an application form.

STEP 3 - Home study, Information Disclosure and References The home study process is a mutual assessment by you and your social worker of your strengths and abilities with respect to adopting a child with special needs. This assessment includes an educational component which the Ministry provides. To ensure the best match possible between you and the child, as part of your home study you'll be asked to provide more information, including a medical assessment from your family doctor and consent to criminal record and reference checks. Click here to download the "Physicians Report on Applicant form".

STEP 4- The Matching Process. Once your home study has been completed, you will now be considered for children who are legally free to be adopted. Your home study/profile will be circulated to other social workers who will review your file to see if you meet the requirements of any children on their caseload. There is no set time frame for when you will be matched with a child; the goal is to find a family for a child, not a child for a family. Some applicants have a short wait, while others wait for years.

STEP 5: The Call! Once you're matched, your social worker will present your family with a proposal. This proposal often contains a photo of the child, his/her medical background and a social history. You should thoroughly review the child's file, ask questions and possibly consult with doctors or other professionals if there are any medical or developmental concerns.

STEP 6: If you accept the match, you will begin pre-placement visits with the child. If the child lives in a different community, you will be asked to visit the child in their community. For these first visits, a worker and sometimes the child's caregiver will be present. Over time, as your relationship with the child grows, you will begin to spend time alone with the child and have visits at your home. You may decide against moving forward any time in the pre-placement process. If you have any doubts, you should talk it over with your social worker.

If things proceed well, the social workers will make the decision about the suitability of the placement proceeding based on the child's best interests.

STEP 7 - Welcome your new son or daughter home! After pre-placement visits are completed to everyone's satisfaction, the child will be placed in your home. At this point, you will fill out a Notice of Placement and once six months have passed, your social worker will apply to the court for an Adoption Order for you and your adoptive child.

If the child is between the ages of 7 and 12, a social worker will meet with him or her to do a report on the child's views of the proposed adoption. This report will form part of a package that the court will consider when completing the adoption. A child over 12 years of age must consent to the adoption and any name change.

* Until the child becomes a legal, permanent member of your family, the Director of Child Protection remains his or her guardian. Over the six-month period, your social worker will visit your home at least three times to ensure the child's well being. This adjustment period is a very important time. The social worker needs to make sure that the placement is "right" for both the child and the family.

The steps outlined above provide you with basic information on the adoption process. Individual situations do vary. The average time from application to home study usually takes a few months.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development has hundreds of children who are waiting to be adopted. Several are profiled at the Ministry’s web site in the Adoption Bulletin section. According to the web site, the Adoption Bulletin is only updated 4 times a year and may be out of date.

For information about the children profiled at the Adoption Bulletin, send an e-mail to: [email protected].com or contact an Adoptive Families Association of BC Adoption Support Coordinator in your area.


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