Canadian International Adoptions
Considering Adopting a Child From Another Country?
If you are a resident of Alberta and are considering adopting a child from another country you will be participating in “The International Adoption Program”.
“International” adoption refers to adoptions where:
- The children reside in their country of origin (outside of Canada)
- The adopting parties must be residents in Alberta
- The adopting parties (may) work with a Coordinating Agency
- The Court applications are completed by the country of the child’s origin or finalized in Alberta (in some instances)
- A home assessment report is completed by a provincially licensed and approved Adoption Agency in Alberta
- Post Placement Reports are usually completed by the same Adoption Agency who completed the home assessment report.
- The process is regulated under the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act and Adoption Regulation and The Hague Convention
For the most up-to-date and accurate information on International Adoption please refer to:
Alberta Adoption Services humanservices.alberta.ca/adoption.html
You can also download the International Adoption Guidebook: A Guide For Alberta Families
The Hague Convention
The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is a multi-lateral treaty that regulates adoptions between contracting countries. It provides safeguards and procedures to ensure the adoption is in the best interest of the child, biological parents and adoptive parents. The child’s country must make reasonable efforts to place the child domestically before considering an international adoption.
Alberta implemented the Hague Convention in 1997. View an updated listing of Hague jurisdictions at http://www.hcch.net/. The Convention concerning Intercountry Adoption is Convention number 33.
The Hague Convention applies to every adoption, including relative adoptions, where the child lives in a Hague country and the adoptive parents live in Alberta. This is the case even when the adoptive parents are citizens of the child’s country and own property in that country.
Adoptive applicants who wish to adopt a child residing in a Hague Convention country must first apply to Alberta Adoption Services for authorization from the delegated Central Authority for Alberta under the Hague Convention to begin the process.
The Central Authority of the child’s country must determine that the child meets the Hague Convention eligibility criteria for an international adoption and that there are no suitable families in the child’s country who are willing and able to adopt the child. The Central Authority of the receiving country (Alberta) must determine that the adoptive parents have been trained and are suitable for adoption. Both the sending and receiving Central Authorities must agree that the proposed adoption should proceed.
Failing to comply with the requirements of the Hague Convention may prevent the child from entering Canada since Canada’s immigration legislation and Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act require compliance with the Hague Convention.
Three Types of International Adoption
1. Hague Convention Adoption is the process when: The child’s country is a member of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercounty Adoption (Hague Convention).
2. Government Adoption for Non-Hague Countries is the process when: There is an adoption process established between the child’s country and Alberta.
3. Private International Adoption is the process when: The child’s country has not implemented the Hague Convention. The child’s country does not have an adoption process with Alberta.
Note: Immigration regulations require that a permanent resident visa be obtained before the child enters Canada. Privately arranged adoptions in Hague Convention jurisdictions that are finalized in the child’s country of origin do not meet the requirements of the Hague Convention, the Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
In all types of International Adoption, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is responsible for the immigration process that allows the child, you have adopted or intend to adopt, to enter Canada. Approximately 2,000 foreign children are adopted by Canadian citizens or permanent residents every year.
Private Guardianship Orders
Private Guardianship applies to children originating from countries where there is no legislation to process an adoption. A Private Guardianship Order may be issued in the child’s country of origin and the adoption may be finalized privately in Alberta when the adoptive parent obtains permanent residency status for the child.
Note: Immigration Regulations require that a permanent resident visa be obtained for the child for the purpose of entering Canada to finalize an adoption in these circumstances. Families who obtain Private Guardianship orders/Private Guardianship Certificates for children who live abroad must deal directly with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to obtain permanent residence status for the child.
Alberta Adoption Services has no role in obtaining permanent residency status for children and no authority to provide Letters of No Involvement in Private Guardianship cases.
International Adoption Basics
Adopting from another country is a very complex process and programs change as the requirements of the countries of origin change. You are responsible for determining if you are eligible to adopt from a country. Alberta Adoption Services is responsible for accepting all applications, authorizing the completion of a home study report on prospective adopting parents, reviewing and providing approval of the adopting parents, reviewing information on the children proposed for adoption, and working with families to determine whether a match is suitable, and providing documentation to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The process is complex with risks and challenges. It is your responsibility to ensure the individual/agency is reputable and authorized to finalize the adoption in the child’s country of origin.
