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How to adopt a child in Ontario

By the Ontario Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services

Adopting a child in Ontario today, whether from Ontario or another country, is a well-supervised legal procedure.

For adoptions finalized in Ontario the Child and Family Services Act allows adoption through:
-- one of 54 Children's Aid Societies, or
-- a private agency or person licensed by CFCS, or
-- the Court, for relative or step-parent adoptions.

Children available

-- Infants. Many young single mothers now raise their own children, so there are few babies available. The waiting lists are long, and prospective parents may turn to adopting abroad.
-- Older children may be placed for adoption because the birthparents have a family breakdown or are unable to raise the child.
-- Special needs children may be older, with painful experiences and emotional hurts to deal with. They may have developmental delays or physical disabilities.

How to adopt

-- Children's Aid Society. At the CAS you are assigned a social worker. Because the child's welfare is the chief concern, the social worker concentrates on finding the most suitable home for the child, rather than finding a child for the adopting parents. This can mean a long wait before a child becomes available who needs the kind of home a particular family can offer. A homestudy is conducted (see below). You may meet a child through videotapes, photographs and visits. There is a minimum six-month wait from the time a child moves into the new home until the adoption is finalized (the court grants an adoption order). There are no fees for a CAS adoption. CASs are listed in the phone book.
-- Private adoptions are handled by agencies or people licensed by CFCS; only licensees may handle private adoptions finalized in Ontario. A birthparent contacts a licensee to help find a family for a child. You contact a licensee if you know of a child available for adoption. Birthparents choose their child's adoptive parents. The licensee arranges for a homestudy and notifies CFCS of a proposed placement. Birthparents may sign consents to adoption when the child is seven days old, but have 21 days after that to change their mind. You must pay the licensee's fees. Homestudy: You are asked to examine your reasons for adopting and your strengths and skills in parenting, in a process known as a homestudy. It involves self-assessment as well as professional assessment by a social worker approved by CFCS to conduct homestudies. Lists of approved social workers and licensees are available from CFCS Adoption Unit.
-- International adoptions are governed by provincial child welfare laws, federal immigration law and the law of the child's country of origin. You arrange for a homestudy and for sponsorship of a child (Canada Immigration). For adoptions finalized in Ontario, you must use a licensee whose licence includes a term for the country you choose. For adoptions not finalized in Ontario, you hire an agency licensed for the country you choose. You must pay fees for professional services (social worker and agency/ facilitator fees) and cover the cost of going abroad to pick up your child. For more on international adoption for Ontarians, see Intercountry Adoption Act in Ontario.

Payments forbidden

For adoptions finalized in Ontario, it is illegal (Child and Family Services Act, s. 175) for a birthparent or third party to receive payment for the adoption, and illegal for an adopting parent to give or offer to give payment to a birthparent or a non-licensed intermediary.
Condensed by Robin Hilborn from the booklet "How to adopt a child in Ontario."

The web site of Ontario's Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services (Adoption Unit) is at There is a list of ministry publications and web pages at Domestic Adoption -- Ontario Government.

You can order editions of Family Helper

Fertility Adoption Adoption Resource Central Post-adoption Family Tree

Contact: Robin Hilborn,
Box 1353, Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
Copyright 2009 Robin R. Hilborn
Updated July 15, 2006

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