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I've decided to adopt — Frequently asked questions

  1. Who is eligible to adopt a child in Ontario?

    You must be a resident of Ontario.

    Single individuals, couples and people from diverse cultural backgrounds, make up a broad range of Ontarians who become adoptive parents. Having the desire and being capable of providing a safe, loving home for a child are the most important criteria for becoming an adoptive parent.

  2. What are the different routes available to adopt a child in Ontario?

    There are several ways you can adopt a child in Ontario. Families may want to explore all types of adoption before determining what best suits their needs.

    • Public adoption services are provided through children's aid societies (also known as CASs).
    • Private adoption services are provided through a ministry-licensed agency or individual.
    • International adoption services are provided through ministry-licensed agencies that can facilitate the adoption of a child outside Canada.
    • Relative and step-parent adoptions – a relative (as defined by the Child and Family Services Act) or step-parent may apply to court to adopt a child and is not required to work with a licensee.

    To find out more about what type of adoption may be right for you, see the overview and detailed description of each option. You can also contact your local children's aid society, a private adoption practitioner or AdoptOntario, which holds 'how to adopt' seminars and webinars.

  3. How do I get approved to adopt a child in Ontario?

    Potential adoptive parents in Ontario – including those choosing the route of private or international adoptions – are required to:

    1. Participate in a Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) homestudy to assess and evaluate the suitability of the family to provide a child with a safe and permanent home.
    2. Undergo an intensive adoption preparation training program - Parenting Resources for Information Development and Education (PRIDE) – to better prepare them for the responsibilities of welcoming and raising their adopted child.

    The homestudy and approval process are required by the legislation for pubic, private and international adoptions.

  4. Who are the children available for adoption?

    There are many children right now in Ontario waiting for someone to welcome them into a family.

    Children of all ages - from infants to teens - are available for public adoption. They come from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. Groups of siblings are available. Some children have special needs and require parents willing to address them.

    Regardless of how old they are and their background, they all need a nurturing and loving family to call their own. Children become available for public adoption when a judge decides they must be permanently removed from the home of their parents. Sometimes parents also approach a children's aid society and request that their child be placed for adoption for a number of reasons.

    Private adoptions tend to involve newly born infants. But there are not many newborns available for adoption compared to the number of parents who are searching, so the wait can be much longer.

    For international adoptions, children can be older infants, toddlers, school age and sibling groupings. Most of these children have spent time in an orphanage before they are adopted.

  5. How long does it take to adopt a child?

    The length of time it takes to complete an adoption varies from case to case. There is no set time as the time is related to how long it takes to match a child with an appropriate adoptive family. Finding the right match is the overwhelming consideration.

  6. What are the costs involved?

    All the services involved in a public adoption are free.

    Private adoptions cost about $15,000 to $25,000. International adoptions cost approximately $20,000 to $50,000.

  7. How do I find a child to adopt?

    For public adoptions, your local children's aid society will work to connect you with a child to adopt. There are also a number of resources – some supported by the government – that try to bring together potential adoptive parents with children waiting to be adopted: adoption Resource Exchange, AdoptOntario and Adoption Council of Canada.

    For private adoptions, adoption licensees and adoption agencies facilitate networking to match adoptive children with potential parents. You must connect with a licensee and an agency to find families who are giving their child up for adoption. Here is a list of approved licensees and private agencies.

    For international adoptions, authorities in the child's country of origin usually select a child who is available to you for adoption based on the recommendation your adoption practitioner made during your homestudy assessment. A licensee and licensed agency will facilitate the adoption process in a child's home country. Here is a list of agencies licensed to handle the adoption of a child outside Canada.

  8. Can I adopt as a single parent?

    You can adopt as a single parent. Ontario's adoption laws prohibit bias against factors such as marital status, race, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and physical disability. Many children's aid societies actively recruit a diverse range of potential adoptive parents, including single parents.

    As long as you are over 18 years of age, the main criteria for you being eligible to adopt is having a genuine interest in becoming an adoptive parent and being able to provide a child with a secure and nurturing home.

  9. Why aren't there many infants available for adoption?

    It takes time for a children aid society to establish which permanency plan would be in the best interest of a child and to take steps to obtain the appropriate court order.

    As well, there are more families wanting to adopt an infant than infants available for adoption. Also, many foreign countries have developed domestic adoption programs to care for their own children.

  10. Do I have to use an adoption agency? How do I choose one?

    For a public adoption, you must work through your local children's aid society.

    For a private adoption in Ontario, you must use an Ontario agency or individual licensed by the government. Here is a list of approved licensees and agencies.

    For international adoptions, you must use an Ontario agency licensed to facilitate adoptions from the child's country. Here is a list of approved international adoption agencies.

    To choose a private or international agency, you can attend information, orientation or interview sessions held by the agency. For international adoption, you will first have to choose the country from which you wish to adopt a child.

