Beginnings Family Services

Frequently Asked Questions

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Beginnings FAQs
When was Beginnings Family Services (BFS) established?

BFS was incorporated in 1984 and opened its doors in 1985.

Why was BFS created?

A group of concerned Christians met in 1981 to discuss the difficulties faced by women with unplanned pregnancies and thereafter recognized the need for a Christian counselling and adoption service. Thus, Beginnings was incorporated in 1984 and opened its doors in 1985. To this day, Beginnings continues to provide services with Christian values, but respects the rights of those we serve whose beliefs are different.

What is the BFS mission?

In the conviction that life is a gift from God, Beginnings mission is to provide services related to pregnancy and adoption.

Where is the BFS head office located?

The BFS head office is located at:

1 Young Street
Suite 308
Hamilton, Ontario
L8N 1T8
Phone:  1 905 528 6665
Toll Free:  1 877 528 6665
Fax:  1 905 528 6589

How is BFS related to Beginnings Northumberland, Beginnings Guelph, Beginnings Hamilton and Beginnings Woodstock?

BFS has four local offices in Northumberland, Guelph, Hamilton and Woodstock.

Beginnings Hamilton Local Office is exclusively responsible for:

  • Education
  • Family support
  • Pregnancy counselling
  • Adoption services
  • Embryo Donation services
  • Infertility counselling services

Beginnings Northumberland, Guelph, Hamilton and Woodstock Local Offices are commonly responsible for:

  • Pregnancy testing and counselling
  • Parenting and family support programs
  • Care cupboard
  • Local governance, management, communication, administration
Is BFS a Canada Revenue Agency registered charity?

Yes, Beginnings is a non-profit agency, with registered charitable status (CCRA Charitable Reg. No. 11880 2388 RR0001)

Does BFS directly issue tax receipts to donors?

Yes, BFS directly issue tax receipts to donors from head office.

Are BFS finances audited?

Yes, BFS finances are subject to complete annual audits.

Is BFS a licensed adoption agency?

Beginnings is licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide adoption services in Ontario. Beyond Ontario, we can provide adoption services on a case by case basis in provinces and territories that have provision for private adoption.

What services are provided by BFS?

BFS services include:

  • Free pregnancy counselling
  • Education, prenatal and parenting programs
  • Infertility counselling
  • Open adoption services
  • Open embryo donation services
  • Interim foster care
  • Community referrals
  • Post adoption counselling
  • Reunion counselling
Are there restrictions based on age, gender, ethnic origin, religion or walk of life to being a BFS client?

No there are no BFS client restrictions based on on age, gender, ethnic origin, religion or walk of life.

How many infant adoptions has BFS processed since establishment?

BFS has placed over 300 children with adoptive families since establishment.

How many infant adoptions does BFS process on average per year?

On average BFS places 15 children with adoptive families each year.

How many prospective adoptive couples are on the BFS Infant Adoption Waiting List at any given time?

There are an estimated 75 prospective adoptive couples on the BFS Infant Adoption Waiting List at any given time.

How many embryo donation placements has BFS processed since establishment?

Given that the BFS Embryo Donation Program launched in April 2010, initial placements are currently being processed.

How many embryo donation placements does BFS process on average per year?

Given that the BFS Embryo Donation Program launched in April 2010, initial placements are currently being processed.

How many prospective recipient couples are on the BFS Embryo Donation Waiting List at any given time?

There will be an estimated 75 prospective recipient couples are on the BFS Embryo Donation Waiting List at any given time.

Does BFS charge fees for services provided?

Yes, BFS does charge fees for services provided consistent with the organization’s not-for-profit status.

Does BFS offer financial support to clients who cannot afford services provided?

Yes, BFS does offer financial support to clients who cannot afford services provided on a case by case basis.

How does the BFS report on past performance?

BFS past performance is recorded in a summary report including audited financial statements presented at the Annual General Meeting.

How does the Beginnings Family Services report on future plans?

The BFS future plans are recorded in a summary report including budgetary projections presented to the Board for approval.

Embryo Donation FAQs
What is in-vitro fertilization (IVF)?

IVF is a clinical procedure whereby fertilization is accomplished outside a woman’s body, and involves three basic steps:

  • Fertility drugs are used to stimulate the female’s egg production by the female’s ovaries
  • Eggs are retrieved from the female partner and mixed with sperm from the male partner
  • Fertilized eggs (embryos) are mixed with the sperm and transferred to the uterus.  Depending on the number of embryos produced, some may be frozen for later use.
What is a human embryo?

An embryo is a human organism during the first 56 days of its development following fertilization, excluding any time in which its development has been suspended.

What are the current options available to donor families for the management of surplus embryos?

Each year thousands of surplus embryos are created by couples pursuing IVF treatments across Canada. Currently in Canada, couples seeking to deal with these extra embryos have limited options that include:

  • Indefinite storage of the embryos
  • Destruction of the embryos
  • Donation of the embryos for medical research
  • Donation of the embryos to another couple
What is embryo donation?

Embryo donation involves the transfer of a human embryo from a donor couple to a recipient woman.

How does embryo donation differ from egg or sperm donation?

Unlike embryo donation, neither egg nor sperm (gamete) donation procedures result in the birth of a child.  Embryos are established entities which, given “appropriate conditions”, can lead to the birth of a child. According to Canadian law, embryos represent more than sperm and egg (gamete) but less than a living child because “appropriate conditions” are still required.

How does embryo donation differ from surrogacy?

