When the Wait Seems Too Long


Shelley Brownell
Focus on Adoption magazine

Q: I am 37 and my husband is 47.  We have been waiting for a local infant proposal for two years and have not been chosen by birth parents. How much longer should we wait before we pursue other options or give up altogether?

A: The waiting is a difficult part of the adoption process. Waiting for a domestic adoption can be even harder because there is no set time frame or predictability for when, or if, birth parents may consider your homestudy.

After two years, it is probably timely for you to review your homestudy and your options. Re-read your homestudy to be sure that it still reflects your family situation. Have there been any changes over the last two years that may need to be added, such as a new job or home, or your views on openness, or the type of child that you would like to parent? After reviewing your homestudy, phone your agency or social worker to make an appointment to discuss your options.

When talking with your social worker, ask how many times your homestudy has been shown over the past year and whether the birth parents who have read it provided any feedback. Ask what types of families birth parents are choosing for their babies and whether the age of the prospective adoptive parents is a factor. Enquire to what degree openness is a factor in birth parents choosing a family and what types of babies have been placed by the agency — their cultural and racial backgrounds and their health. These are also important questions to ask other agencies if you are considering registering with more than one.

After receiving the answers, consider if your homestudy matches with the type of placements that are being made. This may help you to consider your options. These might include:

  • Continue to be registered for domestic adoption and explore intercountry adoption simultaneously
  • Register at more than one agency
  • Register your homestudy on the Internet
  • Pursue only an intercountry adoption
  • Consider one of BC’s Waiting Children
  • Become foster parents
  • Decide to remain childless

Some families place their profile on the Website www.canadaadopts.com to increase their opportunities for an adoption. The profiles are available to view on the Website across Canada and possibly the United States. It is important to tell your agency if you are pursuing this option and to use them as a contact for birth parents—agencies must have a role to ensure that provincial regulations are met.

It is also possible to pursue an intercountry adoption while waiting for a domestic placement. Ask your agency social worker about the options for intercountry adoption, including the different countries, the time frames, the risks involved and the costs. Some countries have requirements as to who can adopt, including age and marital restrictions.

It would also be beneficial to attend the intercountry seminar provided by AFABC to gain additional knowledge about the issues and risks for intercountry adoptions.

There are also many children that are in need of a family through BC’s Waiting Child program. These children have varying degrees of special needs. The Ministry for Family and Children Development provides education for and facilitates these adoptions.

Some families may also want to consider becoming foster parents. Providing a stable and loving home to a child in need is one way of having children involved in your life.

Deciding to remain childless may also be an option for your family. Some people become involved with their nieces, nephews or children of their friends. Others become a big sister or big brother.

With all of these options, there are financial and emotional costs. It is important to be aware of these. It is also important to be true to yourself and the type of child that you would like to parent. By increasing your knowledge of all of the options and talking with other people in the adoption community, it may help to bring a sense of choice and control back to the process of adoption and the inevitable waiting.

by Shelley Brownell

Shelley is a social worker with Family Services of Greater Vancouver Adoption Agency.