International adoption process

All domestic and international adoptions completed in Ontario are governed by the new Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (CYFSA).

Note that the previous legislation, the Child and Family Services Act, which is now repealed, had included an exemption for family members undertaking an international adoption.  This exemption no longer exists under the new Act.  This means that if you are looking to adopt a family member under 18, you will need to follow the same rules as someone looking to adopt a non-family member, including:

Your eligibility and suitability to adopt and the proposed placement must be approved by the ministry before a child can be brought to Ontario.

Only a children's aid society or adoption licensee can place a family member under 18, from outside of Canada, for adoption with a relative, parent or step-parent in Canada. This same rule applies to a child, from Canada, being placed for adoption with a family member outside of Canada.

If you applied to sponsor a family member under 18 from overseas, for the purpose of adoption, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, before the new Act came into force on April 30, 2018, the exemption from the previous act still applies. This means you can contact the Ontario courts or seek legal counsel to file your application.

Step 1: Getting started

First, contact an Ontario licensed international adoption agency to facilitate the adoption of children from outside Canada.

With each agency you contact, you will have an orientation session interview about the adoption process, timelines and country-specific requirements. You will then choose a country from which to adopt a child and select an agency to facilitate the adoption process.

You will sign a service agreement with the agency once you are sure of your choice. You will not be able to proceed to the next step until this has been completed. You will also need to find a private adoption practitioner, who will provide information about the homestudy process.

Step 2: SAFE Homestudy and PRIDE

The practitioner will help guide you through the two phases of the approval process, which include a homestudy and adoption preparation.

The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) homestudy assesses your skills, readiness to raise an adopted child, and home environment. It helps you to better understand what 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 helps to determine whether you are ready to be an adoptive parent and what type of child you are best suited to adopt. Learn more about the documents you must provide as part of the homestudy and what to expect during the homestudy.

Once the homestudy is completed, it will be submitted to the government for review and approval. If the review is approved, the government will issue you a letter that confirms your eligibility to adopt. This approval is valid for two years.

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 that has a 27-hour curriculum and can be completed at the same time as your homestudy. Along with the SAFE homestudy, the training will helps you apply your learning for a smoother adoption process when a child is placed in your home.

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

Step 3: Finding a match

The agency will prepare a file with all the necessary information, including translations if necessary, and send it to the country from which you are applying to adopt.

The wait time to receive a response regarding a child available for you to adopt varies from country to country. Your agency can give you information about usual timelines.

If you do not receive a proposal regarding a child available for adoption within two years, then you will have to update your homestudy and get a new letter of approval from the government. Some countries may require certain documents to be updated before the two-year period ends.

Step 4: Being matched

Once the agency you're working with receives a proposal for a child available for you to adopt, the agency will review the details to ensure it matches with the recommendations in your homestudy. Your adoption practitioner will inform you of the details of the proposal.

You will review the details of the proposal with your practitioner and decide whether you want to proceed with the adoption. If you decide to proceed and accept the proposal, your practitioner will prepare a consent report. The proposal will be sent to the Ontario government for review and approval.

You must travel to the child’s country of origin to receive the adoption proposal and to meet the child. While there you will need to decide, with support from your practitioner, whether you want to proceed with the adoption.

Step 5: Finalization

Authorities in the child's country will grant you permission to come and meet the child you are planning to adopt. Some countries may require you to make two visits or remain for a specified period of time

You will complete the necessary steps for adoption in the child's country. Your child must remain in their birth country until you receive the required documents allowing you to bring your child home.

You must make an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canadian immigration authority for your child to enter Canada. The adoption agency can assist you in navigating the immigration process. Citizenship and Immigration Canada has forms and information available.

Most international adoptions are finalized in a court in the child's birth country and the adoption order is issued there. Some international adoptions are finalized in an Ontario court. In this instance, there is a six-month period during which your practitioner will make visits to your home.

At the end of this period, the practitioner will prepare a Report on the Adjustment of the Child in the Home (ROACH). The agency will submit the report to the Ontario government for review and approval. You will then apply to the court to issue an adoption order, which finalizes the process.

Post-adoption reports are required by most countries and they are considered to be a very important part of the adoption process. Your agency can provide details and assistance.

Learn more