Family Helper > Adoption > All About Domestic Adoption

Waiting kids in Canada


By Robin Hilborn

First edition, 2004
$12 / ISBN 0-9733470-2-3


HILBORN: Q&A guide
MAY: Photolisting at CAS Ottawa
SCARTH: Straight talk on photolisting
FENTON: Following Ontario rules
CLUTE: N.B. Adoption Foundation
UMBACH: Canada's Waiting Children
WALLACE: What about our kids?
FLEGG: Aboriginal culture
McCREIGHT: Survive tough times
HILBORN: Q&A guide
BRENNAN: Finding Diana in seven months
SHINYEI: Interprovincial adoption

Alberta photolisting site
Manitoba native control
Singles go domestic
Adoption breakdown rates

How to order All About Domestic Adoption

No need to adopt internationally, say the experts -- children are available right here in Canada.

All About Domestic Adoption will help you make your adoption decision. The editor of Family Helper, Robin Hilborn, has assembled a group of Canadian experts to explore your two options for domestic adoption:

Public Adoption -- many children available -- often with special needs -- possibly long waits -- public agency matches a child with you -- no fees -- about 1,700 adoptions a year in Canada

Private Adoption -- newborns hard to find, but healthy -- could be a short time -- you locate a child, or a birthmother chooses you, through a private agency -- fees -- about 1,000 adoptions a year in Canada

For each option, read a Question-and-Answer summary by Robin Hilborn, followed by commentaries from adoption experts. They cover how to find a child on the Internet using photolisting web sites, and the special initiatives in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. Here are more highlights:
-- For families raising native children, tips on how to transmit aboriginal culture.
-- Debbie Brennan recounts the thrill of a private adoption accomplished in seven months.
-- Brenda McCreight offers "Ten Ways to Survive the Tough Times".

See below for some excerpts.

To order a copy, fill in this form and send with your cheque to: 220 Summerhill Rd., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada.

Please send me one copy of All About Domestic Adoption, No. 43 I enclose a $12 cheque to "Robin Hilborn"
  Street address:

Price in Canada is Can$12. In the U.S., US$12. Elsewhere, US$18.
Sorry, no credit cards (so no need to reveal your card number)
Robin Hilborn is publisher of the Family Helper series.

All About Domestic Adoption is also available (No. 43) at a discount ($9) when you order four or more titles from the Family Helper series. See the form at Family Helper, and choose the editions you'd like to order.


From "The Forgotten Children of Canada" by Robin Hilborn:

Introduction by Robin Hilborn, Editor, Family Helper

Many Canadian families adopt abroad -- 2,000 a year -- while the state cares for thousands of children in Canada.

The numbers are staggering:
  * Over 66,000 children in foster care.
  * About 22,000 are permanent wards.
  * Less than 1,700 of them are adopted annually.

Why do people seem to prefer overseas adoption? We often hear that families wanting to adopt are interested only in healthy infants, while crown wards tend to be older, often with special needs. Yet research has found that families will accept less than perfection.

Writing in Child and Youth Care Forum, April 2003 ( Carol Cumming Speirs of McGill University and three co-researchers found that in their sample of 119 families:
  * Almost 90% said they would adopt a child over three.
  * 85% would adopt a child of different racial origin.
  * 74% would adopt a child with minor developmental delays.

So families would be interested in adopting "hard-to-place" children. What's the problem, then?

In their article "Adoptable but Still in Limbo: The Forgotten Children in Canada" the researchers located the main barriers to adopting children in care. The barriers are right inside the agency system:
  * Lack of funding to pay adoption workers.
  * Adoptions given lower priority than protection work.
  * Poor collaboration between public and private agencies.
  * Differences in policies between agencies.
  * Inadequate post-adoption services and adoption subsidies.

Until these barriers are knocked down, thousands of Canadian children will stay forgotten.

From "Q-and-A Guide to Public Adoption" by Robin Hilborn

Are there many "waiting" children?
In Canada there are over 66,000 children in the care of child welfare organizations. About 22,000 of them (8,000 in Ontario) have parents whose parental rights have been terminated by the courts -- their legal parent is the government, but they have no permanent home and live in foster care or small institutions until they are of legal age. They are Crown wards and won't be returning to their birth families. Every year only about 1,700 children in the public system are adopted. The rest are still waiting for permanent families.

Where do the children in public adoption come from?
Most children available for adoption in the public system are wards of the Crown. They came into the care of the state because their parents could not properly care for them, perhaps neglecting them or subjecting them to abuse. Most have been in foster care for a long time; their primary emotional bond is with their foster family. They tend to be moved every couple of years, from one foster home to another, and suffer emotionally from these multiple foster placements.

Robin continues with questions like:
  * How old are they?
  * Are they healthy?
  * How long is the wait?
  * How do I start the process?
  * What is a homestudy?
  * How is a child found?

