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125 Adopting a child The Ontario government has established a number of rules and guidelines for the adoption of children. These procedures must be followed to legally adopt a child.
- Who can adopt a child?In order to adopt a child in Ontario, you must live in Ontario and you must be at least 18 years old. You do not have to be married but, if you are, your spouse must also agree in writing that he or she wants to adopt a child. Two people can only adopt a child together if they are married or living in an opposite sex common law relationship.
- Giving permission for your child to be adoptedAn adoption can generally take place only with the written permission of the natural parents. In some circumstances, written permission may also be required from someone else who is providing financial support to the child or who has custody of or access to the child. The child must be at least seven days old before written permission for adoption can be given and the natural parents then have 21 days to change their mind and cancel the permission. If permission is cancelled within the 21 days, the child must be returned to the natural parents. If the 21 days has gone by and the child has been placed with an adoptive family, the natural parents cannot normally change their mind about the adoption. In some situations, the court can decide that written consent of the natural parents is not needed. If a child has been neglected or abused, the court can allow the child to be adopted without the parents' consent.
- How to adopt a child in OntarioThere are generally two ways to adopt a child in Ontario. The first is through the Children's Aid Society. To adopt a child through the Children's Aid Society, you must first apply and go through a standard screening process. If your application is approved the Society will try to match you with a suitable child. A social worker will visit with you and the child and help you apply to the court to make the adoption final. Usually the child has to have been in your care for six months before the adoption order is given by the court.
The second way to adopt a child is through a private agency licenced by the Ontario Government. The actual process is very similar to going through the Children's Aid Society. In most cases a social worker will conduct a home study to make sure that the adoption is suitable for the parents and the child.
If you want to adopt a member of your own family, such as a grandchild or step-child, you do not need to go through the Children's Aid Society or a private adoption agency. However, you still need to go to court to get a formal adoption order. If you would like to adopt a child, a lawyer may be able to help you deal with all of the requirements.