Embryo donation is not surrogacy. In a surrogacy arrangement, an agreement is made for a woman to carry a pregnancy on behalf of the intended parents. The surrogate may or may not have any genetic link to the child she is carrying, but is considered the birth mother when a child is born.   With embryo donation, donors relinquish all rights to the embryo and resulting child prior to transfer. The recipient carries the embryo to term and becomes the delivered child’s birth mother. Surrogacy is regulated under the AHR Act (2004) and there can be no payment, or facilitating surrogacy arrangements.

How does embryo donation differ from infant adoption?

Embryo donation differs from infant adoption because:

  • Donation relates to the medical and legal transfer of tissue between patients.
  • Embryo donation involves a medical procedure to transfer genetic tissue (the embryo) created by 2 parties (the donors) to a recipient. If successful, a child is born to the recipient mother. Since she gives birth to the child, she is considered the birth mother and legal parent of the child.
  • Adoption is a process that involves the legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from the birth mother to the adopting couple. Consent for adoption cannot be given until after the birth of the child.
  • Canadian law accords a lesser legal status to embryos than that of children. Accordingly, the term “donation” therefore is used for the sake of clarity.

 

Does Beginnings promote the use of IVF as a way to create a family?

Beginnings neither promotes nor condones the use of IVF as a means of creating a family. Beginnings offers options to couples who have surplus embryos created as a result of IVF procedures.

Does Beginnings encourage the creation and freezing of embryos?

No. Beginnings does not encourage the use of a medical treatment to create embryos for this purpose. Beginnings is working to provide a life affirming alternative to the dilemma faced by the families with tens of thousands of embryos frozen in clinics across Canada.

Can recipients pursue successive pregnancies using embryos that remain?

Yes. If a pregnancy is achieved using one of the donated embryos and others still remain, they can be used at a later date in pursuit of future pregnancies.

Does Beginnings work at the outset with couples engaging in IVF treatments who want to pursue embryo donation?

The decision to donate embryos is typically made after individuals or couples have completed their own families and have surplus embryos remaining from their IVF treatment and not at the start of treatment. As part of our counselling services, Beginnings can assist individuals or couples making decisions about IVF treatment and any surplus embryos created and stored.

In the event of one partner’s death, can the remaining partner donate embryos to Beginnings for placement with suitable recipients?

If the remaining partner has the sole right to make decisions, and/or has a legal consent signed by the deceased partner, for the stored embryos and can provide the required medical history, then it may be possible to donate these embryos to recipients. It means there will only be one donor parent involved in the open relationship with the recipient couple.

Does Beginnings work with out of province embryo donors?

Yes. Beginnings can work with embryo donors in any province or territory across Canada.

Does Beginnings work with out of province embryo recipients?

Yes. Beginnings can work with embryo recipients in any province or territory across Canada.

Does Beginnings work with out of country embryo donors?

No. Beginnings works with embryo donors solely in any province or territory across Canada but if a Canadian donor has used an out of Country fertility clinic, the embryos could be brought to Canada.

Does Beginnings work with out-of-country embryo recipients?

No. Beginnings works solely with embryo recipients in Canada.

What does Open Embryo Donation involve?

Open embryo donation involves ongoing communication and contact between the donor parent(s) and the recipient(s), including the child. This can take the form of letters, emails, phone calls, and/or visits. The amount of contact is negotiated between the parties and varies from one situation to another. Beginnings believes openness is beneficial for a child as it allows him or her to maintain relationships with important people in his or her life; as he or she grows older, openness allows access to information about his or her origins and background and to any other siblings he or she may have.

What are the basic requirements of the embryo donors?

Embryo donors must:

  • Be a permanent resident or citizen of Canada
  • Disclose and provide background psycho social history, genetic and medical information in order to fully inform the recipients
  • Provide a profile and a photograph of themselves and their family
  • Provide a lab report on the embryos that they wish to donate
  • Participate in an Openness Agreement with the recipient family in respect to sharing identifying information, as well as ongoing contact
  • Sign Service Agreement with Beginnings and all related third party consents
  • Participate in consultation and counselling session(s) with Beginnings or agree to be referred to a trained and knowledgeable counsellor
Why do embryo donors need to complete a family profile?

Family profiles provide information to assist in the matching process. Profiles containing non-identifying information initially will be shared with recipient families to assure mutual compatibility. It is equally important that both donor and recipient families have common connections.

Can embryo donors opt for a closed process?

No. Beginnings provides only open embryo donation services, but there is a range of ongoing contact arrangements they can mutually agree to. We believe this will benefit children created by embryo donation.

What are the basic requirements of the embryo recipients?

An Embryo Recipient must:

  • Be a permanent resident / citizen of Canada
  • Secure independent legal consultation
  • Respect the donor’s wishes for the use of surplus embryos
  • Provide medical documentation that the recipient mother is medically in good health and capable of carrying a baby to term and agree that the recipient will carry the baby to term herself
  • Abide by the guidelines and policies of the partner fertility clinic
  • Agree to participate in an Openness Agreement with the donor family in respect to sharing identifying information, as well as ongoing contact
  • Sign a fee and service agreement with Beginnings and all related third party consents throughout the process
  • Have a consultation and counselling session(s) with Beginnings or referral to a trained and knowledgeable counselor
  • Provide a profile of themselves and their family
  • Travel to the donor family’s IVF Clinic or their own IVF clinic
  • Provide pregnancy outcome information to Beginnings
  • Accept that the choice of family is up to the embryo donors and not up to Beginnings
Why do embryo recipients need to complete a family profile?

