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A snapshot of international adoption in Canada Add to ...

Costly gambit

How much does it cost?

An international adoption can now cost about $45,000, say experts. How that breaks down:


Travel costs to the sending country

An airline ticket to China, for instance, costs about $1,900. And a modest hotel room in Beijing will cost $100 (U.S.) a night for a two-to-three-week stay.


Fees paid to the sending country, including court costs and fees paid to the child’s orphanage after a match is made.


Fees paid in Canada

In addition to agency fees for handling the case, couples have to hire a social worker to do a home study, at $2,000 a couple. A program designed to ease an adopted child’s transition, known as “Parenting Resources for Information, Development & Education (PRIDE)” training, also costs $2,000 a couple.

- Sources Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Peter Selem of Newcastle University, UK, Hague Special Commission of 2010, Tarah Brookfield of Wilfrid Laurier University, Family Helper, (familyhelper.net), Cathy Murphy of The Children’s Bridge, Ottawa.

Adoption through the years

Post-Second-World-War - The beginning of an idea

As the war ends, Canadian interest in helping refugee children is piqued, although much adoption is still limited to relatives of French, Belgian and German children. Canadian Jewish groups arrange for 1000 Jewish children to come to Canada and be placed in foster care.

1960s - The first Chinese adoptions

As part of its commitment to honour the United Nations’ World Refugee Year in 1960, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker paves the way for 24 orphaned Chinese children to come to Canada from Hong Kong in 1965.

Late 1960s and 1970s - Spotlight on Asia

Concern for Chinese and Vietnamese children rises. The narrative is about saving children from the Communists. Two Canadian mothers start the first agencies in Ontario and Quebec to arrange adoptions. In 1975 U.S. President Gerald Ford arranges Operation Baby Lift, a mass airlift of children out of Vietnam.

1977 - Ottawa gets involved

The federal Adoption Desk is created within the department of external affairs as a clearing centre for international adoption

1980s, early 1990s - The rescue narrative ends, the scope widens

A growing number of sending countries emerge in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia: Guatemala, India, Russia, Haiti, Romania, Jamaica, Peru and the Philippines.

Late 1990s onward - China dominates

Chinese adoptions reach a peak of about 900 cases in 1998. This wave is due, in part, to a high availability of infants. In 2007, although restrictions to adoption have increased, 655 of Canada’s 1,710 international adoptions were Chinese.

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