Adopt a child

Adopting a child from another country brings joy to thousands of Canadian parents every year. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is proud to play an important role in helping these children join the Canadian family.

Adoptive parents should be aware that the process can be complicated and, unless the proper procedures are followed, even heartbreaking.

Long waiting periods can seem unreasonable to a family anxious to welcome a new member, but to ensure the child’s rights are protected, intercountry adoption can take time.

Intercountry adoption

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

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

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

In Canada, adoption comes under provincial or territorial jurisdiction. To be eligible to adopt a child, you must meet the adoption requirements of:

  • the province/territory where you live if you are living in Canada, or the country where you live if you are living abroad
  • the adoption authority of the country where the child lives

Contact your provincial or territorial adoption authorities or the adoption authority of the country where you live if you are living abroad. They will:

  • tell you if you need to contact a licensed adoption agency
  • advise you on the adoption laws of the country from where you want to adopt
  • explain the requirements of the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

Choose a process—citizenship or immigration

Some adoptive parents are eligible to apply directly for citizenship for their adopted child, while some must first sponsor their adopted child for permanent residence.

Learn about the differences between each process and determine which process to use.

Immigration process

Once you complete the adoption process, you can begin the immigration process for your adopted child.

Note: If the adoption process is to be completed in Canada, the immigration process can begin before the adoption process is completed.

Citizenship process

Once you complete the adoption process, you can begin the citizenship process for your adopted child.

Note: If the adoption process is to be completed in Canada, the citizenship process can begin before the adoption process is completed.

Not all countries allow adoptions. Before you apply to adopt a child from another country, you must contact the adoption authority in your province or territory if you are living in Canada, or the central adoption authority of the country where you live if you are living abroad to find out if adoption is allowed.

Countries with a suspension on adoptions

Adoptions from the following countries are currently suspended by all Canadian provinces and territories:

  • Cambodia (except Quebec)
  • Georgia
  • Guatemala
  • Liberia
  • Nepal
  • Haiti (suspension by Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan).
  • Pakistani law prohibits adoption, instead recognizing a form of guardianship called kafala; applications for related placements are no longer accepted.

Countries with restrictions on adoptions by Canadians:

  • Rwanda (intercountry adoption suspended in July 2012 in order to implement the Hague Convention)
  • Russia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Benin (intercountry adoption suspended in July 2014, in order to implement the Hague Convention)

For more information, contact the adoption authority in your province or territory.

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