Family profiles provide information for Beginnings to assist in the matching process. Initially, non-identifying information will be shared with recipient families to assure a mutual comfort with the interests, beliefs, and background. It is equally important that both donors and recipients have a common connection.

Can embryo recipients opt for an anonymous donation process?

No. Beginnings provides only open embryo donation services in the belief that this is in the best interest of the child(ren) created by embryo donation to have a relationship with their donor family members, although it is possible that the donors may have used anonymous egg and/or sperm.

Can Beginnings facilitate contact between embryo donors and recipients?

Yes. Beginnings will provide opportunities for donors and recipients to meet and will assist with creating a mutually satisfactory Openness Agreement  (contact agreement).  Beginnings also provides ongoing counselling services to donors, recipients and children born from embryo donation when they have questions or evolving contact needs in the future.

What are the steps involved in embryo donor and recipient matching?

The matching process is a mutual selection process. Donors will provide detailed information about the qualities, characteristics and circumstances of the recipients requested. Non-identifying background information about the donors will be shared. Ideally, donors will have several profiles to choose from. When the recipients’ profile is selected, full information will be disclosed to both parties. The donors and recipients have the opportunity to meet depending on the distance involved. Both donors and recipients work with Beginnings to develop a mutually agreeable contact agreement.

It is important to note that ultimately it is the donors who choose the recipients.

What are the criteria by which embryo recipients define their preferred donor?

Embryo recipients hope to have compatible characteristics with donors in categories such as age, length of relationship, existing children, income, work, child care plans, religion, race, culture, ethnicity, interests, health and degree of contact.

Can Beginnings select embryo recipients on behalf of embryo donors?

No. We encourage our donors and recipients to participate in the established process. Often donors start out not wishing to participate in such a selection process, but with education they come to understand the benefits to the child in later years.

Why is an Assessment required of embryo recipients?

It is a significant investment recipients are making to have a child from a third party donation. It is important to be fully informed about the issues a child will encounter and the implications for each of the involved parties and their extended families.  It also assures donors that the recipients they choose are prepared for an open relationship, and can provide a stable, caring environment for a future child. The Recipient Assessment also provides reassurance to the donors that recipients are healthy, have a stable relationship, are able to provide a safe, nurturing, environment, and well prepared for ongoing contact.

What is involved in a Recipient Assessment?

It is an education process to determine your understanding and readiness to parent a child conceived by embryo donation. The Recipient Assessment can typically take a few weeks to complete. It consists of documentation, education and interviews. Beginnings will provide this service to clients within our service regions or will provide a list of qualified professionals who can do this assessment in your area. If the recipients have already completed an adoption homestudy assessment, this can be used towards the recipient assessment requirements.

  1. Documentation: This includes; application, medicals, police checks, autobiographical information, questionnaires.
  2. Education: This is an important aspect of the Recipient Assessment. You will work with your counsellor to explore your attitudes about embryo donation and how to explain this to your child. Discussion will include motivation, risks and implications involved with the procedure, disclosure, and how to manage an open relationship with the donor family. You will be encouraged to view videos, read books, and speak with others, including families who have children, or adults created by third party technology. Beginnings will encourage you to learn more about embryo donation through the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center.
  3. Interviews: There will be at 1 or 2 interviews, possibly including a home visit, where possible. As a matter of course, all family members who reside in the home will be interviewed. The information will be shared with the Donors.
Can this Recipient Assessment report be used for a domestic adoption if Embryo Donation is unsuccessful?

This assessment can be a useful resource document for an adoption homestudy, but you will need to work with a private adoption practitioner or your local Children’s Aid worker to meet the requirements for a home study in your own province or territory.

How long does the embryo donation process take from registration to live birth?

This depends on the availability of embryos and if/when you are chosen by donors. There is no guarantee that a pregnancy and live birth will result from the donation of embryos.

Is there a way for embryo donors to expedite the process?

Only if you come to Beginnings with a donor/ recipient connection already made. Beginnings would proceed with the education, counselling and support services.

What are Beginnings embryo donor medical requirements?

As part of the application process a comprehensive standard health screen and medical will be required including confirmation of testing for any blood, infectious diseases or known genetic disorders. Likely, this information is currently on file in the fertility clinic.

Each clinic participating in this program will want to undertake their own evaluations to confirm that the recipient is able to carry a child to term and to assess any particular risk factors.

Where do recipients undergo embryo transfer procedure?

The embryo transfer can take place at a fertility clinic chosen by the recipient(s) providing the clinic will accept embryos created at a different clinic.

Can donated embryos be shipped to the recipient’s fertility clinic of choice?

Yes, embryos can be transferred from one clinic to another providing the clinic and laboratory agree to accept the embryos.

How many donated embryos are used in each recipient treatment cycle?

This is decided in consultation with the recipient and the fertility clinic staff on best practice guidelines. The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) medical guidelines recommend the maximum number of embryos for a physician to transfer to a recipient.  These guidelines take into account various factors such as the woman’s age, the quality of the embryos, and whether she has had previous pregnancies and/or unsuccessful cycles of treatment. There is usually an intention to avoid multiple pregnancies with the goal of one healthy child.   Most Canadian fertility clinics are likely to transfer only the minimum number at one time.

Can embryo recipients specify the preferred gender of an embryo?

No.  The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (2004) prohibits sex selection except for medical reasons.  Embryo recipients must contractually commit to accept the delivered child regardless of gender.

