AdoptionRead below for answers to frequently asked questions
My parents tell me that I am adopted. What does “adopted” mean?
If you are adopted, it means that even though your adoptive parent(s) did not give birth to you, they now have the right to make decisions about you, like where you live and what schools you go to.
When you are adopted, you are called “the adoptee”, and the relationship between you and your adoptive parents is just like any other child–parent relationship. Your birth certificate is changed and your adoptive parents are named as your parents. This means that it does not matter whether you were born to your parents or adopted by them. In the eyes of the law, you are considered their child as if they gave birth to you. They are your parents.
Why am I adopted?
The answer to this question can be very complicated and is unique for each family. For help with this question, you may wish to speak to someone at one of these agencies:
Alberta Children’s Services
11th Floor, Sterling Place
9940 – 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 2N2
Telephone: (780) 422-0178
Fax: (780) 427-2048
11th Floor, Sterling Place
9940 – 106 Street
Toll-free in Alberta 310-0000 then dial (780) 427-6387
Are there different kinds of adoption?
Yes. There are two different types of adoption in Alberta:
- Government adoptions can happen if the government arranges your adoption. Sometimes this happens because you are in the care of the government (a ward). The government seeks a family to adopt you.
- Private adoptions can happen if they are arranged through a licensed agency or directly by your birth parents. The birth parents usually choose the family that adopts you.
Can someone like my stepfather or grandma adopt me?
Yes. Step-parent adoption is common and happens when your mom or dad (one of your birth parents) marries or lives with another person who wants to become your parent.
Relative adoption means that you are adopted by a relative other than your birth mother or father, like a grandma or an aunt.
I have been living with my friend’s family for the last year. Can they adopt me?
Living with someone does not necessarily mean that they can adopt you. Anyone who takes care of you for six months can apply to the Court to be your guardian, which is different from adopting you. In some very rare and special cases, they may also apply to adopt you, but they would have to go through the same approval process as any other parents who want to adopt someone.
Do I decide who can adopt me?
If you are 12 years old or older, you have to agree to being adopted. If you are younger than 12 years old, adults don’t have to ask you whether you want to be adopted. If you don’t want to be adopted, it is important to tell what you think and feel to the adults involved or someone that you trust.
Who decides who can adopt me?
In government adoptions, social workers decide who your adoptive parents will be. In private adoptions, your birth parent(s) decide who will be the best adoptive parents for you.
How do I know if the adoptive parents will be good to me?
The government requires that anyone wanting to adopt you has to go through police and social services checks. A social worker will visit the home of the parent(s) that want to adopt you to see if they will be good parents and their home will be safe for you.
What about my brother or sister? Can we stay together?
In government adoptions, the government tries to keep brothers and sisters together if possible. If this is not possible, you will have to wait until each of you is 18 to search the Post Adoption Registry for information about each other. If you have more questions, please contact us by phone at 403-207-9029 or by clicking here.
In private adoptions, your birth parents choose your adoptive parents and whether to split brothers and sisters up, or, hopefully, find adoptive parents who want to adopt all of the children together.
Do I have to go to Court to be adopted?
No. For an adoption, children do not usually go to court. A judge does make the decision to finalize your adoption with a court order. It is possible to let the judge know what you think, especially if you are over the age of 12. If you have more questions, please contact us by phone at 403-207-9029 or by clicking here
What happens if my adoptive parents divorce after I am adopted?
A divorce does not change who your adoptive parents are. Under the law, they are still your parents and you are still their child. Your adoptive parents will have to work out who will take care of you and how you will continue to have a relationship with both of them. You will not be sent back to your birth parents.
***If you want more information about what happens when your parents separate or divorce, see the custody and access section***
What if my adoptive parents die? Do I go back to live with my birth parents?
No. When you are adopted your legal ties to your birth parents end. Your adoptive parents may have already decided who will take care of you if they die. A judge makes the final decision about what happens to you. This does not mean that you have to go to court.
Can I get to know or meet or see my birth parent(s)?
This depends on whether your adoption was an open adoption. If yes, you may be able to meet or know them right away. If the adoption was closed, you will have to wait until you are 18 to get information about your adoption.
