Prospective parents have options when it comes to adoption. Each will result in opening your hearts and homes to a child or youth as part of a lasting commitment to caring for them. There are nine kinds of adoption available to British Columbians.

Adoption from foster care (government care)

Adopting a child or youth in government care (commonly known as foster care) can be incredibly rewarding. It’s also the most common type of adoption in British Columbia. Most waiting children and youth are between the ages of 5-18, and are in search of a new place they can call home. Families interested in adoption through foster care will work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). 

Learn more about adoption from foster care

Local infant adoption

In a local infant adoption, a baby is legally adopted by another family where both the birth and adoptive families live in BC. This typically happens within a few months of the baby being born when birth parents voluntarily place their baby with an adoptive family. Interested families must apply through one of BC’s two licensed adoption agencies.

Learn more about local infant adoption

International adoption

Adopting a child from another country is known as an international adoption (or intercountry adoption). Interested families typically apply first with one of BC’s two licensed adoption agencies who in turn will work with the overseas adoption representatives.

Learn more about international adoption

Adoption by a relative or step-parent 

Relative adoptions are when someone chooses to adopt a family member under 19. This is a common type of adoption in BC. A grandparent might adopt a grandchild or a step-parent might adopt their partner’s child. Families who are interested in pursuing this path typically hire a lawyer to apply through the BC courts without involving an adoption agency.

Learn more about adopting a relative

Indigenous custom adoption

Indigenous families may arrange for a custom adoption that follows their band or nation’s adoption laws and traditions so that the child or youth is raised in a culturally appropriate setting. Custom adoptions meet each child or youth’s cultural, spiritual, and language needs. A custom adoption is one type of customary care arrangement, which are Indigenous-specific ways to care for a child whose parents cannot take care of them. 

Learn more about different care arrangements for Indigenous families

Direct placement adoption

Adopting the child of someone you know, but is not a relative, is what’s called a “direct placement adoption.” The same licensed adoption agency will help both birth and adoptive parents plan out the adoption agreements. After the child or youth has been placed with the adoptive family, there is a six-month waiting period before the official adoption order is granted. During that time, the birth and adoptive parents are all guardians of the child or youth.

Adult adoption (legal)

It’s never too late to be adopted! You may apply to adopt someone 19 or older if you supported them before they turned 19. This most commonly involves a child or youth who you previously fostered or a step-child. Prospective parents typically hire a family lawyer to help them apply to the BC courts.

Moral adoption

Families that can’t legally recognize their parent/child relationship may affirm it through a personal ceremony or celebration to honour their commitment to each other. This is called a moral adoption. Moral adoptions are not legally binding but can be just as profound and meaningful.

Embryo adoption (or embryo donation)

In an embryo adoption or donation, genetic parents donate embryos to another family. The family receiving the embryos has full legal ownership over them, and will have full parental rights and responsibilities to children born from those embryos. Adopted embryos will be transferred into the uterus of the intended parent or a surrogate. Prospective parents may approach a fertility clinic to see available options.