Adoption is a serious and life-changing decision for both adoptive parents and adopted children. Before making such a decision, it is important to know what the process is like, and how long it can take.

Things to Think About Before Adopting

Before you contact an adoption agency, there are some important questions you should ask yourself and your family. There are a lot of things to consider, including:

  • Do you have the financial means to care for an adopted child?
  • Are you prepared for any complications or behavioural issues that may come with the child?
  • Can you make the long-term commitment to a child?
  • Can you take on and are you ready to take on the responsibilities of supporting a child
  • Are you ready for the potentially long process of adoption?
  • In the event you adopt a child from another country, are you ready to teach them about their origins and culture?
  • Is your family ready to welcome a child into the family or how will adopting affect your family?

These are just some of the questions you should consider before embarking on the journey of adoption. There are other things you may want to consider that will be dependent on your circumstances.

Different Types of Adoption

There are five different types of adoption in Ontario:

  • Public adoption;
  • Private adoption;
  • International adoption;
  • Adoption of a step-child; and
  • Adoption of a birth relative (also known as kinship adoption)

Public Adoptions

Public adoptions involve the adoption of children who are in the permanent care of the Ontario Children’s Aid Societies (“OCAS”). These children are also known as Crown wards and are up for adoption either because their biological parents decided adoption was the best option for them and the child, or a court decided that the child must be removed from their biological parents permanently.

To start the process of adopting a child in the care of the OCAS, you must first contact your local Children’s Aid Society. You will be required to fill out paperwork, including a police check. Once this is completed, the OCAS will review your file and you will find out whether you have been approved for adoption.

There is no cost associated with public adoptions. There is also no set waiting period for these adoptions, and the length of the process will vary depending upon the circumstances.  Once you have been approved by the OCAS, it could take between six months to two years or longer to be matched with a child. Typically, once you are approved and you have been matched, there is a 6-month probation period where the child stays with you and your family to see if the match is a good fit. After that period, you can choose to adopt the child.

Private Adoptions

Private adoptions are handled through a private agency or an individual who is licensed by the government. There is a substantial cost associated with going through a private agency. The fees for their services range between $15,000 and $25,000. There are also fees for a home-study assessment and for a parent training program.

In this case, too, there is no set waiting period, and the length of the process will vary depending on the circumstances. A home study must be completed to assess whether your home is suitable for the child. Once that is completed, then the time frame may be dependent on the child’s biological parents. The biological parents sometimes have an input on where their child goes. It really depends on how they choose to put their child up for adoption. Some parents want to be involved in the match process. In those situations, biological parents will often get information regarding the potential parents, and sometimes there are even meetings between the parents. This gives the biological parents the opportunity to ask questions about their family history, their values, and how they intend to raise the child.

In other situations, babies are given up for adoption soon after birth in the hospital. In those cases, agencies may get involved, or the CAS may take the child in as a ward of the Crown.

International Adoptions

International adoptions involve children of all ages from abroad.  These adoptions are done through private agencies that are licensed by the government.

The fees for these agencies are higher than those of private adoption agencies and normally range between $20,000 to $50,000. There are also additional fees for home study assessments and similar other costs.  The waiting periods will vary and are dependent on the country from which you are adopting from.

With international adoptions, you will likely need to travel to the child’s home country to meet the child, and you may need to do this more than once. These adoptions are also often finalized in the child’s country of birth. The child must also stay in their home country until the immigration process is complete, which can further delay things and also add to the cost of the adoption.

Adoption of a step-child or kinship adoption

If you want to adopt your step-child or a relative (such as a nephew or niece, or grandchild), you can make an application for an adoption order directly to an Ontario court.  Typically, you do not need an assessment by an adoption practitioner unless the judge orders it. If the child lives outside of Canada, there is a much longer process that you will be required to go through.

Regardless of the route you take, having an adoption lawyer who knows the process and has extensive experience in dealing with these matters is exceptionally useful. Adopting a child is a big decision that effects everyone in your family, so taking the appropriate steps to ensure you are fully informed is crucial. At Borden Family Law, we have been helping our clients with their family law matters, including adoption, for over 17 years. If you are considering adoption, or need assistance with the adoption process, contact us today at 905-597-6090, or contact us online. Ask about our bundled services and flat fees.