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Adoption in Ontario

Adoption is a compassionate gift of family to a child (by “child” we mean children and youth up to the age of 18) in need of a permanent, loving relationship. Adoption creates security and acceptance. Adoption is the legal process that gives children a new family when their birth families are unable to care for them. It is intended to provide children with the stability and lifelong security that comes from a permanent home.  Some things to consider about adoption:

It’s all about the match. The needs of the child come first and a successful match is when a family is found to provide for the child’s needs.

You don’t have to be rich to adopt. You just need to be sure that you can meet the needs of the child(ren). Children’s Aid Societies do not charge fees for the home studies, training or the adoption service.

Every child is unique. And because of this, every adoption will be unique. One thing that each child has in common is the need for a forever family.

It takes time.  The process to find the right match, have a home study done and complete training can take time. The time it takes to through the adoption process varies as well depending on the needs and situation of the child.

In Ontario, there are several ways in which you can adopt, and people often explore options in all three systems:

Public Adoption

Public adoption involves the adoption of a child or youth currently in the care of Ontario’s child welfare system.  Children’s Aid Societies can facilitate the adoption of a child or youth in their care.  Typically, there are no fees associated with public adoption.  Your local Children’s Aid Society will provide you with all of the required information you will need to consider public adoption.

Private Adoption

Private adoption is the process through which a child’s biological family makes the decision to pursue an adoption plan for their child, typically at birth, though a private adoption can be initiated at any age.   The adoption is facilitated by a licensed Ontario adoption agency on a fee-for-service basis.  To locate a list of agencies licensed to facilitate private adoption, go to

Inter-Country Adoption

Inter-country adoption involves the adoption of a child from another country by a resident of Ontario. Generally, inter-country adoption must be facilitated through a licensed Ontario adoption agency that is authorised to facilitate adoption by both the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and by the child’s country of origin.  Services are provided on a fee-for-service basis and vary depending on the adoption agency’s fee schedule.  To locate a list of adoption agencies licensed to facilitate inter-country adoption, go to

All three options can be explored to build your family through adoption;  t is important to educate yourself about each of them to determine the pathway that is best for you.

Ontarians must complete the following requirements in order to adopt:

  1. Complete a SAFE (Structured Analysis, Family Evaluation) home study;
  2. Complete PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) training;
  3. Work with a licensed adoption agency or Children’s Aid Society who will facilitate the adoption; and
  4. Receive approval on suitability and eligibility to adopt.

SAFE Home Study

SAFE (Structured Analysis, Family Evaluation) is a standardized assessment model for public, private and inter-country adoption.  All Ontarians interested in expanding their family through adoption must undergo a SAFE home study, which includes:

  • Application
  • Home safety checklist and questionnaires
  • Medical report, Police and Child Welfare Clearances, and References

A SAFE home study may only be completed by a Children’s Aid adoption worker or a Ministry-approved private adoption practitioner. A list of private adoption practitioners can be found at

Your SAFE home study can take 4-6 months to complete, is generally valid for up to two years and portable across public, private and inter-country adoption.

Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) Training

PRIDE is a nine-module (27-hour) training program used to prepare and educate families interested in adoption and fostering.  PRIDE curriculum includes information about the following:

  • Adoption and child welfare systems, processes and laws
  • Attachment and loss
  • Child development and issues specific to needs of adopted children
  • The effects of neglect, lack of stimulation, abuse, institutionalization on children
  • Identity formation and the importance of cultural and racial awareness
  • The importance of connections and continuity for children

PRIDE training can be completed through a Children’s Aid Society or through a private PRIDE trainer for a fee.   A schedule of private PRIDE training sessions can be found at

A Portable Home Study

Once your home study is completed you can apply to adopt through private, public or inter-country adoption.

Each adoption system has unique requirements. Additional documentation, interviews and education may be necessary.  No one practitioner or agency can fully approve you to adopt within all three systems, and Children’s Aid Societies cannot complete a home study for the sole  purpose of inter-country adoption.

There may be instances when your SAFE home study requires an update:

  • Change of adoption system (for example, public to inter-country)
  • Change of circumstances (you have a new partner, child, you have moved to a new home or area in the province)
  • Change of child profile (you would like to expand your criteria to include different sex, age, special needs, etc.)
  • You will be required to update any information that was not provided or has changed since your original home study


Becoming approved as an adoptive applicant takes time.

Completing all of the requirements for adoption in Ontario may take up to one year.  Your local Children’s Aid Society may have a wait list for PRIDE training or to complete your SAFE home study based on staffing and resources available.

In all three systems, children are placed based on the match with the family.  The time frame for a match, and subsequent placement of a child, depends on the type of adoption you are pursuing and the profile of the child you are hoping to adopt.

Your local Children’s Aid Society or private adoption practitioner can discuss with you the time frames you may need to consider in your unique circumstance.

After two years, your SAFE home study will require an update.  This will involve obtaining new references, criminal and child welfare clearances, medical reports, and a meeting with an adoption professional to update your information.

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