Adopting from Canada
Hague Convention Information
Canada is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore all adoptions between Canada and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Canada is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. Only 14 Canadian orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in extremely rare adoption cases from Canada, including adoptions of Canada children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Canada.
Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Canada is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Canada, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Canada also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Eligibility and residence requirements vary by province. In general, non-residents of Canada cannot adopt children for emigration from Canada. There are some very limited exceptions, usually involving relatives of the children. Contact the provincial adoption authorities (see Contact Information) for specific information on additional eligibility requirements to adopt, including any age, marriage, and income requirements.
Age of Adopting Parents
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Canada is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Canada must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Canada attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Canada's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
How to Adopt
Canada's Adoption Authority
In Canada, the various provinces are responsible for setting and administering adoption policies and procedures. The following Canadian Government office provides contact information for the provincial adoption authorities (see Contact Information), who can provide specific information on adoption in Canada:
Intercountry Adoption Services (IAS)
Human Resources and Social Development Canada
Because Canada is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Canada must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Canada before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more0.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Canada
- Bring your Child Home
1.Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Canada is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Canada. Learn more.
2.Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how. Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Canada. Canada's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Canada's law.
3.Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Canada determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Canada may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
4.Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Canadian adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5.Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Canada:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Canada, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Canada.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Canada varies according to the province. Contact the provincial adoption authorities for specific information on the process for adoption, including application instructions and fees, and documents required. (See Contact Information)
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. Please follow this link for more information on how to do this in Canada.
- 2. Canadian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Canada. Please follow this link for more information on how to do this in Canada
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Canada does not issue Immigrant Visas. All Immigrant Visas for Canada are issued by the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal. (See Contact Information)
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Canada. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports. Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Canada, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Canada, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Canada require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Information on post-adoption procedures and requirements for each province and territory can be found on the Social Development Canada website.
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Canada and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
NOTE: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents
Intercountry Adoption, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State Country Information