In Ontario there are three types of Adoption:
- Public Adoption through a Children's Aid Society (children of all ages)
- Private Adoption through a licensed agency or individual (newborn babies)
- International adoption through a licensed non-profit organization
The homestudy process in Ontario has a standardized format called SAFE - Structured Analysis Family Evaluation. This process involves a number of interviews with your practitioner, as well as questionnaires on your life and values, and a home inspection. We are also required to get a number of police and child welfare clearances, have a medical, and submit references and financial statements. It is designed to assess adoption applicants and prepare them for an adoptive placement. In many cases it is an excellent self evaluation tool that often results in personal growth for everyone involved.
The Adoption Council of Ontario has a great website. They have a link that sends you to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website and a list of all the private adoption practitioners that do homestudies. There are many out there but we decided to start with the one listed in Belleville and see if we liked her. I had spoken with her briefly before attended the adoption seminar in Toronto and we had agreed to get in touch once we had been to the seminar and discussed our options further.
The second step to get approved is to attend PRIDE training. PRIDE is short for Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education. It is 27 hours of training put on by a trainer approved by the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. The training should be completed at the same time as your homestudy since they are meant to work together. The training is to prepare parents for the challenges of raising an adoptive child. Some of the topics are loss issues in adoption, attachment as a central issue in all adoption, the effects of neglect, lack of stimulation, abuse, and institutionalization on children, to name just a few. AdoptOntario has a list of all the private PRIDE sessions in Ontario so you can choose a time that works and sign up.
In some cases if you decide to adopt through your local CAS they will perform you Homestudy and PRIDE training for free. But we have learned that CAS budgets for this are small and people who adopt through CAS often still end up going the private route to get their approval done.
Once you have both of these processes complete it is time to get your profile together. From what I understand our practitioner will help us with this but we can also start it on our own. This is what is submitted with our homestudy to other adoption agencies, licensees or CAS. It will also be shown to prospective birth parents and posted on websites if we wish.
There are three websites (that I have found so far) that host parent profiles to help birth parents choose adoptive parents. We are by no means required to put our profile on any of them but the more places we can be the better chance we have of getting a child. Canada Adopts appears to be one of the most popular sites.
According to a number of different sources our wait from the time we complete our homestudy, PRIDE training and profile, to the time we get a child could be anywhere from 6 months to 10 years. Even then if we are determined to adopt a newborn, domestically there is a chance we could never be chosen. The birth parents have all of the control and we could possibly never be matched with one that ends up picking us. Adopting through CAS or internationally is a bit different. Depending on what type of child you are interested in you could be matched through CAS quite quickly, especially since there is a waiting list of children who need homes. Most international adoptions work with a list. So it might take you years but you can track your movement up the list towards a child.
It all seems very daunting and filled with paper work and red tape, but we are prepared for it. We both feel good to be working towards something solid versus the large questions mark we have been dealing with the last few years. At least we have a bit of control over the process and know that being proactive can help. It will be a long journey but we are excited to be starting it.