Adoption is mainly a legal process, but it also takes an emotional, mental, and financial toll. One way to ease your worry is to gather as much information as you can about adoption in Canada.

Fortunately, our adoption lawyer in Canada has created a comprehensive guide to help you understand everything from the costs to the adoption process based on the type of adoption.

So, if you want to learn about adoption before making this important decision, then keep reading.

Table of Contents

An Overview of Adoption in Canada

A definition post explaining what is adoption in Canada

Legally, adoption is the process of one family taking on the responsibility of raising a child and becoming their new family. The goal of the adoption process in Canada is to match a child with a family that will fulfill its needs.

Stability is important during this process to ensure that children are placed in homes where they have the potential to lead stable lives. You will have to fulfill some requirements, which we will discuss below.

What are the Requirements to Adopt a Child in Canada?

Before you opt for adoption in Canada, there are some requirements you will have to fulfill. Please note that these requirements will vary based on the province you live in, as adoption in Ontario will be different from adoption in BC.

However, here are some general requirements everyone has to fulfill for adoption in Canada:

  • You must reside in the territory or province where the adoption will happen. For example, if adoption in Ontario is taking place, then you must be a resident there
  • Complete a Mutual Family Assessment
  • Pass a child welfare background check
  • Pass a criminal record check
  • Take mandatory training or courses such as PRIDE

Regardless of where you live in Canada, you have to fulfill these requirements to adopt a child.

Types of Adoption in Canada: What Options Do You Have?

An infographic on the types of adoption in Canada

Every adoption process in Canada is unique. However, based on the different types, you have a few options at your disposal.

We have discussed each type of adoption in detail to help you determine which one will work best for you.

Adoption Type 1: Public Adoption in Canada

An answer post explaining what is public adoption in Canada

Public adoption in Canada is when you adopt children who fall under the provincial child welfare authority’s care. These are the children whose parents were not able to care for them for various reasons.

When this happens, the courts turn the responsibility of caring for the children to the welfare authority of the province. Please note that children under such care can range from newborns to teenagers.

However, most of these children are not babies as they are removed from the care of the parents a while after the parents have tried caring for their children.

On the other hand, some of these children have been adopted by foster parents. If you want to go for public adoption in Canada, then you must connect with your local child welfare office and ask them about the adoption process.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child in Canada through Public Adoption?

The public system will not charge you anything if you want to adopt through them. On the other hand, they also offer financial support when the child requires recurring services, such as counselling.

There are many cases where children might have special needs, or they might have experienced neglect, abuse, or disruption in stability because of foster cases till adoption.

In such cases, it is crucial that adoptive parents in Canada know that consistency and stability are important for such children.

How Long Does Public Adoption in Canada Take?

There is no set time limit for public adoption in Canada. Each case is unique, and it will vary between each family and child.

You will first require the approval of the Children’s Aid Society. Then, it can take between six months and two years or even more for you to match with a child.

Open Adoptions in Canada

In specific circumstances, it might be in the best interests of the adopted child to maintain contact with the birth parents or someone else in the family with whom the child has a meaningful relationship.

Such a circumstance is known as the process of open adoption or openness. An arrangement like this helps facilitate ongoing communication or maintenance of the relationship between the child and:

  • People from the birth family of the child
  • Any person that the child has an important relationship with (can also be the birth parent)
  • A member of the child’s band or Metis, Inuk, or First Nations community

Such a state of openness helps in the supporting of the continuity of culture, community, and relationships even after they have been adopted and when it is in the child’s best interests.

You can opt for an openness agreement or order to allow for such contact between the child and the people that have been agreed upon. All parties provide consent for the contact and then the court makes the openness order.

How to Adopt a Child through the Public Adoption Process in Canada

The adoption process in Canada will look different for each type of adoption. Here are all the steps you can follow to learn how to adopt a child in Canada:

Step 1: Contact Your Local Adoption Service

To begin public adoption in Canada, you will have to connect with the Centralized Adoption Intake Service in Canada. They have a website and complete support staff to help parents exploring the possibility of adoption.

The service is responsible for:

  • Helping prospective parents complete the adoption application for children’s aid societies
  • Answering any questions you may have regarding public adoption in Canada
  • Providing general information regarding adoption to prepare and educate you for the journey ahead

The Ministry of Children funds this service, and the Adoption Council of Ontario manages it.

Step 2: Connect with the Children’s Aid Society Locally

The next step in public adoption in Canada is to contact the children’s aid societies as they manage public adoptions. These will differ between the process and territory of where you live.

You can locate a children’s aid society in your region through this link.

