International adoption process

International adoption (also called intercountry adoption) is a process that recognizes an individual or couple as the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child from another country. An international adoption complies with the laws of both the sending and receiving countries.

For all international adoptions, you must complete two separate processes:

  1. The adoption process, and
  2. The immigration or citizenship process.

1. Adoption process

  • In order to adopt internationally you must work with your provincial or territorial adoption Central Authority.
  • The provincial or territorial adoption Central Authority will:
  • To be eligible to adopt a child, you must meet the adoption requirements of the
    • Canadian province/territory where you live, or the country where you live if you are living abroad, and
    • Adoption Authority of the country where the child lives

2. The immigration or citizenship process

In order to bring your adopted child into Canada, it is necessary to apply for Citizenship or Immigration (Permanent Residency) for the child.

To determine which is more appropriate for your family (Immigration or Citizenship), click here to learn about the differences between the two.

Note: Some countries require that the adoption be completed in Canada. In these cases the Immigration (Permanent Resident) process should be used.

The federal government’s role in adoption

The federal government is only involved in the Immigration or Citizenship process for an adopted child. The adoption process is the responsibility of the provinces or territories.

Under the Hague Convention Canada has a Federal Central Authority: the Intercountry Adoption Services (IAS) is a unit in IRCC. The role of the IAS is to:

  • Work directly with the provincial and territorial Central Authorities to obtain and distribute information to both Canadian provincial and territorial authorities, and to foreign authorities. This includes information on Canadian and foreign adoption legislation, adoption criteria requirements, and international adoption procedures and guidelines.
  • Facilitate communication, co-operation, and coordinated actions between federal/provincial/territorial Central Authorities, both within the federal government and with foreign Central Authorities.
  • Facilitate issue resolution and develop pan-Canadian responses on matters such as unethical and irregular adoption practices.
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