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Adopting in Alberta

Private Domestic Adoption

In Ontario, the children who are placed for adoption through a private agency are most often newborns or young infants. Private domestic adoptions are legal in Ontario and are arranged by licensees, usually lawyers or social workers, who are licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to place children for adoption.

In private adoptions, the birth parent(s) are involved a great deal in the adoption plan for their baby and are given the opportunity to select the adoptive family from the agency's list of approved families. Once the birth parent(s) choose a family, a meeting can be arranged for both parties to meet and learn more about each other. During this time, the private licensee serves as a facilitator for the adoption and helps both the birth parent(s) and the adoptive family work out an adoption plan and openness agreement.

Openness can mean sharing letters and pictures through the agency or it can mean having frequent visits with birth family. The adopting parents decide on the level of openness they are comfortable with during the home study process and this is outlined in their home study for birth parents to read when they are choosing a family.

Cost of Private Domestic Adoptions
Private adoption is not free. With most domestic private adoptions, prospective adoptive parents pay the registration fees with the agency, the cost of the home study (ranges from $2,500 to $3,000), cost of training and a placement fee when the child is actually placed in the home. The total costs can range anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

PRIDE Education Program
In Ontario, prospective adoptive parents are now required to attend an education program called PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education). This nine session course, which amounts to 27 hours of training, is offered by private adoption agencies, licensed trainers and the Children's Aid Society. If you're adopting privately, you will need to enrol in one of the private PRIDE education programs. The cost of PRIDE for a couple is usually around $1,400. A list of up-to-date private PRIDE sessions can be found at (click here).

Ideally, the applicant's participation in a PRIDE training program should be concurrent with the completion of their SAFE home study.

PRIDE's curriculum offers adoptive parents the information that will help prepare them for the responsibilities involved in raising their children and incorporate information about the following:

  • Adoption and child welfare systems, processes and laws
  • Attachment as a central issue in all adoptions
  • Loss issues in adoption
  • Impact of adoption on your own family
  • Child development, child management and an overview of issues specific to the needs of adopted children
  • The effects of neglect, lack of stimulation, abuse, institutionalization on children
  • Identity formation and the importance of cultural and racial awareness
  • The importance of connections and continuity for children

The SAFE home study
All prospective adoptive parents in Ontario must now have a Structured Analysis Family Evaluation [SAFE] home study. This type of home study was designed to evaluate families for adoption, foster care licensure, concurrent planning, and relative placement.

If you're going to adopt privately, you will need to hire a licensed adoption practitioner to conduct your home study. As mentioned, a private home study will cost you anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000. Your practitioner or social worker will meet with you and your family over the course of several months and during these interviews, a number of topics will be explored. Such issues will include:

  • Your family's motivation for adopting and understanding of adoption's life long issues
  • Your strengths and limitations in parenting styles/attitudes
  • The stability of your relationships (with partners, family, friends) and sources of support.
  • Your financial and employment situation, health status, lifestyle, home and neighbourhood environments, interests and hobbies
  • Your understanding of open and closed adoption and their implications
  • The age, ethnicity, health status and other characteristics of children that would best match the applicants.
  • Your understanding of sharing adoption information with the child.

You will also be required to complete a number of forms and questionnaires including the following:

  • Medical reports (completed by you and your family doctor)
  • Proof of marriage, if applicable
  • Police clearance reports
  • Child welfare record checks
  • Home safety checks
  • Letters of reference from family, friends
  • A financial statement

The SAFE home study is focused on a family's strengths and a respectful evaluation process while keeping in mind that the agency's most important duty is to protect the best interests of the children in care.

* Most prospective adoptive and foster families find the home study process intimidating and intrusive. Social workers and agencies don't expect families to be perfect; they are looking for people who have certain strengths and those who have successfully and proactively overcome life's challenges.

The Private Domestic Adoption Process

Below is an outline of the steps you must complete to adopt privately in Ontario:

STEP 1: Contact a private adoption agency and meet with the agency's Program director or consultant.

STEP 2: Complete the following documents and clearance checks:

  • Criminal Record Checks – every adult living in the household will need to have one completed. If an applicant has lived in another part of Canada after the age of 18, he/she must also have a police check completed by that area's local police. Similarly, if an applicant has lived in another country after the age of 18, a police check must be performed and a copy of the report submitted to your social worker/agency.
  • Living Expenses – you may be required to fill out a budget sheet.
  • Medical Checks – for each adult living in the household.
  • Marriage Licenses
  • Divorce Decrees (if applicable)
  • Letters of Reference – you will be asked to provide 5 references if you're a couple or 4 references for a single person adopting.

STEP 3: The Home Study report. This is probably the scariest part of the adoption process for most applicants. A social worker from the agency or a private adoption practitioner that you hire, will visit your home over the span of several months and interview you about your life, your family and your home environment. You will be asked to discuss many personal issues; your worker will want to know about your childhood, your religious beliefs, education, past relationships and marriages, as well as your views on parenting. It's important to be up front and honest with your worker so that he/she will be able to portray a clear and accurate view of your family in the home study report. A private home study is not free - the average cost ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 depending on the social worker/agency.

* As of December 31, 2007, all applicants in the private field will be required to have a SAFE home study.

STEP 4: Enroll in and attend PRIDE training. All families adopting in Ontario whether it's through the private or public agencies must enroll in and attend the PRIDE training program. The intent of this standardization is to streamline the process for new applicants, so that they can learn about all types and aspects of adoption, and then make informed choices about the type of child or children best suited for them. It allows applicants who may have begun by considering one type of adoption to easily move to other areas as desired without having to start the process over.

STEP 5: Write your "Dear Expectant Parent Letter" and create a profile to submit to your agency for expectant parents who are considering adoption to review. Ask your agency if they have any guidelines or for some examples of profiles that have proven successful.

STEP 6: Wait! For most prospective adoptive parents, this can be a very difficult and frustrating time as there is no set time limit. Birth parents choose the family to adopt their baby and each has their own vision of the ideal family for their baby.

STEP 7: The match! If you've been chosen by a birth family, your agency will contact you with the good news. Depending on the birth parents, you most likely will have the opportunity to meet with them before the placement to see if you're a good fit. It's at this meeting that you will most likely discuss an openness agreement and set the boundaries for your future relationship. Some families choose limited contact while some birth parents and adoptive parents become very close and agree to meet regularly before the birth. Some birth mothers ask the adoptive parents to attend the birth!

STEP 8: Open your home to your new son or daughter! In Ontario, a birth mother’s consent to the adoption of her child is only valid if the child is at least 7 days old when the consent is given.* With these consents signed and with the approval of the agency, the adoptive parents may receive the child.

* Following the Consent to Adoption, the birth parents have 21 days in which they can change their minds and withdraw their consent. The withdrawal must be in writing and the birth parent must obtain the revocation of consent form from the licensee or agency placing the child for adoption. It is then the responsibility of this licensee to return the child to the birth parents.

STEP 9: Adoption finalization. In Ontario, it takes approximately seven to nine months before an adoption is finalized in court. During this time, your social worker will visit with your family to offer support and to ensure the baby is thriving. A recommendation by this social worker is made at least six months after placement. This report is reviewed by the licensee, the Ministry and Court. If everything is in order, the adoption is finalized.



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