If I would like to adopt…
1What countries does CHOICES have adoption programs in?
2If I'm not sure which country I'd like to adopt from?
You don’t have to choose a country in order to start the process. CHOICES staff and your social worker will be glad to assist you with this important decision. You are not required to make a final decision until your social worker is ready to write your home study, and even then you may change your mind. There are many factors to consider in picking a country program, such as age of the child, your age, wait time, stability of the country, cost of the process and health of the children.
3How long will it take to adopt a child?
For inter-country adoption, from the time you submit your application to CHOICES until you are placed with a child usually ranges from 18-36 months, and is dependent on the country you adopt from. There are no guarantees however, and situations can change from one day to the next in inter-country adoption programs.
For Domestic adoptions, birth parents generally choose the family they want to place their child with. This means that the wait can be short or long and requires patience and understanding that birth parents choose families based upon their needs and those of their child’s.
4Is international adoption faster and easier than domestic?
No, the timeline for all adoptions is unpredictable. There is no route that is ‘faster’ than another.
5Do we have to be married in order to adopt?
No, there are programs that are open to couples who are not married, while other programs make this a requirement. Please call CHOICES for further information.
6Can I apply as a single person?
Definitely, although there are programs that aren’t open to single parents due to the requirements of some of the countries.
7Can we adopt as a same-sex couple?
Definitely, although there are programs that aren’t open to same-sex couples due to the requirements of some of the countries.
8How old is too old to adopt?
There is no simple answer to this question. Older couples are often considered for older children. Some programs don’t have any upper age limits, but keep in mind that as an older parent, you may have less energy for toddlers. Every situation is different, and doesn’t only depend on your age, but also on your attitude and health. However, it is important to notice that although some programs don’t have upper age limits, in some cases you are less likely to get chosen as an older parent. Most programs age limit, if one is applied, is around 50-55, but that is dependent on the program. For more information on specific countries requirements, please visit our Country Programs page
9We already have biological children, but we would like to adopt more children !
Many families consider adoption although they already have children. This is usually not an issue, although a few programs require that parents don’t have any previous children. At least one year should separate the arrival of children into the family, regardless if the children are adopted or biological. We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child or children. After this period of adjustment, a family may consider adoption once again.
10What are the costs?
Fees vary by country. Fees usually range from $16,000 to $50,000 CAD. For more information please call for a fee schedule.
11Are there income requirements for applicants?
There are no specific income requirements, but it is necessary to be able to support a child. Furthermore, CHOICES complies with the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) guidelines for income for international adoption.
12Does CHOICES offer any financial assistance?
CHOICES believes finances should not stop a child from having a loving family. Please contact our office to discuss your particular circumstances. You can also contact the National Bank of Canada regarding an adoption loan. Contact CHOICES for more information on this.
Because CHOICES adoption fees are due at various stages of the adoption process, families usually have from five to twenty-four months to gather their financial resources.
Orphan’s Hope also offers adoption grants for any international adoption.
13Can CHOICES work with families who don't live in BC?
Absolutely, CHOICES can place children from any of the countries that we facilitate with eligible families in every province except Quebec and Ontario. At the moment programs available to Canadian residents outside of BC are Bulgaria,Nepal and Russia. Ontario adopters will need to get special permission from the Ontario government before proceeding with an adoption outside of their province.
Regarding the domestic program, CHOICES does not usually facilitate out of province adoptions. Call CHOICES for more information on this.
14What if I already have a completed home study?
You can register your home study with CHOICES and we will review it to make sure it meets the requirements for the country or program you are interested in. Your home study may require additional information or reformatting.
15Can I adopt more than one child at once?
Yes, sometimes there are sibling groups available for adoption.
CHOICES will not usually facilitate the placement of two unrelated children with one family at the same time, but each case is reviewed for its particular circumstances.
16What if I move to another province during the adoption process?
Contact us immediately when you decide to move. Where you are in your process will determine what you will need to do to meet provincial requirements.
17Is it possible to work with another agency or your agency for a domestic placement, but explore international adoption too?
Please call CHOICES in order to discuss this, as there are limitations.
18What if I become pregnant during the adoption process?
