To adopt a newborn baby—this is the dream that many prospective adoptive parents have. Each country, and also, each province or state of each country has specific guidelines for adopting a newborn baby. Taking a look at this resource here, and you will see many online resources for adoption in the USA. Canadian guidelines are similar, with each province having its own unique twist.
One of the most commonly known ways to adopt a newborn baby is private adoption. While the wait times to adopt privately can be long, this is probably the surest way to adopt a newborn baby. Adopting an older child is not for everyone, so those seeking to specifically adopt a newborn baby would need to get in contact with an adoption agency in their area. Prospective adoptive families create a profile (for some examples, check out Adoption.com’s Parent Profiles page) and will have the agency walk them through the legal process. Private adoption in Canada costs about $20,000 (for costs from in the U.S., please read this article). Seeing as adopting from foster care costs as little as zero dollars and is almost always under $3,000, private adoption is a costlier option (costs of adoption). Parents adopting through a private agency in Canada will receive a medical and social history of the birth parents once a match is made. While no adoptions in Canada are closed anymore, private adoptions may be less open than adoptions through foster care. A part of this reason is that parents may have visitation rights with children who reside in foster care up to and even after adoption. There may even be an openness agreement drawn up for children adopted from foster care, although it is a goodwill agreement and is not legally binding. This is something to consider when you think about what type of adoption is right for you. Some people are emotionally unprepared for openness in adoptions, where others, such as my husband and I, thrive off of it (for more information on private adoptions in the USA, try the Adoption.com forums.
In Canada, it is uncommon to be able to adopt a newborn baby from the foster care system, largely because even if both birth parents consent to their child being placed on the provincial adoption registry, Canadian law mandates that the Ministry for Children and Family Development must first explore all family and cultural options before looking for an adoption match elsewhere. Having completed two adoptions through foster care, I can relate to this article regarding foster adoption. Also, most children available for adoption through the foster care system in Canada are over the age of 8. One of the first things any prospective adoptive family should do is dispel myths and rumors about adoption. While it is not impossible to adopt a newborn baby through the foster care system, it may look different than you think. For our family, this meant becoming a foster home first and doing respite. Along came a newborn baby, and all the foster homes were full. We were asked to take this precious child for a couple of weeks. We responded that we would foster her, and then we would adopt her! Of course, it was not that simple. We had to prove my First Nations ancestry, which is a requirement for adopting a First Nations child in Canada. An Exceptions Committee will review cases for non-First Nations families interested in adopting a First Nations child. We did not have to go this route after I proved my genealogical history. Then, we had to update our foster care home study to what is called a SAFE home study in our province (the only type of in-depth home study that is approved for adoption). Many of the initial processes for adopting are now streamlined through an online portal called BCeID. After guaranteeing your identity in person at a government office, prospective adoptive families can submit paperwork such as the criminal records checks, prior contact with MCFD checks, doctor’s reports (all prospective adoptive parents must have a physician clear them to adopt; this includes screening for mental health issues and life-threatening illness which would impair the ability to care for the adopted child). References can be submitted through the online portion. You can log in and see the status of your adoption application, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, there is currently a two-year backlog for SAFE home studies in my region. Many prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to become foster families first. That way, they can gain experience that looks favorable for social workers seeking to place older children or high-needs children. It also means parts of the home study are done or only need to be upgraded to the SAFE home study. Tyler and I were able to adopt a newborn baby—twice—this way. Sort of! Two of the newborn babies we brought home as foster placements were not able to return to their families, and we applied to adopt them as soon as it was legally possible. Both of these children came home to us from the hospital and have known nothing else. While the girls were 18 and 17 months old, respectively at their time of adoption, we were there for every moment of their lives. It felt very much like we had adopted them as infants. The foster care system will warn, and rightly so, that no adoption is an adoption until it is complete. We have been through cases where we thought we might be able to adopt, and it was not so. Adopting foster care has its challenges, and yet we strongly advocate for it. Visit this page for some great inspiration! Adopting foster care in the USA is different, however. This country does not require First Nations children as the Canadian government does. Check out the forums for more information!
Similar to private adoption is direct placement adoption. This type of adoption requires a birth parent and a prospective adoptive family to find each other in the community before the baby is born, without the use of a private agency. All parties agree to the adoption, and although a private agency or government director must be involved for some steps of the paperwork, most of the burden of responsibility for this type of adoption being completed is on the adoptive family. Although this is a great way to adopt a newborn baby, prospective adoptive parents must be ready for the responsibilities entailed by this route; this may include obtaining an affidavit from the birth mother releasing care, custody, and guardianship of the baby to the adoptive parents before her leaving the hospital (some hospitals in some regions require this – if the birth mother leaves before this is obtained, a social worker from the Ministry for Children and Family Development may become involved to ensure a legal guardian is in place), ensuring the birth certificate is applied for by the birth parents, supplying a lawyer with a copy of the birth certificate once it arrives, and either obtaining a notarized “Consent to Adoption” affidavits or having a legal office do this for you. A direct placement adoption can cost as little as $5,000, but it can be much higher if there are complications (such as a birth father who is not in agreement with the birth mother and is therefore not consenting, issues with obtaining notarized consent forms, incorrectly filled out paperwork, etc). My husband and I had the opportunity to adopt a newborn baby just three weeks ago in a direct placement adoption. We had actually never heard of this form of adoption before, and most other people haven’t, either. Consider this form of adoption if the situation arises as it requires a birth mom to seek you out, but remember the large burden of legal responsibility that has to be undertaken. At this time, it does not appear that direct placement adoptions are available in the USA. Adopting in the USA means going with a licensed agency in your state, and adopting privately, internationally, or via foster care.
In international adoption, it would be unlikely to adopt a newborn baby, for some of the same reasons as adopting from foster care. You may be able to adopt a young baby, but international protocols, brought in by the Hague Convention to protect children, would normally prevent a child from being adopted so immediately after birth. Each country has different legal procedures. If you visit Adoption.com’s main web page and search in their articles for “Hague Convention,” you will find a listing by country. Another great link would be Read the International Adoption Guide for a step-by-step guide on international adoption. Additionally, you will be able to search for adoption by country and find out the chances of adopting a young baby. Keep in mind, however, that some countries have procedures in place when prospective adoptive families must visit the child they have been matched with once, or more, or even stay in the country for a period of time before the child can come home with his or her adoptive family. By this time, the child, even if a young baby at the start of the process, would no longer be a newborn when finally brought “home.” This is important to consider on your adoption journey.
This journey, one that has taken us to the most amazing places and also the hardest places we could have imagined, is the most amazing thing that has happened to our family. Newborn or otherwise, adoption is beautiful! You must take care of yourself during your journey. Surround yourself with those who support you and are there for you unconditionally. Find online communities and resources until you have your own adoption story to share with others!
Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.