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International or Inter-Country Adoptions

In March 2007, Family and Community Services Minister Carmel Robichaud introduced amendments to the Family Services Act to modernize and streamline adoption services in New Brunswick.

Currently there are no international adoption agencies in New Brunswick. The new amendments, however, state that the department plans to establish one or two non-profit community agencies as a start, with the possibility of creating more in the future if there is an increasing need. These agencies will be non-profit to be in compliance with international conventions on adoption. All requests for international adoption services will be directed to the approved non-profit agencies.

The non-profit community agencies will offer various bilingual services such as completing the international adoption assessment, training for the prospective adoptive parents and post- placement adoption services.

While the new agencies will help facilitate the process, the Department of Social Development will continue to act as the central authority in terms of provincial approval for applicants, submission of applications to foreign countries, and approval of proposed child matches.

The proposed new initiatives on adoption, including the new non-profit community agencies, should be operational within the next two years.

In the meantime …

New Brunswickers can still proceed with international adoptions as there are many agencies that will work with families outside of their province.

In New Brunswick, the principles and philosophy of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption are applied to all inter-country adoptions as it is a frame work for co-operation between countries to protect the best interest of the children and birth and adoptive parents.

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.

International Adoption Expenses

The expenses for international adoptions are quite high and will vary based on the requirements of the child’s country of origin, agency programs, coordinator fees and several other factors. On average, most international adoptions cost anywhere from $18,000 to $50,000.

In New Brunswick, adoptive families are responsible for the following costs incurred in an international adoption:

  • the home assessment report fees and parent training courses
  • application and registration fees for a licensed adoption agency
  • translation and courier fees
  • immigration fees
  • the child’s medical evaluations
  • the agency fees in the child’s country
  • travel and accommodations
  • legal fees and post placement reports

The Role of An 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 New Brunswick.

Your licensed international adoption agency will:

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

Like Canada, there are children of all ages waiting to be adopted from overseas. Most children waiting to be adopted are available due to poverty and lack of family services. Many children are abandoned by their biological families or made orphans due to war and/or disease.

Prospective adoptive families pursuing international adoption must be aware that these children are considered special needs. Why? In most cases, these children have had traumatic early life experiences, health problems, poor pre-natal and/or postnatal care, or malnutrition. These special needs could arise due to such situations:

  • the child has lived in an orphanage where there were many children and few caregivers. This leads to attachment problems and disorders.
  • 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” and their past 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

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.

The International Adoption Process

STEP 1: Contact the Department of Social Development and request information about international adoption. Research and decide on the country from which you want to adopt as well as a licensed adoption agency.

* Since there are no licensed international adoption agencies in New Brunswick at this time, you will have to employ the services of an agency outside of the province. The Department of Social Development may be able to provide you with agency recommendations.

STEP 2: Register with a licensed adoption agency and fill out and submit the following documents:

  • intercountry adoption application;
  • birth certificate;
  • for joint applicants, proof of a stable relationship for at least two years;
  • medical check / criminal check / Department of Social Development record check; names of references;
  • financial statement; and
  • any other document required by country of origin.

These documents are necessary and will be included with your home study in your adoption dossier.

STEP 3: The Home Study. New Brunswick families must hire a Ministry approved private adoption practitioner to conduct their home study. Your social worker will visit your home over the span of several months to 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. Your practitioner will then take all of the information he/she has gathered and write the home study report. Before you can proceed, your home study report must be reviewed and approved by the Ministry.

STEP 4:Adoption Dossier. A dossier refers to the paperwork requested by the child’s country of origin. Your home study report is just one of the many documents that will be included in your dossier. Your adoption agency will work with your family to collect and complete all of the necessary authentications and translations and to ensure your dossier is complete. During this time, prospective adoptive parents should also be researching the processes of Citizenship and Immigration to Canada.

STEP 5: Wait for a match (Child Referral) … Once your dossier has been completed and forwarded to the child’s country, you will wait a period of time for a child to be referred as a match for your family. Your adoption agency will contact you once they (and New Brunswick’s Department of Social Development) have received and reviewed a referral for your family. A referral for a child contains the child’s description, a photograph (and maybe a video) as well as the child’s medical and social histories. Your adoption agency’s professionals will be on hand to review the information with you and discuss any concerns or issues in the referral. If there are any concerns, you should do some research and consult with professionals like your family doctor or a pediatrician.

Note: The Department of Social Development oversees all international adoptions in New Brunswick and provincial approval of the adoption must be obtained by it or the international adoption will not move forward.

STEP 6: You will be asked to submit a Letter of Acceptance/Decline to your agency and it will then forward it to the Central Authority in the child’s country of origin. If you decline the referral, your agency will request the country refer another child. If you accept the referral, your agency will forward the Letter of Acceptance to the child’s country.

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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