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International or Inter-Country Adoption

International adoption is, by far, the most popular choice among the Québecois. Each year, approximately 800 families in Québec adopt children from abroad through licensed adoption agencies or privately.

The central authority for international adoptions in Québec is the Minister of Health and Social Services. The Secrétariat à l’adoption internationale (SAI) acts on behalf of this authority and in accordance with the Hague Convention which Québec joined on February 1st, 2006. The SAI ensures that international adoption activities in Québec are in the best interests of the children and that their fundamental rights are intact.

Other roles of the Secrétariat à l’adoption internationale (SAI):

  • assisting and counseling individuals and families who plan to adopt a child domiciled outside QuĂ©bec and ensuring that their adoption plans comply with standards;
  • ensuring administrative follow-up of the Hague Convention of May 29th, 1993 and supporting the Minister of Health and Social Services in his/her role as central authority;
  • making recommendations to the Minister of Health and Social Services with respect to the certification of the bodies that handle international adoptions;
  • counseling and supporting certified bodies, and monitoring their activities;
  • ensuring compliance with QuĂ©bec legislation and guidelines, and rules of ethics concerning international adoptions;
  • advising the authorities of the ministère de la SantĂ© et des Services sociaux in matters of international adoption;
  • establishing working relations with foreign authorities in charge of adoption and international adoption agreements in keeping with their legislation and culture.

Adoptions must meet conditions set forth by law. What is usually called an “Inter-country adoption” is defined, in legal terms, as “the adoption of a child domiciled outside QuĂ©bec”. Hence, the law is intended for adoptions arranged in a foreign country and adoptions arranged in other Canadian provinces and territories.

An ‘Inter-country or International adoption’ is legally defined as the adoption of a ‘child domiciled outside of QuĂ©bec’. This includes adoptions arranged in other Canadian provinces and territories. International adoptions are extremely complex as the laws of QuĂ©bec, the Hague Convention and the laws of the child’s country or province of origin must be observed and 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.

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 Québec, adoptive parents are responsible for the following costs:

  • 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 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 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 QuĂ©bec.

Your licensed international adoption agency will:

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

Click here to learn the steps for an International Adoption for Quebec residents


 



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