People adopt children for different reasons: starting or expanding a family, contributing to society by having children or getting legal recognition for a parenting relationship with a child. Also, you can adopt your spouse's or partner's child if you have developed a parental relationship with the child.
Whatever the reasons for adopting a child in Quebec, there are certain steps to follow.
In this article, Educaloi explains when you can adopt, how to apply to a Youth Centre to adopt and the legal proceedings leading to an adoption order. It also explains the legal consequences of adoption for the biological parents, the parents who are adopting and the adopted child.
What requirements must be met to adopt a child in Quebec?
Whether you are single, married, in a civil union or living with a partner, you can apply to adopt a child in Quebec. As a general rule, you must meet the following requirements:
- The adoption must be in the best interest of the child.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- As a general rule, you must be at least 18 years older than the child you want to adopt, unless you are trying to adopt your spouse's or partner's child.
- The biological parents must agree to the adoption, unless they abandoned their child or the court withdrew their parental rights.
- Usually, if the child is 10 years old or older, he must agree to the adoption.
Are there special rules if I want to adopt my partner's child?
Yes. For partners who are living together but aren't married or in a civil union, they must have lived together for at least 3 years, and meet all the conditions mentioned in the previous question.
The adoption of a partner's child is open to both same-sex and different-sex partners.
Will the court consider the child's wishes?
A child 10 years of age or older must agree to his adoption. However, if the court finds that the adoption is in his best interests and he is under the age of 14, it can allow the adoption to go forward despite his refusal.
But if a child aged 14 or over refuses the adoption, it will not go through.
In some cases, children can have their own lawyers to represent them. A lawyer can help ensure that the child's interests are respected and wishes considered by the judge.
Is it possible to adopt an adult?
It is possible to adopt an adult, but in general the person wanting to adopt must have played a parental role toward the adult when the adult was a minor.
Remember that, in these cases, the person wanted to adopt must still present his request for adoption to the Youth Division of the Court of Quebec, even if the person being adopted is an adult.
Who should I contact if I want to adopt a child in Quebec?
You should contact your local Youth Centre and register in one of its adoption programs.
There are two adoption registries: "regular" and "mixte".
The regular registry includes very young children who have been orphaned or left for adoption at birth by their parents.
The "mixte" registry includes children who have been taken from their parents by the Director of Youth Protection (DYP) for various reasons: abuse, inability of the parents to care for the children, abandonment, etc.
Before being accepted as a potential adopting parent, you will be asked to undergo a psychosocial evaluation.
If you want to adopt a child from the regular registry, you will have to wait several years. There are few orphans or babies left at birth to adopt. That's why most people who want to adopt a child opt for international adoption or the "mixte" registry.
Adopting a child from the "mixte" registry takes less time. If your application is accepted, a child who has been taken away from his family by the DYP will come to live with you. After a certain period of time, the DYP will evaluate the situation, and if the DYP feels that it is in the best interest of the child, it will begin the adoption process for you.
How will I be matched with a child?
After applying for adoption through the Youth Centre, you will have to meet with a professional, such as social worker or couple and family therapist to undergo a psychosocial evaluation. You will be asked questions about your work, friends, family, educational values, etc. You will be matched with a child once this step is successfully completed (a wait of several years for the regular registry).
What happens if the biological parents change their minds and refuse to allow the adoption?
In cases in which they must agree to the adoption, the biological parents have 30 days to change their minds. If they do change their minds, the child is returned to them.
After the 30 days are over, the biological parents must ask the court to return the child if they have a change of heart. However, this request to the court must be done before a placement order is made for the child. (See the next question.)
How do court proceedings for adoption work?
The first step is to ask for a placement order. This step is mandatory, even if the child you are trying to adopt is your spouse's or partner's and you have lived together for several years. However, this step is unnecessary if you are trying to adopt an adult.
During the hearing of the request for a placement order, the court makes sure that all the requirements are met and that there is no request for the return of the child by one of the biological parents.
If all these conditions have been met, the court makes a placement order. This order, which is normally valid until the final step of the adoption process, allows you to exercise parental authority over the child.
The second step is the adoption itself. Normally, the child has to live with the adopting parent or parents for at least 6 months after a placement order before an adoption judgment can be made. In some cases, this time period can be reduced, but it can never be shorter than 3 months.
At the hearing of the request for adoption, the court ensures that the adoption is really in the best interest of the child. If the placement was made on the DYP's initiative, the court will also check whether the child has adapted well to the new situation. If not, the adoption will be refused.
What about the adopted child's name?
After granting the placement order, the court gives the child the name you have chosen for him. However, the court may allow the child to keep his original first and last names if you or the child so wishes. The child will be known by his new names as of the date of the placement order.
After the adoption, what rights do the adoptive parents have? What about the biological parents?
Adoption has very important consequences: it replaces the original parent-child bond called "filiation" with a new one. In all ways, the child becomes the child of the adopting parent (or parents). The adopting parent has the same rights and duties as a biological parent. For example, in case of separation, the adopting parent may have to pay child support for the adopted child.
If you adopt your spouse's or partner's child, the parent-child bond between your spouse or partner and the child remains intact. In all other cases, the parent-child bond between the biological parents and the adopted child ends. That means that the biological parents no longer have any rights or obligations toward the child and vice-versa.
How can I find my biological parents or a child that I placed for adoption?
It is possible, in some cases, to access information that will assist in finding biological parents or children who have been placed for adoption.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.