Once you do, the children’s aid society will ask you to:

  • Complete an adoption application form that will convey your intention to adopt and write down your adoption preferences
  • Attend an orientation session where you will learn about becoming the adoptive parent of a child that is permanently cared for by the Children’s Aid Society

Both these notes are important as they will ensure you can begin your journey on the right foot with the Children’s Aid Society.

Step 3: Go Through the Two Phases of the Adoption Process

The Children’s Aid Society will provide you with a caseworker for adoption who will be responsible for guiding you through the approval process.

Once these two phases are complete, then the Children’s Aid Society will approve you for public adoption. Here is what you need to know about the phases:

Phase 1. The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) Homestudy: This is the first phase and is mandatory. It consists of four to six interviews that will span four to six months. The purpose of this is to determine whether you are ready to become an adoptive parent and what child will best suit you. The study will determine your skill, readiness, and home environment. It will also help you understand everything involved in raising an adopted child to help you become better prepared.


Phase 2. Mandatory Training: As part of public adoption, you will have to complete mandatory training. The PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information and Development and Education) is a curriculum designed to help you prepare to raise an adopted child. You can complete this during your home study. However, if you are adopting an indigenous child, then you will have to complete the SPIRIT program instead.

Step 4: Matching the Family with a Child

As you go through the phases, the adoption worker will work towards matching a child with your family. The most important thing they will consider is the child’s best interests.

If you want to improve your chances of matching quickly with a child, you can register with the adoption resources databank. Then, when your adoption worker will find a suitable match, they will:

  • Prepare the medical and social history of the child and birth parents and provide you with a version without disclosing the identity of the child
  • Ensure you have enough time to consider the option
  • Share information about you with the child, but this will depend on their maturity level and age

If you match successfully, the child will visit a few times to your home with the adoption worker. This will allow them to get to know your surroundings and family members before they move into the home.

Step 5: Adoption Placement and Adjustment

Once the child officially enters your home, there will be an adjustment period of a minimum of six months to ensure that the placement will work for you and your family.

During this time, the adoption caseworker will keep visiting your home to assess how the child is adjusting and provide you with the resources and support you need.

Step 6: Finalizing the Adoption in Court

Once the adoption adjustment period is over, the adoption worker will finalize the adoption after determining that your family and home are a good fit for the child based on how well the child has adjusted.

Then, the children’s aid society will take the relevant steps to finalize adoption in the court of your region. For example, if you are doing adoption in Ontario, then the society will finalize the adoption through the Ontario court.

Then, the court will make the adoption order that will legally recognize you as the adoptive parents of the child and vice versa.

Adoption Type 2: Private Adoption in Canada

An answer post explaining private adoption in Canada

Not everyone wants to go through a public adoption in Canada. Some parents may want to opt for private adoption in Canada, which is also governed by the various provinces.

Such an adoption takes place when the birth family wants to place the child. In most cases, these are parents who want to place the child from birth.

So, private adoption agencies that are licensed in the relevant provincial government adoption division facilitate this process.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child in Canada through Private Adoption?

Private adoption agencies in Canada charge a fee for their services, which can range anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000. There will also be additional fees for parent training programs and home study assessments.

It is best that you connect with the private adoption agencies in your region to get more details regarding their fees and costs.

How Long Does Private Adoption in Canada Take?

The length of private adoption process in Canada will vary based on how long it will take to conduct everything. This means homestudy assessments, matching the child with the adoptive family, and then waiting for the placement and adjustment period.

It can take a few months to over a year to finalize the adoption. Each case is unique so the length of time will also vary.

Openness Agreements in Private Adoption

Again, an openness agreement can also be opted for during private adoption in Canada. You and the birth parents will have to mutually agree to this type of agreement to ensure transparency.

Please note that this doesn’t have to mean frequent visits. Instead, it can only mean some form of contact that is best for the child.

How to Adopt a Child through the Private Adoption Process in Canada

If you want to take this route, then you must learn how to adopt a child in Canada through private adoption. Here are the steps you can follow to opt for this process:

Step 1: Get Information from a Private Adoption Agency

Before you begin this process, we recommend you gather the relevant information from a private adoption agency. They will provide you with detailed information regarding the home study process and private adoption in Canada.

Step 2: Hire a Private Adoption Worker

It is important to hire a private adoption worker to begin the private adoption process. These workers will guide you through the two phases of private adoption in Canada.

The adoption worker will mark you as eligible to adopt after you complete the following phases:

Phase 1: Homestudy: The length of the home study will vary between four and six months and consist of four to six interviews. The SAFE homestudy will determine whether adoption will meet your needs and the child’s. The home study will identify whether you are ready and have the skills to raise an adopted child. After the completion of the homestudy, the practitioner will send it to one or more private adoption agencies. Then, the agencies will present this study to birth parents who are looking to place their children through private adoption in Canada.