If you become pregnant during the adoption process, please contact CHOICES immediately. Your adoption will be put on hold in order to ensure that there is one year between the birth of you child and the placement of the adopted child. CHOICES requires a second home study to be completed prior to reactivating your adoption. As each case is different, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances surrounding your adoption.
19Does my home study expire?
No, your home study doesn’t expire, but you are required to do a home study update once a year after the initial home study is completed. Every second year this can be done over the phone with a CHOICES social worker and every second year it has to be done in your home. If your update hasn’t been completed within 60 days after it is due, you will be put on hold.
20We just had a biological child and are considering adoption, can we start this process right now?
At least one year should separate the arrival of children into the family. We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child or children. After this period of adjustment, a family may consider adoption once again. CHOICES will not start an adoption home study any earlier than 9 months after the birth or placement of a child.
21If we already adopted once, do we have to do a new home study in order to adopt again?
When a child comes into your family after having completed the first home study, and you want to adopt again, your social worker will do a so called ‘second home study’. It will include many things from the first home study, yet information on your child and any other possible changes in the family will be added. The ‘second home study’ is shorter and does not require as many visits as the first home study.
22We are about to start our adoption process, but we haven't told our two children that we are going to adopt. When and how should we do this?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. When to tell them depends on their age and personality. Just keep in mind that a long time for an adult might appear as an eternity for a child, so telling them too much in advance isn’t always a very good idea, especially as adoption is such an unpredictable process and could take longer than expected.
23I have heard about openness in adoption and this is new to me. To what extent is an adoption 'open'?
As an adoptive family, you are able to state what kind of openness you are willing to accept, and you will then be matched with a child whose birth parents are comfortable with the same level of openness. As an agency CHOICES encourages open adoptions, although every birth parent has the right to chose not to have openness. When you choose openness, it doesn’t mean that a birth mother could come and knock on your door at any time. Some families meet with the adoptive families a few times a year, others exchange letters and photos but they never meet each other. Others develop close relationships over the years. You will also have time to discuss this with your social worker during the home study process.
24Is 'open adoption' applicable to international adoptions?
Openness to some extent (generally an exchange of pictures and letters) is sometimes possible in international adoptions, although the orphanages often have little or no information on the children’s birth family’. This varies from a country to another.
25How long does a birth parent have the right to come back for the child?
In domestic adoptions, the birth parent has the legal right to change their mind and parent their child, up to 30 days after the child was born.
26I have heard that you have a program for teen adoptions. Are there additional requirements to adopt a teen?
CHOICES, in collaboration with the Ministry, have a teen adoption program. There are no additional requirements to adopt a teen. Above all, you have to like adolescents, and not be afraid of them. However, it is important to keep in mind that these kids often have gone through several placements due to their age, and that they in some respects are still small kids but in bigger bodies. As a parent for these kids, it is helpful to remember back to your own adolescence to better understand the struggles that these sensitive and important years of life bring.
27I'm a smoker. Does this affect my possibility to adopt?
Yes. If you smoke, in order to adopt you will have to prove that you are actively seeking treatment to stop smoking, due to the increased health risks for second hand smokers. Adoptive children need an optimal environment, as their immune system is often weaker due to their history and length of time spent in orphanages.
1Does CHOICES provide counselling for birth parents after the placement?
Yes, CHOICES provides referral and support for life. Call CHOICES for more information.
2I'm about to adopt. What happens when the child is placed?
CHOICES does not stop assisting you just because you have had a child placed with you. You are also required to do Post Placement Reports, which means that a social worker goes into your home to talk about how you and your child are adjusting to the new situation. CHOICES could also help by getting you connected with other adoptive parents in your area. Call CHOICES at any time for further questions.
3Are we required to do follow up reports?
Yes. How many and when they are due depends on the program.
4Does CHOICES offer support groups?
CHOICES sets up post adoption support groups according to demand. Please call CHOICES to arrange setting up a support group.
5If I feel I need support although it was several years since I adopted, does CHOICES offer support?
CHOICES offers individual and family post adoption counselling. Call our office for information.
6I already adopted and I am considering adoption again. Can I do it right away?
At least one year should separate the arrival of children into the family, regardless if the children are adopted or biological. We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child or children. After this period of adjustment, a family may consider adoption once again.
