In New Brunswick, there are more than 700
children currently in permanent care and are waiting for a
family and a permanent home to call their own. You don't have
to be young, married, childless or wealthy to adopt a child
through the Department of Social Development. You don't have
to go to a certain church or have a certain education. You
just have to be a special person with special skills.
A public adoption in New Brunswick is called
a "Ministerial" adoption and involves the province's
Department of Social Development. The children who are eligible
for adoption are in the permanent care of the government.
There are some infants available for adoption but the majority
of the children are over the age of two.
These children are considered to be special
needs for a variety of reasons including:
- they are part of a sibling group;
- they were exposed to drugs or alcohol
in utero and may have behavioural and learning disabilities;
- they have difficulty attaching to a new
- they have suffered abuse or neglect and
this has delayed their ability to learn and develop; or
- they have a combination of the above
Children become available for adoption in
many ways. Some birth parents choose to make an adoption plan
for their child, and other children come into the care of
the Department by court order. Every effort is made to find
an adoptive family who best meets the specific needs of a
child over the long term.
When placing a child for adoption, social
workers consider many factors, such as the child's safety,
physical and emotional needs and level of development. They
also consider the importance of continuous relationships,
including those with birth parents, as well as the child's
ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural heritage.
According to its web site, the Department
looks for diversity in the families and parents who are interested
in adopting children with special needs. Adoptive families
require certain strengths, knowledge and experiences, such
- a healthy sense of self-esteem;
- strong sense of commitment;
- the ability to provide love and affection
to a child who may have difficulty returning those feelings;
- the ability to talk about feelings and
to listen so children are able to talk about theirs;
- the flexibility to make major changes
- the ability to advocate on behalf of
- the ability to adjust to children whose
values, attitudes and life experiences may not reflect their
- the patience to live with a child who
may have low self-esteem;
- a support system of relatives and/or
- a willingness to work as part of a team
with social workers and other professionals in the community
for an indefinite period of time;
- a willingness to be involved with others
who are significant to the child (for example, birth parents,
siblings, foster parents); and
- a sense of humour.
There are no fees for adopting a child through
the Department of Social Development.
STEP 1: Contact your local
Family and Community Social Services office. The
adoption social worker will give you information on adopting
a waiting child, as well as an application asking you for
basic information about you and your family.
STEP 2: Attend pre-service training
for prospective adoptive parents. This training will
provide you with the opportunity and resources to learn about
the special placement needs of these children. You will also
be given the opportunity to ask questions and make contacts
with other prospective adoptive families. For families that
adopt a child over the age of two, must complete 27 hours
of PRIDE Pre-Service Training.
STEP 3: The home study.
A qualified adoption social worker will conduct your home study
and together you will discuss your home and community, your
marriage relationship and your thoughts about parenting. You
will also discuss many other aspects of being parents of an
adopted child, such as your knowledge of adoption issues,
including those of separation and loss and their effect on
behaviour and development. As part of the home study process
you will be required to provide a medical assessment from
your family doctor to confirm that you're in good physical
and mental health. As well, you, anyone 19 years or older
living in your home, will be asked to undergo a criminal record
check. You will also need to provide three references from
friends, colleagues or professionals.
STEP 4: Home study approval. You
will be given the opportunity to review the home study and
once you have signed off on it, the report is registered with
Adoption Services. Information from your home study becomes
part of a database that matches children with prospective
STEP 5: The matching process. When
matched has occurred and you have accepted a prospective adoptive
child, a series of pre-placement visits begin. If the child
lives in a different community, you will be asked to travel
there at your own expense. These initial visits are structured
and supervised, with your social worker and/or the child's
social worker present and possibly the child's caregiver.
As your relationship with the child grows, you will begin
to spend time alone with the child and have him or her visit
STEP 6: Open your home to your new
son or daughter. Once the pre-placement visits are
completed to the satisfaction of both social workers, the
child will be placed in your home. At any point in the process
before the placement of the child in your home, you can decide
against proceeding. If you have any doubts about the placement,
discuss your concerns with your social worker.
Throughout the adoption process, it is important
for you to remember that while the steps must be followed,
it is also an individual process. The average time from application
to home study takes several months.
Approved adoptive families, who have a demonstrated
need, may be eligible to receive a financial subsidy for services
to help meet the special needs of the child. These services
may include counseling, special services to children, parenting
or other training, and adoption support and information.
Adoptive parents of children with special
needs often find great joy and satisfaction in providing the
love and support these children need to achieve their full