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Agencies in Ontario licensed for intercountry adoption
By Robin Hilborn, editor, Family Helper
On March 8, 2000 the rules of international adoption changed for Ontario residents -- the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services (CFCS) began licensing agencies under the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA).
Ontario residents may adopt from a given country only if there is an agency licensed by CFCS for that country. (And may not use an agency not licensed for international adoption). Below are the licensed agencies, and the countries for which they are licensed. [Updated from the CFCS site as of July 30, 2003.]
I've prepared an alphabetical list of countries Canadians can adopt from, with the agencies for each. You can choose a country and see the agencies working in that country. For the list of countries, see Agency Chooser.
Adoption Agency and Counselling Service
BANGLADESH, COLOMBIA, INDIA, JAMAICA, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, THAILAND, TRINIDAD, U.S.
BELARUS, GEORGIA, RUSSIA, UKRAINE
Canadian International Adoption Services
Caring Homes for Orphan Children
MOROCCO, U.S., WESTERN SAMOA
Children of the World / Enfants du Monde
Children's Resource and Consultation Centre
INDIA, JAMAICA, LEBANON, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, TRINIDAD, U.S.
Cornerstone Adoption Agency
ARMENIA, GUYANA, INDIA, JAMAICA, PHILIPPINES, SRI LANKA, ST. VINCENT, TRINIDAD
Family Outreach International
Global Village Adoption Agency
ARMENIA, HAITI, POLAND
Loving Heart International Adoption
Mission of TEARS
HAITI, RUSSIA, UKRAINE
Open Arms to International Adoption
Paul J. Conlin
ALGERIA, INDIA, LEBANON, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, THAILAND, U.S.
Pauline S. Friedman
St. Anne Adoption Centre
BRAZIL, BULGARIA, COLOMBIA, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, ST. VINCENT, UKRAINE
Ukrainian Cradle Adoption Agency
World View Adoption Agency
For contact information and program details, see the Family Helper list of Canadian adoption agencies, www.familyhelper.net/arc/agy.html.
Shakeup in Ontario
Intercountry Adoption Act becomes lawBy Robin Hilborn, editor, Family Helper
On March 8, 2000 the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services (CFCS) (then called the Ministry of Community and Social Services) gained the power to regulate adoption agencies. Under the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) Ontario residents can adopt only from countries for which there is a licensed agency. As a result, some countries remain effectively closed to Ontario residents until agencies are licensed for them.
The procedure for adopting from the U.S. varies according to whether the adoption is finalized in Ontario or in the child's state. This varies by state. If finalized in Ontario, it's a domestic adoption and falls under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA). If finalized in the state, you need to deal with an Ontario licensee under the IAA.
The IAA and its Regulations are quite plain: intercountry adoptions must be facilitated by agencies licensed by CFCS and based in Ontario. No other organization may facilitate an adoption for Ontarians. It is true that some licensed agencies have partnered with other organizations, usually in the country of origin, to provide ancillary services which do not constitute "facilitation" as the IAA defines it. Some countries (e.g. Romania) insist that accredited agencies in that country provide some of these services. And some organizations are accredited or recognized in more than one country. Still, "facilitation" for Ontario applicants can be carried out only by Ontario-licensed agencies.
The Intercountry Adoption Act now protects children and families involved in adoptions finalized abroad. Before, most international adoptions went unregulated: the Child and Family Services Act covers only domestic adoptions, and intercountry adoptions finalized in Ontario.
The IAA authorizes CFCS to license, regulate and monitor international adoption agencies operating in Ontario. That means extra work for CFCS's Adoption Unit and so CFCS is charging agencies a licence fee, and charging adoptive parents a fee each time they apply to adopt -- $925 [fee eliminated, Jan. 13, 2005]
The IAA implements the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in Ontario. However, it applies to all countries, not just Hague signatories.
Ontario adoption workers and adoptive parents had long fought for proper regulation of intercountry adoptions. Over the years a number of children and families have been exploited by unscrupulous or poorly informed agencies. Now agencies must be licensed, and adoptive parents can deal only with licensed agencies. Regulation 200/99 sets out the licensing process and lists the services for which agencies can legally charge parents.
Applicants who applied for an international adoption before March 8, 2000 have up to two years to complete it. Note that a homestudy over six months old needs to be updated.
If you're an Ontario resident and want to adopt from abroad, first you'll need to apply to an Ontario-licensed international adoption agency. If you try to finalize an international adoption without using a licensed agency you could be liable for a fine of up to $2,000 or up to two years in prison, or both.
