The Adoption Process

To adopt a stepchild in Ontario, you must start a court application to obtain an adoption order. Both you and your stepchild must be residents of Ontario in order to begin the adoption process. 

You can commence an Application to adopt your stepchild, if you are legally married or in a common law relationship with the child’s parent. 

You need to obtain the consent of both of the child’s biological parents if the child is less than sixteen years of age. The biological parents have 21 days to withdraw their consent to the adoption. 

If the child is seven years or older, they will also need to provide their consent to the adoption. If the child is younger than eighteen years old, they must speak with a lawyer from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

You can adopt a stepchild who is 18 years or older, or a stepchild who is 16 years or older and has withdrawn from parental control. The child has 21 days to withdraw their consent to the adoption. 

The court will determine whether it is in the child’s best interests to be adopted. The court will consider numerous factors including, the child’s relationship with both biological parents, the stepparent’s motivations, the child’s relationship with their stepparent, including the longevity and stability of the relationship and its benefit on the child, and the child’s age and emotional wellbeing. 

If an adoption order is granted, the child will receive a new birth certificate reflecting the name of their stepparent and can include the child’s new name, if one was requested. The child will also gain inheritance rights of their stepparent.

Dispensing with Consent to an Adoption

In Ontario, adoption requires the written consent of both of the child’s birth parents. You can request the court to proceed without the consent of a parent if it would be detrimental to the child for that parent to be notified of the adoption application or if the parent is unknown or unreachable.

An adoption order is final and irrevocable and terminates a biological parent’s rights. If a parent does not provide their consent, you need to ask the court to dispense with their consent. The court may dispense with a parent’s consent, if they are satisfied that the adoption is in the child’s best interests and if the parent whose consent is required has received notice of the proposed adoption and of the application to dispense with consent, or a reasonable effort to give notice has been made.

The court must consider the best interests of the child when determining whether to dispense with a parent’s consent to the adoption. The court weighs the advantages of dispensing with a parent’s consent to adoption, against the disadvantages. The court also considers the child’s wishes. 

If the child to be adopted is seven years of age or older, they must also provide their consent to the adoption. You can also ask the court to dispense with the child’s consent to an adoption in addition to their legal parents’ consent. The court can dispense with a child’s consent to the adoption if it determines that this would cause the child emotional harm or if the child is not able to consent due to a developmental disability.

Adoption Lawyer Toronto FAQ: Navigating Adoption in Ontario

What is an adoption lawyer, and why do I need one for adopting a child in Ontario?

An adoption lawyer is a legal professional specialized in the area of family law, focusing on the adoption process. In Ontario, adoption involves complex legal procedures and paperwork to ensure the child’s best interests are met and that the adoption is legally sound. An adoption lawyer guides prospective parents through these procedures, provides legal representation, and ensures that all legal requirements for the adoption are fulfilled, minimizing the risk of future legal complications.

What are the different types of adoptions an adoption lawyer in Toronto can help with?

Adoption lawyers in Toronto can assist with various types of adoptions, including:

  • Private Domestic Adoptions: Adopting a child within Ontario through a private arrangement.
  • Public Adoptions: Adopting a child through the Children’s Aid Society.
  • International Adoptions: Adopting a child from another country.
  • Stepparent Adoptions or Relative Adoptions: Adopting a step-child or a relative.
How long does the adoption process take in Ontario?

The duration of the adoption process in Ontario can vary widely depending on the type of adoption. Private and international adoptions might take several months to a few years, largely depending on the country of origin (for international adoptions) and the availability of children for adoption. Public adoptions through the Children’s Aid Society may take less time but also depend on matching the right child with prospective parents. Step-parent and relative adoptions might be quicker, assuming all parties are in agreement, but still require several months to navigate the legal process.

What legal services does an adoption lawyer provide?

An adoption lawyer provides a range of services, including:

  • Legal counseling on the adoption process and the types of adoption available.
  • Assistance with the completion and filing of necessary legal documents.
  • Representation in court, if required.
  • Guidance on dealing with the Children’s Aid Society or international adoption agencies.
  • Legal support in cases of contested adoptions.
  • Advice on post-adoption legal matters, such as name changes or obtaining a new birth certificate.
How much does hiring an adoption lawyer in Toronto cost?

The cost of hiring an adoption lawyer in Toronto can vary based on the complexity of the adoption, the amount of legal work required, and the lawyer’s experience and rates. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for certain services, while others may bill by the hour. It’s important to discuss fees and payment structures upfront to have a clear understanding of the expected costs.

Can an adoption lawyer guarantee the success of my adoption application?

No lawyer can guarantee the success of an adoption application because the outcome depends on various factors, including the legal and regulatory requirements of the jurisdiction involved (especially for international adoptions), the circumstances of the child being adopted, and the assessment of the prospective parents’ suitability. However, an experienced adoption lawyer in Toronto can significantly increase the chances of a successful adoption by ensuring compliance with all legal requirements and advocating effectively on behalf of their clients. Prospective adoption parents should not hesitate to reach out to Unified LLP to set up a preliminary consultation.

What should I look for when choosing an adoption lawyer in Toronto?

When choosing an adoption lawyer in Toronto, consider the following:

  • Experience: Look for a lawyer with extensive experience in handling adoptions in Ontario.
  • Expertise: Choose a lawyer who specializes in family law, with a focus on adoptions.
  • Reputation: Seek recommendations from other adoptive parents or consult reviews and ratings.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the lawyer understands your family’s needs and communicates clearly and empathetically.

Potential adoptive parents should know that adoption entails large volumes of paperwork and legal requirements; when you have a lawyer involved in the adoption process, however, you mitigate the risk of errors when completing and submitting these legal documents.

How do I start the adoption process with an adoption lawyer in Toronto?

To start the adoption process, you can take the following steps:

  • Schedule a free consultation to discuss your adoption goals and assess compatibility.
  • Determine next steps, including completing a home study (if required), filing necessary paperwork, and moving forward with finding a child to adopt or completing the legal process for a known adoption (e.g., step-child or relative adoption).

Adopting a child is a life-changing decision; the legal elements should be the least of your worries. Get the right legal support to navigate the complexities of the adoption process in Ontario when you work with the adoption lawyers at Unified LLP.