Dear Birth Parent,
We recognize that this is a very difficult and stressful time for birth parents when they are faced with a pregnancy which is perhaps not planned and for which they feel unprepared. Our counselors want to ensure that you make a fully informed decision about planning adoption for your baby and that you are emotionally supported throughout the process.
As part of your adoption process, we are committed to providing the following services if requested or required:
- referral to other agencies for counseling regarding the options available related to the pregnancy;
- exploration of options that may be available to you other than adoption planning
- referrals to appropriate community resources for financial or other assistance;
- information about consent signing and the revocation period as well as other legalities of adoption;
- review of profiles of prospective adoptive parents to consider for adoptive placement of your child;
- meeting with your choice of prospective adoptive parents prior to the baby’s birth.
- collection of a medical and social history to be shared with the prospective adoptive parents and to assist the child as they grow and develop;
- development of a hospital plan for the delivery of your child and for your time in the hospital;
- placement of your child with a caregiver for a temporary period if needed;
- information about the options available in relation to openness and openness agreements;
- assistance in negotiating an openness agreement;
- an explanation of the openness and disclosure provision as provided under sections 60 to 66 of the Adoption Act.
- Intermediary services with respect to the sharing of non-identifying information;
- Support and counseling with regard to grief and loss after your child is placed for adoption.
Your counselor will help to walk you through the process, including the forms that need to be filled out, and to help you understand the realities of adoption as they impact on you and your child. We encourage you to ensure your counselor is aware of any questions or concerns you have as you go through the process so that she can better assist you. Following on the next several pages is information about the adoption process which is important for you to know as you think about your options.
Your confidentiality is preserved throughout the adoption process. However, we will need your permission to share and obtain information with your social worker and on a non identifying basis with the prospective adoptive parents that you choose and possibly others who can assist with your adoption planning.
Approval Process for Adoptive Applicants
Adoptive parents who are approved to adopt need to complete a written home study assessment in accordance with the requirements of The Adoption Act. The purpose of this assessment is to ensure as much as possible that your child will grow up with parents who are prepared for parenting a child by adoption.
To meet the requirements of The Adoption Act, approved applicants will have met with a registered social worker (RSW) as a couple, as a family (if they have children or other members in their household) and individually. The social worker will also view their home environment to ensure that it is appropriate and safe for children.
In addition to the meetings with the social worker, each applicant must complete a Criminal Record Check and obtain a medical reference from their physician. Additionally, they must complete a check to ensure that a child in their home has never been found to be in need of protection (with their local Ministry of Children and Family Development office) and provide four personal references who are asked their opinion about the applicants’ relationship and parenting abilities.
Choosing an Adoptive Family
You will be able to view the applicants’ home study assessment as well as some photos of them and a Dear Birth Parent Letter written by them (all of this information is referred to as a Profile).
If you have any preferences about the family you want to place your child with such as ethnicity, culture and/or religion, it is important to communicate this to your social worker so that we can select only profiles that meet those preferences to send to you. However, you are welcome to look at all our profiles if you are unsure of any such preferences. Your social worker will assist you in making contact with the family you select should you wish to meet them.
If either birth parent has any aboriginal heritage, it is important to communicate this to your social worker so that your social worker can discuss with you the possibility of involving the Band, or other aboriginal community in the placement of your child depending upon your wishes.
Your social worker will also assist you to develop a plan for your hospital stay including when you would like the adopting parents to become involved with the baby in the hospital.
Your social worker will meet with you in the hospital to assist you with all the paper work which must be completed at this time and will arrange for you to sign legal consents with a lawyer after you are discharged from the hospital.
Consent Signing, Revocation Period and other Legalities
You can change your mind about the adoption plan at any time in the process prior to the birth of your baby, while in the hospital, and up to 30 days after the baby’s birth.
A birth mother can sign her consent 10 days after the baby’s birth. However, you can place your baby with the adoptive parents upon discharge from the hospital and prior to signing legal consents. A birth father can sign consents at any time after the baby is born. It is important that when you sign the legal consent that you feel emotionally ready to do so.
Birth mothers have 30 days from the date of the baby’s birth to change their minds about the adoption plan, even if the child has already been placed with the adoptive parents. They would need to notify The Adoption Centre in writing and then a social worker would make the arrangements to have the baby returned to their care. A birth father’s consent becomes legally binding at the time that the baby is placed with the adoptive parents.