What is the likelihood of becoming pregnant with multiples?

Multiple births (twins, triplets or more) are generally seen as undesirable due to the higher level of risk for both mother and child. Multiples can result on rare occasions, however, such as when a single embryo “splits” after it is transferred.

If the embryo recipients become pregnant with multiples, can they selectively reduce the pregnancy?

This will become the decision of the recipient in consultation with her physician and the clinic involved in the embryo transfer procedure based on medical concerns of a specific situation. Consequences of multiples will be discussed within the counselling services provided by Beginnings.

What is the live birth success rate when frozen embryos are transferred?

Success rates for frozen embryo transfers are generally lower than the success rates for fresh embryo transfers, although enhanced freezing techniques are now closing this gap.

Success rates may depend on a number of factors including:

  • Quality of the eggs that are used to create the embryos which is highly dependent on the age of the female donor at the time she created the embryos
  • Quality of the embryos (grading) before freezing
  • Specific methods of embryo freezing and thawing
  • Success rates of a particular clinic
Can recipients pursue successive pregnancies using embryos that remain?

Yes. If a pregnancy is achieved using one of the donated embryos and others still remain, they can be used at a later date in pursuit of future pregnancies.

What happens to donated embryos left unused by a given recipient?

Consent regulations require that once the embryos have been formally accepted in writing by the recipients through the legal agreement, all further decisions about their use is made by the recipients.

What happens if pregnancy is not achieved and all embryos are used?

The recipient can return to Beginnings Embryo Donation program and hope to be chosen by a new donor.

Are embryo donors notified of the live birth outcomes from the recipient transfer attempts?

Based on our open model of donation, recipients will have the ability to remain in contact with their donors who will be pleased to share this information. Beginnings will keep statistics on file.

Who would wish to donate embryos through this program?

Individuals/couples who have undergone IVF treatment may generate embryos surplus to their requirements. These patients may seek alternatives to the current options of indefinite storage, destruction, or contribution of surplus embryos to medical research. Beginnings Embryo Donation Program offers an alternative to the anonymous donation model and the chance for future contact with the chosen recipients.

Does Beginnings require that donors have a minimum number of embryos to offer?

Yes, the donors must have at least two embryos to donate but those with only two embryos remaining may find that they have more difficulty being matched with a recipient.

Does Beginnings require that donated embryos be frozen no longer than a specific period?

No. Beginnings provides this information to the recipients and requires them to seek medical advice regarding the implications for the length of time the embryos have been frozen and the freezing techniques that were used at that time.

Does Beginnings work with embryo donors of various ethnic origins, religions or walks of life?

Beginnings facilitates embryo donation by working with individuals or couples of any ethnic origin, religion and/or walk of life who wish to donate surplus embryos produced through IVF.

Does Beginnings work with individuals or couples of any age who wish to donate embryos?

Beginnings facilitates embryo donation by working with individuals or couples of any age who have produced surplus embryos through IVF. Given the fact that older women have more genetic risk factors, where the female is over the age of 35, recipients will be advised to seek medical advice as to the level of genetic risk.

Does Beginnings work with couples in all provinces across Canada who wish to donate embryos?

Beginnings is a national family services provider and therefore facilitates embryo donation by working with donors and recipients anywhere in Canada.

Does Beginnings work with single women hoping to donate embryos?

Beginnings accepts embryos from donors who can attest to their genetic origins and who would be willing to be in an open relationship with the recipient family. Full information on the gamete donors will be requested.

Who would hope to receive donated embryos through this program?

Individuals or couples who have failed to conceive through IVF or those for whom treatment was not medically possible or genetically advisable to achieve pregnancy. There are many infertility diagnoses (such as premature menopause, poor egg quality, sterility as a result of cancer treatment, polycystic ovarian syndrome) where carrying a child to term via donated embryos is a viable alternative.

Why would an individual or couple choose embryo donation over infant adoption?

Newborn domestic adoptions have been declining in numbers in recent years for a variety of reasons, therefore many people who would like to parent a child from birth have fewer options to do so through adoption. Embryo donation, if successful, provides the opportunity to experience pregnancy and birth, and to form an emotional bond with a baby at the earliest possible opportunity.

Does Beginnings work with embryo recipients of specific ethnic origins, religions or walks of life?

Beginnings works with individuals or couples of any ethnic origin, religion and/or walk of life who wish to receive surplus embryos produced through IVF.

Does Beginnings work with single women hoping to receive donated embryos?

Yes. However, Beginnings is guided by the expressed wishes of embryo donors in terms of selection of recipients for their embryos.

Does Beginnings work with same-sex couples hoping to receive donated embryos?

Beginnings is guided by human rights legislation. The embryo donors are the ones who select the recipients.

Does Beginnings work with individuals or couples who do not have an infertility diagnosis but are hoping to receive donated embryos?

In most cases, recipients of donated embryos are those who are unable to have a child through either natural conception or through fertility treatments, or who are carriers of genetic disorders advised not to conceive.

Does Beginnings work with individuals or couples of any age who are hoping to receive donated embryos?

Beginnings is guided by the expressed wishes of embryo donors in terms of the selection of recipients for their embryos. Recipients would require medical clearance to pursue a pregnancy. There may be age limitations at the clinic where the embryos are stored.

Does Beginnings work with individuals or couples in all provinces across Canada who are hoping to receive donated embryos?

Beginnings is a national family services provider and therefore works with individuals or couples anywhere in Canada.

