Are You Ready to Adopt?
Maybe you’ve had the idea in the back of your mind for a long time or maybe it snuck up on you. You’re considering adopting a child. Have you done any research? Made any decisions? Looked into resources? If you’re considering adoption, you need to find out the facts before you begin.
Answering the Main Question
On television or in family movies, adoption is a quick, clean process. Families are considering adoption one day and have an infant that looks very similar to the parents the next. In real life, the process is more complicated, and begins with a lot of questions.
You may be wondering if adoptive parents find that they are able to bond with adopted children just as well as their biological ones. It’s your decision as to whether you want to pursue a child with your looks or of another background. You also need to think about whether you are interested in adopting an infant, toddler, or even a teenager. These answers may change as you begin the process, but the key question, “Are you ready to adopt?” is the most important of all. Once that’s answered, the rest of the questions will be much easier.
What Is Adoption?
Legally speaking, adoption is a legal, permanent transfer of parental rights from a person or couple to another person or couple. Once completed, adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as biological parents.
Adoptions fall into one of five categories:
- Public: adopting an infant, child, or youth from the Canadian child welfare system
- Private: adopting an infant or a child
- International: adopting a child from another country
- Kinship adoption: adopting a birth relative
- Adopting a stepchild/children
The qualifications and regulations for adoptions depend upon the type of adoption and the province you live in. Most provinces require attendance in a training program before allowing parents to adopt. All prospective adoptive parents must have a homestudy with a social worker to qualify for the adoption process. A homestudy is a rigorous interview process that includes background checks, home visits, and more.
Costs range from $0 - $30,000, depending on the type of adoption, and the process can take anywhere from nine months to nine years. Some banks provide loans and the federal government provides a tax credit for the year the adoption is finalized.
Finalizing the adoption process requires representation by a lawyer for the court proceedings. Verhaeghe Law Office specializes in Family Law, including adoption. To navigate the laws in your province, call us at (587) 410-2500 with any questions.
Are You Eligible?
You must be 19 years of age or older to become an adoptive parent. There is no cutoff for age, but 40 is a general standard. If you are older and it is in the best interests of the child, or the birth parents choose you and you meet all of the requirements, you may be able to adopt.
Adoption is an option for both single adults and couples. Guidelines can be provided by one of your lawyers and/or local agencies.
If you are gay, you are absolutely able to adopt a child in Canada. There are no same-sex legal prohibitions for adoption. Keep in mind that with international adoptions the country of residence of the child may not permit same-sex couples to adopt. Your lawyer or provincial child welfare authorities can provide you with the applicable guidelines.
The Adoption Process
While each province has their own regulations, the basic adoption process is the same throughout Canada.
Step 1: Initial Intake
The first step in the legal process, especially if you are applying to a public adoption agency, is an intake meeting. During this meeting, you will learn the procedures of the agency as well as the projected waiting period. The agency will also offer information about the list of children currently waiting for adoption.
Step 2: Application
After review of the information provided at your intake, if you decide to move forward you will need to complete a formal application. This application will probably be unlike any you have done before. Adoption is taken very seriously. The questions will be very personal. You will also be required to have a medical examination, with the results sent to the agency. Background checks and references will be checked. Also part of the application process is pre-homestudy preparation.
Some people step away from or delay the process at this point. When you’ve begun the process, it can become overwhelming and you may want to pause and consider your decision again.
Step 3: Homestudy
A social worker will schedule a homestudy when a child waiting for a family is of the type you stated you are willing to adopt. The homestudy is a rigorous process that includes an assessment piece. It determines whether you are ready and qualified for the challenges of parenthood.
Step 4: Decision
This step takes time as the homestudy information is reported and processed for agency approval. The best interests of the child are the first concern, so everyone in the decision-making process is invested in making it the best outcome for the child. During this time, you may want to consider joining an adoption support group to talk with others who are going through the same emotional journey.
If your adoption is approved, your lawyer will accompany you to the court process during which you will legally gain custody of your child.
At Verhaeghe Law Office, we are ready to assist throughout the adoption process. Call us at (587) 410-2500 for more information or to make an appointment.