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International or “Inter-Country” Adoptions

International adoption is a popular choice among Canadians but it’s by far, the most complicated type of adoption. Why? In an international adoption, the laws of the province, federal immigration laws and the laws of the child’s country of origin must all be followed and met in order for the adoption to be legal.

For the most part, all families in British Columbia that choose international adoption will require the assistance of a licensed private adoption agency. The licensed adoption agency will work with the prospective adoptive family to complete an adoption home study and ensure that all legal requirements are met.

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.

For more information regarding immigration issues, contact Citizenship and Immigration Toll Free at: 1-888-242-2100.

International Adoption Expenses

The expenses for international adoptions are quite high and will vary based on the requirements of the licensed adoption agency, the child’s country of origin and several other factors. In most international adoptions, adoptive parents must travel to the country which adds to the expenses as well as fees for accommodation. Other expenses adoptive parents incur include home study and agency fees, fees for documents and reports, examinations, and translation and authentication of Adoption Dossier documents, immigration processing fees and child foster or medical care. On average, most international adoptions take approximately 1-2 years to complete and can cost anywhere from $18,000 to $50,000.

The Children Available for Adoption

The children who are available for adoption internationally 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

In most international adoptions, the child is of a different race or culture and adoptive families need to be prepared for dealing with such issues.

Some adoptive families will face different attitudes from their relatives and the community towards those who are culturally or racially different. Both you and your adopted child also need to be prepared for inquiries from others (often inquisitive strangers) about the child’s origins and adoption. It’s also important to recognize that children of an interracial adoption will face struggles with their identity in their teen years. That’s why it’s very important for the child’s adoptive family to teach their child about his or her country of origin and instill a pride in his/her culture. It’s important for the family to learn about and honour and incorporate some of the child’s culture into their family life.

The Role of the International Adoption Agency

When hiring a licensed private adoption agency, it’s important adoptive parents do their research and ensure that the agency they choose has a good reputation, reasonable policies and payment schedules, as well as staff who are compassionate and knowledgeable. The agency you choose is ultimately responsible for the total management of your adoption process until the adoption is completed and your child safely enters British Columbia.

Your licensed international adoption agency will:

  • Ensure that the laws related to international adoption in Canada, British Columbia, and the child’s country of origin are followed
  • Help you understand the laws and procedures of British Columbia 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 child’s country of origin.

Steps for Hague Convention Adoptions

STEP 1: Research and select the country from which you would like to adopt. Review the country’s requirements of adoptive families and ensure that your family is eligible.

STEP 2:Choose a licensed adoption agency that has an international adoption program for the country from which you want to adopt. Prospective adoptive parents should research and contact several agencies to determine the best agency for their adoption. Ask to speak with other families that have adopted through the agency.

STEP 3: Paperwork! Fill out the required application forms provided by the licensed adoption agency. You will also be required to have a home study assessment completed by the agency.

STEP 4: Your adoption agency will also work with you and gather supporting documentation to create your family’s adoption dossier. Once completed, the agency will submit your home study and dossier to the office of the Director of Adoption. Your dossier will be reviewed by the Director of Adoption in British Columbia and if approved, it will be forwarded to the Central Authority of adoption in your child’s country of origin.

STEP 5: The Central Authority or delegate in your child’s country selects a child to be matched with your family. The matching child’s proposal will be forwarded to the Director of Adoption in British Columbia and to your adoption agency. The proposal will include a description of the child, a photograph (sometimes a video of the child too!) as well as his/her medical and background information. Included in the proposal is a Letter of Acceptance/Decline which the family must complete and submit to the Director of Adoption.

STEP 6: If your family accepts the match, the Director of Adoption will forward the Letter of Acceptance to your child’s country of origin.

STEP 7: Adoptive parents are responsible for their child’s entry into Canada. As of December 23, 2007, families can now choose from two processes: citizenship or immigration. Detailed information can be found here about Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For more information regarding immigration issues, contact Citizenship and Immigration Toll Free at: 1-888-242-2100.

STEP 8: Travel! Your child’s country will advise you and your agency on when you can travel to pick up your child. Depending on the country, you may be required to spend a certain amount of time in the country. During this time, you will be able to bond with and form attachments to your child as well as learn more about their heritage/culture. In most cases, you will also attend a court session where the adoption will be finalized.

STEP 9: Post-Placement. Once you’ve returned home with your child, your family will be required to submit post-placement reports to the child’s country of origin. Most countries require that a social worker submit these reports which detail the child’s safety and well-being, as well as include several photographs. These post-placement reports are often mandatory and some countries require the family to continue sending reports about the child(ren) on their own for several years (sometimes until the child is 18 years of age).


 



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