Canada International Adoption Process and Cost

Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette, Ann of Green Gable’s Lucy Maud Montgomery- these people do not have one defining similarity, except that they are all Canadians. Aside from being known as a well-mannered populace, Canadians also excel in the entertainment, arts, and even sports industries. So, apart from the reward of respect from Canadian adoptees, adoptive parents are also to cultivate promising potentials. Also, being one of the most educated countries in the world, Canada guarantees that their children who are up for international adoption are likely to be academically successful. Hence, what more can these children become if sheltered in a loving and sustaining home?

Canada International Adoption

Typically, international adoption in Canada takes approximately 2 to 4 years. Moreover, it should cost adoptive parents more or less $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the various elements. These elements include the process’ potential delays or waiting periods, the service providers, and the travel required of the applicants. In light with this, these are the steps of a Canadian international adoption:

1. Choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider;

2. Applying to be found eligible to adopt;

3. Matching and referral with a child by authorities in Canada;

4. Applying for the child to be found eligible for immigration;

5. Obtaining legal custody of a child in Canada; and

6. Obtaining an immigrant visa for the child and bring the child home.

Canada’s adoption authority is actually different for its various provinces and territories. Hence, actual adoption policies and procedures may have slight differences than what is discussed here. However, as a Hague country, the majority of the process are discussed in this article in accordance with the Hague Convention.

Canada International Adoption

What to Know Before Proceeding with the Adoption Process

Who are eligible to adopt?

 Similarly, the best way to be accurate on Canada’s eligibility requirements for adoptive parents is to know directly from provinces. However, international adoptions typically have the following requirements:

  1. Adoptive parents must be at least twenty-five years old.
  2. Married couples must adopt together, even if they are separated.
  3. Single individuals may adopt.
  4. LGBT individuals are allowed domestically; hence, some provinces may allow for international adoption. However, the adoptive parents’ own country may have its own rules and regulations regarding this matter.
  5. Adoptive parents must prove financial stability and capability to sustain for a child.
  6. Hopeful adoptive parents must have no criminal history.
  7. Adoptive parents must be physically and psychologically healthy.

What are the documents to be prepared?

Like most Convention adoptions, these are the documents prospective adoptive parents should prepare for international adoption in Canada.

  1. Original and a copy of the adoptive parents ́ passports
  2. Copy of a document that states the current address of the adoptive parents
  3. Birth certificates
  4. Marriage certificates, if applicable
  5. Divorce decrees, if applicable
  6. Financial documentation or proof of financial assets
  7. Police reports

Who are up for adoption?

As mentioned, policies about the eligibility of children for adoption may vary depending on each province. However, prospective adoptive parents may expect for children who are at toddler age to under 18. Children with special needs may also be on the waiting list. But generally, as a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptees must meet the definition of abandoned by 22 CFR 96.2.

Abandonment means:

a. That a child’s parent has willfully forsaken all parental rights, obligations, and claims to the child. Also, the parent must have willfully forsaken all custody of the child. This shall be provided that there is no intent to transfer these rights to any specific individual/s or entity.

b. The child’s parent must have surrendered such rights, obligations, claims, control, and possession.

c. That a parent’s knowledge that a specific person or persons may adopt a child does not void an abandonment. However, a purported act of abandonment cannot be conditioned on the child’s adoption by that specific person or persons.

d. That the parent/s entrust the child to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of adoption, the third party must be authorized under the country’s child welfare laws. This could be a governmental agency, a court of competent jurisdiction, an adoption agency, or an orphanage.

e. That, if the parent/s entrusted the child to an orphanage, the parent/s did not intend the placement to be merely temporary. There must be no intention of retaining the parent-child relationship. Still, the child is abandoned if the parent/s entrusted the child permanently and unconditionally to an orphanage.

f. That, a written document from the parent/s, is not necessary to prove abandonment. If a document is presented, it must specify whether the parent/s was able to read and understand it. If not, then the document is not valid unless the document is accompanied by a declaration. This declaration must be signed by an individual competent in translating the document into that the parent understands. If this person is a Central Authority officer or employee, he or she must certify the truth of the facts. This is as stated in the declaration.

The Adoption Process

Canada International Adoption

1. Choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider.

Prospective adoptive parents are recommended to select an initial adoption service provider as a first step. The service provider must be accredited or approved for operation in their own country or the receiving country. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in the adoption case. Their responsibility is primarily ensuring that the adoption process is done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention.

Specifically, these are the six adoption services that primary adoption service providers are responsible for:


  • Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
  • Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and adoption;
  • Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent/s, and reporting on such a study;
  • Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
  • Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent/s until final adoption; or
  • When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) childcare or any other social service pending an alternative placement.

2. Applying for eligibility to adopt.

After choosing an accredited or approved adoption service provider, prospective adoptive parents must apply to be found eligible to adopt.

For U.S. citizens, they can apply to the U.S. government agencies. These are the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application that is to be submitted is the Form I-800A. Explicitly, the Form I-800A is an Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.

Once the USCIS determines that the applicants are eligible to adopt, the applicants will then receive an approval notice. In addition, the adoption service provider will provide the applicants’ home study. They will also provide the required information to the Canadian province the applicants are adopting from as part of the dossier. Then, the provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada will review the application. The purpose of this is to determine whether the applicants are eligible to adopt under Canada’s law.

3. Matching and referral with a child by authorities in Canada.

Once the Central Authority in Canada has determined a child as available for adoption, they will provide a referral for the applicants. This is provided that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. The referral is a proposed match between the applicants and a child based on the dossier and the child’s needs.

