Adopting a child is a major decision, and parents who take this on typically go through a whirlwind of excitement, nervousness, and joy. It involves several legal procedures and requirements that take up a lot of time and money. It is also an emotionally-demanding process since matters of the family are matters of the heart.
However, this should not discourage you from facing the obstacles head-on. Our family lawyers are here to make sure you understand your options for adoption in Ontario and the possible challenges you might face during the process. Continue reading to learn all about them.
Types of Adoption in Ontario
There are four distinct adoption processes available in Ontario Canada. It’s important to think carefully about your family’s needs and circumstances while deciding between the many adoption options.
Private domestic adoption
Private adoptions occur when a child (often a baby) is adopted through a private adoption agency as opposed to a public adoption service like Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Adoption within a country’s borders is also known as a “domestic adoption.” There is typically some cost associated with using the services of a private adoption agency. The agency takes care of everything from the paperwork to all necessary documentation and connects the children with suitable families.
The Ontario government mandates home study evaluation and parent training programs, both of which come with additional costs. If the child you plan on adopting is born in another part of Canada, you’ll need to include travel expenses, research the rules in that region, and discuss the legal requirements surrounding the process with a family lawyer.
Adopting a kid who is in the permanent custody of a CAS is considered a public adoption.
Most of the children in CAS care are of school age. Some of them also have siblings under CAS care; hence they want to remain together. A child can be placed with a permanent adoptive family when they meet the following criteria for public adoption:
- The child’s biological parents created a plan for their adoption.
- An Ontario court ruled that the child must be taken away from either biological parents or legal guardians and placed with the state
CAS often hosts informational sessions for prospective adoptive parents interested in public adoption. Participating in a Children’s Aid Society’s public adoption program is completely free.
Applying for adoption requires a home study, criminal records check, background studyand attending mandated training. As soon as these procedures are finalized, you will be informed of your adoption status. There is a waiting period of several months to more than two years after adoption approval before you are paired with a child.
Adopting a kid living in a country other than Canada is considered an international adoption, even if you’re related to the child. International adoption applies to babies, toddlers, or school-aged children who may already have siblings. Many of these kids have been in governmental or institutional care, such as an orphanage.
It’s important to consider that bringing a child into Canada through international adoption can be costly. You will need to select a registered agency and set aside cash for their services, fees for the obligatory parent training class, the home study evaluation, and your travel and lodging expenses when you pick up your child and bring them home. If you want to provide your adopted child with a permanent home in Canada, you must also apply to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Make sure that the company you work with is legitimate by verifying their credentials. Adopting a child from outside Canada is possible, but only if certain requirements are met under international law. Our family lawyers and immigration lawyers in Toronto can help you understand these laws and meet their requirements without running into legal obstacles.
Adoption by a family member
Family adoption refers to the process through which a Canadian citizen or permanent resident petitions the court for permission to adopt a relative or stepchild already living in the country. Adoption procedures vary slightly depending on the child’s location, especially if they are in Ontario. Adoption by a close relative is also called kinship adoption.
Individuals adopting a child within Ontario may be exempt from the training program and the home study requirement. However, remember that this condition doesn’t apply to every region in Canada. Talk to a family lawyer about the options for adoption in Toronto or wherever you reside.
The procedure for adopting a relative living outside Canada is the same as that for adopting a child from another country and may be broken down into two broad categories:
Adoption by a Stepparent
Stepparent adoption is when a child is officially adopted by the spouse of one of the birth parents while the other birth parent relinquishes all parental rights.
One of the adoptive parents in a stepparent adoption already has a biological connection to the child. The majority of adoptions involve a stepparent adopting a stepchild. After an adoption, the stepparent assumes all parental rights and responsibilities for the minor child until they come of age.
Once an adoption is finalized, the child’s biological parent loses all their parental duties or rights, including those related to the obligation to pay child support for the now adopted child. Taking on the role of a stepparent is undoubtedly gratifying and will fill you with pride. Adoption via a stepparent’s family is the most prevalent kind of adoption worldwide and a common case in Canada. Yet, given the prevalence of adoption, it comes as a surprise that so few tools are available to aid first-time parents in navigating the challenges that often accompany the process.
The legal rights connected with parenting may not always extend to the connection that a stepparent has with their stepchildren, and this causes a lot of confusion for prospective stepparents. As a result, stepparent adoption is a significant life event for many families.
Issues adoptive parents face in Canada
The Canadian government has enacted legislation that applies to all types of adoption, including international and domestic adoptions. Adoptive parents approach our family lawyers with various queries and cases, but the following are the top two adoption issues in Canada:
Gaining consent from the other parent
Except in cases when the noncustodial parent has deserted the child , adopting a stepchild requires the approval of your spouse and the other biological parent. Once the consent is granted, the noncustodial parent has no further involvement or responsibility with the child.
However, the difficulty in gaining consent is a major barrier faced by most adoptive parents in Canada. Stepparent adoptions require the approval of the noncustodial parent except if the birth parent’s rights have been revoked for any reason.
This is why parents who maintain at least some contact with their children are hesitant to fully relinquish their parental role. They are more likely to fight against full legal or physical custody rights. There may also be situations where it’s impossible to reach the other parents and get their consent. In such cases, prospective stepparents have the option of exploring other child custody arrangements.
Relinquishing legal parental rights of the birth parent
Another major adoption issue in Canada arises when terminating the parental rights of the child’s biological parent. The biological parent(s) may simply refuse to surrender their parental rights. If the stepparent can prove that the birth parent has abandoned the kid, is unfit, or is not the child’s biological parent, then the stepparent can legally terminate their parental rights. However, this is only possible if you have an experienced family lawyer on your side.
Abandonment can only be shown if one of the biological parents has failed to provide financial support for the kid for at least a year or has deserted the child entirely. You can ask the court to declare the other birth parent unfit if you have proof that they are abusive, neglected, or jailed. Our family lawyers in Toronto can help you proceed with a fitness hearing request for this or even represent you in court.
Family lawyers who make adoption stress-free for prospective parents
There are many legal nuances involved in drafting adoption arrangements, and a qualified family lawyer can assist you in understanding and dealing with them. You can rely on the experienced family lawyers at Nanda & Associate Lawyers to provide strong advocacy in any legal disputes arising out of your adoption. They will work with you to make sure you meet all legal requirements and start a beautiful life with your child in no time.
The initial consultation with one of our Toronto family lawyers is free of charge and comes with no conditions attached. We pride ourselves on providing each of our clients with individualized attention and sound legal advice. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation. We can also help you with spousal support in Canada.