Frequently Asked Questions
I’m a birth parent
1Who should I talk to if I'm pregnant (or if my partner is), and I am considering adoption and need counselling?
At CHOICES there are registered social workers who can help you to explore your options so that you can make the decision that is right for you. The staff will provide you with balanced, unbiased information in order for you to make a well informed decision, and you can depend on us for respectful and non-judgmental support.
2How much does it cost to get counselling from you?
Birth parents pay NO fees for counselling directly regarding adoption, regardless of whether or not you decide to make an adoption plan for your child.
3What options do I have as a birth parent if I can't keep the baby?
Please contact CHOICES and a social worker will guide you through the options. The child could be placed with a relative of yours, a non- relative but someone you know personally, or with an unknown family through an agency. Some people also consider short term foster care or abortion.
4Can I choose who I want to place my baby with?
Yes. If you want to place a child with a relative or someone you know, CHOICES will assist you and the adoptive family through this process. As far as placing with an unknown family, CHOICES will make an effort to find a family that matches you and your child’s needs. It is important to note that the adoptive family will also be given the option to make a decision as to whether or not they are a good match for you.
5If I choose an adoptive family that I don't previously know can I meet them before placing my child with them?
Yes. You will have a chance to meet with the adoptive family to see if it really is a good match for you.
6What information do I get on potential adoptive parents, to help with my decision?
You will be able to see their home study, which includes photos and information on their history, interests, family, goals in life etc. The adoptive parents will also write a letter where they introduce themselves more personally, and from that you will be able to get a better idea of what they are like.
7Do I have to choose a family or can someone else do it for me?
CHOICES always encourages you to make a decision. However, some birth parents prefer not to pick a family, in this case CHOICES will try to get as much information from you as possible, as far as what kind of family you would like your child to grow up in and what values are important for you.
8I would like to meet others in my situation. Would you help me to get connected with other birth parents?
Yes. For instance, there are birth mothers’ support groups who meet once a month.
9If I am under the age of majority and pregnant and come to you for counselling, would you tell my parents about it?
No. Legally, a birth mother under 19 is not required to inform her family about the pregnancy. We would provide you with counselling so that you could make a plan as to how to deal with the pregnancy.
10Am I required to name the birth father? If I name him, would you tell him about my pregnancy?
While we understand that it is not always possible to name the birth father, it is important for the child, as well as for the adoptive family, to know as much as possible about both birth parents’ medical and social history. However, you are not required by law to name the birth father. If the birth father is not named, CHOICES must request a search of the database that the Ministry of Children and Family Development have, to see if he has registered with them. If he has, he will be required to prove paternity in a court of law. If you name the birth father we would explore your options to inform the birth father of the pregnancy.
11What is 'open adoption' and how does it affect me?
You are the one who decides what kind of openness you want. Some people meet with the adoptive family a few times a year and over the years this may develop into a close relationship. There are also other options, such as semi-open adoptions, which usually involves an exchange of photos and letters. Others choose to have no openness at all.
12Do I have the right to keep in touch with the child in the future?
Yes. As an agency CHOICES encourages open adoptions, although every birth parent has the right to choose not to have an open adoption, or to have a semi-open relationship after the adoption has taken place. CHOICES will make an effort to find an adoptive family that is willing to accept your level of openness.
13Will the child know my name in the future even if I don't want him/ her to?
At the age of 19, your child will have the right to know, as he or she will be able to obtain a copy of the original birth certificate.
14If I decide to place, do I then later have the right to change my mind?
Although you may have made an adoption plan, you may change your mind to parent your child up until 30 days from the child’s date of birth. However, one of CHOICES Social Workers will go through all the options carefully with you so that you can feel secure and comfortable in your decision.
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.