Have questions about adoption in BC? We can help! Talk with us now using our online live chat.
Your adoption options in BC
Whether you intend to adopt locally or internationally, under British Columbia law you must apply to adopt with BC's Ministry of Children and Family Development or one of BC's four licensed adoption agencies. This applies even in the case of direct placement in which the birth mother is known to you. The only exception, locally, is a relative or step-parent adoption, which can be processed through a lawyer. Last year, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development placed close to 300 children with adoptive families, and agencies placed approximately 140 children with new families.
BC's Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Waiting Child program helps to place children who are in foster care and available for adoption.
For a variety of reasons parents may find themselves unable to provide adequate care for their children. When this occurs the Ministry may need to take temporary responsibility for these children. At any given time there are approximately 8,000 children in temporary or permanent care of MCFD. Generally 50% of these children will return to their families. The remaining children and youth receive continuining custody orders (CCO) and remain in the permanent care of the Ministry.
These children are in care through no fault of their own. Some have been in care a short time, others have experienced years of coming in and out of care and/or multiple moves. Most of these children are between the ages of 2 and 18. Approximately 50% are Aboriginal, and more than 50% need to be placed with their siblings. All the children have placement and parenting considerations as a result of their life experiences. These kids don't need "perfect" parents, rather they need parents who are committed and willing to do what it takes.
Local infant programs facilitate the voluntary placement of infants born in BC by the birth parents. Children placed through this program are thought to be at lower risk of prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol. Most local infant adoptions involve a level of openness with birth family. Birth parents choose an approved adoptive family with the support of an agency social worker.
Local infant adoptions are arranged through one of BC's licensed adoption agencies. Parents wanting to adopt a local infant need to choose an agency, complete a homestudy, and then wait for birth parents to choose them in their adoption plan for their child. There is no set time frame for this, and many prospective adoptive parents find the waiting period a difficult time. Parents can join a support group through AFABC to help them during this time.
As many local adoptions have at least some level of openness, prospective adoptive parents need to familiarize themselves with openness in adoption.
In a direct placement, the birth parents choose to place their child with someone they already know well, but who is not a relative. A licensed adoption agency assists the birth parents in meeting the requirements before the child is placed. These include a preplacement assessment of the prospective adoptive parents and a gathering of the birth family's medical and social history.
The birth parents and the adoptive parents will have joint guardianship until the adoption order is granted, but the preplacement assessment must be completed before the child lives with the adoptive parents. The adoption order is granted six months after placement.
Each year, approximately 100 children from all over the world are internationally adopted by BC families. Country requirements, costs, potential medical issues, culture, heritage and age of the child, time frame to adopt, are all important to prospective adoptive parents. Your agency social worker will be able to help you work through these decisions in the homestudy process. Your agency and AFABC can also try to connect you with other families who have adopted from different countries so you can benefit from their knowledge and experiences. Parents should attend adoption education workshops, do as much research on the country as they can, and talk to as many adoptive parents as possible before making a decision.
In the case of intercountry adoption, agencies have experience facilitating adoptions in various international locations, offering services ranging from completing your homestudy to helping with post-placement reports. There are numerous skilled adoption consultants who specialize with specific countries. However, they must also have a contract with a licensed agency and cannot facilitate adoptions independently.
Can I adopt?
There are only two eligibility requirements to adopt in BC.