If you have chosen to adopt a child, there are a few things you should know about before becoming an adoptive parent in Ontario. In this guide, we summarise a few of the common questions that are asked when someone is thinking about adopting a child in Ontario.
What is adoption?
Adoption is a legal process that involves you, the parent, and the adoption agency. You may also want to seek the support of adoption lawyers. It is a legal means for a family to take on the responsibilities of raising a child and become that child’s new family.
Adopting means taking on all rights and responsibilities of parenthood as if they were your biological child. This means parental control of their upbringing, in every way possible—they will live with you, attend the school you select and so forth. It also means they are legally considered your children; any adoption order made by the court will finalise this adoption forevermore. Adoptions can occur both domestically within Canada as well as internationally.
Types of adoption in Ontario and each of their estimated costs
In Ontario, there are 4 main types of adoption available:
- Public Adoption – Adopting a child who is in the care of the government (There are no costs associated with this option)
- Private Domestic Adoption – Adopting a child through a private licensed agency (Between 15,000$ & 30,000$ plus additional fees for certain studies and training programmes)
- International Adoption – Adopting a child who lives outside of Canada. This can include a relative (This option can cost between 20,000$ & 50,000$ plus additional fees similar to private domestic adoption)
- Adoption of a stepchild or relative that lives in Ontario (Must be done by applying through an Ontario court unless this child is located internationally, then the steps for an international adoption must be carried out. There may be court costs and lawyers fees if you choose to hire one)
What is the process to adopt a child in Ontario?
First, you will need to choose an adoption agency to work with. Once you have found the appropriate agency, they will help you decide on which type of adoption is right for you. They will also help you go through the process and let you know all the information they will require from you in order to proceed with the adoption process. In short, the agency will ensure that all the legal requirements are met to allow the adoption to be finalised.
The adoption process can be a long and complex procedure. It requires many decisions, training and studies to be conducted so the agency can be sure the child will be placed in a proper environment. The process will inherently vary, but it can potentially include:
- An adoption training programme
- Adoption classes in partnership with the adoption agency
- A home study, which the adoption agency will perform before adoption. It includes an investigation into your family and living situation to determine whether you are fit to adopt a child.
- An adoption probation period of 6 months to ensure that the placement of the child is appropriate
Why choose adoption?
There are numerous reasons why people will choose adoption as an option to grow their family. It is a personal decision and so the reasons one person may have to proceed with adoption may not be the same reasons another does so. Some common reasons for choosing adoption are:
- Being unable to conceive or carry a child
- Not wanting to go through pregnancy and/or childbirth to protect the woman’s health
- Wanting to adopt a specific gender baby or specific ethnicity baby
- Having a family member in need of a family (relative adoption)
- To avoid passing down genetic disorders
- To help a child in need
Whatever the reason may be, adoption is a sensible option for many and it can have a tremendously positive impact on the life of the adoptive child.
Adopting internationally vs domestically
Although there are some similarities, an international adoption does have some extra steps that you wouldn’t normally see with a domestic adoption. The main factor you need to be certain of is which country you wish to adopt a child from. This is because a family may only adopt a child from one country at a time. Therefore, you must carefully choose which country is right for you. This means looking up the different eligibility requirements that each country requires since not all countries share the same views. An example would be that some countries do not permit same-sex couples to adopt a child within their borders.
You must also be prepared to travel to that country to visit the child during the adoption process. This may need to happen more than once.
Who can adopt a child in Ontario?
To adopt a child, one must be 18 years old or older and reside in Ontario. With that being said, these are the bare minimum criteria. Someone is not guaranteed to be accepted as an adoptive parent simply because they are 18 and live in Ontario. Your age, health, financial and home situation are usually taken into account by the agency you choose to adopt through. You cannot be denied the opportunity to adopt a child for discriminatory reasons such as race, gender and sexual orientation.
Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself to determine if adoption is the right option for you:
- Can I provide a child with a secure, nurturing and loving home?
- Am I ready to welcome a child into my family? Can I make a long-term commitment?
- Am I ready to take on the responsibilities of raising a child?
- Am I willing to participate in a multi-step adoption process?
How long does the adoption process take?
The adoption process will vary depending on the chosen type of adoption. All the administrative aspects must be completed, the training and the home study must be done. Finding a child to be matched with can take months to years. It is best to find an adoption agency and discuss with them how long it may take in your specific case. All that can be said in a general sense is that the adoption is never an expedited process so you should be ready to wait up to several years before it is completely done and over with.
Can single parents adopt?
In Ontario, adoption for single parents is possible but adoption agencies prefer couples with two incomes and many resources because adoption costs are expensive. Ultimately, single parents will have to prove that they have enough finances to raise the child and can provide financial support for them until adulthood.
How does adoption work if the birth parents are not married and only one wants to allow the adoption of their child?
Birth parents’ consent is required for adoption (unless they have abandoned their child or their rights have been terminated). This is pursuant to section 137(2) of the Child and Family Services Act. If one birth parent refuses to sign adoption papers, then the adoption cannot go ahead unless the Court orders that adoption may still take place even if only one of the natural parents consented; in such circumstances, it is necessary to obtain a court order permitting adoption.
Can adoption agencies refuse adoption?
Adoption agencies have the right to refuse adoption services based on adoption eligibility requirements and adoption agencies are free to conduct their own adoption screening. These agencies have rigorous standards that need to be met in order for them to be convinced that this child will be placed in a caring and loving home. Any red flags from prospective adoptive parents may ultimately result in them being denied the opportunity to adopt a child.
To conclude, adoption is a decision that should only be made with careful consideration. It is important to ensure adoption services are fully understood prior to applying for adoption and we encourage those considering it to fully research adoption so they can understand its implications. It is a massive undertaking with a lifetime commitment attached, so adoptive parents and agencies alike need to make sure that everything is in order so that the best interest of the child being adopted is kept at the forefront of everyone’s priorities