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  International adoption agencies come to New Brunswick
Family Helper editor

(Apr. 30, 2007)    The New Brunswick government is moving to allow international adoption agencies in the province for the first time. The first such agencies will open within two years.

For some reason the Department of Family and Community Services (FCS) calls them "community social service agencies", but there is no doubt about their purpose. Once new legislation is passed, FCS will sign contracts with non-profit agencies in New Brunswick to supply services for all international adoptions, including from the U.S. The contract would say just how much the agency can charge adoptive parents.

New Brunswickers would go to the agency for all international adoption services, such as information sessions, home studies, training and post-placement reports. (FCS will still approve adoptive applicants, send applications abroad, and approve the proposed matches of children with adoptive parents.)

Parents-to-be will see the cost of an international adoption go up. FCS estimates that families will pay about $500 more than they do now for an international adoption through the department, but will get more services, such as information sessions and training. The FCS "Questions and Answers" say that New Brunswickers adopting internationally pay "on average from between $5,000 and $40,000 depending upon the country."

In 2005 New Brunswickers adopted 32 children from abroad, including 24 from China. Meanwhile, children are available domestically (though the wait is longer). In 2006 there were over 850 New Brunswick children who were awaiting adoption -- from infants to youths up to the age of 19.

Allowing international adoption agencies is just one of the government's reforms to the Family Services Act, which should go into effect "within the next two years". FCS Minister Carmel Robichaud introduced the amendments on March 27, 2007 -- it's the first change to New Brunswick's adoption laws since 1980.

The other proposed initiatives would permit open adoptions and give legal parent status to both members of a common-law couple.

Open adoptions
The government will make provision in the law for open adoptions, which until now have not been legally recognized, though common enough in practice. Open adoptions, which encourage contact between birth and adoptive families, would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Joint common-law adoptions
The amended act would allow common law couples and same-sex couples to jointly adopt children, giving them the same rights as married couples when adopting children. Currently when common-law couples adopt in New Brunswick, only one parent is considered the legal parent. That rule greatly restricts the legal rights of the partner, who, for instance, could not make many decisions concerning the child's education and health care.

"If something happens to that parent, the child has no inheritance rights. So this is really being done in the best interests of this child,'' said Joan Mix, director of Child Welfare and Youth Services.

When the new amendments are passed, both members of a common-law couple will become legal parents. According to the FCS "Questions and Answers", any common law couple regardless of sexual orientation can apply to adopt a child now.

Private adoptions
The minister also announced that in private adoptions the amended law would reduce to 30 days (from six months) the time period during which birth parents can revoke their consent to an adoption. (In private adoptions in New Brunswick, birth parents place the child directly with someone known to them.)

For more information, see:

Adoption Legislative Amendments - Questions and Answers

New agencies to facilitate international adoption process in New Brunswick (07/03/27)

New legislation to allow open adoption in New Brunswick (07/03/27)

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Updated Apr. 30, 2007

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