Currently, there are about 6,000 children and youth waiting to be adopted in Ontario, a figure that doesn’t account for the thousands of young people waiting to be adopted in other provinces and territories.
For these kids in foster care or in the child welfare system, adoption means giving them a family unit and someone to rely on for emotional support; it’s instrumental in securing a brighter future.
In partnership with the Adoption Council of Ontario, the Children’s Aid Foundation is promoting Adoption Awareness month to spread knowledge and understanding of the adoption process.
This page includes information and helpful tools and links to aid you in learning about adoption in Canada.
The process of adoption is a journey. Adoption professionals and organizations like the Adoption Council of Ontario can help make your journey as smooth as possible.
One of the best ways begin your adoption journey and connect with waiting children in Ontario is through the AdoptOntario program. Funded by the government, AdoptOntario is designed to help make the critical connections between Ontario families and waiting children.
Once you have decided that adoption is right for you, you will take PRIDE Training (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education). This is a 9 module, 27 hour educational program that will provide further information about the adoption process. It covers topics like adoption-specific parenting, who the waiting children are, and how children will actually become a part of your family. It will also give you a chance to meet some adoptive families, adoption workers, and other families like you who are considering adoption.
You can take PRIDE training through your local Children’s Aid Society (CAS) only if you are interested in adopting a child from foster care. You may find that your local CAS is not able to bring you into their system for PRIDE training because of long waiting lists, their acceptance criteria, or because you are interested in a private or international adoption. Call your local CAS to find out if PRIDE training through the CAS is right for you.
If the CAS cannot accommodate you in the training session, it does not mean that will be unable to adopt a child from foster care. This only means that your local CAS cannot help you to get AdoptReady. In Ontario you can also work with a Private Adoption Worker to become AdoptReady.
Private PRIDE training sessions are posted on the AdoptOntario website. You can attend any training session that best suits your schedule.
The next step in becoming AdoptReady is to complete a home study. A home study is the screening of a home environment and the life of prospective adoptive parents prior to allowing an adoption to take place. The purpose of the study is to:
• Screen out families who are not able to provide safe and stable homes for vulnerable children
• Educate and prepare the adoptive family for adoption
• Gather information about the prospective parents that will help social workers connect the family with a child who best fits their home
Typically, an adoption worker will meet with prospective adoptive parents in four or five interviews, as well as work with the family to gather a number of documents like medical reports, references, and safety clearances.
Working with an adoption professional during the home study will educate and prepare you for a unique adoption journey, making sense of what you learned in PRIDE and identifying some of the challenges you may encounter.
A written report is the end product of the home study process. This report will support you in any adoption including an international adoption, a private adoption, or an adoption from a child in foster care.
Some CAS’s may have long waiting lists or inclusion criteria that will inhibit your ability to have a home study completed in a timely way. This does not mean that you cannot adopt a child from foster care, it only means that you local CAS cannot help you to become AdoptReady. You can also work with a private adoption practitioner to complete your home-study in a more timely way.
Once you are AdoptReady your adoption worker will help you to connect with the children who are a good fit for your family. There are a number of ways that you can connect with children that are waiting to be adopted including:
Joe Canavan, Past-Chair, Board of Directors CAF , and Pat Convery, Executive Director of the Adoption Council of Ontario, share a message on Adoption Awareness below.
Please check out these websites and organizations that can help you navigate the system:
Adoption Council of Ontario: https://www.adoption.on.ca
ACO Webinars: https://www.adoption.on.ca/events
Ministry of Children and Youth Services: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/
If anybody asks, Karen and John say they have 3 wonderful children. Beynon is 26 and has lived with John since he was one. He was a foster child and has never wanted to be legally adopted but that doesn’t make him any less of a family member. John also has a daughter Emma, who is 18. Karen joined the family just over 12 years ago. And finally, Anthony joined the family two years ago at the age of 4 in an adoption from the Children’s Aid Society. As John and Karen will tell you, sibling bonds can happen in lots of ways as long as they are held together by the love of parents – the love of a committed family.
A key message Karen would like to share is for the government to be aware of how critical every moment is in the life of children in foster care. Beynon, while growing up as a foster child, struggled with labels put on him at school and in the community. At the time both Karen and John did not understand the depth of his challenges or how they could have better helped him. They are more prepared to help Anthony, partly because Beynon’s past has helped them to understand. They wonder if newly formed foster and adoptive families will know how to seek out information and support.
