The Legal Stuff in Nova Scotia
From the birth mother's perspective:
1. Upon the birth of the child, the birth mother has a legislative "cooling off" period, which is 14 days. Therefore she cannot sign any documents placing the child in the Agency's (Children & Family Services – Adoption Services) care until after this time has expired. Immediately after the 14 days is up, arrangements are made for a lawyer to meet with the birth mother for purposes of signing several documents, one of which is the Adoption Agreement whereby the birth mother assigns her parental rights to the Agency for a period of one year, subject to the placement of the child.
2. Her parental rights are terminated if the baby is placed with prospective adopting parent(s). If the baby is not placed within the year and has rather remained in foster care, at the conclusion of the one year, the birth mother can receive the child back into her care unless she signs another adoption agreement with the Agency.
3. If the baby is placed within the one year term of the Adoption Agreement, the birth mother's parental rights are terminated. This is set out in the adoption agreement
From the adopting parents' perspective:
1. Shortly after the birth mother signs the Adoption Agreement, etc. the baby is placed with the adopting parent(s) by the social worker from the Agency. At the time that the child is brought to the adopting parent(s), they sign a Notice of Intention to Adopt – which is then immediately sent to the Minister of Community Services – Adoption Services. Because the child must be in the care of the adopting parent(s) for a legislated 6 months period, the 6 months commences on the date of the Notice of Intention to Adopt is signed.
2. The Minister of Community Services – Adoption Services then sends the adoptive parent(s) an Acknowledgement of Notice of Intention to Adopt and the child is then in the care of the adopting parent(s)for a period of 6 months, although the Agency still has the "parental rights" to the child. During these 6 months a social worker checks in with the parent(s) and the child both in person and via telephone.
3. At the end of the 6 month period, the Agency social worker makes the legislated 6 month home visit, and if all is well, prepares a Report and Recommendation to the Minister of Community Services – Adoption Services advising (if such is the case) that the adoption proceed and that the Minister consent to the adoption.
4. If the Minister is satisfied, the Minister then prepares a Consent and a package which includes the child's original birth certificate, all documents signed by the birth mother, and Consent to the adoption by the department to the lawyer acting on behalf of the adopting parent(s).
5. The lawyer for the adopting parent(s) then prepares an Application for Adoption, Affidavit in support thereto, solicitor's affidavit attaching the documents received from the department, and a draft Order.
6. The documents are then filed with the Court approximately 45 days in advance of the court date and once the documents have been filed, a copy of all the documents is then sent to the Department of Community Services/Children & Family Services Agency.
7. Sometime within that 30 days, a Recommendation to the Court is received by the lawyer from the Agency which indicates that they have received a copy of all the courtdocuments and that they are recommending that the Court grant the adoption.
With an adoption where the birth mother hand picks the prospective adopting parent(s), the birth mother should make contact with the Agency as soon as she has determined that she will give the baby up for adoption and to notify them of her choice of the prospective adopting parent(s). If the adopting parent(s) have not been approved by the Agency, they need to do so immediately as this process takes several months and they need to be approved prior to the birth of the baby. Usually the birth mother signs a form with the Agency indicating the name of the parent(s) that she wishes the baby to be adopted by.
In most cases, the Agency often tries to facilitate the adoption by the "chosen" adopting parent(s) provided that they meet all the conditions as required by the Agency.
The date of the Court hearing is the date that the Judge signs the Court Order and it is on this date that the child legally becomes the child of the adopting parent(s) with the resulting name change, which is part of the Order. Within 48 hours of the Order being signed, a copy goes directly from the Prothonotary's Office (court office) to the Department of Vital Statistics, who then amends the child's birth particulars and sends a letter (to the lawyer) asking if the parent(s) wish to order a new birth certificate. Steps are then taken by the lawyer to get a birth certificate which usually takes 4-8 weeks after the Order has been granted by the Court.
Disclaimer: the information on this site is not to be used to replace legal counsel or professional advice. To the best of our ability, we offer it as what our legal advisors have told us. We advise you to check with your legal counsel before proceeding.