Intercountry adoptions are very complexbecause they must follow laws set out by:

· provincial and territorial governments

· the Government of Canada, and

· the country of adoption.

We make sure that immigration orcitizenship requirementshave been met before granting permanent status to an adoptive child. For moreinformation on the process, read about CIC’s role

Be cautious– adopting a child from overseas can be complicated

Sometimes, prospective parents try tospeed up the process by taking matters into their own hands. Although the vastmajority of adoptions progress smoothly, adoptive parents should use cautionthroughout the process.

You should contact the government ofthe province or territory you live in to obtain the most up-to-date informationabout the adoption process, and to ensure that the adoption meets all theirrequirements.

To avoid unnecessary expense anddisappointment, adoptive parents should not plan to return to Canada with theadopted child until they know for certain that all immigration or citizenshiprequirements have been met.

Don’t letthis happen to you

The following stories are based on real experiences ofintercountry adoptions. They are meant to demonstrate some of the problems thatcan arise in the process. These types of situations may be avoided bycontacting your province or territory of residence to obtain the mostup-to-date information about the adoption process.


The families described are not real. The names arefictitious and the stories may combine details from several adoption cases.

Pierre andMaria’s story

Like many couples who decide to adopt,Pierre and Maria had been trying to conceive for several years.

They began the process of adopting achild overseas and were told they could be matched with a child in two years.But Pierre and Maria did not want to wait any longer to have a child, as theyhad already experienced such a long, frustrating and emotional journey.

A friend who worked in a hospitaloverseas told them about a baby who was abandoned by his mother and offered tohelp the couple adopt him. She assured Pierre and Maria that she had manycontacts in the local government and could help them with the paperwork.

Pierre and Maria decided to bring theabandoned child to Canada in order to adopt him in their province. Over thenext several months, they received pictures of the baby, furnished his room,and bought him clothing and toys. Pierre filled out many forms, including theCIC forms to sponsor the child for permanent residence in Canada, and hisfriend helped with the paperwork on the child’s end.

Once they thought all of the paperworkwas in order, Pierre and Maria scheduled the next flight to the country wherethe baby was. The long-awaited moment to meet the boy had arrived, and theirdream of having a family was about to come true.

Meanwhile at the local Canadian visa office,Janine, a visa officer had been working on the couple’s adoption file. AlthoughPierre and Maria had submitted what they thought was the necessary documents,Janine had serious concerns about the child’s history.

When Pierre and Maria arrived at thevisa office with the child in tow, expecting to get a visa within days, Janinehad to inform the couple of the visa refusal. She explained that without theproper documents, there was no way of proving that the child was legallyavailable for adoption. She had no choice but to deny their application.

Stunned, disappointed and angry, Pierreand Maria returned home childless.

Stefan andNicole’s story

Stefan and Nicole had been researchingadoption agencies online for several months before selecting one that promisedquick and efficient intercountry adoptions. Unbeknownst to Stefan and Nicole,many cases handled by their chosen agency were under investigation.

Stefan and Nicole eagerly proceededwith the adoption process and provided the agency with the necessary documents.Soon after, the agency informed the couple that they had been matched with alittle girl. The agency mailed pictures to Stefan and Nicole, who were ecstaticto share their good news with family and friends. A few months later they receivedan update from the agency on the status of the adoption and they booked thenext flight to meet the little girl and pick up her visa.

Upon arrival, Stefan and Nicole couldnot wait to meet the little girl and bring her back home with them to Canada. Theyarrived at the Canadian visa office, expecting to receive a valid visa for thechild. The couple was completely shocked when the visa officer told them thatthe visa had not been approved.

The officer explained that the adoptionfile had been poorly prepared, the documents submitted were poorly translatedand there were gaps in the information provided, which caused concern as to thecircumstances surrounding the legality of the adoption. Devastated by thisnews, Stefan and Nicole were informed that they would have to re-submit certaindocuments through the host country’s judicial or adoption system. They werealso informed that the process could take another few months. The officer wouldalso need to investigate.

In order to avoid further disappointmentand expense, the visa officer suggested that Stefan and Nicole wait to hearnews from the visa office that all requirements were met before returning forthe visa.

After months of having waited for theirlittle girl, Stefan and Nicole returned to Canada without her.

Seven months later, Stefan and Nicolereceived the news they had been waiting for. Their little girl’s visa wasready. They booked the next flight and were finally able to meet her. From thatpoint the process went smoothly, and a week later Stefan and Nicole were backin Canada with their new daughter.

Elena andBrian’s story

Elena and Brian had been keen onadopting a child from within their province. They had started the preliminarywork for the application process when they came across an adoption agencyspecializing in intercountry adoptions, which promised faster adoption times.Hopeful and eager to start their family, Elena and Brian turned to intercountryadoption.

The agency soon matched Elena and Brianwith a two-year-old girl and assured them a quick and simple process. They weretold that they could expect to bring the little girl home in less than sixmonths. Excited by this news, Elena and Brian spent the next months completingthe necessary home study, gathering the required documents, finalizing thefinancial commitments, and getting their house ready in time for the child’sarrival.

A week before the flight to go meet thechild, Elena and Brian contacted the Canadian visa office to ensure the paperwork was complete. They were then told that the file was not ready and that itwas under investigation.

The visa office told them that therewere concerns with the accuracy of the information provided on the birthcertificate as well as serious concerns about how the child had come to beavailable for adoption, and that they were looking into the possibility ofchild trafficking. The visa office explained that in cases of potential childtrafficking, additional verifications must be done to ensure the best interestsof the child are respected.

Under the impression that the child hadbeen abandoned as an infant, Elena and Brian were shocked by the news that thismay not be the case. They later found out that many other adoptions from thatparticular country were also being held up or suspended because of fraud andchild trafficking concerns.

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