Adopting a child or youth in government care (commonly known as foster care) is the most common type of adoption in British Columbia. Every child needs a support system that makes them feel secure and loved. Most children and youth in government care are older, require extra support, and need to be kept with their siblings. There’s also a great need for Indigenous parents who can care for Indigenous children.

Adoptive parents come from a diverse range of ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Some adopt as single parents, some are same-sex couples, and others may be older adults.

Family of four smiling, mom holding young girl, dad and boy close.

Who are BC’s waiting children and youth?

Hundreds of children and youth join new families in BC each year through adoption and permanency arrangements. But up to 150 children and youth are still waiting in foster care to be adopted at any given time. 

They have extra support needs

Most of BC’s waiting children and youth are aged 5 to 18. Many need to stay with their siblings. Children and youth who enter foster care have often experienced loss and trauma, so they need loving parents with the skills, patience, and resources to help them flourish and thrive.

They may be Indigenous. 

More than half of the children and youth in foster care are Indigenous. Indigenous children are placed with Indigenous parents to grow up in a more culturally appropriate setting whenever possible. Prospective parents open to adopting an Indigenous child should plan to meet the child’s cultural, spiritual, and language needs.

They cannot return to their birth families.

When a child or youth in foster care becomes available for adoption, this means reuniting with their birth family is no longer in the child’s best interest. 

Understanding support needs

All waiting children and youth in foster care need extra support. What each child or youth needs from their adoptive family is unique. 

Prospective parents are encouraged to consider what special skills and experiences they have to adopt a child who needs extra support. You don’t have to know everything before you adopt a child with support needs. You do however have to be ready to learn, grow, and advocate for your child, and love and accept them no matter what.

Extra supports that a child or youth may need include:

  • Staying together with siblings
  • Parents who understand attachment styles and challenges 
  • Parents with trauma-informed parenting skills
  • Parents with special skills in parenting teens
  • A cultural match, such as a Métis family for a Métis child 
  • A home located near certain resources, such as medical specialists 

Parents may need to be prepared to support a child with a disability or a medical condition. Any diagnosis is possible, but some that are common among waiting children and youth include:

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Vision, hearing, or speech-related disabilities
  • Cognitive or learning disabilities
  • Anxiety, depression, and other mental health diagnoses

Adopting your foster child or youth

Adoption creates legal permanency for your foster child or youth , which can help them, and you, feel secure. Legal permanency means that your relationship is recognized by the law. As an adoptive parent, you will have full parental rights and responsibilities to the child or youth.

Foster parents adopting children and youth  already in their care also make up a big proportion of all adoptions in BC. When you adopt your foster child, you may be eligible for Post-Adoption Assistance (PAA) funding. 

Meet families who have successfully adopted→

At a glance: Adoption from foster care 

Adoption representativeAdoption from foster care is facilitated by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).
Typical age rangeMost children and youth are aged 5-18.
Eligibility criteria for prospective parentsYou need to be at least 19 years old and have lived in British Columbia for at least six months.
CostsNo cost or up to $95. 
Timeline1 to 3 years to be approved as a prospective parent. Wait times to be matched with a child and have an adoption finalized vary widely.
Access to social and medical history You will have access to the child’s detailed social and medical history before adopting.
Openness of adoptionDepends on the child’s needs. Some adoptions may be open with important connections like grandparents and previous foster parents.
Financial supportYou may be eligible for Post-Adoption Assistance (PAA). See current PAA rates.

Eight steps to adopting from foster care

Ready to open your heart and home to a new family member? Here’s what to expect when adopting a waiting child or youth in foster care. 

Smiling Asian family of four; mom holds young daughter, other daughter on dad's back.

1. Contact the Belonging Network (that’s us!)

The Belonging Network supports prospective parents at every stage of an adoption, including people interested in learning more. We are entrusted to support families by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), which looks after adoptions from foster care in British Columbia.

Get in touch with us today by emailing us at or calling 604-320-7330. We can help point you in the right direction.

2. Complete an adoption application

  1. Visit to learn more about adopting from foster care.
  2. Sign up for a Personal BCeID. If you have a co-applicant or a partner, they will need to sign up for their own BCeID.
  3. Next, activate your BCeID at a Service BC location in-person or online.
  4. Apply online on the Adopt BC kids portal using your BCeID login. If you have a co-applicant or a partner, each of you will need to submit an application.

3. Take the Adoption Education Program

Once your application has been approved, a social worker from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) will contact you and help you get set up to take the Adoption Education Program (AEP).

Prospective parents take this required online course to prepare for the realities of parenting and adoption and help you get ready to meet common support needs that many children and youth coming from foster care have. Expect to set aside five hours per week over 15 weeks to complete this course. 

4. Complete a homestudy

Once you’ve finished the AEP, the next step is to complete a homestudy. A social worker will contact you to prepare you and set up the first visit. A homestudy usually involves six to eight visits from a social worker over the course of several months.

They’re not just looking at the physical setup of your home, but also will interview you about your life, including your upbringing, family and current relationships, health, experience with children and youth, and approach to parenting.

5. Matching

When you’ve been approved after the homestudy, MCFD will start searching for matches. The results of your homestudy will be available for MCFD social workers to review through the Adopt BC Kids portal. 

You’ll also be able to use the online Adopt BC Kids portal to browse the profiles of waiting children and youth and flag profiles you like for your social worker. You may also receive invites to matching events, where you’ll get the chance to meet other families waiting to adopt and guardianship workers representing waiting children. 

Every time your social worker finds a possible match, they’ll contact you with some information about the child, youth, or sibling set. This is a great time to ask questions and reflect on whether this may be a good fit.

Some matches happen quickly. Others can take a long time. This is because MCFD is looking 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 needs of the child in mind first rather than the desires of prospective parents.

The waiting period is a good time to build your base of resources. You may use this time to develop a network of friends and family to support you once you bring your child home or learn how to meet specific placement needs.

6. Placement and transitioning the child into your home

When you accept a match, you’ll receive a proposal package with detailed information 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. 

Before accepting or declining the proposal, think carefully about how your family is set up to welcome and support the child based on all you’ve learned. Be sure to include everyone from your family in this discussion.

If you decline the proposal, you’ll return to the previous step (Matching) and wait for a different match.
If you accept, the child or youth will slowly transition from foster care to your home. Younger children may transition in a few 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.

7. Finalizing the adoption

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 with the courts to ask them to finalize the adoption.

Your social worker will notify you and send you the final adoption papers once the judge approves it. Once you get the call – congratulations! You are now a family in the eyes of the courts. 

8. A lifelong journey

Adoption doesn’t end with a legal rubber stamp. At this stage, many adoptive families turn to the Belonging Network for continual support. Our Permanency and Family Support team offers free, confidential one-on-one support to help your family grow and thrive, whether you’ve been an adoptive family for a month, a year, or a decade.

Adopting again

Adopting once often makes you a great candidate to adopt again. BC law requires you to wait at least a year before you may apply to adopt again, unless you’re adopting a sibling of your child. You may adopt your child’s sibling at any time.