What are some of the risks involved in embryo donation?
  • Donated embryos may not survive the thawing or transfer process
  • Pregnancy and childbirth are not guaranteed
  • Risk of higher multiples if more than a single embryo is transferred
  • Medical risks involved with pregnancy and childbirth
What are the costs incurred by the embryo donor throughout the process?

There are no costs to the embryo donors.

What are the costs incurred by the embryo recipient throughout the process?

The average cost for Embryo Recipients through Beginnings is under $10,000. Costs may exceed this amount depending on the complexity of the case. Most of the cost is incurred once recipients have been chosen by a donor. Costs will be for the following services:

  • Registration
  • Consultation & Assessment
  • Education
  • Profile preparation
  • Agency administrative fees
  • Fertility Clinic fees (outside cost)
  • Legal Consultation (outside cost)
  • Shipping of embryos (when necessary)
Does Beginnings offer or arrange financial support for embryo recipients to offset costs associated with the process?

Not at this time.

Does Beginnings facilitate the donation of embryos created using donated sperm or eggs?

Yes. Although Beginnings prefers to work with non-anonymous donors, we are able to work with donors who have used anonymous or identity release gamete donors, where there are no restrictions on doing so.

What are the criteria by which embryo donors define their preferred recipient?

Embryo donors express their preferences based on: age, length of relationship, existing children, income, work, child care plans, religion, race, culture, ethnicity, interests, health, and degree of contact desired.  This information will be contained in a PROFILE provided by the recipients.

Infant Adoption FAQs
Is Beginnings a licensed adoption agency?

Yes. Beginnings is licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide adoption services in Ontario. Beyond Ontario, adoption services are presently on a case by case basis.

What adoption services does Beginnings provide?

Beginnings offers information to all persons interested in private adoption, provides placements and foster care homes for children from newborns up to 12 months of age.

What adoption services does Beginnings provide to adoptive parents?

Beginnings offers adoptive parents the opportunity for open adoption education seminars, a consultation with the agency adoption practitioner to determine the “best fit”, profile review, access and maintenance on Beginnings Active List, matching services,  facilitation of meetings between birth and adoptive families, collaboration with the adoptive couple’s private adoption practitioner, provision of travel letters and OHIP cards, commissioning of documents, court finalization documentation. Covenant agreements are arranged between birth and adoptive families are facilitated by Beginnings, and Entrustment Ceremonies are available at the time of placement. Follow up support is ongoing for adoptive parents and children adopted through Beginnings throughout the life time.

What infant adoption services does Beginnings provide to birth parents?

Beginnings offers birth parents the opportunity for open adoption education, comprehensive, ongoing counselling support, choice of adoptive families, viewing profiles, meetings with adoptive couples, sharing of identifying information and background information about the adoptive couple, hospital support, referral and transportation for independent legal advice and consent signing. Covenant agreements are arranged between birth and adoptive families and facilitated by Beginnings. Birth parents have the opportunity to take part in an Entrustment Ceremony at the time of placement. Follow up support is ongoing for birth parents and their immediate family members throughout the life time.

Why does Beginnings facilitate infant adoption?

Private adoption offers an alternative to parenting, when birth parents are not able or prepared. It also offers an alternative to apprehension by child welfare agencies. An open adoption agency empowers the birth parents to choose their child’s family and stay connected.

Does Beginnings work out of province?

Yes.  Beginnings is able to provide assistance and would explore each situation.  We do not provide matching services for out of province adoptive families.  However, we will assist Ontario adoptive parents who have made a connection with birth parents outside of Ontario or birth parents outside of Ontario who have made a connection in Ontario.

Does Beginnings work with out of country birth mothers and fathers?

No. We only provide domestic adoption services. If birth parents are willing and able to travel to Ontario and be responsible for all medical costs, living costs etc., then it may be possible to place a child with a couple through Beginnings.

Does Beginnings work with out-of-country adoptive couples?

No.

What does Open Adoption involve?

Open adoption involves ongoing communication and contact between the birth parent (s) and the adoptive parents including the child. This can take the form of letters, emails, phone calls, and/ or visits. The amount of contact is negotiated between the parties and varies from one situation to another. Beginnings believes openness is good for a child as it allows him or her to maintain relationships with important people in his or her life; as he or she grows older, openness allows access to information about his or her origins and background and to any other siblings he or she may have.

Why do birth mothers and fathers need to complete social and medical history?

Birth parents provide important details about their medical history, family background, present health, interests, physical traits and characteristics in order that an adopted child will have information about him/ herself. Health history and information can direct adoptive parents to provide resources and the best care plan for the child as he/ she grows up.

Can birth mothers and fathers choose a closed adoption?

In rare circumstances involving safety of the child or where a birth parent refuses openness. Otherwise, Beginnings provides fully identified adoption services with a range of ongoing contact.

What are the basic requirements of the adoptive couples?

Couples who are hoping to adopt through Beginnings need to:

  • Be residents of Ontario
  • Complete a home study including references, police and child welfare checks
  • Provide a range of acceptance for the kind of adoption situation
  • Attend a PRIDE training course if adopting in the Province of Ontario
  • Accept that it is the birth parents who choose the parents of their child
  • Agree to participate in a Covenant contact agreement with birth parents in respect to sharing identifying information as well as on going contact
  • Have a consultation with Beginnings Adoption Practitioner
  • Provide a profile for review by birth parents
  • Agree to meet with birth parents, extended family members and siblings
  • Know that the child is under the legal guardianship of Beginnings until the adoption is finalized in court and maintain contact with Beginnings during this supervisory 6 month period follow placement
What is a Covenant Agreement?

