So you have reached the decision to adopt. Now what?

The number one question I get on a regular basis is how do I adopt? I write a lot about adoption, and although we adopted our babies a decade ago, I help run a post-adoption family group in my hometown and I advocate often for supports with all levels of government, so people find me, often quietly and late at night when the private messages appear.

I am struggling with infertility, or I have one child who is five and we really want to adopt, or do you mind talking about your adoption experience?

I never mind. Ever.

How to Adopt

Here are a few answers for those who want to know more about adopting a child.

Adoption is different in every single province. In fact it is complicated sometimes, especially since, each area Children’s Aid Society has their own rules, and budget and culture. The process can be challenging depending on where you live, your age, your ability to navigate systems and your determination. It should be more straightforward, but it is not. However, parenting isn’t easy. Nobody just gives you a child. So be prepared to do a bit of work. It’s often very worthwhile.

Here are a few facts that might help:

There are four types of adoption.

You need to decide what type you are pursuing first.

1. Domestic or Public: Meaning you want to adopt a child from the same city or province, or country where you live. Yes there are children available. There are always children and often infants in need of homes.

2. International: You want to adopt a child with help of a reputable international adoption agency from overseas. There is a lot to know about the process. Do your homework.

3. Kinship or Relative: Meaning you are perhaps an aunt or uncle, sometimes neighbor or grandparent, and you are preparing to adopt a baby or child born to someone in your family.

4. Private adoption: this is strictly with a private agency, not done through a children’s aid society.

Where do I go to learn more? Once you have decided on the type of adoption you plan to pursue, then you should be able to move forward and figure out what agency or who you need to contact to start the process.

There are a few basic places to gather more information on adoption:

1. Google the Ministry of Child and Youth Services. In every province of Canada, the ministry has a different name. But you can easily find out by searching. In Ontario the starting point is the ministry. They can sometimes help you understand a bit more about merits of each type of adoption. The Ministry of Child and Youth Services (or equivalent ministry in your province) will also be able to direct you to private adoption practitioners and lawyers. They maintain a directory that is reputable.  They will also be able to help you understand which countries are open to international adoption. Many are not open.

2. Call your local Children’s Aid Society after you have called the ministry and go sit through an information session about How to Adopt or do foster care and you will have a better understanding of what technically has to occur as you work through the process of becoming AdoptReady, then getting approval and placement. There are 47 CAS in Ontario. To find yours:

3. Other adoptive parents. Your most important resource as you complete the process and even after as you raise your child will always be others who get it. Start connecting with them early and you will have a built in support structure. Also find the adoptive parents you know and ask them how they adopted and which agency they used and whether they’d do anything differently.

4. In Ontario, there is also a great organization called AdoptOntario where you can learn more.  They provide various workshops throughout the year and they also maintain a provincial photo listing of waiting children.

The process can seem daunting, but the reward of being matched with a child and becoming a family is more than worth the challenge of getting there.


Paula Schuck is a Mom, community manager, digital strategist and blogger She lives in London, Ontario with her family and she recently learned to ski.