Organizations and Associations:
a summary of the code of ethics
of international adoption agencies in Québec.

    In Québec, the certified international adoption agencies have agreed upon a code of ethics after several months of discussions. It was enforced in January 1997. The complete text can be obtained in print from the International Adoption Secretary (SAI, the governmental authority in the province) but you will also find it in this site through a link at the bottom of this page.

The code of ethics is based on general principles making compulsory to respect:

  1. the Québec and international laws relevant to adoption;
  2. the rights and the superior interest of the children and
  3. the rights and trust of adopters.
The rules of the code are organized in three chapters. Seventeen rules relate to the public service. Among other things, these rules:

  • deal with the attitudes of the agencies towards adoption and adopters, which must be made of objectivity, moderation, dignity, humanism, equality, consideration, haste, in a climate of confidence and mutual trust;

  • orientate the information to provide to adopters, in particular about the health of the children, eligibility requirements, costs, delays and the steps of the process specific to any given agency;

  • require confidentiality and suggest the kind of support that the agencies can offer to eventual contact between biological parents and adopted children;

  • forbid enticement or pressure on parents to obtain adoption mandate, notably by depreciating another agency;

  • recommend modalities for contract nullification, impose disclosure in these contracts of all the costs (management costs, amounts asked by the foreign state, others services) and establish conditions for reimbursement and for inclusion on the waiting list of the agency.

The second chapter of the code of ethics includes eight other rules related to conflict of interests and impartiality. These rules impose to the agencies to avoid breach of trust situations and forbid the payment of any advantage or commission, here or abroad.

The certified organization commits itself not to put any pressure on biological parents and not to associate with anybody who uses these methods. It does not get involved with any professional in particular and must not influence social workers or psychologist in their assessment work.

The third chapter stipulates four rules pertaining to collaboration, complementarity and competition between agencies. These rules invite to collaboration with the SAI (Secrétariat à l'adoption internationale), the authority in charge of adoption in Québec, especially for relations with foreign authorities. They promote information exchange between agencies to avoid the lengthening of waiting lists or to leave children proposed, without an adoptive family, because of the lack of parents enlisted in a given agency.

Other provisions of the code of ethics include the follow-up of the code by the formation of a committee made up by representatives of the agencies (2), parents associations (1), the SAI (1) and a fifth person chosen by the previous four members. This committee hears the disputes and complaints and trys to resolve the matters by way of mediation, asking questions and making recommendations to the opponents. Finally, a review of the code of ethics is planned each five years or upon request of a majority of agencies.

As any such code, its implementation by the agencies is voluntary but the quality of this implementation will more or less influence the reputation of the agencies and the attitude of the SAI towards them when the time to renew their approval comes.

For more details on legal aspects, see our page explaining Québec's laws in the field of international adoption.

Complete text of the code of ethics

Go to the french page

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