All About Estates

How Does Private Adoption Work?

In my blog post of June 11, 2021, I wrote about Estate Planning and Adoption. I had many positive responses to that post from the estates community, so I thought I would write in more detail about the process.

In Ontario, potential adopters can take three paths towards adoption:

  • private domestic adoption through Ministry approved licencees or adoption agencies;
  • private international adoption; or
  • public adoption (through the Children’s Aid Society).

I am very excited to share that on June 14, 2021, just three days after that blog post, our world changed when my husband and I got the call that we had been waiting years for – “Congratulations, birth parents have chosen you to adopt their baby”.

In our case, the adoption of our son is a private domestic adoption so this blog will address what the process is after you have been chosen to adopt.

You’ve been selected – what happens now?

Aside from instant excitement, joy and anxiety, the process becomes a whirlwind and days certainly get jumbled together.

Once adoptive parents have been selected by birth parents,[1] they are encouraged to meet and discuss important topics such as the name chosen for the child and the plan for ongoing contact between the parties.  Openness in adoption is encouraged and the level of contact (i.e. visits, sharing of photos and progress reports) is considered.  Often this discussion occurs prior to the baby’s arrival.  As one can only imagine, this process can also be difficult for the birth parents and this meeting may not occur until after the baby is born.

If both parties agree to move forward, the adoption agency or licencee will then work on putting an Adoption Proposal together which is sent into the Ministry of Children and Social Services.  This Proposal package is very detailed and will include all of the required documents that the adoptive parents had to provide to the adoption agency or licencee, including their homestudy, the medical and social history of the birth parents and confirmation that the medical and social history of the birth parents has been reviewed with the adoptive parents.  Once received, a staff member at the Ministry will be responsible for reviewing all material and submitting the consent to the director for final approval.  Often the Ministry will come back with questions or seek clarification before submitting the consent to the director for final approval.

Once the consent has been received from the Ministry, the baby can go home with the adoptive parents from the hospital.  However, if the baby is born and the Ministry has not yet provided the consent to the adoption placement, the baby will then need to be placed into private foster care until such time as the consent has been granted.

Upon the birth of the child, the birth parents are provided with independent legal advice before they sign their Consent to Adoption.  This consent cannot be signed before the eighth day after the child’s birth.  Birth parents then have 21 days to revoke their consents.  If this happens, the baby will need to be returned to the adoption agency or licencee.

Once the expiration of the 21 days has passed, the adoptive parents enter a six month adoption probation period.  During this time, the adoption practitioner for the adoptive parents, will visit three times to access how well the baby and adoptive parents are adjusting.  Once the six months have elapsed, the adoption practitioner will prepare a report which will go to the adoption agency or licencee.

A final report is submitted to the Ministry from the adoption agency or licencee for their approval and once approved, all of the adoption finalization documentation will be completed and signed by the adoptive parents.  At that time, the adoption agency or licencee will submit the documentation to court to obtain the adoption order.  Following the issuance of the adoption order, the child is legally the child of the adopted parents – so, to tie things back to the estates world, this child would now have all of the rights that exist in estates law for a child of an individual.

We were blessed to welcome our son home on June 29, 2021.  It has been such an amazing experience.  This is my last blog post for at least the next eight months as I start my parental leave to enjoy time with our son.  So for now, I bid you adieu.  See you in 2022.



[1]      I refer in this blog to adoptive and birth parents in the plural, for grammatical simplicity. Of course, this is not reflective of all situations – there may be a sole adoptive parent and/or birth parent.

About Jennifer Campbell
Jennifer Campbell is a Law Clerk in the firm’s Toronto Private Client Services Group and Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities Group. Jennifer has extensive experience assisting executors and trustees in managing complex, high-value estates and trusts. Jennifer specializes in the administration of estates and trusts. Assisting in all aspects of estates work, Jennifer’s primary responsibilities include providing support to the lawyers in the practice group, the day-to-day administration and management of estates and trusts, including gathering in assets, winding up of estates and trusts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Jennifer is responsible for the preparation of all probate related documentation, preparation of estate and trust accounts, the preparation of court documentation in connection with passing of accounts and has experience in assisting individuals establish bare trust arrangements in connection with their estate planning solutions. Jennifer has received a Certificate in Estates and Trust Administration from STEP Canada.


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