Intercountry Adoption Process

All prospective adoptive parents must complete a homestudy. For applicants in British Columbia, the homestudy must be completed by a licensed adoption agency, such as CHOICES. Applicants in other provinces should contact the adoption authorities in their province for further information. Contact information can be found here Resources

In many cases, an outside facilitator is used in international adoptions. These facilitators are usually licensed agencies in Canada, the US, or other countries, and assist with the country-specific requirements. These requirements range from document templates to document processing, to maintaining appropriate licenses and relationships in the country, as well as providing support and assistance during your trip, etc. Meanwhile, CHOICES ensures that adoptive applicants continue to meet the requirements in their province of origin. At times, the line between the facilitator’s responsibilities and those of CHOICES may be blurred or doubled, and CHOICES strives to bridge the communication and requirement gaps between all jurisdictions, and to collaborate with facilitators to complete the adoption successfully. CHOICES has established a contractual relationship with several different facilitators in several different countries. In some cases, CHOICES can ask as facilitator as well.

Once the Home Study has been completed and approved, adoptive applicants are ready to proceed with their adoption application to be submitted in their country of choice. This usually takes the form of a dossier, which may include a number of documents such as passports, marriage certificates, criminal record checks, reference letters. Each country requires different documents to be presented in a different form, and a different procedure applies in order to meet these requirements. For example, some countries may require notarization, translation, and legalization to be completed prior to submission. Therefore, the timeframe to process the dossier varies greatly from one country to another as well.

CHOICES will assist with the dossier preparation, and once complete, will forward the same to the country facilitator or to the country of choice. Only after a dossier is submitted in the country of choice can a family expect to receive a referral. Because wait times can be heavily influenced by political and legal situations in countries, CHOICES is usually unable to guarantee any timelines to receive a referral.

A referral is usually accompanied with a medical report, family and background information as available, and at least one picture of the child. Adoptive applicants are required to seek professional medical opinions on the referral information of the child.

Once the applicants have made their decision to pursue the adoption, travel planning usually starts to take place. In some cases, applicants must wait for the court decision to be made before they can travel. In other cases, applicants are required to attend the court hearing in the country of choice. Finally, some countries may issue guardianship orders, and the adoption is legally finalized in British Columbia after placement and other requirements have taken place. Number of trips and length of stay varies greatly from one country to the next.

Once the adoption is approved by all authorities in Canada and the country of choice, adoptive parents can file their application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This application is usually submitted to the Canadian High Commission (Canadian Embassy) that has jurisdiction in the child’s country. The application must be submitted along with Letter of No Objection or Notification of Agreement, which are issued by governmental authorities in the parents’ province of origin. To obtain these letters, adoptive applicants must maintain their approval as adoptive parents in their province, and follow a number of procedures. CHOICES will guide applicants through this process as well, and request the appropriate letter from appropriate authorities at the appropriate time. Once the application is complete and a visa is issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, adoptive parents can return home with their adopted child. Additional information about the Citizenship and Immigration process can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca.

Post placement report requirements usually apply, the number and timing of which vary greatly from one country to the next. The completion and timely submission of post placement reports by adoptive families is very important, as it could affect the ability of Canadian agencies to continue to facilitate adoptions.

Please contact CHOICES for more information on the adoption process, whether in general terms or for more information on specific country process and requirements.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) was signed and ratified by a number of countries in an effort, among other things, to reinforce the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Hague adoptions are conducted in the best interest of the child, and with particular focus on the child’s fundamental rights. As well, as process is put in place to reduce the incidence and risk of illegal international adoptions. While new countries are joining the Hague regularly, other countries are often implementing changes to the way they proceed through the Hague.

In a nutshell, when a country has signed, ratified, and implemented the Hague Convention, a Central Authority becomes involved in the adoption process, and a number of steps and documents are required to satisfy the requirements of the Central Authority and the Hague Convention. This means that most communication and document exchange occurs between Central Authorities (usually at the governmental level).

Countries operating within the Hague Convention usually continue to use facilitators, and CHOICES can continue to assist and guide families through the Hague process.

Additional information, as well as a list of countries that are signatory to the Hague Convention, can be found here http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=text.display&tid=45

Additional Information from Ministry of Children and Family Development

For important information on Procedures for Inter-Country, Hague Convention and Non-Hague Convention Adoptions, as well as Country Information & Alerts, please see the following website from the Ministry of Children and Family Development of British Columbia:

http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption/intercountry_adoption.htm