It is an agreement outlining the specific contact arrangements between birth parents and the adoptive couple. The word Covenant means “promise” and implies a commitment on both sides to carry through with the arrangements they are making – for the sake of the child.  These agreements are not legally binding, but are considered by Beginnings to be a binding promise to stay in touch.

What if there is miscommunication after the adoption is finalized, will Beginnings offer support services?

Yes. Beginnings staff is available to offer on going counselling and mediation services for reviewing and resolving contact arrangements.

Does Beginnings stay in touch with adoptive couples and birth parents after the adoption is finalized?

Yes. Beginnings adoptive couples and birth parents can be involved in many activities with the agency following the finalization of the adoption. Everyone is considered a member of Beginnings Family Services and are offered follow up services:

• Birth parent counsellors are available to meet with birth parents
• Adoption Staff is available to meet with adoptive couples and adoptees
• Adoptive parent support network is available from “Alumni Parents”
• Birth parents and adoptive couples participate in education panels

What is an Entrustment Ceremony?

This is a ceremony that happens at the time a child is placed in the care of an adoptive couple by the birth parent(s). It is an acknowledgment of moving a child from  one family to another and honours the role of birth parents in the lives of their children. Each ceremony is unique and reflects what is important to the people attending. Often there is chosen music, a poem or reading, and candle lighting to join the families in their Covenant agreement.  Beginnings’ Covenant and Entrustment Ceremony form a foundation for the new relationships created through adoption.

What are the steps involved in the matching process?

The process involves the following steps:

  • Adoptive parents provide a hard copy profile to Beginnings and are also able to post their profiles on our website.
  • Birth parents describe the type of adoptive applicant they would consider.
  • Beginnings Adoption Practitioner will contact active list members who are have similar characteristics the birth parents are looking for and provide specific risk information for their consideration.
  • If the prospective adoptive applicant agrees to be presented, their profile will be included in the presentation to the birth parents.
  • If chosen, the full background information will be shared with the prospective adoptive applicants.
  • The prospective adoptive couple’s private adoption practitioner will be contacted and information will be sent to them for review with the adoptive couple prior to a first meeting.
  • First meeting will be held with birth parents and any extended family members they wish to include, the birth parent counsellor, the adoptive couple, and their private adoption practitioner.
  • Once everyone agrees to move forward, this is considered a match.
Why is a Home Study required of adoptive couples?

A Home Study is an important tool to assess the readiness and suitability of the adoptive applicant to adopt.  There is an education component as well to help couples understand adoption from the child’s perspective.  Home studies take about 3 months to complete although this can vary depending on the situation.  See www.adoptontario.ca

How long does the adoption process take from registration to placement?

There is no single answer to this question. Birth parents choose the adoptive parents by looking at their profiles and hearing about them through the information contained in their home study or re application update. This a very individual process, much like how you decide to marry. It can happen quickly if there is the right match, or, it may take some time for this to happen. There is no guarantee that a match will be made through Beginnings.  The staff Adoption Practitioner will work with each adoptive couple to help them through the process. Beginnings also works closely with other private adoption agencies and Children’s Aid Societies when they hear about a match that could work for one of our adoptive couples.

Is there a way to expedite the process?

Yes. If you find a “match” on the internet and come to Beginnings for the counselling and Licensee services.

Why do birth parents choose an adoption option?

Many women have unplanned pregnancies and look for an agency to talk about their options. After counseling, they may decide they can parent, or they may choose an open adoption option.

Does Beginnings work with birth parents of any age, various ethnic origins, religions or walks of life?

Yes, clients come from all different backgrounds, religious faiths, races, cultures and walks of life.

Does Beginnings work with birth parents in other provinces and territories?

Yes, Beginnings is able to offer assistance and would explore each situation.

Who would hope to adopt an infant through this program?

There are many reasons why people wish to adopt. Some applicants who are unable to conceive a child or carry a child to term may consider adoption as a way to create their family. Others may have genetic diagnoses that preclude having children, or they may be cancer survivors who cannot have a biological child. Some couples see this as a way to augment their family following secondary infertility, or they see adoption as a way to expand their family.

Does Beginnings work with adoptive couples of specific ethnic origins, religions or walks of life?

Beginnings works with clients from all races, cultures, faiths and walks of life.

Does Beginnings work with single women hoping to adopt an infant?

Beginnings is guided by the expressed wishes of birth parents in terms of choosing adoptive parents.

Does Beginnings work with same-sex couples hoping to adopt an infant?

Beginnings is guided by the expressed wishes of birth parents in terms of choosing adoptive parents.

Does Beginnings work with couples of any age who are hoping to adopt an infant?

Yes. It is the birth parents who choose their adoptive couple. However, it must be pointed out that older adoptive applicants will find it more difficult to be chosen by young birth parents.

What are some of the risks involved in private adoption?

The most difficult risk is that birth parents will reverse their decision to place their child for adoption and withdraw consent. In Ontario, they have all rights to do this until 21 days are completed following the signing of consents. There is also a risk when the birth father has not signed consents up until the time the adoption is finalized.

What are the costs incurred by the birth parents throughout the process?

There are no costs for birth parents.

What are the costs incurred by the adoptive couple throughout the process?

