Once an applicant has completed the P.R.I.D.E training and the homestudy has been approved, a decision can be made regarding the kind of child the applicant could parent and the matching process begins. A child with a family background containing risk factors for future problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness creates special placement considerations when locating a potential family. Special consideration is also called for during the placement of a child with one or more siblings who need to remain together. Great significance is placed in making an appropriate cultural and racial match whenever possible for each child. The process may seem intense but reflects the sensitive and delicate nature of adopting a child with special needs.
Once a home study is complete and approved, applicants can complete a family profile to be used when presenting your family to other Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) or at the Provincial Adoption Resource Exchange conference. The Adoption Resource Exchange happens twice yearly and profiles children available for adoption through CAS’s throughout Ontario. The family profile is a summary of the home study and is provided to a CAS if you are interested in one of the children they are presenting.
When a family has been chosen, the adoption worker meets with them to share non-identifying information about the child, his or her life experiences, health and family background to ensure that the adoptive family is able to provide and support the specific needs of the child.
Prior to placing a child in an adoptive home, extensive visiting occurs between the child and the prospective adoptive parents. The placement of a child into an adoptive home begins the adoption probation period. In most instances the probation period lasts six months. Adoption probation is a critical period of adjustment for both the child and the adoptive family. During this time period, the child begins the process of integration into the adoptive family. The probation period provides a time for the family and child to adjust to each other and to ensure that the placement is progressing for both the child and the adoptive family.
An adoption worker visits the child and adoptive parents in the adoptive home a minimum of three times, at seven days, 30 days and typically every month during the “probation period”. These visits allow the adoption worker to provide support, coordinate services and, ultimately, to assess the extent to which the child has meshed with the adoptive family and the extent to which the adoptive parents demonstrate the ability to integrate the child into the family. The visits are also to assist the family with any adjustment difficulties. Once the worker has assessed the probation period has concluded, the adoption may be finalized. This is done in Family Court.
The court will only finalize an adoption if it is satisfied that the adoption order is in the child’s best interests. A report prepared by the adoption worker, which summarizes the adoption placement and addresses why it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted by the applicants, is submitted to the court. The best interests of the child are defined in the Child and Family Services Act and include any factors that are relevant to the situation.
An adoption order is final and irrevocable. On the date the court makes the adoption order, the adopted child legally becomes the child of his or her adoptive parents and ceases legally to be the child of his or her birth parents or any other prior adoptive parent.