There are four ways to adopt a child in Ontario – public, private, international and relative or step-child adoption. This blog will discuss the differences between them.

Public adoption is the adoption of a child or youth who is currently in permanent care (called extended care) of a Children’s Aid Society. Generally, these children are over 6 years old. These children may have had many caregivers, experience grief, loss, trauma and may have complex needs or diagnosed conditions. As a result, they need adults around them to be empathetic and responsive. The children’s voice, identity, cultural needs, and experiences are key factors in deciding which family will provide a permanent home. There are no fees associated with public adoption.

Private adoption is when a child’s birth family makes the decision to place their child for adoption, typically at birth, but not always. Private domestic adoption is handled by a licensed private adoption agency or licensed individual in Ontario. There is a fee for service associated with private adoption.

International adoption allows children from outside Canada to be adopted and find permanent homes in Ontario. Children can be any age from infants to school age children, and they may have siblings. These children may have spent time in foster care or in an orphanage. In addition to meeting Ontario’s requirements, the adoptive parent must also meet the requirements of the child’s home country. International adoptions must be facilitated through an Ontario adoption agency or individual and must be licensed and authorized by both the Ontario government as well as the child’s country of origin. Services are provided on a fee for service basis and vary depending on the adoption agency’s fees.

Relative or step-child adoption differs from other adoptions. If you are a step-parent or close relative, you can complete a relative adoption order directly through an Ontario court. You do not require a licensed private adoption agency or licensed individual to assist you. Although, if the child resides outside of Canada, then it must follow requirements for international adoptions.

If you go through private or public adoption, you will need to complete a PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) which is a mandatory 27 hour course. The course focuses on preparing adoptive parents to meet the needs of adopted child(ren). You will also need to complete a SAFE (Structured Analysis Family Evaluation). This is a home study that allows adoption practitioners to evaluate prospective adoptive families in a uniform manner.

You’ll also need to complete a ROACH (Report On the Adjustment of Child in the Home). This is a report required by the ministry and the Court prior to finalizing an adoption.

As can be seen Adoption is a complex process. No matter which way you want to adopt, always seek the advice of an experienced family law lawyer.

If you or someone you know needs assistance with a Family Law matter, we’re here to help – [email protected] This WARDS LAWYERS PC publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. Specific or more information may be necessary before advice could be provided for your particular circumstances.

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