Types of adoption

There are five main types of adoption including public, private, international, adoption of a stepchild and adopting a birth relative (kinship adoption). Below is key information about each of these types of adoptions.

Regardless of the type of adoption, be mindful that some children are coping with emotional and behavioural challenges due to early experiences in their lives. However, all have in common the need for a permanent loving, caring family to support them and help them to succeed.

Public Adoption

Public adoptions are adoptions of children in the permanent care of a children’s aid society (CAS), also known as Crown wards.

Children become available for adoption because:

  • Their birth parents decided to make an adoption plan.
  • An Ontario court decided that the child must be permanently removed from their birth parents.

To start the process

Contact your local children's aid society.


There is no cost to adoptive parents to go through the public adoption process with a children's aid society.


There is no set waiting period, so once you have been approved to adopt, it is likely to take between six months to two years or longer for you to be matched with a child.

Keep in mind

Most children in the care of a CAS who are Crown wards are beyond the age of infancy. They are often older and may have siblings who are also in CAS care.

Private Adoption

Most children placed through private adoptions are newborns. These adoptions are handled by a private agency or individual licensed by the government.

To start the process

Contact a licensed private agency, and then a private adoption practitioner to conduct a homestudy to assess your skills and readiness to raise an adopted child. Private adoption practitioners also supervise all private adoption placements.


A private agency or individual will charge you a fee for their services that is likely to be between $15,000 and $25,000. There are also additional fees for a homestudy assessment and parent training program.


There is no set waiting period. Once a homestudy has been completed, the timeframes will be affected by the birth parents' views about the family they would like to parent their child.

Keep in mind

There are relatively few infants available for adoption compared to the number of families seeking to adopt infants.

International Adoption

Children from international adoptions can be infants, toddlers, or school age and can be sibling groups. Most of these children have spent time in an orphanage.

To start the process

Contact a private agency licensed by the government to arrange international adoptions, and then a private adoption practitioner.


Agencies usually charge $20,000 to $50,000 for their services. There are also additional fees for a homestudy assessment and parent training program.


Waiting times vary according to the country you are adopting from. Approved applicants must consult with their agency regarding current timelines.

Keep in mind

You will need to travel to meet the child you are adopting in their home country and you may need to meet them more than once. Most international adoptions are finalized in the child’s country of origin. The child must remain in their country until the Canadian immigration process is complete.

Adoption of a stepchild and kinship adoption

If the child lives in Ontario

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. The Law Society can help you find a lawyer. An assessment by an adoption practitioner is not needed for this type of adoption unless the judge requires it.

If the child lives outside of Canada

To adopt a relative from outside Canada, you are required to complete the following:

  • Apply through an Ontario agency licensed to facilitate adoptions in the child's home country.
  • Contact an adoption practitioner to conduct a Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) homestudy assessment and for information regarding adoption preparation training – Parenting Resources for Information Development and Education (PRIDE).
  • Be approved as a suitable adoptive parent by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services before making an adoption application to the child's home country.
  • Submit an application to Canadian immigration to get permission for your adopted child to move to Canada.

Learn more