Sometimes children are not able to live with their biological families and are placed in the permanent care of Alberta Children’s Services. Some of these children become available for adoption placement. Children are matched for adoption with families who are trained and approved by Alberta Children’s Services.
These children all have special needs. The needs include:
- being part of a sibling group that needs to stay together
- children who are between 10 and 17 years of age
- background including prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol, physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse and neglect
- medical, physical, developmental, behavioural, learning or emotional problems
For more information, read:
- Alberta’s Waiting Children booklet,
- Applying to Adopt Information Sheet
- Requirements for Approval to Adopt Information Sheet
Adopt a child in government care
Learn more about the processes and timelines for adopting a child in permanent government care (PDF, 42 KB).
The time frame from application to approval for adoption can very from 3 to 12 months. The time frame from approval to placement cannot be predicted as matching is based on the child’s needs.
To adopt a child, you must:
- be an Alberta resident
- be at least 18 years old
- demonstrate financial and domestic stability
- be physically and mentally capable of parenting an adoptive child
Families identify a minimum number of special needs they are willing to consider parenting.
There are no costs to the applicant in applying, becoming approved, or being placed for adoption with a child who is in permanent government care.
You may need to pay to get supporting documentation, such as medical examinations, Criminal Record Checks or Vital Statistics documents (for example, a Marriage Certificate or Birth Certificate). These documents will not be returned if an Application for an Adoption Order is submitted to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
How to apply
Below are the steps you will complete for the application process. Each regional office has their own process in place, so please contact the intake office serving your area to confirm your next steps.
Step 1. Contact a local office
Contact your local Child and Family Services office or Delegated First Nation Agency to begin the adoption process. Or you can contact [email protected] to find out who the adoption intake worker is for your community.
Step 2. Attend an information session / Decision Making
After contacting your regional adoption intake representative, you may be invited to an information session. At this session, you will learn:
- the adoption process and steps to approval
- a realistic understanding of the children available
- an explanation of the Criteria to Apply
- information about other options for adoption (licensed agency, private direct, or international) if you decide that government adoption is not for you
There are many things to consider if you are thinking about adopting a child in government care.
- Adoptive families must identify a minimum number of special needs they are willing to consider, including:
- developmental delays
- behavioural/emotional issues
- learning disability/special education
- For a complete list of the special needs that must be considered, see the Alberta’s Waiting Children booklet, the Applying to Adopt Information Sheet and the Special Needs Definitions Sheet (PDF, 3 MB).
- Relatives or families who have a significant pre-existing relationship with a child in the permanent care of Alberta Children’s Services, and reside in another province in Canada, will be considered when searching for a permanent placement.
- It is our policy to place children from Alberta with approved families in Alberta, in order for the children to maintain family and cultural connections, as well as those to friends, schools, and professional resources.
- Placement outside Alberta will only be considered if a child’s worker is unsuccessful in securing a suitable permanent placement in Alberta and the casework team agrees that it is in the child’s best interests to expand the search for options.
Meeting the child
- To protect the child from potential rejection and related issues, the matching and placement process involves meeting the child as a later step.
- The first step to meeting a child is having an official match made. This involves a child’s worker and a family’s worker agreeing that a match is appropriate, and then exploring it more fully with the approved adoptive family.
Birth family access after adoption
- In some cases, access between a child and their birth family has been terminated, and there is no expectation that access should or will occur after adoptive placement.
- In others, an adoptive family’s openness to maintaining birth family and cultural connections is an important consideration in matching them to a child.
- Alberta’s privacy legislation strictly protects personal information, and waiting children’s information can only be shared with specific people under specific circumstances.
- If you are interested in adopting a child from the Adoption website, your interest will be registered. If you become approved, and the child remains available for adoption matching, your interest can be further explored. It is at this time that you may be able to receive more information about a child.
Step 3. Complete the application package
If you remain committed to adopting a child in government care, you will get an application package.
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The package will include a variety of forms to be completed and submitted and will also identify documents you will need to provide. Documents required to support your application include:
- a completed application; Application to Provide Legal Permanency Non-Child Specific/General Match (PDF, 2.4 MB) You can also get this form from a Child and Family Services office or Delegated First Nation Agency.
- a Medical Reference form completed by your doctor
- 3 personal references, one of which should be from a family member
- a completed Criminal Record Check, including a vulnerable sector check, for every person aged 18 or older who resides in your home
- a completed Intervention Record Check for every person aged 18 or older who resides in your home
- a copy of your birth certificate(s)
- an original or notarized copy of your marriage certificate, if applicable
- divorce documents, if applicable
- death certificate of a former spouse, if applicable
- change of name certificate, if applicable
Step 4. Orientation to Caregiver Training
Training must be completed before a home study will be reviewed for approval.
The training is intended to provide a basic understanding of some of the issues and needs affecting a significant proportion of the children available for adoption. It is also provided to build capacity in prospective adoptive parents, and to help them identify the kinds of special needs they are willing and able to handle.
Step 5. Get a Home Study Report done
Once training is completed, all documentation has been reviewed, and the decision is made to proceed with your home study, a caseworker or a contracted home study practitioner will be assigned to complete your home study report. The intent of the assessment is to gain insight into a family’s overall functioning, capacities, expectations of adoptive parenting, and suitability for adoption.
The home study process takes place in your home and involves several interviews with the family, including:
- joint interviews with the applicants
- individual interviews with the applicants
- individual interviews with others who reside or are frequently in the home, including children and other adults
- interviews with references by telephone or in person, as necessary
- any other collateral contacts deemed necessary, undertaken with your written consent
Interviews and any additional assessment activities are done to ensure that the family is able to offer a safe, capable, and stable home to a child placed for adoption with them. Areas that are carefully examined and assessed include:
- family history
- marital relationship and/or relationship history
- communication and problem-solving abilities
- home environment/safety
- parenting skills
- experience with special needs
- discipline views and strategies
- employment history
- financial stability
At the conclusion of the home study process, a recommendation will be made to either approve or not approve a family.
Step 6. Wait for a placement
If approved, your family will be assigned an adoption worker. The adoption worker will also support your family through the matching, adjustment and transition period after placement and will be responsible for activities relating to adoption finalization.
Once approved, you are encouraged to take an active role in your adoption journey. You can do this by:
- taking additional training
- doing research
- attending adoption events
- connecting with your worker
- looking at adoption profiles
When a case team finds a placement
When a case team has selected your family as a match for that child, and wishes to explore placement of that child with you, a process of full information disclosure is undertaken. The child’s functioning, history, and needs are shared. You may also meet with people and professionals who know the child, such as foster parents, teachers, doctors, and even birth family members. This allows you to decide if they feel ready and able to commit to being placed with the child, given the information they have been provided.
You will be able to access information about children through:
- Families who are involved in an adoption and require legal information can call toll-free to explain what they need and ask for a lawyer referral:
Connect with Alberta Adoption Services with questions or comments.