Adoptions are the best part of our practice. Adoptions are one of the few truly happy things that family lawyers get to do.
We are able to assist with two types of adoptions – direct placement adoptions or step-parent adoptions. These are both private adoptions where a person with guardianship of a child voluntarily gives that child up for adoption to another person or persons.
Who can adopt a child?
To adopt a child in Alberta you must:
- be at least 18 years of age;
- be a resident of Alberta or have been a resident of Alberta when you received custody of the child; and
- be financially and domestically stable.
Who can be adopted?
Anyone can be adopted as long as the necessary and relevant people consent to the adoption. In Alberta, the person being adopted must be either a Canadian citizen or must be lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence.
Who must agree to the adoption?
An adoption order must not be made without the consent of:
- all of the guardians of the child(ren);
- if the person applying for the adoption order is the sole guardian, then all former guardians of the child(ren);
- the chid(ren) if the child(ren) are 12 years of age or older.
The consent of the guardians must be made using the proper forms. The proper consent forms can be downloaded here. The consent forms should be executed with a lawyer who should provide the consenting party with independent legal advice.
If the child(ren) needs to provide consent, then the child(ren) will need independent legal advice. This can typically be done by the same lawyer who is drafting and completing the adoption application.
If consent is given outside of Alberta, as long as the form of consent is valid in that other jurisdiction, it will be accepted in Alberta.
What happens after a guardian gives his or her consent to the adoption?
Once a guardian consents to the adoption in the proper form, the adopting parent immediately becomes a joint guardian of the child along with the guardian who gave the consent to the adoption.
When the adoption order is granted the joint guardianship stops and the parent adopting the child becomes the sole guardian of the child.
Generally speaking, when a party consents to an adoption, the child is placed in the care of the adopting parent. This continues until the adoption application is completed or the child is returned to the care of the people putting the child up for adoption.
What is guardianship?
Guardianship is major decision making with respect to a child. Once the consent forms are signed, the adopting parents become guardians of the child along with the current guardian(s) of the child. This means that the adopting parents get to make major decisions about the child even though they have not adopted the child yet – they become guardians at the beginning of the application instead of just at the end.
The point of this is because adoptions take time. This is a band-aid solution to allow the adopting parents to have the child in their care immediately after the child is born or placed with them. It allows the adopting parents to become parents.
Guardianship is a bundle of rights. None, some, or all of the following powers can be given to a guardian:
- to make day‑to‑day decisions affecting the child, including having the day‑to‑day care and control of the child and supervising the child’s daily activities;
- to decide or change the child’s place of residence;
- to make decisions about the child’s education and participation in extracurricular school activities;
- to make decisions regarding the child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage;
- to decide with whom the child lives and associates with;
- to decide whether the child should work and, if so, the nature and extent of the work, for whom the work is to be done and related matters;
- to consent to medical, dental and other health‑related treatment;
- to grant or refuse consent where consent of a parent or guardian is required by law in any application, approval, action, proceeding or other matter;
- to receive and respond to any notice that a parent or guardian is entitled or required by law to receive;
- to appoint a person to act on behalf of the guardian in an emergency situation or where the guardian is temporarily absent because of illness or any other reason;
- to receive from third parties health, education or other information that may significantly affect the child;
- to exercise any other powers reasonably necessary to carry out the responsibilities of guardianship.
Can the guardian or other parent revoke his or her consent?
A person who has consented to an adoption has 10 days after he or she gave their consent to revoke their consent. A person may only revoke his or her consent by giving notice of the revocation to the Director of Child’s Services in writing. The Director then notifies the person who has the child in his or her care that there is no longer consent to the adoption. The child at issue is then returned to the guardian who placed the child with the adopting parent or to the adoption agency that arranged for the adoption.
What goes into an application for adoption?
An Application for Adoption consists of the following documents:
- The Adoption Order
- The Affidavit of Applicant(s)
- The consent to adoption by the guardians or former guardians
- Family and Medical History of the Child
- The results of a criminal record check for the Applicant
- If the child is indigenous a cultural connection plan
Other documents may be required depending on the specific circumstances of your adoption. We can assist you with determining whether or not additional documents need to be submitted with your application.
What is the cost of a private adoption?
The Court charges a $250 filing fee for an adoption application. You will also need to serve the guardians of the child and the director. Usually a process server charges between $50 and $150 to serve a person, depending on the distance and the number of attempts.
We charge $2,000 plus GST and disbursements to complete a typical adoption. We generally require a $2,750 retainer to be paid into trust prior to acting for you. If there are any irregularities the flat rate may vary, but this is rare.
Why Demas Schaefer for your Adoption?
Being adopted himself, Sean Schaefer takes a special interest in adoptions. He has first hand insight into the impacts of adoptions on both children and parents. Sean has appeared as an expert on Alberta Adoptions in the district court in Houston, Texas.
We pride ourselves are making the adoption process as painless as possible. We have been involved on both sides of the adoption process and are known to the Courts. We are able to help you through this happy and exciting time in your life.
Finding a child to adopt
As an Alberta law firm, we are only available to assist with Alberta adoption applications for private or step-parent adoptions. We are not able to assist in finding or locating a child to be adopted. If you are looking for a child to adopt the following are some resources available to you:
Adoption documents to get you started
We have prepared a number of basic adoption documents that will assist you in getting your adoption application package together. Feel free to use these, but we recommend speaking with one of our adoption experts in order to assist you in this process.