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Adopting in Alberta

International or "Inter-country" Adoption

International adoptions are a popular choice for Ontario residents especially since there are more children overseas who need homes and the process is often faster than a domestic adoption. International adoptions are extremely complex; the laws of Ontario, federal immigration laws and the laws of the child's country of origin must all be observed and followed. A licensed private adoption agency can ensure that all procedures and laws are followed so that the adoption is successful.

If you're an Ontario resident and planning to adopt a child in another country you must meet the following requirements:

  • Apply to adopt through an Ontario licensed international adoption agency;
  • Obtain a Home Study prepared by an approved adoption practitioner;
  • Have the appropriate officials in the Ministry approve of your suitability based on a review of the Home Study and supporting documentation.

Legal Issues

The adoption laws of the child’s country of origin will determine which Ontario law applies to the adoption. Adoptions that are finalized in Ontario are governed by the Child and Family Services Act. Adoptions that are finalized in the child’s country of origin are governed by the Intercountry Adoption Act . The provisions of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions may apply to both types of adoptions where the child’s country has implemented the Hague Convention.

What is the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption?

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.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Choosing the citizenship process or the immigration process

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 pursue.

The Citizenship Process:

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 if:

  • 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 here: How to Apply for Immigration, 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

Cost of International Adoptions for Ontario Families

An international adoption is expensive. Depending on the country, an international adoption can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Here are some of the things you will have to pay for:

  • Charges by your approved adoption practitioner to prepare the home study, review the adoption proposal and compile progress or follow-up reports;
  • Fees charged by the licensee or licensed international adoption agency;
  • Fees for translation of documents, notarization and authentication of documents;
  • Federal immigration fees for sponsorship visa applications, medical examinations, etc.;
  • Ministry of Community and Social Services fee for adoptions completed outside Canada , for reviewing the home study and adoption proposal, correspondence and liaison with adoption service providers, the Federal Government, and foreign adoption authorities, etc. (You may qualify for a fee waiver, so ask your licensed international adoption agency about this);
  • Travel and living expenses for you and your child;
  • Visa and passport for the child from the child’s country of origin;
  • Application fees to the child’s country;
  • Legal fees;

The licensed international adoption agency or licensee you hire will develop a service agreement with you, specific to the country from which you are adopting. This will include an estimate of expenses that will be incurred for the entire adoption process. As part of the home study you will be required to sign a Memorandum for Adoptive Applicants which defines the types of services for which fees can be charged. Make sure you understand the adoption agency’s fee schedule and all of the costs you may incur. If you have questions about a specific fee, you can discuss it directly with the agency or with the Ministry.

You can use the travel and translation services suggested by the adoption agency, or you may make your own arrangements. Make sure that the translation services are provided by professional, qualified translators, to ensure the accuracy of the home study and child proposal documents.

The Role of the International Adoption Agency

Hiring a licensed private adoption agency that has a good reputation as well as one that has policies, payment deadlines and staff you're comfortable with is very important to the success of your family's adoption. After all, your agency is responsible for the total management of the international adoption process until the adoption is complete and your child safely enters Ontario.

Your licensed international adoption agency will:

  • Ensure that the laws related to international adoption in Canada, Ontario, and the child’s country of origin are followed
  • Help you understand the laws and procedures of Ontario and the country from which you wish to adopt
  • 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 other country.

The Children Available for Adoption

The children who are available for adoption 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 or Race

With an international adoption, the child is often a different race and/or culture from their adoptive family. An inter-racial adoption raises a number of issues that adoptive parents should be prepared for ahead of time.

An Asian child adopted by a Caucasian couple will be recognizably different and might have more difficulty 'fitting in' than a child from Russia or the Ukraine. Adoptive parents are now being encouraged to learn about the child's country and culture so that they can teach their child about his/her heritage and incorporate parts of the child's culture into their family life and identity. Honouring the child's heritage will instill a sense of pride in the child and help them in the teenage years with their sense of identity.

Some adoptive families also face the reality of racism and attitudes from others (even relatives, friends and colleagues) towards those who are culturally or racially different. Adoptive families must also be prepared for inappropriate inquiries from others (often inquisitive strangers) about the child's origins and adoption. Many adoption agencies offer seminars and training courses that can prepare families for such situations and issues. There are also support groups for families that have adopted internationally. These groups are wonderful supports for not only parents but as well, their children, who find friendship with other adoptees possibly from their country of origin.


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