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Adopting in Quebec

Banque Mixte Adoption

The Banque Mixte, which was started in 1988 by the Centre Youth, is a program that finds stable homes for abandoned or neglected children. Pursuing adoption through this route is risky; the children in need of homes or 'families of reception' have not been made legally free to be adopted and some, although not many, may be returned to their biological families. The Banque Mixte is very similar to the "Fostering with a View to Adopt" route in provinces like Ontario.

Children who are in the Banque Mixte program are often identified and apprehended by the Centre Youth for a number of reasons such as:

  • The child(ren) may be abandoned or neglected by their birth families as they are unable to provide them with their basic needs.
  • The birth parent(s) are too young and unable to provide the basic needs;
  • The birth parent(s) have already had several children who have been apprehended and placed in other families.
  • The birth parent(s) may have addictions to alcohol and/or drugs or be involved in lifestyles involving prostitution.

Youth Protection Services's mandate is to intervene in the best interests of the child and to find him/her a more stable home that's favourable to their healthy development.

Who Are The Children?

In Québec, there are children of all ages, from newborn to teenagers, that come under the care of the youth protection. Many of these children were physically or sexually abused, others were abandoned and in the case of newborns, many are born addicted to drugs like cocaine or heroin. Other children available for placement have learning disabilities or behavioural problems that require specialized parenting.

Before a child is place with a family of reception, the family will be made aware of any 'special needs' and the child's social history gathered by the Centre Youth.

Birth Families and Visitation

Taking the route of Banque Mixte adoption can be legally risky but also a stressful experience for hopeful adoptive parents and even the children. The Court often grants biological families the rights to visitation with their children and it's the family of reception's duty to ensure the children attend these meetings. Visitation is supervised and is, in most cases, at the youth protection agency. The parents hoping to adopt the child can attend the visit but a judge may decide it's in their best interest for their identities to be kept confidential.

Visits with the birth parent(s) can be particularly difficult for families hoping to adopt as they may feel the birth parent(s) pose a threat to their adoption plans. While there are others who welcome this as an opportunity to meet the biological parents so that they can understand their child's background and history.

For those families of reception that do meet with biological families, their information is kept confidential, but some do choose to disclose full names and feel it's important for both families to stay connected. Open adoption in Québec is not legally enforceable but many families do make informal agreements as they feel it's important for the children to know their biological families.

Legal Matters regarding the Banque Mixte

Families that agree to have children placed in their homes from the Banque Mixte must realize and be prepared for a lengthy period of time before that child may become judicially legal to be adopted. Since 1988, statistics have shown that roughly only 4% of the children in the program have been reunited with their biological families. So, chances are very high that these children can be adopted, but the wait can still be stressful for everyone.

In the best interests of children, it's been determined that a placement for children ages 0 to 2 years be made within a year. Children ages two to five years old must have a placement within 18 months and for children ages 6 and older, a placement within two years.

The Process of Banque Mixte Adoptions

STEP 1: Contact your local Centre Youth and request to speak with an adoption worker. You may be asked to attend an information session or be sent an information package with documents.

STEP 2: Fill out all the paperwork so that your application can move forward. These documents include the application form, a self-study questionnaire, references, a medical examination, proof of employment, a statement of income, a proof of residence, and a consent form for a police check.

STEP 3: The psychosocial assessment (a.k.a. the homestudy). If you've been accepted by the Centre Youth, you will be contacted by a social worker to begin the assessment. If your family has a wide range of acceptance of children (age, race, needs etc), your assessment will begin faster than those who will only consider a healthy, caucasian newborn.

Your social worker will meet with you and your family together and on an individual basis at their office and in your home over a period of approximately 6 to 8 weeks. During these meetings, you will be 'interviewed' and it will feel as though nothing in your life is private. Such topics will be your motivation for adopting, your history of fertility/infertility, your professional and cultural situation, your personal history and your relationship with your partner if you have one, your health, your extended family, your sex life, your relationship with your children (if you already have any), your attitude toward adoption and parenthood. You'll also discuss the type of child you want to adopt and how you will cope and accept a child if he/she has any developmental, attachment or behavioural problems.

STEP 4: Psychosocial Assessment Report. Your social worker will take all of the content he/she has gathered as a result of your meetings and write a report for the Centre Youth to assess. If your family is approved to adopt, a child may be placed in your home within a few days or you may wait up to a couple of years. There are a number of factors influencing how long you will wait for a match including the strengths and weaknesses of your family, the child's characteristics (age, culture, needs if any) and the parent-child match itself.

STEP 5: Wait to be matched! Typically, the waiting period for a child ages newborn to 2 years is anywhere from a few weeks to 24 months through the Banque Mixte. If you're willing to accept an older child, your wait will be considerably less.

STEP 6: The call! When your family is matched with a child, your worker will call you the good news. You'll be given information about the child which will include information about their medical and social histories. At this point, you will be able to move forward with the placement or turn the match down. If the proposed match does not feel right, you are under no obligation to accept as there will be another opportunity in the future for the right match.

STEP 7: Placement! When the child is placed in your home, you will be asked to sign a contract designating you as a foster family (even in the case of the Banque Mixte). The contract states that what will be required of your family to provide for a child and what expenses the agency will provide your family (i.e. diaper and formula allowances, school supplies, activity allowances, subsidies etc.) As the child is not legally free for adoption, the youth protection agency or the biological parents retain parental authority over the child unless a judge decides otherwise.

STEP 8: The legal process. As you and your child begin the process of bonding and attachment, the youth protection agency will be attempting to have the child declared legally free for adoption. In order to obtain a declaration of adoptability, the agency must provide strong evidence that the biological parents have severely neglected their parental responsibilities for at least six months. Even if biological parents are attempting to improve their situation, it will be what's in the best interest of the child and if adoption is the right choice, then a declaration for adoption will take place. All situations are different!

STEP 9: Placement Order. Once the Court declares the child's eligibility for adoption, an order of placement must obtained. The Department of Youth Protection and the prospective parents file a motion that the child should be placed in their home. This motion must show that the child's basic requirements will be met, that the adoption is in the best interest of the child and if the child is old enough, their consent must also be granted.

With the order of placement granted, parental authority is transferred to the adoptive parents and the child's name is legally changed to the family name. At this point, the child cannot be returned to his/her birth parents.

STEP 10: Adoption finalization! After six months (or sometimes sooner), the agency and adoptive parents will return to court for finalization. The Court will be presented with a report by the social worker outlining the child's development and how they've settled within their new family. This report will make recommendations as to whether or not the adoption should be finalized.

If the court grants the adoption, the child is now considered legally part of the family and all ties with his/her biological family are severed. The child will be given their new legal name and a birth certificate reflecting such changes. Congratulations on your new arrival!


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