If you’re a hopeful parent, looking to adopt a child, you’re very well aware of how difficult the process of adoption is here in British Columbia.
Fees, background checks, adoption agencies, fees, government bureaucracy, fees… for some parents, it seems like there is always another obstacle preventing them from finding a child to love and nurture.
Unfortunately, things aren’t much better when adopting an infant. Infant adoption is by far the most difficult type of adoption for one reason: there’s lots of demand, but not a lot of babies in need of homes.
The Adoptive Families Association of BC explains this on their website:
“With more access to family planning and a wider acceptance of, and support for, single parents, there are very few babies and toddlers available for adoption in British Columbia.”
It’s a wonderful problem to have, considering the reverse possibility, but if you are dead set on adopting an infant in British Columbia, you should know ahead of time that it will be a challenging process that may test your patience.
That being said, one of our favorite parts of family law is adoption. Here at Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group, we help clients who are going through divorce or separation on a daily basis. Since most of our work involves watching families split up (and helping them do so in the smoothest and fairest way possible), it brings us so much joy to help clients do the exact opposite.
We want to share that joy and help make the adoption process as easy as possible for you. So rather than keeping our knowledge about the BC adoption system a secret, we’re sharing with you some helpful information about infant adoption.
The Requirements for Infant Adoption in BC
First things first, there are some requirements that you will need to meet in order to be eligible for an infant adoption in British Columbia.
These requirements are the same for all parents, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, or current parental status.
These requirements are also the same whether you are looking to adopt an infant, toddler, adolescent, or teen.
The requirements for adopting a child are quite simple.
“Prospective adoptive parents must be 19 years of age or older, and a resident of British Columbia. A single adult or two adults together may apply to adopt a child.
All applicants must complete a criminal record search and submit references. The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) completes a prior contact check to search for a history of child protection reports or past services by MCFD.”
-Adoptive Families Association of BC
You really shouldn’t have a problem with eligibility unless you have a criminal record.
Luckily, we also practice criminal defence law. Our founding partner Rob Dhanu is a former Crown prosecutor and can help work out the status of your adoption eligibility if you happen to have a criminal record.
The Cost of Infant Adoption
This is probably not the first article on adoption you’ve read, so you’ve probably already seen some crazy estimates out there on how much infant adoption costs.
We joked about fees before, but in reality, if you adopt through the public system, there should not be any fees at all.
The Canadian adoption system is not interested in your money. They’re only interested in getting kids into safe and loving homes.
That being said, the public system does not provide parents with as much choice as the private sector.
If you choose to do a private adoption or if you
are looking to adopt internationally, you’ll need to set aside a budget for fees.
Most private adoptions in Canada will cost you anywhere from about $15,000 to $25,000.
If you adopt a child born in the US or overseas, it can set you back $25,000 to $50,000 or more.
While it’s unconscionable to put a dollar amount on a child’s life, the reality is that many adoptions cost nearly as much as four years at university. It’s a huge commitment, and one that might be too expensive for some parents.
It’s important that you consider the expenses associated with whatever decision you make, and that you do your research before setting any expectations about the adoption process.
Infant Adoption Agencies
After you ensure your eligibility, and examine the potential financial costs of adoption, an adoption agency can help set you up with a child in need of a home.
Many adoption agencies work locally, across Canada, and internationally.
By widening your search for a child in this way, you are more likely to have the option of infant adoption.
Please know however that while Canada has very progressive adoption requirements, many countries around the world do not. Many countries bar same-sex couples from adopting kids, for example. While these rules are unfair to us, it’s a harsh reality that some parents will not be able to adopt children from certain countries.
There are two government licensed adoption agencies in British Columbia that you can work with to adopt an infant.
The Adoption Centre of British Columbia has been serving families since the beginning of the British Columbia adoption agency system in 1996. They’re a team of four social workers, each with over 20 years of experience in their field, and they regularly work with parents and children from all over the world.
Sunrise Family Services Society is a government licensed adoption agency and an Accredited Body under the Hague Adoption Convention with offices located in Vancouver and Victoria. They also work with individuals from across the globe and can provide a free consultation for you.
There are many more private adoption options across BC and the country – these are just the government-licensed agencies.
We can help you with a private adoption, rather than using an agency’s services, if you so choose.
Alternatives to Infant Adoption
While there are very few infants in need of adoption, there are many, many older children who need homes.
As of 2019 in British Columbia alone, there were approximately 750 kids in government care waiting to be adopted.
That might not sound like a lot, but sadly, there are just not enough parents out there looking to adopt.
The Adoptive Families Association of BC explains that “if just 0.4% of Canadians who have considered adopting from foster care followed through, then every child in Canada’s government care system would have a safe, loving, and permanent home.”
If simply being a parent is more important to you than adopting an infant specifically, you’ll have much greater chances of finding a match by broadening your search to include children 4 years old and up. On top of that, you’ll be giving a home to kids who need it most and would otherwise have very poor chances of finding a good home.
To further emphasize this, 87% of children in foster care and the Canadian adoption system are school-aged (4-18 years old), and 35% are teenagers.
This means that if you’re looking specifically for an infant adoption, you’re limiting your search to just 13% of the children in the system and potentially competing with hundreds of other parents for adoption.
How a Family Lawyer at Dhanu Dhaliwal Can Help You
If we made it seem like infant adoption is difficult, well, that was on purpose.
We’re not trying to convince you that you need a lawyer for the sake of our business, we’re just telling the truth. We don’t want any parent to expect smooth seas ahead and become discouraged by the process of adoption.
Some parents choose to go through the process themselves, and others use the services of a family lawyer to get through any complications in the adoption process. It’s all up to you, your budget, and your choice of adoption method.
So, if you’re looking to adopt a baby in British Columbia, we wish you and your family all the best, and we would love more than anything to be a part of this difficult but beautiful journey ahead.