What is Open Adoption?
Adoption practice has changed significantly over the years as professionals have developed a greater understanding about the impact that adoption has on the adopting family, the child, and the birth family. The secrecy that used to surround adoption has been replaced by a growing openness among adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted children - an openness that honours and respects the unique kinship that exists between birth families and adoptive families. Over the years, the professionals at Adoption By Choice have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of people in building child centered open adoption plans. What we have come to understand is that everyone’s needs are unique, and that each one of you will have a different idea about the kind of adoption plan that will work for you.
Open adoption is a positive way to bring people together to create an adoption plan that leaves all parties feeling secure and respected.Birth parents choose the adoptive family who will raise their child, and along with the adoptive family, they choose how they want to keep in touch with the child over the years. The starting point of an open adoption is the birth family and adoptive family coming together to build a plan that will meet the needs of the child. Many birth parents receive emails, photos of their child, and some also have phone calls and visits with the adoptive family.We believe that maintaining a connection with birth families helps children grow up feeling more secure about their adoptions and about who they are.
The degree of openness in your adoption plan will be up to you and the birth parents to decide, but we are here to help guide you. We believe that adopting families need support, guidance and knowledge in order to feel secure in their decision to choose open adoption. At ABC we have a wealth of information available for adoptive families. We also have support groups, evening seminars and get-togethers, and newsletters. Adoption is a lifelong process for everyone - adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents. For adopting parents, it is the process of accepting the lifelong responsibility of raising a child who will make sense of who he is in relation to his birth parents and his adoptive parents. Birth parents also benefit from the professional counselling that is available here at Adoption By Choice - before, during, and after the placement of their child. We help them work through some of the emotional issues that choosing adoption will bring for them. The grief and loss that they experience is very real, and counselling is available both from professionals as well as peers.
How Long is the Wait?
The number of Approved Applicants on our wait list is generally between 60 and 65. The large majority of children placed by ABC are infants; however, we also place toddlers and older children with waiting families. As a rough guide, families are waiting approximately 2 - 3 years for placement of a child, after completing the initial training and home study and moving onto the active list. The more flexible you are about the age and racial heritage of the child, the circumstances around the pregnancy, the health and lifestyle choices of the birth parents, the more likely placement will happen sooner for you.
The Process to Adopt a Child
In order to have a child placed in your care, the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act requires that you become an Approved Applicant through a licensed agency. There are four steps involved to adopt a child through Adoption By Choice:
1. Attend an Information Session with a Social worker in Calgary or Edmonton or over the phone. The cost is $75.00 + GST
1. Complete an application with Adoption By Choice 11 hour pre-placement workshop
3. Have a home study report completed by a social worker at ABC.
4. Matching and Placement
Step One: The Adoption Application Process
The first step is to call or email email@example.com to set up an appointment to meet with a social worker for a consultation. Please include what city you are living in and contact information. Please note there is a $75.00 fee for the initial information session. Following this you will be provided with a copy of our applicaton forms.
Step Two: The Workshop
This 2 day seminar held on Saturday and Sunday, offers an opportunity for you to consider some of the special challenges of building your family through adoption. The workshop location usually alternates between Edmonton and Calgary and is held six times a year. The workshop explores the inherent differences in building your family through adoption, infertility loss, the legal process of adoption, working with Adoption By Choice, adoption from a birth parent’s perspective, losses for children, writing a birth parent letter, meeting birth parents and adoption over the years. A panel of birth parents and adoptive parents join us to talk about their experience with open adoption and ABC.
ABC 2019 Workshop Dates:
JANUARY 19th & 20th, 2019 - CALGARY
MARCH 9th & 10th 2019 - EDMONTON
MAY 4th & 5th - CALGARY
JUNE 8th & 9th - EDMONTON
SEPTEMBER 14TH & 15TH - CALGARY
NOVEMBER 19TH & 20TH - EDMONTON
Step Three: The Home Study
The purpose of the home study is to ensure that it is in a child’s best interest to be placed in your care. There will be two to four interviews completed with one of our social workers for the home study and we will interview the references you have identified in your application. The kind of things you can expect to discuss during the home study process includes: demographic data and your personal history, your health, family dynamics and community relationships, your home, your financial situation, your understanding of adoption and reasons for adopting as well as the kind of adoption plan you want to build. You will have an opportunity to review the report before signatures are finalized.
Your home study must be updated every 12 months until you are placed with a child. The annual addendum brings everyone up to date on changes that you may have experienced since being approved. It is a briefer report and typically involves one meeting with one of our social workers.
At the time you are approved by Adoption By Choice, you will receive a “Certificate of Approval”.
Step Four: Matching and Placement
Once you are an approved applicant, we ask you to submit a "birth parent letter", a profile which includes pictures of yourselves, and the applicable fees to move onto the active list. The fees cover the costs of birth parent counselling provided by ABC and additional pre-adoption counseling and support for you while you wait.
Every approved applicant at ABC supports all birth parent counselling at the agency. We are a counselling agency and our mandate is to provide counselling services to all who come to us in order to assist them in making plans for their unintended pregnancy or child they are considering placing for adoption. Pre-adoption counseling and support for you takes a wide range of forms and can include phone calls, office visits, evening workshops and get togethers, our lending library, newsletters and support groups.
We ask that you let us know if you are pregnant or if you have been placed with a child through other means, as you will be required to move off of our active list, and withdraw from ABC. As well if you move from the Province of Alberta while you are on the active list then you must also withdraw as you must be a resident of Alberta to remain approved and active with Adoption By Choice. If you withdraw or transfer from Adoption By Choice, there will be no refund of money to you.
While on our active list your file becomes available for birth parents to consider in making an adoption plan. Letters and photographs are shown to birth parents, and it is usually from these that the birth parents go on to receive more non-identifying information to help them decide. You will be notified when your file has been selected and you can make a choice regarding the placement. Most times you will have the opportunity to meet the birth parents or perhaps correspond with them. Again, the degree of direct contact depends on you and the birth parents.
If you decide to build an adoption plan with the birth parents you meet, Adoption By Choice will ask you for matching and placement fees which will be placed in trust until the adoption consent is signed. Money will be drawn from the trust as the services are provided to you and the birth parents. You and Alberta Children’s Services will receive an itemized statement of your account within 30 days of the Adoption Order being granted.
We ask families to wait 8 months after an initial placement with Adoption By Choice before applying for a subsequent placement. The regulations prevent us from placing another child in your care in less than 12 months from an initial placement - unless the children are related.
We look forward to working with you, and would be pleased to hear from you with any questions or concerns you might have. Feel free to contact us if you would like to arrange an opportunity to meet to discuss this information further.
Alberta Children Services
Healthy Moms Healthy Babies
The Adoption Council of Canada
Adoption Month e-magazine
Adoptive Families Magazine
Let’s Talk Adoption
The Adoption Institute:
The Evan B. Donaldson Institute for Adoption – doing some excellent current research in adoption. Visit their website to subscribe to their free e-newsletter.
The North American Council on Adoptable children:
The North American Council on Adoptable Children – this organization hosts a terrific annual
Training Conference, promotes the adoption of waiting children, can give you info about subsidy, advocacy, etc.
Adoption Learning Partners:
Site that provides courses for adoptive parents on topics like attachment, talking about adoption, trans-racial, international, etc.
The Family Helper:
A site to find all the adoption resources in Canada, agencies, governments, international facilitators, support groups, etc.