From "Ottawa CAS Prizes Photolistings" by Robin May

At any given time at the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa there are between 20 and 30 children waiting for a permanent family. Their ages range from newborn to teens. Some are sibling groups, some have special needs and challenges, some come from a mixed race heritage. What is true of each and every one is that they are endearing and lovable children who very much want a family of their own. Like all children, they need the security and sense of well-being that comes in knowing that your family will always be there for you -- no matter what.

How do we recruit adoptive families for these children? We've found photolistings to be very successful. The old adage "A picture is worth a thousands words" often rings true. Adoptive parents have commented numerous times that there was an immediate and strong connection when they saw, for example, that lopsided smile, or the freckles, or the sparkle in her eyes. ...

From "Following the Rules in Ontario" by Pat Fenton

Among the many calls we field at the Adoption Resource Centre of the Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO), a recurring theme is the restrictions on adoption in Ontario: "Is it true that the Ministry prevents international adoptions of children over age 3?" "Is it a secret that adoptions must be spaced 18 months apart?"

Well, rules like these aren't exactly secret, although they're hard to find on the Ministry of Children's Services web site, Anyone who attends one of our "How to Adopt" seminars learns about them. (To register for a seminar, held twice a month, call ACO at 416-482-0021 or e-mail And all practitioners are aware of these rules and certainly should be letting their clients know about them.

Below I discuss a number of rules facing Ontario residents. Note that these are Ministry policies, not laws or regulations. MCS can modify their application in special situations. ...

From "Absorbing Aboriginal Culture" by Mirika Flegg

With Aboriginal children making up 40% of the children in foster care in Canada, and few Aboriginal homes where they can be placed, there has been an increased push to incorporate native culture into the homes of foster/adoptive families. Cultural education of our children is an integral part of the family tradition: a way to pass down customs and embrace our history. ...

Culture inclusion is made simple when children are placed in homes reflecting their own heritage. However this isn't always possible. When a child is placed outside her culture, we need to pay special attention to ensure she keeps in touch with her roots. How can you, as a family, absorb a culture you haven't been raised in? Here are some tips. ...

From "Ten Ways to Survive the Tough Times" by Brenda McCreight

... our children start off in our families with some real issues. The hardest for many is that they have to do all their learning about how to be a child and how to belong to a family in their growing up years, instead of in infancy when they were supposed to. That means the adoptive family is going to go through stages where the "tough" part overwhelms the "rewards" part.

So, what are some simple strategies to help you hang in there till the rewarding times start to overtake the tough times? (Yes, they will.) Well, after being a therapist for 22 years, and an adoptive parent for 24 years, here's what I think it comes down to:
1. Focus on changing yourself, not the child. He is just who he is, tantrums, lying, and all. You are the functional, intelligent adult, and you have the ability to learn new ways of parenting. Once you have done that, he will be able to learn new ways of being a child.
2. Live your life as if the problems (remember, I said the problems, not the child) didn't exist. Don't focus every day, and every decision, on Junior. Because, as we all know, Junior is going to come out of this just fine eventually, and there is no point putting your life on a shelf for two years, or getting divorced, while he sets a new standard for "attitude".
3. Get enough sleep at least four times a week. If you have to, take shifts, or once in a while hire a babysitter while you nap. ...

From "Finding Diana: a Private Adoption in Seven Months" by Debbie Brennan

... we now had a 1-800 number activated that was used exclusively for adoption calls. In the beginning, each time its distinctive ring filled my heart with hope, and subsequently lead nowhere, I would keep telling myself to be patient. We were fortunate to have a lively six-year-old to remind us of our blessings. Then on April 29, as Daniel and I were about to leave for a birthday party, we heard the ring. By this time, I had trained my adrenalin to stay put at the sound, for fear of a cardiac. But I realized, after hearing the voice on the other end, that the party would have to wait.

It was a woman telling me about her young daughter who was pregnant and considering adoption for her baby. ...

How to order All About Domestic Adoption


In 1995 Adoption Helper received an Ontario Adoption Award from the Adoption Council of Ontario, "in recognition of its outstanding contribution to the adoption community of Ontario."

In 1997 Jennifer Smart, editor of Post-adoption Helper, received an Ontario Adoption Award from the Adoption Council of Ontario for her work on behalf of adoption causes.

In 2001 Robin Hilborn received an Adoption Activist Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children for "dedicated work in making adoption information more accessible and providing materials for post-adoptive support".

Robin Hilborn edited and published Adoption Helper, helping people adopt since 1990. He also published Post-adoption Helper. Both publications are now united in Family Helper.

Infertility Adoption Adoption Resource Central Post-adoption Family Tree
Contact: Robin Hilborn,
220 Summerhill Rd., Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
Copyright 2009 Robin Hilborn. All rights reserved
Updated   Apr. 13, 2009

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