How to Adopt in Ontario

The first step of your adoption journey is educating yourself about the process and options. The good news is that you have come to the right place for that. If you decide that adoption is in fact right for you, how you proceed will depend on which type of adoption (public, private or intercountry) you seek to pursue.

You can also see more information about adoption in this quick guide (en Francais)!

Where do I start?

There is usually one How to Adopt Q&A session per month. For more dates check out our Events Calendar!

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our How to Adopt – Quick Facts & FAQ

Public Adoption

  • A public adoption is the adoption of a child or youth who is in extended society care. Public adoptions are facilitated by an Ontario Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Applicants must work with their local CAS.

Private Adoption

  • private adoption is the adoption of a newborn (mostly). Either a private adoption practitioner or a licensed private adoption agency will facilitate this type of adoption.

Intercountry/International Adoption

  • An international adoption is the adoption of a child or youth outside of Canadian boarders. Applicants must work with an International adoption agency, as they will facilitate this avenue of adoption.

Relative Adoption

  • Relative adoption is a special type of adoption wherein a child is adopted by a close family member.  A relative adoption can often be completed directly through the Ontario Family Court without the involvement of either a private adoption practitioner or a Children’s Aid Society.

To become an adoptive parent in Ontario, you must be a resident. Adoptive parents can be a couple or a single person and come from various backgrounds, including different religions, ethnicities or sexual orientations.

Once a family has completed these two mandatory steps they are legally able to have a child placed with them:

  • Homestudy: a mandatory process by which an adoption practitioner assesses a family or individual who is considering adoption. At the completion of the homestudy process, the adoption practitioner and the applicants will arrive at a decision about the characteristics of the children most appropriate or their family.
  • PRIDE Training: a mandatory course, Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education, for all adoptive applicants in Ontario. It is a 9-modul, 27-hour educational program that is interconnected with the homestudy process. The focus of PRIDE training is to provide adoptive applicants with information about the special understanding that is required to parent a child that is adopted.

There are many variables that determine how long it will take to complete the adoption process. Some adoptions take much longer than others. Some of the factors affecting how long it will take include the type of adoption (public, private, international, or family), place of residence within the province, results of the homestudy, and local availability of adoption training.

In most case, it takes between six and twelve months to complete the homestudy and adoption training. Once this training is complete, a family is “AdoptReady.” Some families are then matched with a child almost immediately while others may wait months or years before a match is found.

Regardless of how long you may have been waiting, do not give up. Adoption is a lifelong journey. In time your child will come along and you will be glad you stuck it out.

Using a highly sophisticated computerized matching program and many other organized recruitment events (i.e., Regional and Provincial Recruitment programs), AO works in close collaboration with our provincial child welfare agencies (i.e., Children’s Aid Societies), across the province, for the purposes of recruiting and matching adoptready families (families who have been approved to adopt based on the successful completion of the mandatory PRIDE training and mandatory adoption homestudy), for children in their permanent care (known as extended society care). Check out the AdoptOntario website here.

If the child you are interested in is Extended Society Care currently living in foster care, then the first thing you should do is contact the Children’s Aid Society that represents that child’s case. They will connect you with the child’s social worker and together you can take the first steps in the public adoption process.

If the child you would like to adopt is currently living with their birth parents, or if you know an expectant mother whose child you are hoping to adopt, you will still need to proceed through the private adoption system, including the AdoptReady certification. Contact a adoption practitioner and let them know that you are coming to them pre-matched with a child.

There are no governmental fees in Ontario for adopting a child and it is illegal for birth parents to receive any direct or indirect remuneration.

In the case of public adoption, most or all services will be provided by the local Children’s Aid Society and thus be covered by public funds. The possible exception is some costs related to medical reports and possibly out of country police clearances.

Relative adoptions can generally be completed directly at the Family Court.  A private adoption licencee or a family law lawyer may be involved to assist with completion of documents and these costs are billed to the adoptive family.  In cases of a relative adoption, birth parent counseling may still be recommended.

When adopting through an independent agency or practitioner however, as in the case of private or international adoption, fees and expenses will be incurred by the adoptive family.

For private and international adoptions, the cost varies depending upon the licensee or agency used, the country from which you wish to adopt, and the amount of travel required. The total cost of international adoptions will generally be higher than that of private domestic adoptions due to travel expenses and other secondary fees. To better understand the fee structure and potential costs of a private or international adoption, prospective families should consult with a adoption professional.

As with raising biological children, traits like flexibility, patience, good problem-solving skills and a willingness to take advantage of local community resources are all critical to raising an adoptive child. Children do not need perfect parents, but they do need loving parents who are willing to meet the unique challenges of parenting and make a lifetime commitment to caring for and nurturing them.

It is important early in the adoption process to do some serious introspection about your reasons for adopting and your readiness to embark on the adoption journey. Acknowledge the special gifts and abilities you have to offer a child, but also examine yourself and your support network, explore your beliefs, attitudes, opinions, self-image, goals, achievements, and coping skills.

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