The path to starting a family is not one size fits all. Regardless of whether you are growing your family, or just starting it, everyone takes their own unique path. No matter your circumstances, adoption is a wonderful and fulfilling path to take.
Everything you need to know related to the process of adoption in British Columbia can be found in the Adoption Act. The paramount concern for the Courts anytime they are required to make a decision involving children is the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child the court considers in these decisions can be found at section 3 of the Adoption Act. All of these factors must be taken into consideration:
- the child’s safety;
- the child’s physical and emotional needs and level of development;
- the importance of continuity in the child’s care;
- the importance of the child’s development of having a positive relationship with a parent and a secure place as a member of a family;
- the quality of the relationship the child has with a parent or other individual and the effect of maintain that relationship;
- the child’s cultural, racial, linguistic and religious heritage;
- the child’s views; and
- the effect on the child if there is a delay in making a decision.
If the child has an indigenous background, section 3(2) of the Adoption Act emphasizes the importance of preserving the child’s cultural identity being considered in determining the child’s best interests.
Information about the different pathways to adoption can be found on the British Columbia government website at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/life-events/birth-adoption/adoptions/how-to-adopt-a-child
In British Columbia there are several ways you can go about adopting the newest member of your family, including:
- Adopting an infant
- Adopting a child from another country
- Adopting from foster care
- Private Adoption – Direct Placement (a parent or guardian of the child has placed them for adoption) / Adopting a relative or a stepchild (private adoption)
In relation to adopting a child from foster care in British Columbia, you need to satisfy two core requirements. You must be a B.C. resident for a minimum of 6 months and 19 years of age or older. You do not need to have married status to apply to adopt from foster care, any one or two adults may jointly apply. Prior to applying, you want to ensure you sign up for a Personal BCeID. With your Personal BCeID you will be able to create an account on the Adopt BC Kids website and fill out your application. Once the application is submitted, at the next stage of the process you will be required to attend and complete the Adoption Education Program (in-person or online). Lastly, you will need to pass the thorough Homestudy process, which includes several home visits by an adoption social worker and in-depth interviews with you and anyone who lives with you.
If you are interested in adopting a child or teen who has been in B.C. foster care, I recommend visiting the Adopt BC Kids website and gathering some preliminary information regarding the multistage application process.
If you are looking to adopt a child that you are related to by blood or marriage or your partner’s child (private adoption), you will need to apply to the British Columbia Supreme Court. Any one or two adults, who are also residents of B.C., can apply to the Supreme Court for an adoption order, regardless of sexual orientation.
Before an adoption order can be granted, section 13 of the Adoption Act states that the following people must provide their consent to the adoption application:
- the birth mother of the child;
- the natural father;
- the child’s guardian, if one has been appointed;
- if the child is 12 years or older, the child; and
- if the child is under the government’s care and custody, the Director of the Child, Family and Community Service Act.
Unopposed adoption applications could take weeks or months to apply, depending on how busy the specific Court registry is.
There are some differences with the application processes for the two types of private adoptions. Both require Court applications and additional court documents to be drafted and submitted to your local Supreme Court Registry. Having a lawyer draft the documents could help ensure the process is not delayed. If you have any questions about private adoption or need representation navigating the Supreme Court process, give us a call at Connect Family Law to set up an appointment with one of our dedicated lawyers.
Building your family should be a time of joy, so don’t let the stress of the application process prevent you and a wonderful child from the love and happiness you both deserve.