What options do I have for adopting a child?

Adopting children happens for different reasons; regardless of your reason, there are steps to take if you are planning on blending and growing your family.

You must be a resident of Ontario, and you must be able to meet the child’s needs. This means things like your age, health and financial situation will be considered before you are approved.

You cannot be denied because of your:

  • race
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • physical disability
  • marital status

Types of Adoption

There are four types of adoption in Ontario. You should review the different types of adoption that are available to you and choose which option is best for your family.

Public Adoption

The adoption of a child in the permanent care of a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is called a public adoption.

According to the Government of Ontario, most children in the care of CAS are not infants. They are often school-age children, and some may have siblings who are also in care and want to stay together. Children become eligible for public adoption because:

  • their birth parents decided to make an adoption plan
  • an Ontario court decided the child must be permanently removed from their birth parents or legal guardians

If you are considering a public adoption, you can contact your local Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and ask about information sessions. There is no cost to go through the public adoption process with a Children's Aid Society.

To be eligible for adoption you have to complete an application, a homestudy and mandatory training. Once these steps are complete you will be notified if you are approved for adoption. Once you are approved for adoption, it can take anywhere from six months to over two years to be matched with a child.

Private Adoption

The adoption of a child (usually a baby) using a private adoption agency rather than CAS is called a private adoption. Sometimes it is also referred to as a "domestic adoption". Agencies that take care of private adoptions charge fees for their services. Services include all the paperwork, finding and matching of families and children. The fees can be generally $15,000-$30,000. There are additional fees for a homestudy assessment and parent training programs required by the Government of Ontario. And if the child is born somewhere else in Canada you will have to budget for travel costs and check with the provincial or territory requirements.

International Adoption

The adoption of a child that lives outside Canada, including relatives, is called international adoption. Children from international adoptions can be infants, toddlers or school-age and can have siblings too. Most of these children have spent time in an orphanage or state care.

To adopt a child from outside Canada can be expensive. You will need to find a licensed agency and budget for their fees, as well as the required Ontario homestudy assessment, mandatory parent training program and your travel and accommodation costs when you go to meet and bring your child back to Ontario. You will also have to submit an application to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to get permission for your adopted child to move and reside permanently in Canada.

Be sure you work with a recognized and licensed agency - there are international laws that must be followed in order to legally adopt a child from outside of Canada. It is important to know that not all countries allow international adoption; IRCC maintains a list of countries with suspensions or restrictions on international adoption.

Adoption of a Family Member

The adoption of a family member from within Canada, such as a stepchild or other relative, is called family adoption. If the child lives in Ontario the process looks a bit different than the other types of adoption. Family adoption is sometimes called kinship adoption.

If the child you are adopting lives in Ontario you may not have to do the training program or complete a home study assessment.

Adopting a relative from outside Canada follows the same process as international adoption.

Can we find the birth family?

Ontario’s adoption records are open. This means you can make a request for information about adoption that was finalized in Ontario that you were involved in. It’s free. Your child may be eligible to apply for information about their adoption. Your child can ask for:

  • medical information that can help, diagnose or treat a severe mental or physical illness that is life-threatening or will lead to permanent or irreversible damage, impacting daily life
  • non-identifying information related to the adoption
  • a copy of an adoption order that may include identifying details

If you were adopted as a child or gave a child up for adoption you can also apply to the Registrar General for post-adoption birth information under the Vital Statistics Act. You can also register for the Adoption Disclosure Register, a voluntary registry that helps connect adult adoptees and certain birth relatives. There is no fee to access adoption records.

Each province and territory have a different process; check with your birth region before registering.

For More Information

  • I'm adopted. Can I find out about my birth parents? - You can ask for information about your adoption from the Ontario Government. From Steps to Justice.
  • Adoption Fraud - Intercountry adoptions are very complex because they must follow the laws of the country the child is being adopted from as well as Canadian and provincial and territorial governments. From Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada.
  • Open Adoption - An open adoption is an agreement made between a child’s adoptive parents and their birth parent, or other relatives about maintaining some level of contact throughout the child’s life. From Steps to Justice.
  • Adopt a Child From Abroad - The process to adopt a child internationally and bring them back to Canada. From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
  • Supports and Subsidies for Adoption - The province of Ontario provides adoption supports to families that have adopted through a Children’s Aid Society. From the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.
Last updated: October 19, 2022 4006481