Adoption is the legal process that gives a new family to a child whose birth family can't care for him or her. It's intended to provide the child with permanence and security.
Adoption benefits children and families
To experience healthy development, and create a sense of their own self-worth, children need to have roots and feel they belong to a family that cares for them.
Unfortunately, some parents can't provide their children with adequate care because of conflict or illness in the family. Others believe they can't provide the kind of upbringing they want for their children. Parents in these circumstances may decide to give their children up for adoption.
Individuals and couples who can't have children of their own often want to adopt children. Parents who already have children may want to adopt to enlarge their families.
Each child waiting for adoption is unique
Children of all ages and stages of development can be adopted, but the majority are aged three and under.
These children come from a variety of cultural, racial, ethic and religious backgrounds. Some are brothers and sisters, waiting for a family who can adopt them together.
Most of the older children waiting to be adopted have had painful experiences and need time to adjust to a new home. Others may have developmental or physical challenges.
Each child is different, but all can benefit from becoming part of a warm and loving family.
Adoption must be in the child's best interests
Each CAS is responsible for adoption in the area it serves, and the children waiting for adoptions are in that agency's care.
The number of children waiting for adoption, and the number of families who want to adopt, varies from one part of the province to another. A provincial adoption resource exchange helps bring children and prospective families together.
Not all children in CAS care are available for adoption. Many are living temporarily with foster families while efforts are being made to help their own families function better so they can live at home again.
Others stay in long-term foster care as a matter of choice. Either they don't want to try adoption, or a judge has granted access to certain people in their birth families. This happens when it's thought that visits with relatives are more important to the child's well-being than breaking ties and starting a new life in an adoptive family.
Since CAS workers have the opportunity to really know and understand the children in their care, they help determine if adoption or long-term foster care is in a child's best interests. If a child is old enough, he or she also takes part in this decision.
Starting the adoption process
When you contact the CAS about adopting a child, you'll be invited to a meeting to learn about adoption. At the meeting you'll be able to speak with an adoption worker, as well as families who've already adopted children.
If you decide you'd like to adopt, the CAS will conduct a home study that involves several visits to your home. During the home study you'll be encouraged to assess your own attitudes and abilities. You'll also be asked to provide four character references, as well as undergo current medical and police checks.
By working together through this process, a decision can be made about whether adoption is right for you, and what kind of child or children you could parent.
The role of the birth parent
Prior to the adoption, the birth parent(s) may provide input about the kind of family they would like for their child.
The values, lifestyle, education, cultural heritage and other characteristics that are important to the birth parents are considered carefully when choosing the child's adoptive parents.
Recently there has been a move to create more openness between adopting families and birth families. The degree of openness a child needs, a birth parent wants, or an adopting family can accept, is carefully examined early in the adoption process. It could range from a photo and/or a letter to go with the child upon adoption, to visits between birth parents and children.
Training & Support
Training For New Foster And Adoptive Parents
CAS offers an intensive pre-service training program called PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) for families who are considering to fostering with the Sarnia-Lambton CAS. After meeting with a CAS resource worker and deciding to take the next step, an application package is provided. When you submit your completed package, you will be scheduled into PRIDE.
PRIDE includes 9 sessions (usually held weekly in the evening):
- Weeks 1-8 meet other families who are interested in fostering or adoption, discuss ideas and experiences, hear about the needs of children in CAS care
- Week 9 meet families who have already fostered or adopted children, as well as adult and child adoptees and children in foster care
Home Study Process
When you have partially or fully completed PRIDE, CAS will assign a resource worker to conduct a home study with your family and make a recommendation about your suitability as a foster home.
Home study includes:
- Self-assessment of your own attitudes and abilities
- Providing character references from family and friends
- Authorizing medical clearances from your family physician
- Authorizing police record checks
- Authorizing child welfare checks
- Assessing the safety of your home (Housing and Safety Checklist)
- Reviewing your PRIDE Connections homework completed during the PRIDE pre-service training
- Reviewing your personal history, employment record, experience with children, and general information related to
- Your local Children's Aid Society
- Adoption Council of Ontario
- Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
- Click Here to Download our Adoption Awareness Kit 2011
- Click Here to Download our Adoption Media Kit
By working together through the process, we will mutually be able to determine if fostering is right for you.No standard waiting periods
Everything depends on the right match
Adoption placements are based on the child's need, so the waiting time depends on an appropriate match being made between a child needing adoption, and a family approved for adoption. Therefore, there's no set waiting time or waiting list.
Once the match is made, there may be several visits to allow the child to get to know the new family and surroundings before moving into the home.
By law, there's a minimum six-month adjustment period from the time a child moves into the new home until the adoption is completed. A longer adjustment period may be necessary depending on the needs of the child and the adoptive family. This is the time when any problems that might arise in the relationship can be worked out.
When everybody's ready to complete the adoption, the CAS applies to the court for an adoption order. This makes the adopting parents the child's legal parents, and the child a legal member of their family.
Support for adoptive parents
After completing the adoption process, there may be times when parents will want to consult the CAS.
For example, older children may need to talk about their birth parents, or earlier experiences in their lives. Even though they may be able to talk freely with their new parents, the CAS can offer additional support to help them deal with their feelings and adjust to their new life.
When adopted children grow up, the CAS can arrange for them to meet their birth parents, if both parties agree.
For more information about adoption please contact SLCAS at 336-0623 Monday to Friday 8:30 to 4:30.
"Our adoptive families, our children, are a great resource in this province. They need to be treated as such and given every opportunity to succeed." - Paula Schuck, adoptive mother and cofounder of the London Coalition of Adoptive Families and the Canadian Coalition of Adoptive Families.
"As a Crown ward, you dread certain dates but if you are adopted, those "cut off" dates aren't as worrisome because you are supported by your adoptive family." - Kelly, adopted at the age of 12*
"Adoption is peace of mind because you have somewhere permanent to go home to each day." - Michael, adopted at age 5*
"Adoption is "the best word" you can hear because it means long-term and you no longer have to worry about always having to switch places." - Jessica, adopted at age 8*
"In an ideal world there would be no need for adoption, but in the meantime we need to stand up and support families to do the best job they can." - Lexi Deece-Cassidy, adoptive mom.
*Although actual quotes, names have been changed for privacy protection.
For more information:
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
Adoption Council of Ontario
416-482-0021 x 2666