The average cost of an adoption through Beginnings is $20,000 to $25,000. Costs may exceed this amount depending on the complexity of the case. Most of the cost is incurred once the match has been made. Initial costs are as follows:

  • Pride Training    $1400
  • Homestudy        $2500 and upward
  • Registration       $150
  • Consultation      $350
  • Active List          $250

For full fee schedule contact Beginnings.

Out of province adoptions would have differing costs depending on the situation.

Does Beginnings offer or arrange financial support for adoption to offset costs associated with the process?

Yes.  Beginnings has an Adoption Assistance Reserve Fund available for couples who find the costs of a private adoption prohibitive, or, who have limited incomes, or, who have changed financial circumstances during the adoption process. They can apply to the AART for a subsidy.

Counselling FAQs
Why does Beginnings offer counselling services?

Beginnings recognizes that individuals, couples, and families need help along life’s way. There are many decisions to make about family planning and relationships. Our highly qualified professional staff have expertise in specific areas of adoption, infertility, embryo donation and post abortion counselling.

What counselling services does Beginnings offer women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy?
  • Pregnancy testing, options counselling, and support services
  • Licensed private open adoption services
  • Short term foster care
  • Post- adoption counselling
  • Community resource referral
Is there any cost for birth parent counselling?

There are no costs.

What if birth parents can’t come to a Beginnings office to meet with a counsellor?

Counsellors will come to meet birth parents in their community. If they live beyond a reasonable driving distance, Beginnings will arrange for a counsellor in the client’s community. Skype is also a way to meet “over the phone” and face to face with a Beginnings staff person.

What counselling services does Beginnings offer birth fathers?

Yes. The same counselling options are available to men who are considered or named as birth fathers.

Is Beginnings a licensed adoption agency?

Yes. Beginnings is licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide adoption services in Ontario. Beyond Ontario, adoption services are presently on a case by case basis in provinces and territories that have provision for private adoption.

Why are foster homes needed?

Foster or Care homes are needed when a child is born without a plan of care. It may be that a birth mother is not sure about her decision to parent or make an adoption plan. Her child can stay with one of Beginnings approved foster parents for a short term stay (up to 30 days) until she makes her decision.

Can birth parents visit their child in foster care?

Yes. Arrangements are made with the foster parents to visit regularly. Extended family members can also visit.

Are Beginnings foster care parents trained and experienced?

Yes. One family has cared for over 80 newborns with Beginnings. The other has cared for over 50 babies. Education is offered to foster parents annually. Their approval is renewed annually by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.

How often can birth mothers meet with their counsellors before the child is born?

This depends on the time available before the birth of the child. In some instances, counsellors will meet for several hours at a time to talk about options, decision-making, review supports, collect social and medical history, educate them about openness, and assess the client needs. If a birth mother comes early in the pregnancy, visits may be weekly, bi weekly or monthly.

Do Beginnings counsellors focus only on the adoption option?

No. Counsellors are neutral about presenting options to birth parents. It is up to the client to choose the best path after careful consideration and education. Beginnings provides a safe, caring place to talk about important life decisions.

What services are available if birth parents choose to parent their child?

Beginnings counsellors, or trained volunteers in the centre location offices, will link birth parents up with appropriate community resources. Beginnings also offers pre natal and post natal classes and parenting support in all locations and “care cupboard” baby supplies in most centers.

Does Beginnings offer counselling to children adopted through Beginnings?

Yes. Beginnings considers children placed through the agency as part of Beginnings family. There are several developmental ages and stages where a child’s understanding of adoption sparks questions or a need to know more. Beginnings counsellors will be there to help with these transitional times. Adolescents in particular may have added adoption related identity or separation issues that could benefit from meeting with a counsellor who understands adoption over the life time.

Does Beginnings offer counselling to birth parents who placed through Beginnings?

Yes. Birth parents will have the opportunity to continue meeting with their counsellor up to 6 months after placement of their child. Further follow up will be arranged as needed. Counsellors are also available to assist birth parents throughout the first year for with ongoing open contact arrangements.
Most Beginnings birth parents develop a relationship with their counsellor and keep in contact over the years via email, calls and occasional meeting.

Can Beginnings arrange for peer support for birth parents?

Yes. A counsellor can connect a new birth mom with a birth parent who has placed her child for adoption. Peer connections can take the form of one to one, or email contact group, or, small group concentrated in a region. Peer group support is primary counselling model of Beginnings locations in Woodstock, Northumberland and Guelph.

How can parents support their pregnant daughter or birth father son?

Parents need to be non judgemental and offer a verbal declaration of support for whatever their daughter or son decides, then seek out their own support network to talk about their own feelings of disappointment, loss or anger. By articulating clear boundaries of what they will or will not provide, grandparents will add to the information needed for their child’s important life decision. Often parents do not say anything until after the decision is made and it could have made a significant difference to the outcome.

What if parents do not agree with their daughter or son’s decision?

Parents must find a way to manage their disappointment and seek a counsellor to talk about how they will reconcile their lack of control. It is ultimately the birth parents’ decision to make for their child. It is never wise to pressure, coerce, impose or manipulate a decision that is not theirs to make. The consequences for this may not be evident at the time, but will surface in the future.

What if my son claims he is not the father, can we insist on a DNA test?

Yes. Ideally, the birth father pays for this service if he is requesting it. It is in the best interests of the child to have the paternity confirmed if there is any doubt. Beginnings can arrange for DNA testing. It is a simple swab taken from the mouth and sent to a lab. Results are usually back in 7 working days.

What is the role for grand parents once the adoption plan is made?

