Choosing a Family

parents and child hikingWhat a huge responsibility it is to choose parents for your child.  And how will you know that the parents you choose will be the right parents for your child!

Over the 30 years that I have worked in adoption, I have found that expectant parents are the best predictors of who will be the best parents for their child.  No one but you has more invested in your child.  When meeting hopeful adoptive parents, you will be able to pick out things about these hopeful adoptive parents that many may miss. Have confidence in yourself. 


Before you have the opportunity to review the adoptive parents' information, the adoptive parents have had to jump through many hoops before they are considered adoption ready.

The first step in becoming adoption ready is to have an assessment completed by a licensed adoption practitioner.  This assessment is called a homestudy.  The adoption practitioner investigates all aspects of the adoptive parents' lives.  This includes information about thier health, marriage, family relationships, work, leisure activities, and much more.

If the practitioner finds that the adoptive parents are ready and able to parent, have shown themselves to be sensitive to the needs of adoptees and birthparents, the practitioner recommends them to be approved as adoptive parents.  This process usually involves 5 to 6 interviews and collecting police checks, medicals, financial statements and references.

But to become adoption ready, the adoptive parents must do much more.  They have to attend an adoption education program called PRIDE.  This involves approximately 27 hours of adoption education.

Once the PRIDE program and the homestudy are completed, the adoptive parents are considered adoption ready.

Now the adoptive parents have to decide which adoption road they want to follow.  Do they want to adopt a child through The Children's Aid Society, a child from a foreign country or a newborn through a private adoption licensee or agency in Ontario?

I am a private adoption licensee, licensed by the province of Ontario, to place children for adoption.  Any adoptive parent that wants to adopt a child through ARCS must attend the ARCS' workshop, "The Intricacies of Open Adoption Relationships".  After attending this workshop, they then must meet with me for an in depth interview.  I want to make sure that they genuinely want and know how to have an open adoption relationship with a birthmother, birthfather and other members of the child's family.  Therefore, the couples that you review have already been thoroughly screened. 


At ARCS, we provide you with the opportunity to see all the couples on our waiting list.

Look at their pictures. Look at their brief bios. You will also be able to look at their BIRTHPARENT LETTERS. These letters contain info about their likes and dislikes. They contain info about a defining moment in their lives- a time in their lives when they were challenged. This will give you a peek into their values. Pick the couples that interest you the most. 

You will then be provided with an opportunity to view their adoption profiles. All of the couples have spent hours and hours developing a profile of themselves.  These profiles contain a multitude of pictures and in depth information about various aspects of their lives.


Viewing written information and seeing pictures of a couple often are not enough.  You may need to meet a few couples in person before you make a final choice.  When I hire people to work at ARCS, I have never hired anybody just by looking at their resume.  As I am going to have a working relationship with this person, I interview them. You may want to do the same.

If you find the prospect of interviewing several couples overwhelming, interview the couple that interests you the most. If this interview goes well, you don't need to go further. If not, interview another couple.


You may wonder how you would go about interviewing several couples.  Have you heard of speed dating?  At ARCS, we have speed adoption.  This is a process where you think of 3-5 questions that you would like to ask the couples.  An ARCS' adoption worker will be with you at these brief interviews.  With you in the room, the adoption worker asks each couple your questions.  You have a chance to watch their reaction and listen to their answers.  If you want them to clarify their answers, you certainly are encouraged to ask them more questions.  Usually these brief interviews are 15 minutes in length.  There is usually a 10-15 minute break between interviews and then you meet another couple. 


Adoption workers will ask you what characteristics you would want your child’s adoptive parents to have.  This is a huge question.  Usually birth parents want couples that have a secure relationship, that are financially secure and that really are ready and want to parent a child.  But there are other things that you might want to consider:

  1. Education - is it important that they have a college or a university education or have a marketable skill?
  2. Religion - do you want the couple to have a specific religion or would you rather have a couple that are not involved with a church or religious affiliation?
  3. Siblings - Would you want your child to be assured a sibling?  If so, you may want to consider adoptive parents who have already adopted or have had a biological child.  Or do you want this to be the couple’s 1st child?
  4. Interests - look at your interests.  Probably your child is going to have some of the interests you have or the baby’s father has.  Consider these interests and look for couples that may share interests that are the same as or similar to yours.
  5. Finances - Adoptive parents have to be financially secured in order to be approved as adoptive parents. However, their life styles may vary.
  6. Physical Appearance - Do you want the child to be placed with a family that looks similar to you or the child’s birth family members?
  7. Lifestyle - Is it important to you that the couple not smoke or be physically fit?  Some birth parents are vegetarians.  Is this important to you?
  8. Childcare plan - Adoptive parents are allowed a 37-week parental leave of absence.  Would this be sufficient or would you prefer a couple that could take a longer leave of absence or a couple where, perhaps, one of the parents could work part time or be a full time parent?
  9. Marital Relationship - Is it important that the couple is married or would you accept a couple that is common-law? Would you accept a same-sex couple?  Would you accept a single man or a woman?
  10. Languages - Is it important that the couple speak more than one language or speak the languages of Canada (English and French)
  11. Ethnic and Racial Background - Is it important for the couple to have a racial or ethnic background similar to you and the baby’s father?


Above all, it is important for you to look at what kind of relationship the adoptive parents hope to have with you and you hope to have with them.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. What kind of relationship do you want to have with the adoptive parents-friend, acquaintance, and extended family member? And what does that mean in terms of contact with them?
  2. Is it important for the couple to live in your area?   
  3. Some birth parents prefer a couple that would be considered liberal in their religious and political views.  Other birth parents prefer parents that would be more conservative in their lifestyle. 
  4. Discipline is often an issue that comes up with birth parents.  How a child is disciplined may be very important to you. 
  5. Extended family connections are also an issue that comes up with birth parents.  Is it important for your mother or your father to also be actively involved in the child’s life?  Are you seeking a couple where your parents will be welcomed as grandparents for this child? 

Look for couples that meet your criteria.  However, sometimes when you meet a couple, some of these items may become less important to you because you just know that this is the right couple.  Follow your intuition. And most importantly, believe in yourself when choosing parents for your child.