Considering Adoption? Here’s What You Need To Know


“Little souls find their way to you whether they’re from your womb or someone else’s.” – Sheryl Crow

So, you’ve made the decision to pursue adoption and have been exhausting your Google search button ever since. You’ve likely gone through a million scenarios in your head (and then some). Even with a lot of the unknowns that are likely still swirling around your head, know that you are not alone.

If you’ve experienced difficulty getting pregnant after treatment, or simply can’t because of the cancer type or ongoing hormonal treatment plan you’re on, you might want to explore about adoption. We went straight to the experts at Beginnings Family Services, a private adoption agency licensed by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services who has been working with Canadian families since 1985, for the answers to frequently asked questions on beginning the adoption process.

What are the health requirements for parents wishing to adopt?

Each person is required to get a medical. The information will be reviewed with the client’s adoption practitioner but, in general, it would be expected that the women with breast cancer are post-treatment and that their health is stable with no concerns about their ability to care for a child. An additional medical report would likely be required from their oncologist. 

What kind of services do you offer as part of the adoption plan? 

Beginnings arranges private domestic adoptions in Ontario, but all of their clients must first complete an adoption homestudy with an Approved Adoption Practitioner and they must complete the compulsory adoptive parenting training program called PRIDE. 

What is the average cost to adopt in Canada? 

We can really only speak for Ontario and the fees charged for a private domestic adoption. Typically, the fees range from about $20,000 – $25,000. Public adoptions are usually at no cost and international adoptions would be more than $25,000 and would depend on which country is being used. 

Approximately how long will the adoption process take in Canada? 

As the wait times vary considerably between provinces, it’s a good idea to connect with your local adoption agency. In Ontario, it would not be unusual for a family to wait up to two years to get matched in a domestic adoption but it could be shorter, or longer (there is no guarantee that it will happen). 

What are the different types of adoption that are available?

Discuss with your adoption practitioner what type of adoption would be best suited for you:

  1. Private domestic adoption – the adoption of an infant with the consent of the birth parents. The birth parents choose the parents to adopt their child and have a period of time in which they can change their mind before their parental rights are terminated. Typically, there are many more families hoping to adopt infants than there are children available.
  2. International adoption – through a licensed agency, from some select countries. Typically, the children are older and these adoptions can take several years to be completed before the children are able to come to your home. There is relatively little background information provided on their children or on their genetic parents.
  3. Public adoption through a children’s aid society. Typically, these are adoptions of older children, sibling groups and/or children with some special needs.

What does open adoption mean?

The open adoption model is considered “best practice” in almost all domestic adoptions (public and private). There is always an attempt to maintain openness with anyone who has been a significant part of the child’s family or community, such as birth parents, grandparents, siblings and foster parents. This is for the child’s long-term benefit. Educating yourself on why openness is important is always a good idea.  

Can you describe some of the key stages in the adoption process?

Intake/Consultation meeting with an adoption practitioner

Expect waiting periods, the application process, etc. At the initial meeting, the adoption practitioner will review some of the clients’ history and discuss the possible adoption options available to them and they will discuss what is involved in the adoption homestudy and in the adoption training course. 

PRIDE training

In Ontario, this is a required course. It is 27 hours long and can be done in person or online. It covers topics such as the adoption laws, adoption choices, adoption issues, parenting adopted children, and the benefits of openness in adoption. 

Home study   

This is generally a 3-5 month process that involves several interviews, a home visit, and the collection of various supporting documents, such as medicals, police clearances, child welfare record checks, a financial statement and references. Topics covered include personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, family background, marital/relationship history, lifestyle, home and community, financial status, experience around children, parenting and discipline style, and understanding of adoption issues. 

Is there anything else to consider when it comes to formally starting the adoption process? 

As everyone’s situation is unique, and the process varies by province, it would always be best by starting with a consultation with an adoption practitioner. 

Click here to read Joy’s experience with international adoption.

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