Phase 2: Education and Training: Along with your homestudy, you will also have to complete mandatory training. The PRIDE program is a curriculum you will have to complete to prepare for raising the adopted child. It is only 27 hours and you will cover many topics during it.

Step 3: Proposed Match Contact

If there is a proposed match, then the adoption agency will connect with you. If you want to improve your chances of matching through a private adoption agency, we recommend networking.

You can consider a few websites where you can post your profile for private adoption in Canada. These include Canada Adopts, Adoptive Parents, and Adoption Connections.

Adoptive parents and birth parents living in Canada can use these websites. On the other hand, birth parents living outside Canada but seeking to place their children with Canadian residents can’t use these websites.

The birth parents can review your profile and select you as a possible match. Then, you will receive a proposal from the birth parents through an adoption agency or licensee.

On the other hand, if parents approach you directly for adoption, it is crucial to contact an adoption agency as soon as possible.

Step 4: Matching with the Child

In private adoption in Canada, the birth parents will choose the family they think is suitable for their child. If this is the case with you, then you will have a meeting with your adoption practitioner to discuss the child proposal, which includes the medical and social histories of birth parents.

Then, you will have to meet with the practitioner, adoption licensee, birth parent counsellor, and birth parents (if they want to join). During this meeting, you must discuss the adoption placement and plan for the child.

If there is an openness agreement, then you must also discuss the type and frequency of contact with the other party. It will be up to the birth parents to agree to child placement with you.

They can place the child directly from the hospital after they are born or once they have left. Birth parents have to wait till the child is seven days old before they can consent to private adoption in Canada.

After the seven days, the birth parents have 21 days to change their minds about the adoption. If they change their mind, then the child will be returned to the birth parents.

Then, for the first six months, the adoption practitioner will make at least three visits to your home to oversee the adjustment of you and the child. They will complete a report from their observations and submit it to the ministry for approval.

Step 5: Finalizing Adoption

After the ministry has reviewed the details, the adoption agency or licensee will make an application to the court to finalize adoption. The court will depend on where you live.

For example, if you have opted for private adoption in Ontario, then the application will be made to the Ontario Courts to finalize your adoption.

Then, the judge will make the adoption order, which will finalize you as the legal parent of your adopted child.

Adoption Type 3: International Adoption

An answer post explaining international adoption in Canada

The third type of adoption in Canada is international adoption. Please note that international adoption regulations keep changing with time between countries.

Because of this, we recommend contacting your provincial adoption division or an adoption lawyer in Scarborough to get the latest updates on the current regulations and programs.

Once you do, you will receive updated information on what requirements you must follow to adopt from these countries. Children through international adoption can have varying ages from infancy to school-going age and can even have siblings.

If you want to arrange international adoptions, you must contact an agency or practitioner licensed by the Canadian Government to facilitate international adoptions. You can also contact a private adoption agency to conduct a homestudy assessment before proceeding.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child in Canada through International Adoption?

An adoption agency or licensed practitioner for international adoptions can charge anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000 for their services.

You will also have to pay additional costs for the mandatory training program, homestudy assessment, and travel and accommodation costs.

How Long Does International Adoption in Canada Take?

The time it will take for you to opt for international adoption in Canada will depend on the country you choose to adopt from. We recommend you consult with an adoption lawyer in Ontario to discuss the timeline.

Another note to consider is that you will have to travel to the home country of the child to meet them before adoption, and you might have to meet them more than once.

The adoption will most likely be finalized in the origin country of the child. Then, the child will have to remain in the home country until the process of Canadian immigration is complete.

The Role of Provincial Divisions in International Adoptions

International adoptions take place in Canada through provincial divisions as laws vary between each province in the country. For example, Ontario’s Intercountry Adoption Act governs international adoptions in Ontario.

On the other hand, some of these international adoptions are completed in Ontario after the child has arrived in Canada, and the Child, Youth, and Family Services Act governs these types of adoptions.

If you violate any provincial laws for international adoption in Canada, you might face penalties and fines. For example, violating Ontario’s laws for this process will lead to a fine of $5,000 and/or up to two years in jail.

Ignorance is not an excuse, which is why it is crucial to be familiar with such laws as international adoption is a sensitive matter. We recommend getting in touch with the best adoption lawyer in Canada to understand these rules and regulations better before you proceed with the adoption process.

