Adoption is a provincially regulated program, which is legislated through the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. To be eligible to apply for adoption in Alberta, you are required to be a resident in Alberta, be at least 18 years old, must demonstrate financial and domestic stability and be physically and mentally capable of parenting an adoptive child. The best interests of the child being adopted is the key consideration of the adoption process. There are three types of adoptions in Alberta, namely:
- A public adoption: which a child is adopted from the child welfare system.
- Private adoption: These generally are newborns or young infants, which the birth parents have an opportunity to select the prospective adoptive applicants through a licensed adoption agency. Private adoptions also include a step-parent adoption or relative adoption, which may be uncomplicated when the permission of the birth parent is obtained. However, this process can be hindered if the birth parent’s consent is not easily obtainable due to the fact that they either do not consent or cannot be located. A private adoption requires an agreement between the birth parents and adoptive parents.
- International adoption: this is a complex process, as the requirements can vary from country to country.
There are a number of steps, that can be quite onerous, that must be taken when commencing a public adoption. A few of these steps include, contacting a local adoption office to initiate the process, completing the appropriate application package, which may require a family physician to complete a medical reference, a minimum of three personal references, a Criminal Record Check an Intervention Record Check and the completion of a Home Study Report. A Home Study Report is an intensive assessment, which is intended to provide the home study practitioner with an insight into a family’s functioning, capacity, expectations of adoptive parenting and suitability for adoption. At the conclusion of the Home Study Report, prospective adoptive parents will be provided with a recommendation on whether or not they are approved.
With a private adoption the prospective adoptive parents are required to file an Application and supporting documentation with the Court of Queen’s Bench, and serve the documentation on the appropriate parties involved. Once this step is completed, there are a variety of Orders which a Justice may grant, including an Adoption Order, an Order requiring further information, an Order requiring the completion of a Home Study, an Order requiring an oral hearing or the Application may be dismissed. The prospective adoptive parents may also be required to complete similar steps when applying for a public adoption.
If you require legal assistance and guidance on any of the different types of adoption, the family lawyers at SVR can help make the process less burdensome and stressful.