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As in other Western countries, the numbers of in-country infants that are adopted has declined in Canada and some researchers say that Canadians are as likely to adopt a child from another country as a nonrelative child from within Canada. Canadian adoption rules are determined by the province, and Canadians should call their provincial contact for further information. In addition, there are many adoptive parent groups throughout Canada.

According to the 1999 edition of Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption, Canadians adopted 1,800 children from other countries in 1997. The largest number of adoptions occurred in Quebec (698) and Ontario (660). China was the country from where most children (519) originated, followed by 232 children adopted from India. Canadians also adopted children from Russia, Haiti, Romania, Jamaica, the United States, Guatemala, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Research on Adjustment of Intercountry Adopted Children

An intriguing study of Canadian adolescents and young adults who were adopted from other countries was reported by researchers Anne Westhues and Joyce Cohen in a 1998 issue of Children and Youth Services Review. Westhues and Cohen interviewed 155 adolescents and young adults who grew up in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia and also interviewed their adoptive parents. Their findings were very positive and were comparable to other research on children adopted transracially. For example, the children's responses reflected a strong sense of family. About 90 percent agreed with the statement "I enjoy family life," while nearly 90 percent disagreed with the statement, "Most families are happier than ours." Nearly 93 percent agreed with the statement "If I am in trouble I know my parents will stick by me."

The researchers also looked at peer acceptance and self-esteem and again found positive results. In looking at ethnicity, adopted adolescents and adults were asked to choose between three statements: "I am proud to be (child's identified race and ethnicity)"; "I do not mind being what race and ethnicity I am;" and "I would prefer to be a different race or ethnicity." About 46% said they were proud of their race; about 48% said they did not mind it; and 6% wished they were another race.

These findings were somewhat different from the findings of Rita Simon and Howard Altstein in their transracial adoption studies in 1987. In that study, 78 percent of their respondents said they were proud; 17 percent didn't mind; and 11 percent wished they were of a different race. "While fewer in our Canadian sample said that they were proud of their race and ethnicity, fewer also said that they would like to be different," said the Canadian researchers.

One disappointing finding was that the majority of adopted individuals had experienced racial or ethnic slurs and had felt bullied, stared at, discriminated against or stereotyped, which was higher than the 39 percent reported in Simon and Altstein's study.

Other Canadian experts have extensively researched children adopted from other countries, concentrating on developmental and medical progress. (See also INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION, EASTERN EUROPEAN ADOPTION, ROMANIA.)

One useful publication for Canadians is Adoption Helper, 185 Panaromic Drive, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6B 6E3, Canada. Tel: (705) 945-1170.

Anne Westhues and Joyce S. Cohen, "The Adjustment of Intercountry Adoptees in Canada," Children and Youth Services Review 20, nos. 1-2 (1998): 115-134.

Find more information on Canada

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