    Ask lots of questions and make sure to get references from the agency you are considering and contact the references. You can also seek information and advice from people who have recently adopted a child. But keep in mind that rules for international adoptions in particular can change depending on the country, so try to ensure you are getting the most up-to-date information.

  11. How do I adopt my step-child?

    To adopt a step-child or a relative like a nephew or grandchild living in Ontario, you can make an application directly to an Ontario court for an adoption order. You may need a lawyer to assist you.

    Contact the Law Society if you need help finding a lawyer. An assessment by an adoption practitioner is not needed for this type of adoption unless the judge requires it.

  12. How do I adopt a child who is a relative living outside Canada?

    To adopt a relative from outside Canada, you will be required to complete a Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) homestudy assessment and adoption preparation training – Parenting Resources for Information Development and Education (PRIDE).

    You will need to be approved as a suitable adoptive parent by the ministry before you can make an adoption application to the child's home country. You will have to contact an adoption practitioner to conduct the SAFE homestudy and arrange the PRIDE training. The practitioner will also facilitate the approvals process through the ministry.

    You also will have to apply through an Ontario agency licensed to handle adoptions in the child's home country. Here is a listing for adoption practitioners and a list of agencies licensed to handle adoption of a child outside Canada.

    You will also be required to submit an application to Canadian immigration to get permission for your adopted child to move to Canada.

  13. Can I adopt more than one child at the same time?

    Yes, it is possible to adopt siblings at the same time through public adoptions handled by a children's aid society or through the private process in the case of multiple births.

  14. What is meant by a child with special needs?

    In the adoption field, the term special needs can refer to children with specific medical, physical, behavioural or emotional issues that require special attention and consideration.

    However, special needs can also be used to describe children who are harder to place for adoption. This may be because they are older, are part of a sibling group or certain racial/ ethnic backgrounds. It doesn't necessarily equate to a child with a developmental delay, for example.

    Most children who have been removed from their homes because of parental abuse or neglect, will have needs that are unique and will require support to help them overcome their past experiences.

  15. Do older children want to be adopted?

    Many school-aged children and teenagers are eagerly waiting and hoping to be adopted. They can tell you what they are looking for in a family and potential adoptive parents can have a better understanding of the personalities and needs of an older child. Legislation requires that a child age seven and older cannot be adopted without his or her consent, unless a court dispenses with the child's consent.

    Children who reach adulthood as part of a family have a better chance of finding happiness and success in their lives. At every stage, children benefit from having the strong and supportive connections of belonging to a family.

  16. What laws govern adoption in Ontario?

    There are two pieces of legislation in Ontario that govern adoption.

    The Child and Family Services Act sets the rules for the adoption of children who are living in Ontario. It also regulates the adoption of children from other provinces or other countries, when their adoptions are finalized in an Ontario court.

    The Intercountry adoption Act, 1998 sets out requirements that must be satisfied in Ontario for adoptions that will be finalized in other countries.

  17. What is an open adoption?

    This is an adoption where contact is maintained between the adoptive parents, the child and the child's birth parents or other significant relationship. It has to be determined whether this approach is in the best interest of the child and what is acceptable to the birth and adoptive parents.

  18. How does openness in adoption work?

    Sometimes it may be in the best interests of an adoptive child to keep in touch with his or her birth parent or other persons that are important to the child. This type of contact is called "openness".

    There is a broad range of openness in adoption. Openness can be exchanging cards for holidays, letters and photographs - directly or through the agency - to visits with birth family members. This type of openness might be maintained with a child's birth parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles.

    The degree of openness is explored by the children's aid society early in the adoption process, before the child is placed with the family.

    Under Ontario's public adoption system, there are two types of post-adoption openness:

    • An openness agreement is between the adoptive parents and the person(s) seeking openness with the child. This arrangement may or may not have been arranged by the children's aid society who placed the child for adoption. It can happen at any time before or after an adoption order has been made.
    • An openness order is made by a court to help maintain a relationship between the child and a birth family member or another person with a significant relationship to the child.

  19. Is there any financial support available for adoptive parents?

    Families may be eligible for financial support when they adopt a child from a children’s aid society. This support is provided on a case by case basis at the discretion of the individual children’s aid society. It is intended to respond to the needs of the child and the ability of the adoptive parents to cover the costs of meeting those needs. Prospective adoptive parents can talk to their local children’s aid society about financial help that they may be eligible for.

    For example, eligible families will receive subsidies from a children’s aid society to help with the cost of caring for these children. These are families:

    • with a combined net family income of $85,000 or less
    • who adopt or take legal custody of a Crown ward who is 10 years or older, or
    • who adopt or take legal custody of two or more Crown wards who are siblings.

    Adopting families will receive $950 per month or $11,400 annually for each eligible child.

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