Myths and truths about international adoption

When you cannot conceive, adoption remains an option to become a future parent. Here is what you should know before opening your arms to a foreign child.

The steps

The steps are many and you will have to wait for an awfully long time before you meet your adoptive child. Couples seeking international adoption must first submit their project to their provincial government office.

Then, they must choose the certified body linked to the country of origin.

Choosing a different path to reach a child opens the door to corruption, says Claire-Marie Gagnon, President of the Federation of adopting parents of Quebec. Indeed, we have all heard stories of parents who were forced to bribe a family, an orphanage or an influent person in a foreign country to successfully adopt. It is useless to try to illegally buy out official bodies, says Mrs. Gagnon. Furthermore, the affiliated institutions (such as orphanages) are trustworthy, she says.

There are 14 stages in the process that parents must undergo, including the signature of the contract, the psychosocial assessment of the person who wishes to adopt, the arrival of the child and reports on his progress.

How long will it take?

It is hard to assess how long the adoptive parents will have to wait before holding their child in their arms because the availability of a child for adoption, the procedures that are specific to each country and the recommendations following the psychosocial assessment have a direct influence on the waiting time.

Preparation and food for thought…

Before diving into specific procedures, it is important to look for information and to gather testimonies of parents who already adopted, says Mrs. Gagnon who is also the mother of two adopted children (now adults…). “You must meet other adoptive parents, attend conferences on adoption, read but also, you must be able to rationalize emotional issues and to struggle to find all the resources that are necessary to the child”, she says.

Because even if all parents would like to have a beautiful child, healthy and free of any handicap, the reality of adoption is different.

First, says Mrs. Gagnon, most children available for international adoption will go through some difficulties when they arrive to your home. Most of them have been abandoned, others may have been through some tough times and bad experiences and some suffer from malnutrition. The global medical examination that children undergo does not take psychological scars into consideration. They will not be mentioned in the medical report given to the future parents.

« And when a child arrives to his new home, it is a shock. He finds it difficult to adapt. And unfortunately, in Quebec, we don’t have the all the resources necessary to help the parents face those difficulties.” says the President of the adopting parents Federation.

The Hague Service Convention Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, signed by 83 countries since its creation in 1993, aims to ensure that international adoptions are taking place in the best interest of the child. It also aims to establish a system of cooperation ensuring its enforcement by all signatory states.

However, the application of the Convention leads signatory countries to prevent adoption. They often tell families not to offer their children a safer environment or a way of life that is better than theirs. “Children represent the future of the country… but it also means that adoption is sometimes reserved to handicapped or older children” says Mrs. Gagnon.

Unfortunately, she adds, the health information provided to adoption agencies by the country of origin is often incomplete. Therefore, parents who would like to adopt a child often receive a file that hides a few details concerning difficulties (psychological scars, handicap) that the child may present and that could make the integration in the new family even harder.

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