International Adoption

The International Adoption Program

Adoption is the process that gives a child a new family and is intended to provide permanency and security for the child. The most important consideration in the adoption process is the child’s well-being. A successful adoption requires maturity, empathy, understanding and patience from the adoptive parents.

Adopting a child from another country is extremely complex, and programs change as the requirements of the countries of origin change. Alberta Adoption Services plays an important role in the international adoption process by accepting all applications for international adoption; authorizing the completion of a home study report on prospective adoptive parents; reviewing and providing approval of the adoptive parents; reviewing information on children proposed for adoption; and working with families to determine whether a match is suitable and providing documentation to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Alberta Adoption Services staff works with foreign jurisdictions, the federal government and immigration officials to ensure that the requirements of Alberta legislation and the Hague Convention are met. We rely on the originating country to provide accurate information about the child in the matching referral; however, there may be little information available, because the child may have been abandoned at birth, resulting in no birth certificate or health records.

Due to the complexities and risks involved in adopting internationally, Alberta Adoption Services has developed the International Adoption Guidebook for Alberta Families to ensure Alberta families are aware of the risks involved and challenges they may face when adopting from another country. It is a printable guidebook and a valuable tool for adoptive families considering an international adoption. The Government of Alberta does not license, monitor or endorse individuals/agencies that arrange international adoptions in foreign countries. Families can hire an individual/agency of their choice to help prepare their family’s adoption dossier and to make travel and legal arrangements, however, it is the responsibility of each family to ensure the individual/agency is reputable and authorized to finalize the adoption in the child's country of origin.

In order to comply with the legislative requirements of the child’s country of origin, the federal Immigration Regulations, the Hague Convention, and Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, applicants should be aware of the following:

  • legislation, regulations and policies in the child’s country of origin change on a regular basis;
  • highly sensitive and political issues which countries face when their children are adopted by foreigners;
  • problematic adoption practices uncovered in the child’s country of origin, which may include child theft, baby selling, child trafficking and forging of documents; and
  • technical difficulties in reaching officials in foreign jurisdictions, as well as differences in language, culture and interpretation of procedures.

In international legal matters, there are no guarantees. You might begin the process to adopt a child, only to have the process or costs change or the program end without notice. You need to allow sufficient time for each agency and department to complete procedures and forward documents. Most international adoptions take an average of one to two years to complete and cost between $15,000 and $40,000.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) is a multi-lateral treaty that regulates adoptions between contracting countries. It provides safeguards and procedures to ensure the adoption is in the best interest of the child, biological parents and adoptive parents. The child’s country must make reasonable efforts to place the child domestically before considering an international adoption.

Alberta implemented the Hague Convention in 1997. View an updated listing of Hague jurisdictions. The Convention concerning Intercountry Adoption is Convention number 33.

The Hague Convention applies to every adoption, including relative adoptions, where the child lives in a Hague country and the adoptive parents live in Alberta. This is the case even when the adoptive parents are citizens of the child’s country and own property in that country.

Adoptive applicants who wish to adopt a child residing in a Hague Convention country must first apply to Alberta Adoption Services for authorization from the delegated Central Authority for Alberta under the Hague Convention to begin the process.

The Central Authority of the child’s country must determine that the child meets the Hague Convention eligibility criteria for an international adoption and that there are no suitable families in the child’s country who are willing and able to adopt the child. The Central Authority of the receiving country (Alberta) must determine that the adoptive parents have been trained and are suitable for adoption. Both the sending and receiving Central Authorities must agree that the proposed adoption should proceed.

Failing to comply with the requirements of the Hague Convention may prevent the child from entering Canada since Canada’s immigration legislation and Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act require compliance with the Hague Convention.

Three Types of International Adoption

  1. Hague Convention Adoption is the process when: The child’s country is a member of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercounty Adoption (Hague Convention).
  2. Government Adoption for Non-Hague Countries is the process when: There is an adoption process established between the child’s country and Alberta.
  3. Private International Adoption is the process when:
    • The child’s country has not implemented the Hague Convention.
    • The child’s country does not have an adoption process with Alberta.

Note: Immigration regulations require that a permanent resident visa be obtained before the child enters Canada. Privately arranged adoptions in Hague Convention jurisdictions that are finalized in the child’s country of origin do not meet the requirements of the Hague Convention, the Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

In all types of International Adoption Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is responsible for the immigration process that allows the child you have adopted or intend to adopt to enter Canada. Approximately 2,000 foreign children are adopted by Canadian citizens or permanent residents every year.

Private Guardianship Orders

Private Guardianship applies to children originating from countries where there is no legislation to process an adoption. A Private Guardianship Order may be issued in the child’s country of origin and the adoption may be finalized privately in Alberta when the adoptive parent obtains permanent residency status for the child.

