How difficult is it to adopt a child in Nova Scotia?
1,300 Nova Scotia children in foster care
Pam and Adam Webber had a dream of adopting a child from Russia, but the Halifax couple's plan was thwarted by that country's decision to suspend Canadian adoptions.
It was a bitter blow, considering their decision to opt for the international route came after failed fertility treatments and a three and a half year wait to adopt within Nova Scotia.
After they took their story public to CBC News, many people questioned why they weren't trying to adopt in Nova Scotia.
In fact, the Webbers were told that because they wanted to adopt a child under the age of five, they could be on a waiting list for up to eight years.
Janet Nearing is the acting director of Nova Scotia's Department of Community Services, which oversees both the provincial and international adoption process. She agrees the wait is lengthy for young children.
"Last year we placed 16 infants and that would actually be kind of a high number for us," she said. "It's often less than 10."
Nearing said the wait is shorter if families are willing to adopt children more than eight years old, siblings in groups of three or more, or children with significant special needs.
If a family is African Nova Scotian or bi-racial, Nearing said their wait may also be shorter because many of the children in the department's care are African Nova Scotian and officials wants to ensure their cultural heritage is maintained.
There are currently 1,300 children in foster care. Of them, 424 have a temporary status and cannot be adopted — the department is still trying to reunite them with their biological families.
Last year, 122 children in Nova Scotia were adopted.
There are now 130 families approved and waiting for a referral with more than 400 others still taking training or being assessed.
Nearing said there are no restrictions based on age or marital status. Only those who have been convicted of child abuse or have a health condition that would prevent them from taking care of a child would be considered ineligible.
As for international adoption, only 17 Nova Scotia families registered to go that route last year. That's down from more than 100 in 2006. Nearing said that's due to the changing rules by countries such as China.
"Other countries have either closed their doors or imposed new restrictions or criteria that have made it quite difficult for families to proceed," she said.