7How can I connect my child with other children of the same cultural background?
Try out a community or a cultural center in your area. Another option is to keep your eyes open for camps for adopted children. You can also call CHOICES, and we will help you to find cultural connections for you and your children.
8What kinds of resources are available in my community?
Call CHOICES on 250-479-9811 and we can answer your questions or refer you to a counsellor or social worker.
The Reunion Registry has information on registered counsellors in BC. Call 250-387-3660 or visit their website on www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption/reunion/.
BC Board of Registration for Social Workers
This registration is based in Vancouver but have workers all over the province. You can call them on604-737-4916 or visit http://www.brsw.bc.ca. When calling, you will have to specify that you are looking for a counsellor who has knowledge of adoption and adoption reunion issues.
BC Association of Clinical Counsellors
If you are looking for a counsellor, you can call 250-595-4448 or 1-800-909-6303
or visit their website on http://www.bc-counsellors.org. You will have to specify that you are looking for a counsellor who has knowledge of adoption and adoption reunion issues.
AFABC ‘ Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia
If you prefer to get connected with other people in your situation to talk about things that you don’t necessarily want to talk to your adoption agency about, AFABC could be the association for you. They also organize workshops and other services. Visit them at their website http://www.bcadoption.com or call 604-320-7330.
Brenda McCreight is an adoptive parent and therapist. She offers counselling for behavioural challenges and adoptive family issues at her office in Nanaimo as well as over the phone. Brenda’s website is http://www.theadoptioncounselor.com, and her phone number is 250-729-9193.
Forget Me Not Society
This is a support group for all people involved in adoption, including adoptees. Take a look at their website on www.adoptioncircles.net.
Community and cultural centers
Keep your eyes open for community and cultural centers in your area. These centers could be great for you to get connected with other people in your situation and to find out about events that you might be interested in.
Dr. Sue Kalaher
Dr. Sue Kalaher is a pediatritian who specializes in foreign adoption medicine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at phone number 604.521.7705.
Dr. Gordon Neufeldt
Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a developmental psychologist who consults with parents regarding children and their problems. His website is http://www.gordonneufeld.com.
Parent Education Programs ‘ Adoption Support Program at Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health
Post adoption support services include education, resource information and support. The Adoption Support Program Social Worker can be reached at 250-721-6798.
Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre Society
If you are a single parent, check out this website: www.singleparentvictoria.ca or call Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre Society on 250-385-1114.
Parents Together Services
This organisation (in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club) does not deal with adoption specific issues but may offer services (workshops, support groups) that help parents with behavioural/adolescent concerns. The link for this site is http://pt2.nfshost.com/index.php.
NACAC (The North American Council on Adoptable Children)
NACAC promotes and supports permanent families for children and youth in the U.S. and Canada who have been in care’especially those in foster care and those with special needs. Their website is www.nacac.org.
If I was adopted…
I want to know who my birth parents are. Do I have the right to know that?
Yes. When you turn 19, you are able to obtain a copy of the original birth certificate. This can be obtained by calling BC Vital Stats at 866-828-9680.
How can I contact my birth family?
If you were adopted and wondering how to contact your birth family, contact BC’s Adoption Reunion Registry by calling 250-387-3660 or by visiting www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption/reunion/.Parent Finders of Canada is another reunion agency that can help adoptees locate their birth family. Their website is www.parentfinders.org.
I've been approved for months. Why am I not getting a referral for a child?
It can be extremely frustrating to wait, but one obstacle preventing matches between children and families is that many prospective adoptive parents are waiting for children who are not likely to be available. For example, many parents are waiting to adopt infants. Most children who are available for adoption are: 6 to 18 years old, part of a sibling group who needs to stay together, troubled by emotional and behavioral difficulties, and from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Another reason parents may wait longer is because their personal needs may be different than the needs of their community. For example, some parents may be waiting to adopt from their county, while currently their county might not have any children waiting to be adopted. At the same time, the county might have a pressing need for foster families. Be sure that you are waiting for the kind of children who are waiting for families in your area. If not, you may want to re-think what type of child you are able to parent, or look for children who are available for adoption outside your county.
