How to adopt
There are four ways a child may be adopted in Ontario:
- By a family member or a step-parent
- Through various children’s aid societies such as the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Catholic Children’s Aid Society and Jewish and Family Child Services
- Through a licensed individual or private adoption agency or
- Through a recognized licensed international adoption agency with offices in Ontario.
The most common types of adoptions are by family members. A family member can be a step-parent or a relative.
To qualify as a family member for the purposes of an adoption application, the person must be a relative of the child through blood, marriage or adoption. Relatives include people such as the child’s grandparent, great uncle, great aunt, uncle or aunt.
Priorities of the Court
The Court’s primary objective is to evaluate and promote the best interests, protection and well-being of children. This consideration takes into account several factors such as the child’s physical, developmental, mental and emotional needs, the child’s cultural and religious background, the child’s relationships by blood and the child’s wishes, if they can be reasonably ascertained. Where the child is Aboriginal, the Court will take into consideration the importance of preserving the uniqueness of the child’s Aboriginal culture, heritage and traditions.
An order for the adoption of a child who is less than 16 years of age, or is 16 years of age but has not withdrawn from parental control, must require the written consent of every parent. A parent includes the child’s mother or father, the lawful custodian of the child, or a person under a written agreement or court order who is required to provide for the child, has custody of the child or a right of access to the child. A parent cannot give their consent to place their child for adoption before the child is seven days old.
On the other hand, the Court may dispense with a parent’s consent if the Court is satisfied that obtaining the consent would cause the person emotional harm or the person is not able to consent because of a developmental disability. A person who gives a consent may withdraw it in writing within 21 days after the consent is given and where that person had custody of the child immediately before giving the consent, the child shall be returned to him or her as soon as the consent is withdrawn. The Court may permit a person to withdraw their consent after the 21-day period where the Court is satisfied that it is in the child’s best interests to do so, and where that person had custody of the child immediately before giving the consent, the child shall be returned to him as soon as the consent is withdrawn.
An order for the adoption of a person who is seven or older shall not be made without the child’s written consent.
Court process for adoption
Prior to issuing an adoption order, the Court will hold a hearing. No notice of the hearing is given to a person who has given consent for their child to be placed for adoption and not retracted it or to a person whose consent has been dispensed with.
An application for an adoption order shall be heard in court in the absence of the public. The following people are not entitled to receive notice of an application for adoption: a person who has given a consent and has not withdrawn it; a person whose consent has been dispensed with; or a parent of a Crown ward who is placed for adoption. The court files are sealed from the public but viewable to the parties involved.
An adoption order is final and irrevocable, subject to a limited right to appeal. No court shall make an order for access to the child by a birth parent or a member of a birth parent’s family.
- If you are either a relative or a step-parent and you are interested in pursuing an adoption application or wish to discuss the possibility of adopting, Shawyer Family Law can discuss with you the adoption process and guide you through the adoption process. If you wish to adopt an Ontario child who is related to you in a manner different than described above, you must meet the basic Ontario Government requirements. The relevant information may be found at from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website.
- Further information:
Adoptions: To Review or Not to Review
For more information, please contact:
Shawyer Family Law
504-2300 Dufferin Street
Toronto, ON M6A 3B2
416-398-4044 ext 25