Accordingly, the Central Authority will provide a background study and other information about the child. This is in order to help applicants decide whether to accept the referral or not. The applicants must decide whether or not they will be able to meet the needs of a particular child. If they accept the referral, the adoption service provider will communicate the decision to the adoption authority in Canada. 

4. Applying for the child’s eligibility to immigrate.

After the acceptance of the match, the applicants will then apply for provisional approval for the child’s immigration.  

For instance, U.S. applicants will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS). The application is in the form of Form I-800. This form is a Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee. Other than that, they also determine if the child is eligible to enter the U.S. and reside permanently as an immigrant.

Then, after provisional approval of Form I-800, the adoption service provider or the adoptive parents will apply for the child’s visa. The Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Canada. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities. Also, the officer will advise the adoptive parents of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

Further, the consular officer will send an Article 5 Letter to the provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada. This letter will inform the Central Authority that the parents are eligible to adopt. Also, it will tell that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the receiving county. This is provided that the receiving country agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Attempts to adopt or obtain custody of a child before the issuance of Article 5 Letter, shall be invalid.

5. Obtaining legal custody of a child in Canada.

After the application for the child’s eligibility for immigration, the adoptive parents may proceed to the finalization of the adoption. However, the process for finalizing the adoption or obtaining legal custody in Canada varies by province. Thus, adoptive parents should contact the relevant provincial adoption authority for specific information. Some provinces may ask for proof that the documents from the receiving country are authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist. 

Generally, in this stage, according to most Hague countries, the “Article 5 Letter” is sent to the court. The court’s role is to review the application and issue an adoption order for the child’s placement. The process should take months until the court asks for the appearance of the adoptive parents. This may be different in Canada, but other Hague countries even require witnesses to provide testimony for the adoptive parents. The testimony shall be about financial status, housing conditions, criminal history, and character. These are all necessary for the final adoption decree.

6. Obtaining an immigrant visa for the child and bring the child home.

As the last step, adoptive parents will apply for three documents before traveling home with the adoptee. These are the following:

Birth Certificate

Applying for a new birth certificate for the child is necessary for a passport application. If the adoption has been finalized in Canada, the new birth certificate will contain the adoptive parents’ names. Otherwise, if the custody is granted abroad, the new birth certificate will not include the adoptive parents’ name yet.

Application for a birth certificate will require proof of the child’s Canadian citizenship. Accordingly, the applicants will submit the old birth certificate issued by the province or territory where the child was born. Or they may submit a Canadian citizenship certificate issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Canada Passport

The child, of course, shall need a Canadian travel document or passport in order to fly to the receiving country. Canada requires that the adoptive parents be the only person to apply for the passport. This is, of course, provided that there is correct documentation.

Immigrant Visa

The application for the child’s immigrant visa shall be done with the consulate. The consulate will review the case, issue a Hague Adoption/Custody Certificate, approve Form I-800, and issue the child’s immigrant visa. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child. This is if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. 

The Adoption Cost

Canada International Adoption

An entire intercountry adoption process in Canada may cost more or less $20,000 to $50,000. Below is a list of specific, basic expenses prospective adoptive parents can expect. 

It is important to take note that the costs provided are but rough estimations. The costs, especially the total amount, can vary on a case-by-case basis. For instance, the travel cost is estimated for a couple’s trip to Canada for a week or two. Therefore, it can cost more or less in actual depending on the length of stay or the number of trips. It is also important to note that travel requirements differ from province to province.

Home Study$2,500 – $3,000
Application fee$200
Adoption education meeting$300
Intake interview$350
Agency fees$10,000 – $20,000
Documentation feesInclusions:Birth certificate Passport Medical exam of the child for immigration Immigrant visa Form I-800A and Form I-800 (additional biometric services fee ) $1,500 – $2,000
Court and/or attorney fees$2,000 – $3,500
Travel expenses (1 week worth)Inclusions:Intercountry fareAccommodation In-country transportation Meals $4,000 – $10,000
Post-adoption applications and fees (if applicable)$1,000 – $1,500

Related Questions

Are newborn adoptees available in Canada? 
How many healthy newborns are adopted each year from within Canada?

It is difficult to be really specific about the number of newborn adoptees there are each year in Canada. However, it is safe to assume that there are hundreds, if not thousands. Most of these newborn adoptees are coming from Ontario. Also, while there are newborn adoptees, it is difficult to be certain whether they are available for intercountry adoptions. Most of them are adopted domestically.

Additionally, if a newborn is available for intercountry adoptions, the baby may grow through the duration of the adoption process. Thus, by the time the baby is brought home by the adoptive parents, the baby will be already toddler age.

Why are there so few newborns available in Canada? 

There could be many reasons why there are a few counts of newborns available in Canada. One of this could be that the number of birth mothers has shrunk over the years. The reason for this is could partly be the growing acceptance of single parenthood.

Also, Canada has good and generous social programs. Hence, a few birth parents resort to surrendering their children in orphanages. In addition, a pool of domestic adoptive parents has steadily grown over the years. The reason for this could partly be their choice of starting families later in life. Hence, more babies are being adopted domestically, leaving older ones for intercountry adoptions.

Does Canada have post-adoption or post-placement reporting requirements? 

There are no post-adoption or post-placement requirements that are specified by Canada itself. However, if there is any, this could solely be dependent on the province’s own rules and regulations. Therefore, the best way to confirm the information regarding this is to contact relevant provincial adoption authorities.

Adoption service providers that operate among the provinces in Canada may also have relevant information regarding post-placement requirements. The adoption service providers should also help in submitting post-placement reports and may even, in fact, conduct home visitations.

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Eni Gordove

is a freelance writer who has a degree in Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science. She has also taken Bachelor of Laws, making her adept in domestic and international adoption regulations and processes.

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