How to Adopt a Child through the International Adoption Process in Canada

The international adoption process in Canada can be complex. It is important to familiarize yourself with the following process to understand what you must do:

Step 1: Connect with a Licensed Individual or Agency Responsible for International Adoptions

The first step you must follow is to connect with a licensed individual or adoption agency in Canada that will help facilitate international adoptions.

Some important information you must ask these licensees include the following:

  • The timeline of the adoption process
  • Information on different countries can facilitate an adoption from
  • Information on the requirements of different countries for international adoptions
  • Orientation sessions

Once you have this information, you can make an informed decision about the country where you want to adopt the child from. Then, you must select an agency that will help you with this process in the country.

Please note that adoption licensees are not under any obligation to accept all cases or clients. They will first assess your case and then decide whether they will accept it.

If there are any concerns with your case, then they are obligated to report it to the relevant ministry.

Step 2: Contact a Private Adoption Worker

A private adoption worker or practitioner is crucial during this process. They will enable you to complete the mandatory training and homestudy and provide you information about the process time and associated costs.

If you don’t know where to find a private adoption practitioner in Canada, you can search for them here and talk to different ones who will be willing to facilitate your case.

Step 3: Fulfill the Mandatory Homestudy and Training Phase

Homestudy and training are mandatory phases in all types of adoption in Canada. First, you will have to finish the SAFE home study, which can include between four and six interviews over four to six months.

During this time, you must also complete your mandatory training, which is a 27-hour curriculum that will help you with the adoption process in Canada.

Step 4: Time to Find a Match

Once your homestudy and training is complete, the adoption practitioner will prepare your file, which will include all the important information. Then, they will send it to the country from where you want to adopt.

Please note that the waiting time for adopting a child will vary, depending on the country you are adopting from. Sometimes, it can take a year or two for you to receive a response.

Of you don’t receive a proposal match within two years, then we recommend you to update your homestudy and get a new approval letter from the ministry, as every such letter has an expiry date of two years.

There are also some countries that will require you to update specific documents before the end of your two-year period. The adoption agency you choose will provide you with the information you need on the validity of your documents and how often you should update them.

Step 5: Matching with a Child

Your adoption agency or practitioner will receive a proposal from the foreign country where a child is legally available for adoption. The agency will review this proposal to ensure it matches the findings from your home study.

Then, they will get in touch with you to discuss this proposal. The agency will give you some time to review the details of your proposal with your practitioner and decide whether you want to proceed or not.

If everything seems alright and you want to proceed with the proposal, then the practitioner will create a consent report and send the proposal for approval to the ministry.

Please note that you will have to travel to the child’s country to meet and bond. While you are travelling, you can contact the adoption licensee or practitioner to clarify any questions you may have.

Step 6: Finalizing the International Adoption

When you travel to the child’s country, the authorities over there will arrange for your meeting with the child. Some countries might even have a requirement of you making two visits within a set period of time.

The adoption practitioner or license will help with the necessary steps you must follow for adoption based on the rules in the child’s country. In most of the cases, the child will have to remain in their birth country until you get the final adoption order.

You will also have to wait for the documentation of immigration clearance that will allow you to bring the child to Canada. The local embassy in Canada, in the country of the child’s origin, will issue decisions related to the child’s status in Canada.

You must wait for these decisions before the adopted child can come to you. Please note that most international adoptions in Canada will be finalized in the court of the child’s origin country, where the adoption order will be issued.

Step 7: A Post-Adoption Report

Most countries from where you might adopt will require a post-adoption report. Your adoption agency or license will provide you with the details.

They will also help you with creating a post-adoption report that you will have to send to the country of origin.

Adoption Type 4: Kinship Adoption

An answer post explaining kinship adoption in Canada

Kinship adoption in Canada is the process of adopting a relative who lives in Canada. This can include a grandchild, nephew, niece, and the like.

You can complete the kinship adoption process directly through the courts. Please note that for this type of adoption in Canada, you don’t need a licensed adoption agency or practitioner to provide you with assistance.

Instead, you can get in touch with our adoption lawyer in Canada to guide you through the kinship adoption process.

Another note to keep in mind is that if you want to adopt a relative from outside Canada, then the procedure will vary, as you will have to fulfill the requirements of international adoptions in Canada.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Child in Canada through Kinship Adoption?

It will cost between $1,500 and $5,000 to adopt a relative in Canada. You don’t have to pay anything to adoption agencies or practitioners for this process.

However, there are some court fees you will have to pay for and the cost of hiring an adoption lawyer to complete the process. You can connect with an adoption lawyer to understand these costs in much more detail.

On the other hand, if you are adopting a relative outside Canada, the costs will be significant, as the rules of international adoption will apply in such a case.

How Long Does Kinship Adoption in Canada Take?

