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Adoption Program of the Dept. of Social Services and Seniors (Public Adoption)

In Prince Edward Island, the government agency responsible for adoption is called the Department of Social Services and Seniors. Children who are available for adoption range in age from infancy up to 18 years of age and most are in the care and custody of the Director of Child Welfare. Children are in the custody of the Director because the Court has determined that their birth parents can no longer care for their basic needs and permanency. The Department does arrange adoptions where consent has been given by the birth parents but such instances are relatively uncommon.

The majority of children available for adoption are over the age of two years and have special needs. These needs could include being part of a sibling group that needs to stay together, children who are between the ages of 8 and 18 years of age, and children who may have medical, physical, developmental, learning and emotional problems. Unfortunately, some of these children have difficult pasts due to abuse and/or neglect.

The Process to Adopt A Child In The Care of the Director

STEP 1: Contact the Adoption Services Program at the Department of Social Services and Seniors and request an information package and application form. Thoroughly read and fill out the required forms in the information package and return it to . Your application will be reviewed to ensure your family meets the requirements for the adoption program.

STEP 2: Forms, forms and more forms! Once your application is received, reviewed and processed, your family will be put on a waiting list to have a home study done. The waiting list to have a home study started ranges anywhere from 1 to 2 years. Priority to have a home study completed quickly is given to families that are willing to adopt older children or those with special needs.

STEP 3: The home study process. You will meet with, and be interviewed by a licensed social worker several times (4 to 6 minimum) to discuss a variety of topics including your relationship with spouse/partner, your family and childhood, your financial and employment situation, your health, lifestyle and home, your interests, your parenting styles and attitudes, as well as your understanding of open and closed adoptions. You’ll also discuss your motivation for adopting as well as the characteristics of the child(ren) that would be the best match for your family.

STEP 4: Adoption training. The Department of Social Services requires all prospective adoptive parents that want to adopt a child who is in the care and custody of the Director attend a 4 day parent preparation course. The training is very similar to the PRIDE training course that is now mandatory in provinces like Ontario and New Brunswick.

STEP 5: The matching process. Once your home study is complete and you’ve attending the mandatory training, your family will be considered as ‘waiting to be matched.’ There is not set time on the waiting list for a match as the Department’s mandate is to find the best match for waiting children. Once a match is made, your social worker will be contacted and will present you with a profile of the child proposed for adoption.

STEP 6: The match! If you and your family accept the match you will begin a series of pre-placement visits with your child. These are often spent at the child’s foster home where you will spend time bonding with your new son or daughter. What occurs during these visits is largely dependent on the child’s age – if the child is an infant, you’ll spend much of your time learning how the baby likes to be held, fed, diapered, bathed and their bedtime and daily routines. Pre-placement visits with an older child will be obviously quite different as you’ll be able to talk with your child about their interests, engage in activities they enjoy, and also learn about their daily routines from the child and their foster family.

The length of time for pre-placement visits is greatly dependent on the age of a child and their comfort. An infant will attach to his/her adoptive parents much faster than an older child who has been in foster care for several years. Any arrangements are mutually decided as is in the particular child’s best interests, for post-placement contact with the child’s siblings, other birth family or foster parents.

STEP 7: Open your home to your new son or daughter! Once pre-placement visits are completed, your child will be placed in your home. Following the placement a social worker will meet with your family for a minimum of six months to ensure the placement is successful. During this time, your social worker is required by law to complete a pre-hearing study and submit it to the court before an adoption hearing. This adoption study provides the judge with information about the circumstances of the adoption, the care the child is now receiving and if the adoptive parents’ abilities can provide for the child’s best interests now and in the future.

STEP 8: Adoption Finalization! Once everyone is satisfied that the adoption can proceed, the adoptive family can proceed with the finalization. *Important* On Prince Edward Island, the adoptive family is responsible for hiring a lawyer for the adoption’s finalization as well as the costs involved.

Voluntary or Consent Adoptions

Voluntary or ‘consent’ adoptions through the Department of Social Services are not as common today since so many birth parents are referred to private adoption agents or decide to parent. Most, but not all, parents who make an adoption plan for their child want some degree of openness and the opportunity to select the adoptive family. As well, most consent adoptions are for newborns or very young infants.

In the past, government agencies did not encourage or permit the involvement of the birth parent(s). In the last few years, laws have changed and the Department of Social Services encourages birth parents who consent to adoption to take an active role and have a voice in the adoption process for their child(ren).

Birth parents who consent to an adoption can only sign consents on Prince Edward Island after a child is 14 days old and their consents can be withdrawn (only in writing) within 14 days of signing the consents. PEI’s Adoption Act also states that birth parents must receive counseling from an authorized adoption social worker.

The steps for a consent adoption are the same as mentioned above except you will most likely be adopting a newborn/infant and pre-placement visits will not be required.

Financial Assistance for Families Adopting Children with Special Needs

On Prince Edward Island, adoption assistance may be available for children with special needs and their families. For more information about adoption subsidies on Prince Edward Island, contact:

M. Richey Mayne, Acting Provincial Adoption Coordinator
Department of Social Services & Seniors
161 St. Peters Rd., P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
Phone: 902-368-6514 or 6511
Fax: 902-620-3422
Email: mrmayne@ihis.org


 



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