About adoption

Adoption is a legal means for another family to permanently take on the responsibility of raising a child and become the new family for the child. Sometimes birth parents are unable to care for their children. Other times, parents, for a variety of reasons, may seek a new family to care for their child.

The goal of adoption is to match a child with a family that can meet the child’s needs. This can take time and families and children may need support for successful and stable placements.

To become an adoptive parent in Ontario, you must be a resident. Adoptive parents can be a couple or a single person and come from various backgrounds, including different religions, ethnicities or sexual orientations.

Sometimes children and youth up to 18 who can’t live safely at home with their parents or caregivers may be cared for by alternate caregivers, including foster parents. Learn more about fostering.

Becoming an adoptive parent

Being able to provide a safe, loving home for a child is one of the most important criteria for becoming an adoptive parent.

When you are deciding whether you’re ready to start the process of adopting a child ask yourself:

  • 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 multistep adoption process?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you’re ready to learn more about adoption and your role as a potential adoptive parent.

It takes time to match the child's needs with the right family. The adoption process is complex and can take at least a year and sometimes longer to complete.

Work is underway to build an adoption system that provides a more consistent, responsive adoption experience for children, youth and prospective adoptive families.

Types of adoption

There are four main types of adoption: public, private, international and adoption of a stepchild or a birth relative.

Public adoption

Adopt a child who is in the permanent care of a children’s aid society, also known as children in extended society care (formerly known as Crown wards).

Private domestic adoption

Adopt a child using a private adoption agency (a private adoption licensee or individual licensed by the government).

International adoption

Adopt a child who lives outside Canada, including a relative. Contact a licensed international adoption agency to get help with an intercountry adoption.

Adoption of a stepchild or relative

Adopt a stepchild or relative who lives in Ontario. Apply with an adoption order directly to an Ontario court.

Adoption services and support

Learn about services and supports to help you through your adoption journey as a prospective adoptive parent. If you adopt through the public adoption process, prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents can learn about:

  • financial support programs through your society
  • post-adoption training and peer supports
  • community counselling supports

For private or intercountry adoption, your agency and/or adoption practitioner may provide parent post-adoption resources and supports.

Adopted children and youth can learn about:

Getting started with the adoption process

Children’s aid societies

Children’s aid societies facilitate the adoption of a child or youth in their care. Learn about the public adoption process in Ontario. Contact your local society for all the required information you will need to consider public adoption.

Adoption licensees

Learn more about private adoption licensees (licensed agencies and individuals) and licensed international adoption agencies in Ontario. Contact an adoption licensee to start the private adoption process.

Adoption practitioners

Learn about adoption practitioners and contact an adoption practitioner to help you with the adoption process, including the homestudy and mandatory training.

Your child’s development and needs

Early child development

A child's early years are very important for healthy development because it’s a time when a child’s brain and body develop at a rapid pace. Healthy babies and toddlers are more likely to stay healthy through their childhood, teen and adult years. Find early child development programs to support children in their growth and development before birth to the time they enter school. The programs provide services based on your child’s needs. You do not need referral from a doctor.

Children with special needs

Get information about support for your child’s special needs related to their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, language and/or behavioural development.

Updated: September 01, 2021
Published: October 30, 2020