There are over 78,000 children currently under the care of a foster home or other institution. Nearly 30,000 of these children meet the qualifications for adoption. Only 2,000 children from this pool are adopted annually. Another 1,946 children arrive from outside of the country through international adoptions each year. The adoption process is not easy and often requires the help of a family lawyer. It can take a year or more to finalize the adoption. All adoptions follow the same general process.
The first step for families interested in adoption is an intake meeting with the adoption agency. An intake meeting is used to walk through the basic demographic qualifications of the potential parents. Representatives will also provide information to parents about the entire process. This meeting is designed to inform and prepare applicants for the long process ahead. Some couples choose to withdraw after this meeting. It is important to note that the adoption process and qualifications vary greatly between provinces and agencies. Some agencies place restrictions on who can adopt a child based on religion, age and other factors.
Families who have completed an intake meeting must complete a formal application for adoption. This involves large amounts of paperwork. Applications require very detailed information about personal finances, motives, preferences and history. The forms will ask about income, expenses, education and even ethnicity. Applications require an accompanying medical examination. Many provinces also require a criminal background check. Personal references are necessary. Some potential parents will employ a family lawyer at this stage in order to make the process as easy as possible. The adoption agency will perform extensive research on all information provided in order to assess the qualifications of the applicants. This includes interviews with references.
The home study is the actual assessment and education process that will result in approval of an adoption. This is the longest stage of the adoption process. A home study can take anywhere from several months to over a year. A home study involves multiple interviews with the prospective parents, family members and friends in order to determine suitability and compatibility. More paperwork and an autobiographical essay are normally required. An agency representative or a provincial social worker will visit the home one or more times during this period as well. Applicants will learn some of the more difficult aspects that are involved in raising an adopted child. A home study tends to be a stressful experience for some families.
A final report is assembled once all information and paperwork has been gathered. The report usually moves to a board of individuals who will assess all aspects and determine whether to approve the adoption. This process can take months or over a year depending on the agency and the factors involved. Individuals who are denied do not really have an option to appeal. The best course of action is normally to apply at another agency with the help of a family lawyer.
International adoptions are similar to domestic adoptions with a few important extra steps. Prospective parents will need to meet all adoption requirements of the country where the child is located. This might require extensive travel to the country. The process of immigration or citizenship for the child will need to be completed before the adoption is approved. Applicants will also need to supply more paperwork and information. Most potential parents who are interested in international adoptions will need a family lawyer at some point in order to understand all of the local and international requirements.