Domestic Open Adoption
Adoption Options is dedicated to bringing together children with loving families. We are here to help you better understand domestic open adoption through our counselling, educational support, pre-adoption seminars, and by connecting you with other families who are living with open adoption relationships.
Why Open Adoption?
Adoption has changed drastically over the years, from secretive and closed, to open and loving relationships. Open adoption brings birth and adoptive families together, and honours how important they all are to each other and to the child. It recognizes that people handle their lives and their destinies best when addressed with trust and honesty. In open adoption, all the control and choices are in the hands of the birthparents and adoptive parents, as birthparents select the adoptive family for their child and together they decide what the ongoing contact will look like. Every relationship is unique, and the nature and frequency of contact varies with the wishes and desires of all parties. Read more about open adoption...
What are the Steps in the Adoption Process?
The first phase begins with submitting the application form in our Application Package. At the same time you can be proceeding with gathering necessary documents, getting your medicals and attending our pre-adoption seminar. Or you can attend the seminar before submitting any paperwork. Once you have completed these pieces, you may be accepted as applicants.
The second phase involves a homestudy done by a qualified social worker within 90 days of your acceptance as applicants. Upon its completion, you will be approved as prospective adoptive parents and you can then be presented to birthparents as potential parents for a baby. Then comes the wait, the match, placement and adoption.
1. Attend a Seminar
As an agency, we believe in education and an open sharing of ideas and information. To acquaint you with private and open adoption, we have a weekend course that is held once a month in either Edmonton or Calgary. At this course you learn about birthparents and their needs, learn about the legal aspects and the court process, explore your feelings regarding infertility, hear first hand from birthparents and adoptive parents who have open adoptions facilitated through our agency. And you will have many more questions answered regarding open adoption, contact with the birthparents, and talking to your child about his/her adoption.
Government regulations state that pre-adoption counseling covering a number of specified topic areas must be provided before approval. We feel that this is best done in a group setting. This gives you an opportunity to learn how open adoption really works before you take the next steps in the process. It is our policy that ALL applicants attend the seminar.
Click here for a calendar of upcoming seminar dates in Calgary and Edmonton.
2. The Application Package
To begin the application process, applicants must first submit the application form provided in our Application Package. You can download our application packages here to get started.
There are a number of documents that will need to be submitted with your application package. You will find information about these documents in the application package, and at the seminar.
- Reference List
- Financial Statement and copy of most recent T4s
- Criminal Record Check
- Medical Reports
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Certificate
- Application Parts I, II and III
- Dear Birthparent Letter and Photos
- Intervention Record Check
- Three Reference Letters
3. The Homestudy
The next step is a homestudy. This involves interviews with a social worker including at least one session in your home. We try to make this a relaxed exchange of information. Our objective is not to screen you out but rather to help you decide if open adoption is right for you at this time.
The entire process is an open one and you are invited to read and discuss the homestudy report with your social worker. Although some people are a bit intimidated at first, they usually learn a lot about themselves and end up enjoying the process.
If a major concern came to our attention during the homestudy we would discuss it with you. If it remained a concern, the social worker doing your homestudy might not be able to recommend you for adoptive parenthood. If you are turned down you have the right to appeal to Alberta Children’s Services Child Welfare Appeal Panel.
4. Application Approval
Upon completion of the homestudy, you will be approved as prospective adoptive parents. This means that you can now be presented to birthparents as potential parents for a baby.
5. The Waiting Period
After approval comes the waiting. How long?
There is no clear answer, but most families are placed within three to four years. In recent years, we have averaged approximately 150 families on our approved family wait list. Over the past 10 years, we have averaged 40-50 placements per year. However, the adoption picture is unpredictable, and the factors affecting number of babies placed for adoption are complex. We suggest you be prepared for a four year wait with the understanding that it could be much shorter or much longer.
We recognize that this waiting period can be very difficult for some families. There are many things you can do during your waiting period. Check out our Waiting Parents page for suggestions and resources to help you through this time.
The length of the wait is so variable because of the selection and matching process. In open adoption, the birthparents choose the adoptive family for their child. Factors in this process include the kind of child the family desires to adopt, the kind of people a birthmother wants to become her child's new parents, and the type and amount of contact requested and acceptable by each side. Based on those criteria, files are shown to the birthparents.
Who gets chosen?
All kinds of families are chosen! Because birthparents do the choosing, it depends very much on them. They have worked with our social workers to understand the hopes they have for their child and the things they are looking for in parents and families who will be raising their child. They read the profiles and look at the photos. When they feel a connection with a waiting family, they will review their detailed information. There is no way of accurately predicting which family will be chosen by any birthparent. However, when you have been selected you can be sure that she has chosen you for many reasons that will be meaningful to you, to her and to the child.
We have found, to this point, that being single or wanting to specify the sex of the child greatly reduces your chances of being chosen. Having two or more children already, being well over 40, or practicing a religion outside of the major Christian denominations may slightly reduce your chances. On the other hand, we have placed children with families in all of the above categories. We give you this information so you can decide for yourselves whether you wish to proceed. Never being chosen is a definite possibility given the realities of adoption today, although it seems that if a family remains on the waiting list they will eventually be chosen.
6. Placement and Post Placement Support
When you are matched we continue to work closely with you and the birthparents to facilitate the placement of the baby. Following placement a social worker will visit you in your home to provide support and do final documents. Then the agency will prepare and file all documents pertaining to your adoption application with the courts. Only the agency can prepare and file your adoption petition with the court. Adoptions are now process by a judge “in chambers”. You will not need a lawyer for this process except when there are complications.
Following finalization of your adoption you may return to Adoption Options at any time for any post adoption support you may need. We will provide post adoption counseling as requested or refer you to an appropriate agency. We encourage you to attend our Adoptive Parent Support Group meetings, attended by waiting and adoptive families, and facilitated by one of our professional social workers.