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Adopting a child from outside Canada

If you want to adopt a child but decide to adopt from abroad, you will have to deal not only with Canadian laws but also international laws that regulate adoption. Also be aware that you will have to deal with Citizenship and Immigration to bring your adopted child to Canada after the adoption process is complete.

Though you may want to adopt a child from another country, you will still have to follow the adoption process of your province or territory, as well as additional requirements.

Adoption process

The provinces and territories also make decisions about eligibility to adopt and assisting Canadians in adopting form abroad.

The first step if you want to adopt a child from abroad is to contact your provincial government to get more information about the adoption process.

In general people wishing to adopt in Canada have to meet with a social worker, go through an interview process, get a background check, reference check, and perform several home visits. Processes vary from province to province.

International requirements for an intercountry adoption

Canada is party to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. CIC is the Federal Central Authority and is responsible for the enactment of the Convention in Canada, along with the provinces and territories.

The Hague Convention is the one that sets rules for intercountry adoptions and states that such an adoption can only take place if:

  • The child’s country has deemed that the child is legally eligible to be adopted;
  • Resources within the child’s country have not been identified and intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests;
  • The prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suitable to adopt;  the central authorities in both countries agree to the adoption;
  • And the child can be authorized to enter and permanently reside in Canada.

Canadian Immigration and Citizenship

Intercountry Adoption Services – CIC

Within CIC, the unit that is responsible for the international adoption process is Intercountry Adoption Services (IAS). IAS directly works with the provinces and territories to help the prospective adoptive parents with adopting a child from abroad.

IAS does the following to facilitate international adoptions:

  • Helping communication and co-operation between the adoption authorities at the international level and the adoption authorities at the federal, provincial or territorial levels;
  • Guiding issue resolution and fostering Canadian replies in regards to such issues as abnormal or unethical adoption practices;
  • Creating legislation or advising on legislation, regulations, policies, procedures, standards and guidelines that connect to intercountry adoption; and
  • Gathering and distributing information that directly relates to intercountry adoption (policies and practices of countries of origin, adoption legislation, statistical data and research).

Citizenship and Immigration Process

Both the adoption process and the citizenship and immigration process have to be completed before you can bring your adopted child into Canada to live with you.

There are two processes that you have to choose from, depending on what situation applies to you:

  • Citizenship process: if the adopted child will not live in Canada directly after the adoption and citizenship processes  are complete, then you must use this process; or
  • The Immigration process has to be used if:
    • neither parent was a Canadian citizen when the adoption took place or for adoptions that took place prior to January 1, 1947, neither adoptive parent became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador for adoptions that took place prior to April 1, 1949); or
    • you are subject to the first generation limit to citizenship by descent unless you are eligible to benefit from one of the exceptions to the first generation limit; or
    • if both parents are permanent residents at the time of adoption.

Under the Citizenship Process, the adopted person will become a Canadian citizen. Under the Immigration Process, the adopted person will become a permanent resident of Canada.

Immigration requirements can and often do change. Please consult the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for up-to-date requirements for the immigration process for an adopted child from outside Canada.

Consult a lawyer if you wish to adopt a child from abroad.

Read more:

Adopt a child from abroad Government of Canada

Adoption Council of Canada

Adoption Process