The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)’s new online adoption portal, Adopt BC Kids, has been up and running for over a year now. We reached out to our community to find out what the process is like for prospective parents. In this article, a prospective adoptive mother shares her experience with the new system.
One evening in April
I’m not sure exactly when my husband and I decided to start our family through adoption. We both always wanted a blended family of biological and adopted children. This past spring just felt like the right time.
I broached the subject with him over dinner one April evening and was relieved that he readily agreed. We knew we wanted to adopt from the foster care system. We decided we would start the application during the upcoming Easter long weekend so that we could take our time and give it our full attention.
A long weekend and a false start
For those who don’t know, the process of adopting through foster care changed recently. Now prospective parents apply online through a centralized portal called Adopt BC Kids. Once basic approvals such as references and criminal checks come through, each case is forwarded to the applicant’s local guardianship and adoption office.
When Friday night arrived, we excitedly sat down to begin our application—and found out we needed something called a BCeID to apply.
The process for obtaining a BCeID is very simple (ed. note: see the spring 2018 issue of Focus on Adoption for more), but it did require us to go to a BCeID Point of Service location to prove our identities in person.
I love long weekends, but in this case it felt like time had stopped. We were on hold until the closest office opened again the following week. Sigh.
I fought waves of giddiness and nerves as I drove to the BCeID Point of Service office, and I was the only person grinning like a fool as I waited in the lineup. You’d have thought I was going to meet our future child right then and there. “I’m here to verify my BCeID account,” I told the clerk, and then added with a rush, “We’re adopting!” She was officially the first person I told. It felt good. It felt real.
I drove home excited to start the application process, only to discover that since we were apply to adopt as a couple, my husband needed to be verified too. He missed the office hours by mere minutes that day. Big sigh.
The next day, after he was verified and our profiles were linked, we could finally begin. The form reminded us of filling out university or job applications. We provided basic information, references, and even answered an open-ended question on why we wanted to adopt and what we thought we could provide for children.
We slaved over every word, trying to make the best impression possible, and we debated endlessly over who to choose to be our references. I realize now that this was the start of what I’ve affectionately termed “adoption overthink.”
We set up coffee dates with the references we chose to tell them our news and make sure they were willing to play that role. Everyone was wonderfully supportive, which was a relief. We didn’t tell our families yet, though. The process of becoming an approved family is long, so we decided to wait until we’d made it through the first round of approvals. After all, we were basically telling our parents they were going to be grandparents—but with no timeline.
Finally, we hit submit.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
The Adopt BC Kids system kindly sent us an automatic email when our application was received. As it moved through the various pre-approval stages, we continued to get automated email alerts. Nevertheless, I logged on to the portal multiple times a day to see if anything had changed. Spoiler alert—it hadn’t. This is when I began to understand that the adoption process truly was going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
It makes sense, really. We made this big important decision to start the process of adoption. It was the most important thing going on in our lives, and it was completely out of our hands. We were starting our family. That’s huge! It’s exciting! It’s nerve wracking! It’s complicated. And I’m not going to lie: It was hard.
My imagination was off and running. I wondered who might be joining the family. I Googled toys and clothes and parenting tips. At the time, I thought this stage was like finding out I was pregnant. Looking back, it’s more like deciding I was going to try to get pregnant. It’s equally exciting, but there’s a way to go yet.
Eventually I settled back into everyday life and let the process carry on without my constant attention. And then it happened. I was absent mindedly checking my email one evening and there it was: an email notifying me that our adoption checklist was complete, we were approved to begin the adoption education program, our file had been referred to our local adoption and guardianship office, and a social worker was now attached to our file! I cried, called my husband, and danced with the dog. Things were moving forward!
The importance of finding your people
This is where we get really lucky. There was an in-person session of the required adoption education program (AEP) starting soon. [Almost all AEPs take place online now. Visit www.onlineadoptioneducation.com for more info. –Ed.] We were able to complete the training over the course of a single month.
The course itself was very helpful. It can also be somewhat overwhelming, which is why starting to form your support network becomes so important. I naively thought I’d be able to do some work after the training sessions finished each day. I slept instead.
My advice to other in-process parents is this: Take the time to make connections with the other people in your education course. There’s such a sense of relief, one we didn’t even know we were looking for, in meeting other people who are navigating the same system and the same emotions.
Are you going to click with everyone in your cohort? No, probably not. But there will be a few people or couples that you do click with, and those relationships are invaluable. It’s amazing to have someone to listen, cheer, or laugh about the process with.
With our adoption education program complete, we’re now waiting for our homestudy to be scheduled. Exciting times!
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