While you wait, show your worker that you are still interested and committed to adopting by:
- Joining a parent support group and establish a network of support. Listen carefully and think deeply about the personal stories other adoptive parents share.
- Reading about adoption and special needs. And then reading some more.
- Taking all the additional training you can; don’t stop at what is required.
- Learning all you can about children with special needs. Your child may have more problems than the ones listed in his files. Knowing more can help you to help him.
If you have been waiting too long, you might want to think about other parenting options. For example, even when you know the need for permanent families is greater for older children, but you still want the experience of parenting younger children, you might want to consider becoming a foster parent, treatment foster parent, resource parent, or respite care provider.
What kind of information do I need about my child? When is it provided?
When children join a new adoptive family, some may bring complicated histories that include abuse and neglect. Some children have multiple diagnoses that affect their health, social and emotional well-being, and school performance. The more you know, the better prepared you can be to advocate for your child and handle situations as they may arise. Accurate information will also help you know more clearly why and when you may need to seek support from various professionals, get advice from experienced foster and adoptive parents, or tap into other community resources for help.
Start by learning as much as you can about your prospective child’s social and medical history from your state, province, county, or agency. Specific rules on what must be shared vary by state and province, and country. You should seek the following information:
- Why the child was initially (and, if applicable, subsequently) placed in foster care
- A description of the home environment from which the child was removed
- Details about the child’s other placements while in care
- The child’s school records and other details about the child’s educational experiences and abilities
- An assessment of how well the child interacts with peers, adults, and others
- Immunization and other health records (including diagnoses such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and problems arising from other prenatal drug exposure or pre-term delivery, attachment difficulties, learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral problems, and other mental health concerns)
- A checklist of the child’s behaviors, and how certain diagnoses and issues play out in family life as well as how other families have learned to cope with them
- Non-identifying details about the birth parents (including their general background, education, employment, armed services history; social or medical risk factors, drug usage, medical and mental health history, other children, and extended birth family history). Also inquire about the birth mother’s care during pregnancy, and any risk factors for the child due to the mother’s experiences during pregnancy or complications during delivery.
Former caregivers may also be willing to share what they know about the family and offer insight about the child. Questions you might ask include:
- What information about the child’s and the birth family’s social and medical history do you believe is significant?
- What is missing from the paperwork?
- How can I get more information?
- Currently, how is the child’s health? Are there any diagnoses or allergies you know of that are not listed in his file?
- Is the child still in touch with her birth family? If not, when was the last contact the child had with the birth family?
- Does the child have siblings? Does the child have contact with the siblings? Will contact continue and to what degree?
- Is the child showing behaviors related to abuse, separation, or other trauma? Have other children been victimized by this behavior? If so, how?
- How many moves has the child experienced in foster care? What were the reasons for the moves? How is the child functioning as a result?
- How does the child relate to peers in the neighborhood and school?
- What methods of discipline does the child respond to best?
- What comforts the child? What comforting objects do you think should follow the child into adoption?
- What items, smells, foods, experiences, or events seem to trigger negative behavior in the child?
- What, in your opinion, is at the root of these behaviors? What in the child’s past might be causing him or her to behave in certain ways?
- Would you be willing to tell the child that he or she has your permission to join our family?
- Would you be willing to maintain some contact with the child during the transition to adoption? Provide respite care?
After gathering all the information you can, the most important thing you can do is to firmly commit to doing whatever it takes to help the child let go of the pain from his past and learn to face the future with hope. To learn more about the importance of family background information and find links to specific state laws, visit http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_background.cfm.
I saw a child on the Internet I'd like to adopt. What should I do next?
Before you can adopt any child, you must go through the orientation, training, and home study process. If you do not have a current, completed home study, it may not do you any good to contact the person or agency listed with the child’s profile. Many agencies will not answer inquiries about a particular child from individuals who are not already prepared to adopt.
If you have an approved home study, contact your social worker and ask him or her to send your information to the waiting child’s worker (or the contact listed with the child’s profile). Just remember that there is no guarantee that you will be able to adopt the child you saw online. Some listings children who are legally free for adoption but may have an adoptive resource identified or be living in a pre-adoptive home. Children will continue to be listed until workers are certain that their prospective families are definitely moving forward with the adoption.