Adoption is a legal process that establishes new parent-child relationships – the adopted child becomes the legal child of the adoptive parents and is no longer the legal child of his or her birth parents.
It is against the law for anyone to pressure you about, force you into, or pay you for, adopting your child. It is important to remember that while you are still in hospital after the birth of your baby, you are the legal parent(s) of your child and you have the same rights as any other parents. The hospital staff cannot keep your baby from you, nor can they allow the possible adoptive parents to see your baby without your permission.
The best way to get information about adoption is to call Adoption Services. They can give you information about your choices and next steps. You will not be pressured to choose adoption. See More Info
In all adoptions, the first consideration is the best interests of the child. If an individual or a couple has applied to adopt, they are carefully assessed to make sure they are capable and will make good parents for the child. Some birth parents play a part in selecting the family for the child. The baby is placed in an adoptive family for a period of time and an adoption social worker is involved during this time to make sure the child is well cared for and the new family relationships are positive. This trial period is called a “placement”. After the placement, there is a court hearing to finalize the adoption and grant the Adoption Order. This usually takes place about six months after the baby moves in with the adoptive parents. After the Adoption Order is granted by the Court, there are no further checks on the new family. They are then treated as any other family in PEI.
Adoptions may take many forms:
- adoption by relatives of either birthparent;
- adoption of a child who has been made a permanent ward after a child protection hearing;
- adoption by a step-parent;
- adoption by non-relative.
You can arrange for your child to be adopted several ways:
- through an agreement with the Director of Child Protection under the Adoption Act;
- through a licensed private adoption agent;
- through a permit issued directly to birth parents by the Director of Child Protection (for relative adoptions only).
The method you use depends on the type of adoption that is taking place. Each is slightly different.
The law says that you, as birth parents, must receive counselling before signing any forms allowing the adoption. The law also states that your decision must be made with:
- clear information;
- full awareness of the implications (you must know what adoption means);
- careful consideration;
- the benefit of knowledgeable guidance.
The person who acts as your counsellor is a social worker trained in adoption. He or she must:
- be certain that you are not being forced or pressured to choose adoption;
- be sure that you have looked at all the options and understand what adoption means;
- provide you with psychological support;
- witness the signing of the Consent to Placement or the Voluntary Temporary Care Agreement.
If you have made a plan of adoption through Family and Human Services, you sign a Voluntary Temporary Care Agreement in hospital after your baby is born. Fourteen days after the birth, you sign an Agreement for Permanent Custody and Guardianship for Purposes of Adoption. You can change your mind within 14 days after signing this Agreement.
If you have made a plan of adoption through a licensed adoption agent or through a permit issued by the Director of Child Protection, you must sign the Consent to Placement after the baby is born before the adoptive parents can receive the baby. With this form you give permission to place your baby in the home of potential adoptive parents. The Consent to Adoption forms give permission to adopt your baby and are signed 14 days after the birth of your baby. You can change your mind within 14 days of signing the Consent to Adoption.
Birth parents are encouraged to get legal advice before signing any of the forms.
If you are unsure about your decision or don’t feel ready to sign papers, a waiting period can be requested. You can ask to have your baby placed in a temporary foster home while you give more thought to the issue and make a decision. You can also make private arrangements for your baby’s care while you make up your mind. It is important to realize that these arrangements can become complicated if a clear plan is not made in a reasonable period of time. This issue needs to be discussed carefully with your social worker.
Efforts are made to ensure that both birth parents agree with the plan of adoption for their child. Sometimes it is possible to get the court to say that permission of both birth parents is not required, and this is granted in some circumstances. It is important to recognize that both birth parents have rights and may choose to exercise them, so counseling is provided, and permission sought from both birth parents for the plan of adoption to proceed.
The law in PEI allows adoptions to be open or closed. In a closed adoption, there is no ongoing exchange of information or contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. In an open adoption, some degree of ongoing contact and exchange of information is agreed to by the birth parents and the adoptive parents. This can be a formal or informal agreement. If you wish to consider an agreement for open adoption, you need to discuss this with your social worker or licensed adoption agent. It is more complicated, and everyone needs to be comfortable with the terms of the agreement. Some adoptive parents are willing to agree to this, and some are not.