Public adoption process

Step 1: Getting started

All public adoptions are handled by children's aid societies (CAS). You will first need to contact a CAS in your local community.

You will be asked to attend a CAS orientation session. Here you will learn about becoming an adoptive parent of a child who is in the permanent care of a CAS. This child is known as a Crown ward.

You will then be asked to complete an application form that formalizes your intent to adopt. It provides the CAS with your adoption preferences.

Step 2: SAFE Homestudy and PRIDE

An adoption worker, also known as an adoption practitioner, will be assigned to you. They will help guide you through the two phases of the approvals process which includes a homestudy and adoption preperation. You will be eligible to adopt once these two components are complete.

The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) 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 three to eight 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.

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. It can be completed 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

Your CAS adoption worker will work with you to match a child with your family.

There are resources available to improve the chances of finding a match. This includes applying to be added in the Adoption Resources Database and the Adoption Resource Exchange Conference. Regardless of how a match is found, the most important consideration is whether the match is in the best interest of the child.

These are some programs that can help you find a match:

Step 4: Being matched

When a match has been found, you will be given the social and medical history of the child and their birth family. You will be given time to consider the placement.

If you decide to move forward, the child will make several visits to your home. This allows the child to get to know your family and surroundings before moving into your home. These visits are called pre-placement visits.

Adoption probation
Once a child is officially placed in your home, an adoption probation begins. This lasts for at least six months to ensure that the placement is appropriate for both your family and the child before the adoption is finalized.

The adoption worker will visit your home regularly during the probationary period. They will to provide support, resources and assess how the child is adjusting into your family. Usually, the probationary period lasts six months, but it can be longer.

Step 5: Finalization

The adoption can be finalized once the probation period is over and the match is determined to be a good fit for both your family and the child., It is then finalized in an Ontario court and you will become the legal parent of your adoptive child.

Financial assistance
Families may be eligible for financial support when they adopt a child from a CAS. It is evaluated and provided on a case by case basis through your CAS.

Financial support may be available to help parents cover identified needs and special needs, if parents are unable to meet those costs. You can talk to your local CAS about financial help.

Eligible families who adopt or take legal custody of specific groups of Crown wards will receive subsidies from a CAS to help with the cost of caring for these children. Families must meet the following criteria to be eligible for subsidies:

  • have a combined net family income of $93,700 or less
  • adopt or take legal custody of a Crown ward who is 8 years or older, or
  • adopt or take legal custody of two or more Crown wards who are siblings.

Eligible families will receive $1,035 per month or $12,420 annually for each eligible child up until the child turns 21.

Open adoptions

Open adoptions allow for some form of on-going contact between the child and individuals from the child's birth family that is of benefit to the child. Open adoptions are decided by the court. They are voluntary agreements that allowing consent for continued contact between the child and individuals from the child’s birth family.

Learn more