Karen and John are proud of their growing family. At the end of the day, John and Karen take each day as an adventure with all of their children. They take joy in watching their children grow together as siblings and share the experience of being in their family.
For more information on the adoption process, please visit:
“For a very long time, my husband and I joked that 5 was our “lucky number”. We got married after being together 5 years, in the year 1995, which in the Hebrew calendar is 5755. We figured that was a lot of “5” and vowed that we would renew our wedding vows every 5 years. Well we did manage to do that one time (2000) but I don’t think that at the time we figured that 5 would also be the number of kids in our family. But here we are, 2013, a family of 7—4 biological kids ages 6, 8, 11 and 15 and our newly adopted daughter who is 17.
One night while sitting in the bathroom watching one of my sons in the bath, he asked why we were planning to adopt. It was a good question. Our family is already quite large by today’s North American standards and it wasn’t like we found it easy to parent 4 kids; it was a challenge to have the time, patience and finances for 4 kids. I said to him “Well, I think that having a family, whatever that looks like to you, is a basic human right, just like shelter and food. And if we can offer that to a child who did not have that, why wouldn’t we?”
Aviva Zuckerman-Schure, adoptive parent
“My husband and I already had two teenage sons when we adopted a sibling set of four children from foster care in 2011. Three daughters, ages 3, 5, and 7, and a son, age 9, joined our family. Looking back, I realize I had bought into two adoption myths—myths that contradict each other. I believed that parenting adopted children would be easy. Yet, after our children moved in I feared what others had warned, that adoptive parenting would be impossible. I was very wrong on both counts.
Attachment happened, even with our son who had been diagnosed with attachment issues. Just like our biological children, our adopted children snuggle, share secrets, offer hugs and kisses, plan futures, and fully accept our love. They understand the solidarity of our family, our unfaltering commitment, and I am confident they love their parents as much as we love them. They now believe our family to be a little army—one for all and all for one. We stick together no matter what.”
Christen, adoptive parent
Melissa wanted a child to share her life with, a little person to love and care for. Melissa ‘met’ her daughter Evalyna through the AdoptOntario program. Evalyna was placed for adoption privately by her birth parents. She was born with special needs and that made the Adoption Resource Databank of AdoptOntario the best resource to search for that special family and ensure a timely placement. Over a year later Evalyna (16 months) is just beginning to walk, and is very proud of this accomplishment. She is always looking for applause as she makes her way around the room. Like many little girls, she loves hair accessories, jewellery and sparkly shoes!
Melissa started her adoption by exploring all of her options – private, international and public. She was discouraged as she learned of barriers that were in her path. Very few countries would accept her as a single applicant. Melissa forged on and kept in close touch with the AdoptOntario program. “AdoptOntario really opened my eyes to the types of children who were in need of a forever home” says Melissa.
Melissa has opened her heart to Evalyna and will do everything in her power to advocate for her through some of the unknowns in her future. Evalyna will thrive because she has the love of a mom who will always be there for her – to be her family.
For more information on adopting a child with special needs, please visit:
AdoptOntario Special Needs: http://www.adoptontario.ca/understanding-special-needs
Loretta’s heart melts every time five-year-old Alex gives her a spontaneous kiss. Their journey to connection through adoption started over five years ago when Loretta completed an adoption as a single parent.
Like many adoptive parents, Loretta was prepared to find supports to help her son overcome any issues in development and attachment. Loretta has sought out relevant information and programs that are not always easy to find or access for her son as early trauma adds a unique dimension.
As Alex originates from Kazakhstan, Loretta and Alex often connect with other adoptive families for social outings and to celebrate the culture and special holidays they would have experienced in Kazakhstan. One of Alex’s closest friends in the GTA also originates from west Kazakhstan.
Despite the hurdles of parenthood and the ongoing need to find supports to ensure the best outcomes for her son, these are outweighed by the blessings of being a parent to this wonderful boy and Loretta would not change her life. “My son is the joy of my life and adoption has enriched the lives of my whole extended family so much” explains Loretta. She continues to be the best advocate she can for Alex to ensure his success, and continues to learn as she goes.
Organizations like the Adoption Council of Ontario can help you if you need help after adoption.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services also includes helpful information on their website about supports for adoptive families.
For information about how to adopt in other areas of Canada, please visit:
Adoption Council of Canada: http://www.adoption.ca/
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: http://davethomasfoundation.ca/
North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC): www.nacac.org
Evan B. Donaldson Institute on Adoption: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org
Adoptive Families Association of B.C.: www.bcadoption.com