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Frequently Asked Questions about adoption in Canada

Frequently Asked Questions about adoption

Adoption involves many options and avenues of research and questions that seem to be neverending. These are some of the more common ones we hear.

Q – What is Adoption?

A – Adoption is the legal and permanent transfer of parental rights from a person or couple to another person or couple.  Adoptive parents have the same responsibilities and legal rights as biological parents.


Q – What are the different types of adoption?

A – There are five main categories of adoption.

  1. Adopting an infant, child, or youth from the Canadian child welfare system  (Public)
  2. Adopting an infant or child (Private)
  3. Adopting a child from another country (International)
  4. Adopting a stepchild/children
  5. Adopting a birth relative (Kinship adoption)


Q – What are the qualifications to adopt?

A- In Canada, adoption is regulated provincially. That means the qualifications and regulations around adoption may change slightly depending upon where you live. They may also differ depending upon whether you adopt privately, through the public system, or internationally. No matter what province you live in, all potential adoptive parents must complete a homestudy that has been conducted by a qualified social worker.  Most provinces require some type of adoption readiness training or preparation before parents are permitted to adopt. 


Q – What is the cost to adopt?

A – The cost of adoption depends on a number of variables: the type of adoption you undertake, whether you work with an agency, the province you reside in and any associated travel costs.  It costs very little to adopt through the public child welfare system in Canada.

Range of Adoption Costs

Public (foster care): $0 - $3,000

Licensed Private Agency: $10,000 - $20,000

International: $20,000 - $30,000


Q – How long does the adoption process take?

A- The process of adopting can range from 9 months to 9 years, depending upon what type of adoption you undertake.  If you are adopting internationally, the process varies according to the other country involved.  One way to help speed up an adoption is to be educated, informed and as proactive as possible.


Q – How do I begin the adoption process?

A – Start by understanding how adoption works in the province where you live.  Each province has its own guidelines, legislation and requirements for potential adoptive parents.  Please use the provincial links below to start your journey!


Q – What is a homestudy?

A – A homestudy is an in-depth application and interview process conducted by a qualified social worker.  Potential adoptive parents are interviewed and undergo various reference, police and background checks and home visits.  Homestudy requirements vary from province to province.


Q – Is there any financial assistance available to adoptive parents?

A – The federal government offers a tax credit in the tax year an adoption is finalized.  Some provinces also offer tax credits.  Additionally, the National Bank of Canada offers loans for some adoption cases. 

Please find more information at


Q – Who are the children in foster care?

A – Children are placed in foster care because their biological families can no longer care for them.  Sometimes, this is a result of neglect, abuse or abandonment.  Some children are adopted separately, and some as part of a sibling group.  The average age in foster care is ten (10), though children range from infants to teenagers.  Every race, ethnic group and socioeconomic category is represented.


Q – What is the difference between a private agency and a public agency?

A – A public agency is the local branch of your provincial or area social service department.  Public agencies, like Children’s Aid Societies, are responsible for finding adoptive families for children in their care.

A private agency is a provincially licensed organization. These agencies either operate on a non-profit basis or for profit.  Private agencies typically specialize in domestic infant adoption and/or international adoption.


Q – Are there age restrictions to adopt?

A – Restrictions around ages of potential adoptive parents can vary depending upon what type of adoption you undertake, the agency you work with, the ages of children being matched and intercountry requirements.  Ask about this when you first begin doing research into the kind of adoption you pursue.


Q – Can I adopt if I am single?

A – Yes! Contact your local agency to find out their applicable guidelines.


Q – Can I adopt if I am gay or lesbian?

A – Yes.  In Canada, there are no legal prohibitions to same-sex adoption.  However, some countries do not permit international adoptions by same-sex couples.  Contact your local agency or provincial child welfare authority to find out their applicable guidelines.


Q – Where do I begin searching for waiting children? 

A - Some provinces have photolistings on their websites and some private agencies may provide profile descriptions.  We encourage you to visit the following sites to learn more about children and youth available for adoption in Canada: