Family lawyers are often asked how the BC adoption process works and what legal effect adoption has on the adoptive parents, the adopted child, and the biological parents. The purpose of today’s post is to review some key information about the process and legal ramifications of a BC adoption.
BC Adoption Act sets out the process and rules for adoption
In BC, the Adoption Act sets out the rules that guide the parties, the courts, and adoption lawyers through the adoption process. The primary purpose of the Adoption Act is to provide for new and permanent family ties through adoption, giving paramount consideration in every respect to the child's best interests.
Determining if an adoption is in the best interests of the child
BC’s Adoption Act requires that all relevant factors be considered in determining whether an adoption is in a child's best interests. Factors to be considered in determining the best interests of the child include but are not limited to the following:
the child's safety;
the child's physical and emotional needs and level of development;
the importance of continuity in the child's care;
the importance to the child's development of having a positive relationship with a parent and a secure place as a member of a family;
the quality of the relationship the child has with a parent or other individual and the effect of maintaining that relationship;
the child's cultural, racial, linguistic and religious heritage;
the child's views;
the effect on the child if there is delay in making a decision.
It is also important to note that if the child is an aboriginal child, BC’s Adoption Act requires that the importance of preserving the child's cultural identity also be considered in determining whether an adoption is in the child's best interests.
Process for BC child adoption
There are a few different types of adoption. Adoption can be by a relative or stepparent with the consent of the natural parent (also known as “relative adoption”) or adoption can be by a stranger through an adoption agency (also known as a “direct placement”). The process for each type will involve filing court forms and drafting documents including applications, affidavits, and the proposed adoption order itself. Typically, an adoption lawyer drafts this paperwork and files it with the court as this ensures compliance with all legal requirements and can speed up the process by reducing the chance of the application being rejected due errors or missing information. The process will also depend on whether the application is opposed or unopposed, and whether all required consents have been obtained. To discuss the process and time lines that you can expect based on your unique circumstances, contact Valerie at her law office, Valerie M. Little Law Corporation, at 604-526-3333 to schedule a consultation.
Legal effect of adoption in BC
An adoption order has significant legal effects. BC’s Adoption Act sets out the consequences and meaning of an adoption in section 37.
When an adoption order is made, an adoptive parent becomes the parent of the child and the child becomes the child of the adoptive parent. The birth parent or parents cease to have any parental rights or obligations with respect to the child . The exception is the case where a birth parent remains a parent jointly with the new adoptive parent. At law, the adoptive parent or parents are the only parents of the child and as such have all the rights and obligations of a natural parent. Conversely, the biological parent will no longer have rights or input with respect to how the child is raised and will no longer have legal obligations with respect to the child. For example, a birth parent who was paying child support will no longer have a duty to pay ongoing child support once an adoption order has been made.
Additional legal considerations
There are many other legal considerations for adoptive parents. For example, an adopted child is entitled to the same inheritance rights as a biological child. As such, an adoptive parent will need to consider his or her will and estate plan and revise a pre-existing Will. An adoptive parent will also need to plan for an alternate caregiver so that if something happens to the adoptive parent, the adopted child will have a named guardian. Estate and alternative caregiver planning are just two of the legal considerations; it is essential that a prospective adoptive parent understands the full legal implications of adoption. To schedule a consultation with a family lawyer at Valerie M. Little Law Corporation, call us today at 604-526-3333.
Guidance from an experienced adoption lawyer
The above discussion was intended to shed some light on some of the key considerations regarding adoption in BC. If you have specific questions about the legal ramifications of adoption or need more information about the adoption process, please contact a family lawyer at Valerie M. Little Law Corporation. Call us at 604-526-3333 to schedule a consultation. If you are ready to adopt, Valerie M. Little can help you navigate your adoption through the court system by preparing the necessary paperwork and appearing in court to get any orders required to facilitate the final adoption order. Valerie has nearly 30 years of experience as a BC family lawyer and is ready to assist you in legally formalizing the latest member(s) to your new family.