Dawn Watters

Dawn Watters says the provincial government's new adoption website should help match adoptable children with prospective parents.

Hopeful adoptive parents can now search a B.C. government website to browse the pictures of children and teens waiting to be placed with a family.

The website, said to be the first of its kind in Canada, is designed to speed up the adoptive process and reduce bureaucracy.

The Adopt BC Kids website will provide prospective parents with information about a child’s age, ethnicity, personal interests, hobbies and any special needs they may have.

A child’s profile may also include a video message from the youngster, in which they describe the kind of home they’re hoping to find.

“I think this will really help with the matching process,” Dawn Watters, who is hoping to adopt a second child, said Monday at a press conference in Kelowna where the new website, gov.bc.ca/adoptbckids, was unveiled.

Teenagers waiting to be adopted will also be able to browse the profiles of families that are looking to bring children into their homes.

Such an interactive approach will help make adoptive teens “more engaged in their own journey,” said Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux.

Officials stressed secure sections of the website with detailed information about children can be used only by prospective parents who’ve already gone through in-depth interviews, home visits, and criminal record and personal reference checks.

“They have to go through the process of being approved before they are granted access to this area of the website,” Cadieux said.

At any given time, about 1,000 children and teens in B.C. are waiting to be adopted.

It can take a year-and-a-half for a prospective parent to go through the approval process and be matched with a child.

“Eighteen months is just too long to wait to meet their future child,” Cadieux said, adding expectations are the new website will shorten the adoption process considerably.

Over the past two years, 600 children and teens in B.C. have been placed with adoptive families, the highest number since 1996-97.

Prospective parents can also begin the adoption process on the website, submitting the required documents and filling out the application forms, instead of first requesting an in-person meeting with ministry staff.

This lets adoption workers spend more time focusing on subsequent interviews and conducting the home studies, officials say.

“(The new website) supports our belief that online and mobile technologies only improve adoption information, support and education,” Karen Madeiros of the Adoptive Family Association of BC is quoted as saying in a government-issued press release.

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