In Ontario, the children who
are placed for adoption through a private agency are most
often newborns or young infants. Private domestic adoptions
are legal in Ontario and are arranged by licensees, usually
lawyers or social workers, who are licensed by the Ministry
of Children and Youth Services to place children for adoption.
In private adoptions, the birth
parent(s) are involved a great deal in the adoption plan for
their baby and are given the opportunity to select the adoptive
family from the agency's list of approved families. Once the
birth parent(s) choose a family, a meeting can be arranged
for both parties to meet and learn more about each other.
During this time, the private licensee serves as a facilitator
for the adoption and helps both the birth parent(s) and the
adoptive family work out an adoption plan and openness agreement.
Openness can mean sharing letters
and pictures through the agency or it can mean having frequent
visits with birth family. The adopting parents decide on the
level of openness they are comfortable with during the home
study process and this is outlined in their home study for
birth parents to read when they are choosing a family.
of Private Domestic Adoptions
Private adoption is not free. With
most domestic private adoptions, prospective adoptive parents
pay the registration fees with the agency, the cost of the
home study (ranges from $2,500 to $3,000), cost of training
and a placement fee when the child is actually placed in the
home. The total costs can range anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.
PRIDE Education Program
In Ontario, prospective adoptive
parents are now required to attend an education program called
PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education).
This nine session course, which amounts to 27 hours of training,
is offered by private adoption agencies, licensed trainers
and the Children's Aid Society. If you're adopting privately,
you will need to enrol in one of the private PRIDE education
programs. The cost of PRIDE for a couple is usually around
$1,400. A list of up-to-date private PRIDE sessions can be
found at Adoptontario.ca (click
Ideally, the applicant's
participation in a PRIDE training program should be concurrent
with the completion of their SAFE home study.
PRIDE's curriculum offers adoptive parents
the information that will help prepare them for the responsibilities
involved in raising their children and incorporate information
about the following:
- Adoption and child welfare systems, processes
- Attachment as a central issue in all
- Loss issues in adoption
- Impact of adoption on your own family
- Child development, child management and
an overview of issues specific to the 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
The SAFE home study
All prospective adoptive parents
in Ontario must now have a Structured Analysis Family Evaluation
[SAFE] home study. This type of home study was designed to
evaluate families for adoption, foster care licensure, concurrent
planning, and relative placement.
If you're going to adopt privately, you
will need to hire a licensed adoption practitioner to conduct
your home study. As mentioned, a private home study will cost
you anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000. Your practitioner or social
worker will meet with you and your family over the course
of several months and during these interviews, a number of
topics will be explored. Such issues will include:
- Your family's motivation for adopting
and understanding of adoption's life long issues
- Your strengths and limitations in parenting
- The stability of your relationships (with
partners, family, friends) and sources of support.
- Your financial and employment situation,
health status, lifestyle, home and neighbourhood environments,
interests and hobbies
- Your understanding of open and closed
adoption and their implications
- The age, ethnicity, health status and
other characteristics of children that would best match
- Your understanding of sharing adoption
information with the child.
You will also be required to complete a
number of forms and questionnaires including the following:
- Medical reports (completed by you and
your family doctor)
- Proof of marriage, if applicable
- Police clearance reports
- Child welfare record checks
- Home safety checks
- Letters of reference from family, friends
- A financial statement
The SAFE home study is focused on a family's
strengths and a respectful evaluation process while keeping
in mind that the agency's most important duty is to protect
the best interests of the children in care.
* Most prospective
adoptive and foster families find the home study process intimidating
and intrusive. Social workers and agencies don't expect families
to be perfect; they are looking for people who have certain
strengths and those who have successfully and proactively
overcome life's challenges.
Below is an outline of the steps you must
complete to adopt privately in Ontario:
STEP 1: Contact a
private adoption agency and meet with the agency's Program
director or consultant.
STEP 2: Complete the following
documents and clearance checks:
- Criminal Record Checks – every
adult living in the household will need to have one completed.
If an applicant has lived in another part of Canada after
the age of 18, he/she must also have a police check completed
by that area's local police. Similarly, if an applicant
has lived in another country after the age of 18, a police
check must be performed and a copy of the report submitted
to your social worker/agency.
- Living Expenses – you may be required
to fill out a budget sheet.
- Medical Checks – for each adult
living in the household.
- Marriage Licenses
- Divorce Decrees (if applicable)
- Letters of Reference – you will
be asked to provide 5 references if you're a couple or 4
references for a single person adopting.
STEP 3: The
Home Study report. This is probably the scariest
part of the adoption process for most applicants. A social
worker from the agency or a private adoption practitioner
that you hire, will visit your home over the span of several
months and interview you about your life, your family and
your home environment. You will be asked to discuss many personal
issues; your worker will want to know about your childhood,
your religious beliefs, education, past relationships and
marriages, as well as your views on parenting. It's important
to be up front and honest with your worker so that he/she
will be able to portray a clear and accurate view of your
family in the home study report. A private home study is not
free - the average cost ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 depending
on the social worker/agency.
* As of December 31, 2007, all applicants
in the private field will be required to have a SAFE home
STEP 4: Enroll in and attend
PRIDE training. All families adopting in Ontario
whether it's through the private or public agencies must enroll
in and attend the PRIDE training program. The intent of this
standardization is to streamline the process for new applicants,
so that they can learn about all types and aspects of adoption,
and then make informed choices about the type of child or
children best suited for them. It allows applicants who may
have begun by considering one type of adoption to easily move
to other areas as desired without having to start the process
STEP 5: Write your "Dear
Expectant Parent Letter" and create a profile
to submit to your agency for expectant parents who are considering
adoption to review. Ask your agency if they have any guidelines
or for some examples of profiles that have proven successful.
STEP 6: Wait! For
most prospective adoptive parents, this can be a very difficult
and frustrating time as there is no set time limit. Birth
parents choose the family to adopt their baby and each has
their own vision of the ideal family for their baby.
STEP 7: The match!
If you've been chosen by a birth family, your agency will
contact you with the good news. Depending on the birth parents,
you most likely will have the opportunity to meet with them
before the placement to see if you're a good fit. It's at
this meeting that you will most likely discuss an openness
agreement and set the boundaries for your future relationship.
Some families choose limited contact while some birth parents
and adoptive parents become very close and agree to meet regularly
before the birth. Some birth mothers ask the adoptive parents
to attend the birth!
STEP 8: Open your home
to your new son or daughter! In Ontario, a birth
mother’s consent to the adoption of her child is only
valid if the child is at least 7 days old when the consent
is given.* With these consents signed and with the approval
of the agency, the adoptive parents may receive the child.
* Following the Consent to
Adoption, the birth parents have 21 days in which they can
change their minds and withdraw their consent. The withdrawal
must be in writing and the birth parent must obtain the revocation
of consent form from the licensee or agency placing the child
for adoption. It is then the responsibility of this licensee
to return the child to the birth parents.
STEP 9: Adoption finalization.
In Ontario, it takes approximately seven to nine months before
an adoption is finalized in court. During this time, your
social worker will visit with your family to offer support
and to ensure the baby is thriving. A recommendation by this
social worker is made at least six months after placement.
This report is reviewed by the licensee, the Ministry and
Court. If everything is in order, the adoption is finalized.