Private adoption process

Step 1: Getting started

Contact a private adoption practitioner or a licensed agency or individual and gather information about the private domestic adoption process.

Step 2: SAFE Homestudy and PRIDE

You will need to hire a private adoption practitioner. The Adoption practitioner will help guide you through the two phases of the approval process - a homestudy and adoption preparation. You will be eligible to adopt once these are completed.

The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) homestudy identifies your skills and readiness to raise an adopted child and assess your home environment. It helps you to better understand all that is involved in becoming adoptive parents and raising an adopted child.

This is a mandatory process and can consist of four to six interviews spanning over four to six months. The homestudy determines whether you are ready to be an adoptive parent and what type of child you are best suited to adopt. Learn more about all documents you must provide as part of the homestudy and what to expect during the homestudy.

Once you’ve completed the homestudy, prepare a parent profile with the assistance of your practitioner and contact one or more licensees and private agencies, If they agree to accept your profile and homestudy, send both to them.

Adoption preparation
The Parent Resources for Information and Development and Education (PRIDE) program helps to prepare you for the responsibilities involved in raising adopted children. This is a mandatory and standardized training program. It has a 27-hour curriculum and runs at the same time as your homestudy.

Find more detailed information about the PRIDE program and the topics that will be covered.

Step 3: Finding a match

You may be contacted by a licensed agency or individual about a proposed match. It will be important to maintain your parent profile. You should ensure licensed agencies and individuals have up to date information.

Consider networking via websites where you can post your profile for private adoption. For example, Adoption Connections, Adoptive Parents or Canada Adopts.

The birth parents of the prospective adoptive child will review your profile and may select you as someone they want to adopt their child. Generally, you receive a proposal from the birth parent(s) through the licensee. However, if you are approached by birth parents directly, you must notify your licensed agency or individual as soon as possible.

Step 4: Being matched

Considering the Proposal
You will have a meeting in person with your adoption practitioner to discuss the proposal, including the social and medical histories of the birth parents.

The adoption Plan
You will meet with a combination of your adoption practitioner, birth parent counsellor, the licensee and the birth parents - if they wish. You will discuss the adoption plan and placement of the child. The frequency and type of contact will be specified in the case of an open adoption.

If the birth parents agree to place the child for adoption with you, they will confirm their consent in writing. The child may be placed with you from hospital or after a period of time. An infant has to be at least seven days old before the birth parents can consent to the adoption.

The government must approve the proposed adoption plan prior to placement of the child. A birth parent has 21 days after he or she consented to adoption, to change his or her minds about the adoption. The infant is returned to the birth parents by the licensee if this occurs.

Adjustment Period
The adoption practitioner is required to make a minimum of three visits during the first six months after a child has been placed to see how your family is adjusting.
The practitioner will complete a Report on the Adjustment of the Child (ROACH). The report is submitted to the ministry by the licensee for review and approval or refusal.

Step 5: Finalization

An application is made to an Ontario court to finalize the adoption. A judge issues an adoption order making you the legal parent of your adopted child.

Open adoptions

In certain circumstances it may be in the best interests of an adoptive child to maintain contact with their birth parents or someone else with whom the child had a meaningful relationship. This is called an open adoption.

An open adoption can also be arranged in a private adoption with the agreement of both the adoptive and birth parents of the child. Open agreements are not all the same. An open adoption does not necesarily mean having access visits. It does allow some form of contact between the child, new family and the agreed upon significant individuals from the child's past.

Learn more