What is an “open adoption”?
Open adoption does not have a legal definition and it means different things to different people. Open adoption usually means that information about your birth parents and your adoptive parents was already shared before the adoption was completed. Open adoption can also include some continued relationship with your birth parent(s). Either private adoptions or government adoptions can be open adoptions.
What if my sister/brother and I are adopted by different families? Will I be able to find out what happens to her/him?
In a government adoption, if you were adopted before January 1, 2005, you will have to wait until you are both 18 years old to find out each other’s adoption information. The Court keeps adoption records secret.
In a private adoption, your adoptive parents may have information about your brothers or sisters. If the adoptive parents know this information, they will decide if you will see each other as you grow up.
When I turn 18, how do I find out who my birth parents are?
This will depend on when you were adopted.
If you were adopted before January 1, 2005, the Court seals or keeps closed all of your records until you are 18 years old. Once you are 18, you can go to the Alberta Post Adoption Registry (run by the government) to apply for the information in your records. This includes the names of your birth parents and other birth family members if available. If you are 16 years old and living on your own you can apply for the information early. You can ask that your telephone number be added to the records in case anyone is trying to find you.
Adoptions done after January 1, 2005 are part of a new open records system that allows open access to all the adoption information. This new system acknowledges the importance of a child’s right to know their origins. Your adoption records will be given to you and you can add your contact information to your file so other members of your birth family can find you.
Can my birth parents or brothers or sisters find out about me?
Your birth parent(s) or any brother(s) and/or sister(s) can go to the Post Adoption Registry after you are 18.
What if I don’t want to be found by my birth parents, or if they don’t want me to find them?
This depends on when you were adopted. If you were adopted before January 1, 2005, you or your birth parents can ask the Post Adoption Registry to keep the information about them secret so that no one can find them. This is called a “veto”. Once you turn 18, you have 6 months to decide if you want to place a veto on your information. If you don’t place a veto after 6 months, the registry will then share your information.
You can change your mind anytime and either add or remove a veto. In some very rare cases your adoptive parents can ask to have the records remain secret but only if it would hurt you. This usually happens in cases where you do not know you were an adopted child. If you are 16 years old and living on your own, you can place a veto on your information with the Post Adoption Registry.
If you were adopted after January 1, 2005, when you turn 18, both you and your birth family can register information, like your address and telephone number, if you want to be contacted. You can also say that you do not want to be contacted.
What is “Assisted Reproduction?”
Assisted Reproduction occurs when a woman becomes pregnant without having sex with a man. Some parents have had health problems that prevent them from getting pregnant. Some single people want to have children even if they have no partner. Some parents who are gay or lesbian want children and need some help to make that dream come true. The people described above can go to special medical clinics for help. One of the ways they can get help is to get sperm donations or egg donations to help them get pregnant and give birth to a child.
In a situation of assisted reproduction, is the donor my legal mother or father?
Your donor has provided the eggs or sperm for your parents to conceive you. Many donors want to help people like your parents without becoming a parent themselves. Anonymous (“secret”) donors are not the legal parents of a child. This makes it easier for the non-biological parents to adopt the child and become the child’s parent by law. The parents who raise you are your legal parents, and more importantly, they are the people who care for and love you every day.
What is a “donor” in assisted reproduction? Who is a donor?
A donor is a man who agrees to give his sperm or a woman who agrees to give her eggs to help people who need help to have a baby. Usually they do not know who the sperm and egg donors are. In many cases, the donor wanted to help families have children without becoming parents themselves. You will likely never meet your donor, unless both you and your donor want to meet.
Legal Authorities : Section 18, Assisted Human Reproduction Act, S.C. 2004, c. 2
Does the donor in assisted reproduction have to pay child support?
Anonymous (“secret”) donors are not legally parents and do not have to support you. Donors whose names are known when you are born may be found to be legal parents and have some responsibilities to you.
- Kelly D. Jordan, “Assisted Reproductive Technology Class — Six Questions Answered” (2008) 28 C.F.L.Q. at 71.
- H.(D.W.) v. R.(D.J.), 2007 ABCA 57