Note: Immigration Regulations require that a permanent resident visa be obtained for the child for the purpose of entering Canada to finalize an adoption in these circumstances. Families who obtain Private Guardianship orders/Private Guardianship Certificates for children who live abroad must deal directly with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to obtain permanent residence status for the child.

Alberta Adoption Services has no role in obtaining permanent residency status for children and no authority to provide Letters of No Involvement in Private Guardianship cases.

Children Available for Adoption

Countries of origin determine which children are eligible for international adoption. In all cases, the biological parents of the child must have their guardianship permanently terminated before the child can be considered eligible for adoption. Reasonable efforts must be made to place the child domestically before considering an international adoptive family. This applies to the adoption of relatives as well. Newborns are not generally available because efforts must first be made to place them for adoption in their country of origin. The majority of children adopted internationally arrive in this province when they are between 12 and 48 months old.

Roles and Responsibilities

Adoptive Parents are responsible for the cost of:

  • Parent Training and Home Study Report
  • Preparation of supporting documents and notarization, authentication and verification of signatures
  • Translation
  • Courier fees
  • Immigration fees
  • Child’s medical examination
  • Agency fees in child’s country of origin
  • Travel and accommodations
  • Adoption finalization
  • Legal fees
  • Post Placement Reports on a schedule prescribed by the child’s country of origin

In a government international adoption, Alberta Adoption Services is responsible for:

  • Providing information/procedures for adopting from specific countries
  • Reviewing Home Study Reports completed by licensed agencies and determining that the applicants are suitable for adoption
  • Forwarding the adoption dossier to the child’s country of origin
  • Agreeing to the adoptive match
  • Delegating the proposal of the adoptive match to the family’s licensed adoption agency
  • Ensuring the child meets immigration requirements and will be admissible to Canada
  • Providing provincial acceptance of the match for immigration purposes
  • Finalizing the adoption order in Alberta, if the order cannot be finalized in the child’s country
  • Forwarding Post Placement Reports to the child’s country of origin, as required

Use of a Coordinator

Due to the complexity of requirements, the majority of families adopting internationally in Alberta find it an advantage to use a coordinator for services that include:

  • Preparation of all required documentation on the family’s behalf, including: translation, notarization, certification and authentication of the Home Study Report and supporting documents;
  • Obtaining travel visas and making travel/hotel arrangements for adoptive parents who travel to the child’s country of origin; and
  • Arranging for a translator who is knowledgeable about the events which must occur upon the applicants’ arrival in the child’s country.

Alberta Adoption Services does not license, monitor or endorse individuals/agencies that arrange international adoptions in foreign countries. Families can hire an individual/agency of their choice to help prepare their family’s dossier and make travel and legal arrangements. It is the family’s responsibility to ensure they choose a reputable resource that is authorized to arrange and finalize adoptions in the child’s country of origin.

Agencies licensed in other provinces to facilitate international adoptions do not have the authority to arrange adoptions in Alberta. They are considered to be coordinators in Alberta’s process and are only able to provide services as indicated above.

Edmonton and Calgary Adoption Clinics

The Edmonton Adoption Clinic and the Calgary Adoption Clinic are resources for adoptive parents, both before and after an adoption. In Edmonton, a team of professionals headed by Dr. Cecilia Baxter at the Royal Alexandra Hospital is dedicated to consulting and supporting adoptive families. For more information, see the Edmonton Adoption Clinic brochure. The Edmonton Clinic can be reached at 780‑735‑4605 or by fax at 780‑735‑4071. The clinic in Calgary is headed by Dr. Mirielle LeMay at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. For more information, see the Calgary Adoption Clinic brochure. The Calgary Clinic can be reached at 403‑955‑2200 or by fax at 403‑955‑2853.

Travel Health Services

Adoptive families who are travelling to their child’s country of origin need to have current information regarding immunization prior to travelling, as well as information on prevention and safety during their stay. Information regarding Travel Health Services in Alberta and in other provinces can be obtained through the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

How to Apply

  • Complete the International Adoption Application (ADOP2777) which is available at private, licensed adoption agencies. Please print on “legal” size paper to be sure that the Authorization at the bottom of the form is included on your application.
  • Upon receipt of the authorization to proceed with a Home Study Report from a private, licensed adoption agency in Alberta, contact a licensed adoption agency to begin the process.
  • Complete pre-adoption training and the Home Study Report with all required documentation with your licensed adoption agency.
  • Obtain provincial approval of your Home Study Report.
Modified: 2014-12-01
PID: 15548