Parents role is to be there for their son or daughter.

What does open adoption involve?

Open adoption involves ongoing communication and contact between birth parent(s) and the adopting couple, including the child. This can take the form of letters, emails, phone calls, and/ or visits. The amount of contact is negotiated between the parties and varies from one situation to another. Beginnings believes openness is good for a child as it allows him or her to maintain relationships with important people in his or her life; as he or she grows older, openness allows access to information about his or her origins and background and to any other siblings he or she may have.

Will birth grandparents be included in the child’s life in the future?

In most cases yes, but it up to the birth parents how much they want to have their parents involved in the lives of their adopted child. The adoptive families are usually eager to have ongoing contact with all members of the birth parents families. The Covenant agreement can include extended family members in the contact arrangements.

What is a Covenant Agreement

It is an agreement outlining the specific contact arrangements between birth parents and the adoptive couple. The word Covenant means “promise” and implies a commitment on both sides to carry through with the arrangements they are making – for the sake of the child.  These agreements are not legally binding, but are considered by Beginnings to be a binding promise to stay in touch.

What is an Entrustment Ceremony?

This is a ceremony that happens at the time a child is placed in the care of an adoptive couple by the birth parent(s). It is an acknowledgment of moving a child from  one family to another and honours the role of birth parents in the lives of their children. Each ceremony is unique and reflects what is important to the people attending. Often there is chosen music, a poem or reading, and candle lighting to join the families in their Covenant agreement.  Beginnings’ Covenant and Entrustment Ceremony form a foundation for the new relationships created through adoption.

Will my son need independent legal advice?

Beginnings can provide information on the definition of a legal parent, and will speak to birth fathers about their options and rights. If they agree to sign consents for adoption, all forms and papers will be reviewed with him prior to signing. At the time of signing consents for adoption, an appointment will be made with a lawyer familiar with private adoption who will offer independent legal advice and be available for any questions your son may have.

Education FAQs
Why does Beginnings have education as part of their services?

Beginnings views education as the cornerstone for building strong families. Since many of the families who come to Beginnings are created through adoption, embryo donation and single parenting, there is a need to provide support and education to families who have special needs. It is one thing to adopt, donate or receive embryos, or parent on your own, but all parties need to find ways to help their children growing up in unique situations. Beginnings programs offer insight and understanding in how to meet their childrens’needs.

What kinds of programs are offered through Beginnings?

We offer the following programs:

  • Parenting
  • Prenatal & post natal support groups
  • Life skills
  • School programs – “Baby Smarts”
  • Speaker nights and special topic seminars
Are different programs offered at different sites?

Yes,  Beginnings Hamilton, Beginnings Guelph, Beginnings Woodstock and Beginnings Northumberland offer a variety of programs:

  • The Hamilton location primarily focuses on adoption and embryo donation related programs
  • Guelph, Woodstock and Northumberland focus on programs for single parents
  • School based healthy relationship programs are available in most locations
Who can attend these education programs?

Birth parents and Embryo Donor parents can attend all programs at no cost to themselves. Adoptive parents and Embryo Recipients can attend for a fee for service.

Why is training and education needed for to be an adoptive parent?

Adoptive parents will learn how adoptive parenting  differs from biological parenting. Our programs address ways to talk to children about being adopted, and how to naviagate open adoption relationships.

Why is training and education needed for to be a birth parent?

Birth parents come to Beginnings to resolve a dilemma. With education and links with other birth parents, they come to understand the importance of providing comprehensive information about themselves, about the importance of including birth fathers in the process, and, how to navigate an open relationship with the adoptive couple and with their child.

Why is education and training needed to be an Embryo Donor?
​Embryo donors will learn by talking with our counsellors about the life long issues for their genetic children growing in other families and about how to navigate open relationships
Why is education and training needed to be an Embryo Recipient?
​Embryo Recipients will learn, in talking with our counsellors and through their assessment, about the unique issues related to how their family is created, the importance of open relationships, how to navigate ongoing contact, and questions children created from third party reproduction will have over their life time
What is PRIDE training ? Where can I get this?

Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) is a comprehensive 27 hour training program that is now recognized as essential preparation for all prospective adoptive and foster parents. It is offered in several provinces but is mandatory in Ontario. It is completed in tandem with the home study process before adoptive applicants can adopt. It is offered at various times and locations in Ontario.

Glossary of Terms

Openness: Indentifying information is shared between donors and recipients for the sake of the child and for the purpose of providing a life long connection between the 2 families.

Couple: For all intents and purposes, the word “couple” is used throughout for simplicity, but we recognize that “couple” is not defined by a married male and female partner.  It does not exclude single parents as either donor or recipients.

Surrogacy: A woman who carries a child for another woman using her own eggs and donated sperm

Gestational carrier: A woman who carries a child for another woman using donated egg and sperm

IVF: In Vitro Fertilization is a clinical procedure whereby fertilization is accomplished outside a woman’s body, and involves three basic step: fertility drugs are used to stimulate the female’s egg production by the female’s ovaries; eggs are retrieved from the female partner and mixed with sperm from the male partner; fertilized eggs (embryos) are mixed with the sperm and transferred to the uterus.  Depending on the number of embryos produced, some may be frozen for later use.

Covenant Agreement: Agreement between donors and recipients about the terms of contact between themselves and the child. Beginnings agreements are based on the best interests of the child and outline the degree of openness mutually agreed upon. They are not legally binding, but they are created and followed in “good faith”.

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