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B.C. calls for external review into international adoption

Every international adoption in British Columbia is provided through an adoption agency — the external review will probe how adoption agencies are licensed and monitored, as well as how international adoptions are carried out.
International adoption has dropped in recent years as countries aim to keep children within their own borders.

The B.C. government is calling for an external review to assess how inter-country adoptions are carried out.

With every international adoption in British Columbia provided through an adoption agency, the external review will also be tasked with probing how adoption agencies are licensed and monitored. 

“Over the past decade, international adoptions have decreased, as more countries are choosing to keep their children within their own borders and closer to their home culture,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Children and Family Development. 

At the moment, adoption agencies manage their own funding, metrics for success and operating decisions. When it comes to licensing, the provincial director of adoptions runs them through a three-year process consulting on complex cases, reviewing closed files and investigating complaints. 

The regulatory review, wrote the ministry spokesperson, “will explore the ministry’s oversight of independent adoption agencies in B.C.”

B.C.’s adoption process has received widespread scrutiny in recent years after multiple studies and media reports revealed Indigenous youth are highly overrepresented in B.C.’s child welfare system. 

The Minister of Children and Family Development said it was “committed to exploring traditional practices like custom adoption” for Indigenous children and youth, according to a 2019 update on adoption from B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth.

Of the nearly 2,600 adoption placements in B.C. in 2019, 56 per cent were Indigenous children and youth. Those numbers come as First Nations work to reassume jurisdiction over family and child services and work to keep adopted children within their communities. 

Charlesworth also noted in her report that ministry staff have described an increase in the frequency and complexity of special needs among children and youth in the province’s adoption process.

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