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Adopting in British Columbia

Public or "Ministerial" Adoptions

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 family;
  • 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 as:

  • 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 in lifestyle;
  • the ability to advocate on behalf of the child;
  • the ability to adjust to children whose values, attitudes and life experiences may not reflect their own;
  • the patience to live with a child who may have low self-esteem;
  • a support system of relatives and/or friends;
  • 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.

The Ministerial Adoption Process

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 families.

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 your home.

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.

Financial Assistance

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 potential.




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