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We can assist with domestic private adoptions and intercountry adoptions.


Domestic Private Adoption

For a child to be placed in a private domestic adoption ( not involving a protection agency), an Adoption Licensee ( being an individual or licensed agency) must obtain the Approval of the Director of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. The licensee must provide the Director with a Homestudy completed by an approved adoption practitioner, including all vetting documents, along with proof of completion by the applicant/s of a 27 hour adoption training course.

Any parent considering a plan for adoption placement of a child must be provided with options counselling and emotional support by a counsellor, who will also assist the parent with the completion of social and medical history reports. Relevant information is to be exchanged to ensure that all parties are making an informed decision. Most placements involve fully open adoptions and the understandings reached with respect to open adoption are to be documented in an openness agreement. Prior to placement, the Licensee must determine whether any notice is required to be given relating to the child’s status as First Nations, Metis, or Inuit.

A child’s aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle and grandparent (defined relatives) are exempt from the need for the Director’s approval, except, importantly, in an intercountry adoption case.

The adoption cannot proceed without the written consent of any person who qualifies as a legal ‘parent’ whose consent is required by legislation. The consent cannot be given until 8th day following the child’s birth, must be witnessed by an independent lawyer, and can be revoked during a 21 day period. A child 7 or older must also give consent to adoption. In some limited circumstances, the court may dispense with the requirement of consent.

The licensee must ensure that the placement is supervised for six months by an approved adoption practitioner, must obtain a Statement from the Director recommending finalization of the adoption on the basis of the practitioner’s report, and must gather all documents to file in court in support of the adoption application.

Certain interprovincial private adoptions may be possible, depending on the laws of the respective provinces. In the case of a child being brought into Ontario for adoption purposes, Ministry Approval must be obtained, and the licensee must obtain a special term in order to facilitate the said adoption placement.

Jurisdiction of Ontario court

For the Ontario court to grant an order of adoption, both the adoptive applicant/s and the person being adopted must be residents of Ontario. The application may be made by an individual or by spouses, which include couples who are married or who are cohabiting in a conjugal relationship, including same-sex couples. The court has jurisdiction to hear the adoption application where the child was placed by a licensee or a children’s aid society, or where , not having been placed by either, has resided with the applicant/s for two years and is the subject of a Director’s Statement supported by a social work report on the child’s adjustment. The court can also hear an application by defined relatives of a child or by a parent of the child or by the spouse of the child’s parent, without the child having been placed for adoption with Director’s approval. The court has discretion to grant the adoption of an adult person and will consider various factors, including whether the person had been raised by the applicant/s before the age of 18. Best interests of the child/person to be adopted is always considered by the court.

Intercountry Adoption

In order to ensure that a child subject of an intercountry adoption will be able to enter and live permanently in Canada, such an adoption must comply with the following intertwining requirements: federal immigration regulations, Ontario intercountry adoption requirements, laws governing adoption in the child’s country of origin, and, if applicable, the requirements of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The said Convention applies when a child, habitually resident in one Convention state, has been, or is to be moved to another Convention country before or after the adoption by spouses or a person who are habitually resident in the receiving Convention state. ‘Habitually resident’ is not defined.

For both Hague and non-Hague countries and adoptions finalized here or abroad, there are two necessary steps that must be followed in an intercountry adoption, and relatives of a child are not exempt from these requirements:

  1. the prospective adoptive applicants must be determined by the Director to be suitable and eligible to adopt a child, of described characteristics, such as age, from the country of origin. Such determination is made on the basis of a Homestudy which must be submitted to the Director , in most cases, by an intercountry adoption agency. ( An individual licensee may only facilitate an intercountry adoption from a non-Hague country where the adoption is to be finalized in Ontario.) A licence term permitting facilitation from the specific country must be obtained, often an onerous requirement.
  2. After the child is matched with approved applicants, the Director must approve the proposed adoption of the specific child before the Director will provide to the Canadian immigration or citizenship authorities, a notification letter confirming compliance with Ontario intercountry adoption requirements, and, in a Hague case, compliance with Hague requirements, as necessary for sponsorship or direct citizenship application on behalf of the child.

In a Hague case, there are many additional requirements which must be met in order for the Central Authority of the child’s country of origin, and the Director, as Central Authority for Ontario, to exchange Articles including most importantly the mutual agreement that the child can be entrusted to the applicants.

Our Practising Lawyers
Cheryl Appell

For more than 35 years, Cheryl has represented and advised adoptive parents and biological parents, as wells as adoption agencies and licensees, in relation to adoption proceedings. Since permanent adoption licences were introduced in legislation, Cheryl has been licensed by the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services to place children for adoption in Ontario and to facilitate certain interjurisdictional placements.

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Cheryl Appell

Katelynn Schoop

I practice exclusively family law and help clients with smart, practical, and effective solutions tailored to each family. I work efficiently and focused on a positive outcome, whether in negotiations or in litigation. I understand the importance of clear communication in a family law matter and make sure that my clients are involved in each step of the process. I have experience in all types of family law processes, including negotiations, court, and collaborative divorce and offer my clients a wide range of options to choose from.

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Katelynn Schoop

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