Irregular adoptions – Adoption fraud
Intercountry adoptions are very complex because 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 or citizenship requirements have been met before granting permanent status to an adoptive child. For more information on the process, read about our role.
Be cautious – adopting a child from overseas can be complicated
Sometimes, prospective parents try to speed up the process by taking matters into their own hands. Although the vast majority of adoptions progress smoothly, adoptive parents should use caution throughout the process.
You should contact the government of the province or territory you live in to obtain the most up-to-date information about the adoption process, and to ensure that the adoption meets all their requirements.
To avoid unnecessary expense and disappointment, adoptive parents should not plan to return to Canada with the adopted child until they know for certain that all immigration or citizenship requirements have been met.
Don’t let this happen to you
The following stories are based on real experiences of intercountry adoptions. They are meant to demonstrate some of the problems that can arise in the process. These types of situations may be avoided by contacting your province or territory of residence to obtain the most up-to-date information about the adoption process.
The families described are not real. The names are fictitious and the stories may combine details from several adoption cases.
Pierre and Maria’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 a child 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 they had already experienced such a long, frustrating and emotional journey.
A friend who worked in a hospital overseas told them about a baby who was abandoned by his mother and offered to help the couple adopt him. She assured Pierre and Maria that she had many contacts in the local government and could help them with the paperwork.
Pierre and Maria decided to bring the abandoned child to Canada in order to adopt him in their province. Over the next several months, they received pictures of the baby, furnished his room, and bought him clothing and toys. Pierre filled out many forms, including the forms to sponsor the child for permanent residence in Canada, and his friend helped with the paperwork on the child’s end.
Once they thought all of the paperwork was in order, Pierre and Maria scheduled the next flight to the country where the baby was. The long-awaited moment to meet the boy had arrived, and their dream 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. Although Pierre 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 the visa office with the child in tow, expecting to get a visa within days, Janine had to inform the couple of the visa refusal. She explained that without the proper documents, there was no way of proving that the child was legally available for adoption. She had no choice but to deny their application.
Stunned, disappointed and angry, Pierre and Maria returned home childless.
Stefan and Nicole’s story
Stefan and Nicole had been researching adoption agencies online for several months before selecting one that promised quick and efficient intercountry adoptions. Unbeknownst to Stefan and Nicole, many cases handled by their chosen agency were under investigation.
Stefan and Nicole eagerly proceeded with the adoption process and provided the agency with the necessary documents. Soon after, the agency informed the couple that they had been matched with a little girl. The agency mailed pictures to Stefan and Nicole, who were ecstatic to share their good news with family and friends. A few months later they received an update from the agency on the status of the adoption and they booked the next flight to meet the little girl and pick up her visa.
Upon arrival, Stefan and Nicole could not wait to meet the little girl and bring her back home with them to Canada. They arrived at the Canadian visa office, expecting to receive a valid visa for the child. The couple was completely shocked when the visa officer told them that the visa had not been approved.
The officer explained that the adoption file had been poorly prepared, the documents submitted were poorly translated and there were gaps in the information provided, which caused concern as to the circumstances surrounding the legality of the adoption. Devastated by this news, Stefan and Nicole were informed that they would have to re-submit certain documents through the host country’s judicial or adoption system. They were also informed that the process could take another few months. The officer would also need to investigate.
In order to avoid further disappointment and expense, the visa officer suggested that Stefan and Nicole wait to hear news from the visa office that all requirements were met before returning for the visa.
After months of having waited for their little girl, Stefan and Nicole returned to Canada without her.
Seven months later, Stefan and Nicole received the news they had been waiting for. Their little girl’s visa was ready. They booked the next flight and were finally able to meet her. From that point the process went smoothly, and a week later Stefan and Nicole were back in Canada with their new daughter.
Elena and Brian’s story
Elena and Brian had been keen on adopting a child from within their province. They had started the preliminary work for the application process when they came across an adoption agency specializing in intercountry adoptions, which promised faster adoption times. Hopeful and eager to start their family, Elena and Brian turned to intercountry adoption.
The agency soon matched Elena and Brian with a two-year-old girl and assured them a quick and simple process. They were told that they could expect to bring the little girl home in less than six months. Excited by this news, Elena and Brian spent the next months completing the necessary home study, gathering the required documents, finalizing the financial commitments, and getting their house ready in time for the child’s arrival.
A week before the flight to go meet the child, Elena and Brian contacted the Canadian visa office to ensure the paper work was complete. They were then told that the file was not ready and that it was under investigation.
The visa office told them that there were concerns with the accuracy of the information provided on the birth certificate as well as serious concerns about how the child had come to be available for adoption, and that they were looking into the possibility of child trafficking. The visa office explained that in cases of potential child trafficking, additional verifications must be done to ensure the best interests of the child are respected.
Under the impression that the child had been abandoned as an infant, Elena and Brian were shocked by the news that this may not be the case. They later found out that many other adoptions from that particular country were also being held up or suspended because of fraud and child trafficking concerns.
Top questions about fraud and scams
- What happens if I owe IRCC money? Will you call to ask for unpaid fees?
- Will you ask me for personal information over the phone?
- Do you accept prepaid credit cards, Western Union, or Money Gram to pay my fees?
- If I have not paid fees, will you have me arrested or deported?
- I received threats from someone who says they are from the immigration department. Is it a scam?
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