Your social worker and lawyer will assist you to understand your legal rights during this 30 day revocation period.
The adoption will be completed a minimum of 6 months after the baby has been placed for adoption. You have a right to be advised of when the adoption order is granted or if the adoption is not completed.
Once the adoption order is granted, the adoptive parents have full legal guardianship of the baby.
Once your child is 19 years of age, they will be able to obtain a copy of their Registration of Live Birth which you will fill out at the hospital when your baby is born. As such, they will learn your full name through obtaining this document through the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency should they choose to do that.
Also, when your child turns 19 years of age, you are able to obtain a copy of the adoption order with the child and the adoptive parents’ names. The province can also assist you to be reintroduced with your child, now an adult, at that time through the Reunion Registry. If you have an open adoption, you may already have contact or information about the adoptive parents.
Reunions can be very emotional and we would encourage you to ensure that you have supports in place for yourself when/if this occurs.
Obtaining Legal Advice
Your social worker will make arrangements for you to see a lawyer at the time that you sign adoption consents to ensure that you are aware of your legal rights. However, you can obtain independent legal advice at any time in the process if you wish.
Despite the fact that you have placed your baby for adoption, you may still be able to receive information on your child’s development. This could be in many different forms such as letters and/or photos, and/or visits.
If you have preferences about the type and amount of contact you would like to have with your child, it is important to discuss this with your social worker. It is also important to review that section of each profile to ensure that the family you choose is comfortable with the openness that you would like to have.
Your social worker will assist you to work out and finalize those arrangements for contact after consents are signed, but before the adoption order is granted, through developing a written Openness Agreement which specifies the contact agreed to. Openness Agreements are not considered to be legally binding so that you or the adoptive parents can make changes in accordance with the child’s best interests as needed as the child develops.
Our agency will be able to assist to facilitate any agreement for the exchange of information between yourself and the adoptive family until your child turns 19 years of age if needed or desired.
For the benefit of your child you will be asked to fill out a Medical /Social History to be shared with the prospective adoptive parents you choose. This information will include details of your family history.
Should you become aware of any medical information which may have an impact on your child’s health any time after the child has been placed, you can communicate this through your adoption agency even if you have chosen not to have an Openness Agreement.
Importance of Naming the Birth Father
It is important for a birth mother to give information on the baby’s birth father as soon as possible so that the agency can make contact with him to obtain his Medical/Social History for the baby’s well being and also to obtain his legal consent to the adoption.
The agency will be checking The Birth Father Registry as required by The Adoption Act to determine if the birth father or anyone else is registered on that registry. If anyone is registered, the agency must, by law, contact them to discuss their views on the adoption plan and to obtain their medical and social history and legal consent.
If you have any concerns or uncertainties about providing this information, please discuss this with your social worker as soon as possible.
Emotional Realities of Adoption
It is important for you to know that you will experience varying and intense emotions both while making your adoption plan and also after you place your baby for adoption. You will never forget your baby or this experience. Both will live on with you in your memory for the rest of your life.
We want to ensure that you have the support that you need as you process and grieve this loss. Our social worker will be available to you to assist you with this and to help you make plans to move forward with your life as you need.
Enclosed are some articles for you to review to help you prepare for some of the emotional realities of the adoption plan.
We hope that this information has helped you to better understand the adoption process. Please feel free to contact our agency directly if you have any other questions or need further information.
Feedback on the process
We are very interested in receiving your feedback both positive and negative on your adoption experience with our agency. For this reason we will provide you with an Evaluation which you can complete in an anonymous manner and return to our agency. This feedback is useful as we endeavor to assist other birth parents who wish to make an adoption plan in the future.
If you have a serious concern about any of the services provided, please contact the Administrator Jennifer Wall at 1.800.935.4237 or 250.763.0882.
It is expected that, wherever possible, complaints/participant concerns will be resolved at this informal/local level. The complaint should be brought to resolution within 30 working days or sooner.
If agreement cannot be reached, the Administrator will give you the contact information to reach the Executive Director and if still no resolution can be found, you will be given the contact information of the Director of Adoption.
Jennifer Wall, MSW RSW
The Adoption Centre of British Columbia
255 Lawrence Avenue, Kelowna BC V1Y 6L2
PHONE: 250.763.8002 FAX: 250.763.6282
TOLL FREE: 1.800.935.4237 WEB: www.kcr.ca