The Adoption of Children who are Wards of the Government


The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

This topic will discuss the petition for adoption of a child who is a ward of the government.

A child is a ward of the government if the child is under a Permanent Guardianship Order of the Alberta Children’s Services.

If you wish to adopt a child who has been placed with the Alberta Children’s Services, contact your local Children’s Services office. You must be a resident of Alberta and be an adult to apply for adoption. Once contacted, the Children’s Services will send you an application kit in the mail and you will be asked to attend an orientation session. You will also be required to go through a criminal record check and a child protection registry. A home study is also done by the department. The home study involves a series of interviews with you at your home by a social worker. The social worker explores your motivation and reasons why you want to adopt a child. You are also questioned on whether you appreciate and accept the serious responsibilities of raising an adopted child. Once the home study is completed and you are approved, you are placed on the official waiting list for adoptions. The Children’s Services will attempt to arrange the placement of the child with adoptive parents according to the child’s special needs, culture, religion, age, education, and financial needs.

At the adoption hearing, the Judge reviews all the documentation for the adoption. The Judge must be satisfied that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. If the Judge is satisfied, a Court Order will be issued allowing the adoption. The child’s surname will be changed to the adopting parent’s surname and the given name of the child can be changed upon request. If the child is 12 years and over, the child must consent to the changing of their given name.

After the Adoption Order is granted the adopting parents become the legal parents as if the child was born to them and the child is legitimised. The biological parents become legal strangers to the child. The Department of Vital Statistics issues a new birth certificate for the child showing the adoptive parents as the mother and father of the child. If the adoption was through the government their records will be sealed.

Where an Adoption Order was made on or after January 1, 2005, an adopted person who is 18 years or older or a biological parent of an adoptive person may make a written request for personal information in the Orders, registrations and any other information in the sealed documents concerning the adoption. Information will not be released to a biological parent of an adopted person until that adopted person reaches the age of 18 years and 6 months. The adopted person and the parent of an adopted person can register a contact preference with the Minister which sets out the persons preferences concerning contact.