In International legal matters, there are no guarantees. You might begin the process to adopt a child only to have the process or costs change or the program end without notice. Most international adoptions take an average of one to two years to complete and cost between $15, 000 and $40, 000.
The Beginning Process of International Adoptions
- Complete the International Adoption Application (ADOP2777), which is also available at private, licensed adoption agencies like Small Miracles Adoption. Please print on “legal” size paper to be sure that the Authorization at the bottom of the form is included on your application.
- Upon receipt, from Adoption Services, of authorization to proceed with a Home Study Report with a private, licensed adoption agency in Alberta, you are to contact a licensed adoption agency to begin the process.
- Complete pre-adoption training and the Home Study Report with all required documentation with your licensed adoption agency.
- Obtain provincial approval of your Home Study Report.
Use of a Coordinating Agency for International Adoptions
Due to the complexity of requirements, the majority of families adopting internationally in Alberta find it advantageous to use a Coordinator for services that include:
- Preparation of all required documentation on the family’s behalf, including: translation, notarization, certification and authentication of the Home Study Report and supporting documents;
- Obtaining travel visas and making travel/hotel arrangements for adoptive parents who travel to the child’s country of origin; and
- Arranging for a translator who is knowledgeable about the events which must occur upon the applicants’ arrival in the child’s country.
- Families can hire an individual/agency of their choice to help prepare their family’s dossier and make travel and legal arrangements. It is the family’s responsibility to ensure they choose a reputable resource that is authorized to arrange and finalize adoptions in the child’s country of origin.
- Agencies licensed in other provinces to facilitate international adoptions do not have the authority to arrange adoptions in Alberta. They are considered to be coordinators in Alberta’s process and are only able to provide services as indicated above.
Alberta Adoption Services does not license, monitor or endorse individuals/agencies that arrange international adoptions in foreign countries.
Children Available for Adoption
Countries of origin determine which children are eligible for international adoption. In all cases, the biological parents of the child must have their guardianship permanently terminated before the child can be considered eligible for adoption. Reasonable efforts must be made to place the child domestically before considering an international adoptive family. This applies to the adoption of relatives as well. Newborns are not generally available because efforts must first be made to place them for adoption in their country of origin. The majority of children adopted internationally arrive in this province when they are between 12 and 48 months old.
Roles and Responsibilities
Adoptive Parents in Alberta are responsible for the cost of:
- Parent Training and Home Study Report
- Preparation of supporting documents and notarization, authentication and verification of signatures
- Courier fees
- Immigration fees
- Child’s medical examination
- Agency fees in child’s country of origin
- Travel and accommodations
- Adoption finalization
- Legal fees
- Post Placement Reports on a schedule prescribed by the child’s country of origin
In a government international adoption, Alberta Adoption Services is responsible for:
- Providing information/procedures for adopting from specific countries
- Reviewing Home Study Reports completed by licensed agencies and determining that the applicants are suitable for adoption
- Forwarding the adoption dossier to the child’s country of origin
- Agreeing to the adoptive match
- Delegating the proposal of the adoptive match to the family’s licensed adoption agency
- Ensuring the child meets immigration requirements and will be admissible to Canada
- Providing provincial acceptance of the match for immigration purposes
- Finalizing the adoption order in Alberta, if the order cannot be finalized in the child’s country
- Forwarding Post Placement Reports to the child’s country of origin, as required
International Adoption Pros
International Adoption can provide a disadvantaged or compromised child opportunities that would be otherwise unavailable to them in their country of birth.
International Adoption Cons
The costs associated with International Adoption are generally significantly higher than other forms of adoption.
The children are usually older, abandoned, and/or have spent time in private orphanages or state facilities. In many cases, children will have suffered significant physical or emotional trauma and quite often have high needs and attachment difficulties.
Children may be physically older than represented and/or their psycho/social backgrounds incorrect or missing altogether. Medically and psychologically, the children may have unknown or unreported issues.
*Please Note: A majority of this information has been taken directly from Alberta Adoption Services website http://humanservices.alberta.ca/adoption/15548.html.
Please complete the International Adoption Application form if you are interested in adopting an international child.
Please also review the Checklist for International Adoption Applicants