Kinship adoption within Canada can take between two and six months. This is the time it will take from the time you file the court application till the court grants you an adoption order.

On the other hand, kinship adoption from outside Canada will take longer because of the rules of international adoption. It is best to discuss this with a lawyer or licensed international adoption agency to familiarize yourself with the timeframe.

Adoption Process of Kinship Adoption in Canada

If you want to adopt a relative child that lives within the country, then you can apply to the court of your province. For example, if you reside in Ontario, then you must directly apply to the Ontario courts for an adoption order.

The court will also advise you on how you can file an application for this process. You might even need an adoption lawyer to assist you with this process.

Please note that you will not require an adoption practitioner or licensee for this type of adoption unless the court judge requires it.

Adoption Process of Kinship Adoption outside Canada

The process of adopting a relative child from outside Canada will be the same as international adoptions we discussed above. You must follow the same steps from completing the homestudy and training to finalizing the adoption in the child’s origin country.

For this type of kinship adoption, you will also need an adoption licensee or practitioner. They will guide you throughout the process to ensure smooth adoption and Canadian immigration.

Important Information for Adoption in Canada: Provincial and Territorial Central Adoption Authorities

Province Adoption Authorities
Alberta Ministry of Children’s Services (Adoption Services in Alberta)
British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development (Adoption)
Manitoba Department of Families (Child Protection Branch)
New Brunswick Department of Social Development (Child & Youth Services Branch)
Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Children, Seniors, and Social Development (Adoption)
Nova Scotia Department of Community Services (Adoption)
Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services (Adoption)
Nunavut Department of Family Services (Family Services)
Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (Adoption)
Prince Edward Island Department of Social Development and Housing (Adoption)
Quebec Ministere de la Sante et des Servces sociaux
Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services (Adoption)
Yukon Government of Yukon Children’s Services (Adoption Services)


4 Tips for the Adoption Process in Canada

An infographic on the top tips for the adoption process in Canada

If you are planning for adoption in Canada, there are some tips to follow that will help make the process easier for you. These include the following:

1. Consult with an Adoption Lawyer

Adoption in Canada is a legal process, which is why it is crucial to hire the right adoption lawyer in Canada. They will guide you through the legal considerations and provide you with the guidance you need.

With an adoption lawyer by your side, you will find the best way forward for adoption in Canada.

2. Attend Information Sessions

It is important to gather the right information for adoption in Canada. After all, adoption is a significant step in your life, which you must do in the right way.

We recommend attending information sessions set up by adoption-related agencies and various child welfare agencies. The information you will get during these sessions will help prepare you for what is next.

3. Consider Seeking Emotional Support and Guidance

Adoption is a trying time for everyone involved, as it is an emotional process, too. If you find it overwhelming to go through, then we also recommend seeking emotional support and guidance.

You can opt for counselling services to ensure you can move through this process with emotional strength and resilience. There are many practitioners in each province that will help you out.

4. Explore Adoption Support and Services

Even after adoption in Canada, there is an adjustment period you must get through. During this time, we recommend opting for post-adoption support and services.

Every province in Canada has various options for post-adoption support. Check these options in your region to have the right guidance after the adoption is finalized.


Is it easy to adopt a child in Canada?

The adoption process in Canada is lengthy because it takes time to match the needs and best interests of the child with the right family. Sometimes, it can take more than a year to complete.

How much does it cost to adopt a child in Canada?

The cost of adoption in Canada can range anywhere between $1,500 and $50,000. This will depend on the type of adoption, lawyer fees, court fees, and much more.

Does adoption give citizenship in Canada?

When a citizen of Canada adopts a child under 18, then the adoption will have to meet some requirements for the child to receive citizenship. The main requirement is that the adoption must be in the best interests of the child and the adoption will create a genuine relationship between the child and parent.

How many kids are waiting for adoption in Canada?

According to the Adoption and Foster Care Attitudes Survey, more than 30,000 children are waiting in foster care in Canada to get adoption.

Contact an Adoption Lawyer in Canada for a Smooth Process

That was your complete guide to the types of adoption in Canada, their costs, the adoption process, and the time it will take you to adopt. To begin the adoption process, it is best to get in touch with an adoption attorney.

Athena Narsingh is the top adoption lawyer that will help you through the entire adoption process. For more information, you can opt for a free consultation with her.

Author Profile

Athena Narsingh
Athena Narsingh
Athena Narsingh is a trusted and knowledgeable lawyer in Scarborough. Her expertise spans real estate law, family law, adoptions and fertility law. A lawyer by profession and a humanitarian by heart, Athena Narsingh wants to help people become more familiar with the legal system and be well-informed to make important legal decisions.