We’re here to help all families who are thinking about adoption as a way to create permanency for a waiting child or youth. Each step is in place to make sure waiting children and youth are placed in safe, stable homes where they can grow and thrive. An open heart and mind, and a healthy dose of patience are what will make the adoption process the most rewarding.

Happy family of three on the floor in front of a couch. Mom and dad hold a cardboard hut over their heads, creating a playhouse. Toddler daughter sits between them, and their dog is also present.

Deciding your path

Estimated time: At your pace

The first step to adopting is deciding how you’d like to adopt. We offer lots of information on different adoption paths, so have a look around our website and browse the links below to start your research. 

Did you know? You can pursue two or more adoption paths at a time.


The Belonging Network offers one-on-one support tailored to your situation. Reach out to us by calling  604-320-7330 or emailing us at info@belongingnetwork.com.

Apply to adopt

Estimated time: Two to three months 

Child holding a paper and pointing to "Apply now."

Once you’ve decided, you need to  apply with the representatives that oversee the type of adoption you’d like to pursue.

If you’d like to adopt a child or youth from foster care, you’ll apply online through the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). For all other types of adoption, you’ll either apply with one of BC’s two licensed adoption agencies, or hire a lawyer to help you apply to the courts.

During this time, the adoption representative will review your application, check your criminal history, and complete what’s called a “prior contact search.” This helps ensure all children are placed with families that are safe for them.

More reading:

Learning about adoption

Estimated time: Three to five months

Once your application is approved, many learning and training opportunities become available.

If you’re adopting from foster care you’ll need to take the Adoption Education Program Online (AEP-Online) which covers topics like parenting, adoption, and caring for children with extra support needs. This is different from the Belonging Network’s Adoption Basics course, which offers an overview of each type of adoption.

If you’re adopting through an agency, they will provide you with all required pre-adoption education.

This is also a great time to explore online information and support groups.

More reading:


Estimated time: Three months to a year, sometimes longer

Once you’ve completed your pre-adoption education, a social worker will schedule a series of visits called a homestudy. In a homestudy, a social worker interviews you and decides whether you and your family are ready to adopt.

More reading:

Getting matched with a child

Estimated time: Three months to a year, sometimes longer

Mother and toddler's hands holding a paper with an illustration of a family of four.

Once the homestudy is complete, your adoption representative will review and discuss it with you. If everyone agrees you’re ready to adopt, your social worker will start searching for potential matches for you. This stage is also known as the “matching and proposal” stage. 

Matching with a child in foster care

You may read about children and youth who are waiting to be adopted and match your family’s criteria on the Adopt BC Kids online portal. Your social worker will send you potential matches as well. Wait times vary because social workers look for a family who can best support the child or youth in a secure and loving home where they can thrive. Adoption matches are made with the child in mind first rather than the family.

When you accept a match, you’ll receive a proposal package that helps you learn about the child’s health, history, and development. At this point, you are the only family being considered for this child. You can think through the proposal and ask for more information. 

Matching with a local infant

For local infant adoptions, you will need to create a profile for your adoption agency. This includes photos and a short description of your family, along with a “dear birth parent” letter. In local infant adoptions, birth parents choose the families they want to place their babies with, so the wait time can vary.

Matching with a child living in another country

International adoptions vary from country to country. Birth parents may be involved in choosing the adoptive family, such as in Japan or the United States. When this happens, the matching process looks quite similar to adopting a local infant in British Columbia. 

In other countries, governments are responsible for matching children waiting in orphanages or foster care. Prospective parents need to prepare what’s called a dossier, which includes information about you and your family. If your dossier is accepted, you may receive a proposal with some information about the child. 

Making the final call

Once you’re matched, you have a choice about whether or not to proceed with the adoption. You will have time to review the information you’re given about the child before making a decision to accept or decline the proposal. This is true for all types of adoption.

More reading:

Placement: Bringing your child home

Estimated time: Several weeks to six months

Mother and son with closed eyes touching noses.

Bringing home a child from foster care

Once you accept a proposal, the child (or sibling set) will transition from foster care to your home. Younger children may transition in a few days or weeks, while older children and teens may take several months. 

First, you’ll meet and plan the transition schedule with social workers in a Child’s Plan of Care meeting. The child or youth will often visit your home with their social worker during this period.

The day the child moves into your home marks the start of a six-month residency period. During this residency period, your social worker will support your family by staying connected through regular contact and post-placement visits.

Bringing home a local infant

A birth parent may only sign official paperwork consenting to their child’s adoption once the child is at least 10 days old. What happens next depends on the birth parent’s wishes. Your child may come home with you from the hospital right away or they may only be placed after spending some time at home with their birth parents.

The day your child moves home marks the start of the residency period, which lasts six months. During this time, your social worker will visit you and stay connected to support your family.

Bringing home a child living in another country

Once you accept a proposal, what happens next varies a lot from country to country. Your adoption agency can explain how things work in the country you’re adopting a child from. Be prepared to visit the child or even spend some time living in the country before you finalize the adoption.

More reading:

Finalizing the adoption

Finalizing an adoption in BC

Estimated time: Six months, plus court processing time

Once the six-month residency period is over, your social worker should feel confident the placement works well for the child and the family. The social worker will file a post-placement report and ask the courts to finalize the adoption.

The courts will send you the final adoption papers once the judge approves it. Once you get the letter: congratulations! You are now a family in the eyes of the law.

Finalizing an international adoption

Typically, adoptions are finalized in the country where the child lives. You’ll need to apply for a passport and possibly a travel visa for your child. Once you’ve received local approval, Canadian approval, and all travel documents — you’re finally ready to start your new life back home.

More reading:

Starting a lifelong journey 

Gay couple playing with their child – one lifting the child above his head, the other playfully touching the child's toes.

Welcoming home your new child is just the first step in your lifelong journey together. The Belonging Network supports adoption and permanency families throughout their whole lives. There’s a vibrant adoption and permanency community both online and offline that you can count on to be there for you too.

More reading: