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Types of Adoptions

In Ontario, there are four types of adoptions:

  1. International adoption: Adoption of a child who lives outside of Canada (this includes a relative).
  2. Public adoption: Adoption of a child who is in the permanent care of the Children’s Aid Society.
  3. Private domestic adoption: Adoption of a child using a private adoption agency or an individual licensed by the government.
  4. Family adoption: Adoption of a stepchild or relative who resides in Ontario.

This article will focus on family adoptions and provide some details and information about how Nelligan Law can help you with your family adoption.

What is a family adoption?

A family adoption is the legal process of adopting a relative or stepchild who lives in Ontario. The individual looking to adopt the child would make an application directly to an Ontario court. You do not need to use an adoption agency or have an adoption practitioner assess you for a family adoption unless this is ordered by the court.

Who qualifies as “family”?

The following individuals would be able to make an application for adoption in an Ontario court:

  1. A stepparent;
  2. An aunt/uncle, or great aunt/uncle;
  3. A grandparent or great-grandparent.

The individual seeking to adopt the child is the “Applicant”. They must be over the age of 18 and reside in Ontario.

Can an adult be adopted?

Yes, the law allows individuals over the age of 18 to be adopted. The court may require additional information in these cases.

What is the process of  family adoption in Ontario?

While the process for a family adoption in Ontario is relatively straightforward, there are a number of court documents to complete. There are additional documents that will be needed to support the Adoption Application, such as a statement of live birth for the child who is to be adopted.

In addition to the above, the adoptee must provide their consent. If the child is a minor, the court will require a lawyer to be appointed through the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, who will ensure the child is fully informed about the adoption process and ensure that the adoption is the child’s true wishes.

Both biological parents are required to provide consent to the adoption. This means that the person seeking to adopt the child will legally take the place of the biological parent, and that parent will have their parental status terminated.

All parties who need to provide consent have 21 days to withdraw their consent.

What if the biological parent refuses to provide their consent or what if I cannot obtain their consent?

If a biological parent refuses to provide consent to the adoption, it may be possible to dispense with that parent’s consent with a court order.

How long will adoption take?

It depends. If all the required documents can be prepared, served, and filed in a timely manner, the process can move quicker. However, there can be factors that are beyond your control, such as court filing backlogs or issues with filing the proper court documents, that can cause delay.

We recommend consulting a lawyer about the adoption process as they can walk you through all the steps required in an Adoption Application.

Do I need a lawyer for an adoption?

You do not require a lawyer to bring an Adoption Application in Ontario. However, retaining a lawyer who knows how to complete the required court documents and understands the court process will likely be the best decision in the long run. Navigating the court system alone can be overwhelming. Nelligan Law would be happy to assist you with your family adoption!


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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