Next you have an adoption homestudy done by a social worker approved by CFCS, to confirm your eligibility and suitability to adopt. Your worker sends the homestudy report to your agency, which sends it to CFCS for approval.
"Eligibility and suitability to adopt" means you are ready and able to parent an adopted child. Most countries expect the province (that is, the Adoption Unit at CFCS) to make sure that all who are applying to adopt their children will be good parents. Your social worker makes a recommendation, but the Ministry makes the final decision on suitability, based on the homestudy report.
Getting the Ministry's approval is essential, but not a guarantee of success. The authorities abroad may consider other factors, besides the homestudy and Ministry approval, in deciding to place a child for adoption.
It's now illegal to get adoption-related services from any unlicensed agency or unapproved person. But you can hire professionals for services unrelated to the adoption, such as notarizing documents or arranging travel. Check if a particular service is adoption-related by asking a licensed agency or the CFCS Adoption Unit (416-327-4730).
What about Canadians living abroad? If you have permanent residence in another country then that country's rules apply. After adopting a child there, you apply for immigration documents at the nearest Canadian embassy, before returning to Canada. But if you are temporarily abroad and keeping your Canadian resident status, then Canadian rules apply.
Adoptive parents may now have the security of a licensing system but it's "user pays". CFCS is trying to cover its increased costs for regulating and monitoring agencies by imposing a case-processing fee for adoptions covered by the IAA. This "fee for service" is $925 for adopting unrelated children and $460 for adopting relatives. CFCS says it will waive the fee for families with incomes of $33,750 or less, if the costs of their adoptions amount to 35% of their income. [fee eliminated, Jan. 13, 2005]
The user fee sparked an article in the March 16, 2000 Ottawa Citizen, "Ontario slaps 'tax' on foreign orphans" (www.ottawacitizen.com/national/000316/3766170.html), calling it an unfair tax that penalizes families who adopt internationally, but not families who adopt from within Canada. That was followed by a March 25 letter from Lyse Champagne of Ottawa, "Foreign orphan tax is a cold-hearted measure" (www.ottawacitizen.com/letters/000325/3815951.html). See also News Briefs.
You will also have to pay for your agency's services. Before hiring an agency, compare the services and fees of several. If later you think you are being overcharged, you can have the Ministry investigate.
As Rich Partridge, manager of CFCS's Adoption Unit, explained in a Dec. 23, 1999 conversation with Adoption Helper, the ministry makes on-site visits to agencies and suggests changes to conform to requirements. Issuing of a licence is followed by two-day training sessions of agency staff, and follow-up on-site visits.
International adoption agencies will have to pay $1,800 a year for their licence. (CFCS says that adoption agencies in the U.S. pay about US$5,400 for four years.) To get a licence, agencies must be non-profit corporations demonstrably capable of facilitating international adoptions and must pass an interview. Staff must be knowledgeable in federal, provincial and foreign laws; experienced in international adoption; and take training sessions offered by the Ministry. Once licensed, agencies must file financial and service reports each year.
See the CFCS web site, at Adoption Services, www.gov.on.ca/CSS/page/services/adoption/adopt.html for all the background documents on domestic and international adoption for Ontario residents, including:
Both the Act and Regulation 200/99 are available through Publications Ontario, or call 416-326-5300, 1-800-668-9938, or fax 416- 326-5317. You will have to pay for them. The regulation was published in the Ontario Gazette in April 1999 (see a public library).
Or you can download the Act free, from http://220.127.116.11/en. Click "Statutes of Ontario (Table of Contents)". Click the plus sign before the letter "I", scroll down and click "Intercountry Adoption Act, 1998, Statutes of Ontario, 1998, Chapter 29".
For more information about private and international adoption, or to find out the status of your adoption, contact the CFCS Adoption Unit: 416-327-4730.
Ontario Government Backgrounder
International Adoption In OntarioMinistry news release
In March 2000, Ontario implemented, the Intercountry Adoption Act. The act helps to ensure that children who are adopted internationally are safe and that adoptive families are not taken advantage of. Under the act, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services approves home studies of prospective parents, approves matches between children and adoptive parents and licenses adoption agencies in Ontario.
Steps in adopting a child from another country
* Under the Intercountry Adoption Act all applicants (relative and non-relative) must:
o Apply to an adoption agency licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services
* The adoption agency must:
o Submit the application to the adoption authority in the child's country of origin
* The Ministry of Children and Youth Services must:
o Approve the parents' "suitability and eligibility" to adopt
The adoption is completed in the child's country of origin. On average, it takes about 12 to18 months from when an application is made until an international adoption is complete.
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