An order of adoption made by a Manitoba court ends the legal relationship between a child and his or her natural parents and begins a new relationship with the adoptive parents. All rights and responsibilities existing between the child and the natural parents end when the child is adopted. The adoptive parents take on all those rights and responsibilities as if the child had been born to them. Adopting parents may keep the child's last name or change it as outlined in The Change of Name Act and The Vital Statistics Act (See Chapter 14, Change of Name).
On March 15, 1999, a new law (statute or legislation) governing adoptions came into effect in Manitoba. The Adoption Act replaced parts of The Child and Family Services Act and made some changes in the way adoptions are conducted in Manitoba.
Child and family services agencies may provide adoption services. Non-profit adoption agencies may also be licensed to provide virtually the same adoption services. Social workers in private practice can also contract with agencies to conduct an adoption assessment (homestudy). Agencies can charge people applying to adopt a child set fees for certain adoption services. The fees will depend on the applicants' income.
The Adoption Act also changes some of the restrictions and time periods involved in completing an adoption. For example, birth parents who are minors can place their children for private adoption and have it completed without waiting until they become adults.
The waiting period for obtaining consents for adoption is 48 hours after the birth of a child. There are strict guidelines for ensuring that those involved in an adoption are given clear information about their rights and their options. The act also says birth fathers will usually be notified about a proposed adoption.
Children to be adopted who are 12 years of age or older are entitled to information and counselling about the proposed adoption. Children 12 and over must also give their consent.
The Adoption Act was amended January 1, 2003, to allow same sex couples to apply jointly to adopt a child. Another change to The Adoption Act is that two people who are neither spouses nor common-law partners can now apply jointly for a de facto adoption and two members of a child's extended family (such as a grandparent and an aunt) can apply jointly for an extended family adoption. There are additional homestudy requirements for these kinds of adoptions, to ensure the stability of the adopting parties' relationship and their commitment to jointly care for the child. These changes were part of The Charter Compliance Act.
There are seven types of adoption in Manitoba:
A married couple, common-law partners or a single adult may apply to a child and family services agency to adopt a child who is a permanent ward. A child may become a permanent ward of an agency through a voluntary surrender of guardianship or a permanent order of guardianship (see Chapter 12, Protection of Children).
A qualified social worker investigates by conducting a homestudy whether applicants are suitable and capable of being adoptive parents. The names of approved applicants and children available for adoption are entered on a central adoption registry. Once a child has been placed in the home, the adopting parent(s) must apply to court for an order of adoption. The application cannot be made until the child has lived in the home for six months, unless the guardian agency authorizes a longer or shorter time.
Only child and family service agencies, not private adoption agencies, can handle the adoption of children who are permanent wards.
A child may be privately placed for adoption by the birth parent or, if the parents are deceased, by a court-appointed guardian. A child and family services agency or a licensed adoption agency must be notified in writing before the placement. The agency must investigate and approve the placement through a homestudy. The agency must give information about rights and options to the person placing the child for adoption. The agency must also gather information about the child and the birth family. The adopting parent(s) can apply to court for an order of adoption no earlier than 30 days and no later than six months after all consents to the adoption have been given.
Manitoba is part of an international treaty that outlines the process for adoptions involving some countries. The treaty is called the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The convention outlines what procedures must be followed for such things as obtaining consents and preparing the homestudy.
International adoptions handled in Manitoba that are not covered by the Convention will follow essentially the same process as adoptions of children who are permanent wards.
Manitobans who are applying to adopt in another country must notify the province's director of Child and Family Services, who must then verify that the application has been completed and accepted in the other country, and that country supports the adoption.
Anyone can apply to court to adopt a child whom he or she has cared for and maintained for at least two consecutive years. A married couple, common-law partners or any two persons may apply together to adopt a child where, at the time of the application they are jointly caring for the child and one of them has cared for and maintained the child for at least two consecutive years. Notice of the application must be given to the child's parents and the agency in the area where the applicant(s) live. That agency must conduct an investigation and report to the court about the adopting parent(s).
A parent may place a child for adoption with one member, or jointly with two members, of the child's extended family. The approval of the province's director of Child and Family Services is not required for such an adoption unless the child is to be placed outside Manitoba. An application for this type of adoption may be made no earlier than six months and no later than 12 months after the date of placement. The judge may ask an agency to conduct an investigation and report to the court.
A person married to the parent of a child or who is a common-law partner of that parent may apply to court to adopt the child if the child is living with and being cared for by them. This can be done jointly with the parent or alone but with the parent's consent. When a step-parent applies on their own to adopt the child of their spouse, the spouse's rights as a parent do not end with the order of adoption. The approval of the province's director of Child and Family Services is not required for this type of adoption.
Notice of an application for a step-parent adoption must be given to both of the child's parents, and the parent who does not have custody of the child may oppose the application in court. If an order of adoption is granted, this other parent may apply to the court, either as part of the adoption application or separately, for an order allowing visits with the child (access). The judge may ask an agency to conduct an investigation and report to the court.
An adult can be adopted where the adopting person is older by a reasonable number of years and the reason for the adoption is acceptable to the court. The only consent required is that of the person to be adopted. An order of adoption of an adult may be made without notifying the director of Child and Family Services and without a report from an agency.
The province's director of Child and Family Services maintains the Post-Adoption Registry, which:
facilitates the release of information to adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, birth siblings and adoptive siblings who are eligible to register
searches for and facilitates contact between parties to an adoption
keeps records about parties' wishes to have identifying information disclosed about them or to have personal contact with one another
The Post-Adoption Registry charges fees for registering and for searches for any party.
For adoptions granted under previous legislation (The Child and Family Services Act or its predecessors) birth parents, adoptive parents, adult adoptees and adult birth siblings may register their wish to obtain information about the other parties to the adoption. Information will only be shared when two or more parties to an adoption have registered similar wishes. Registration is entirely voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time.
For adoptions granted under The Adoption Act, anyone who is entitled to register on the Post-Adoption Registry can request and obtain information about anyone else who is entitled to register in respect of the same adoption, unless that party has filed a written objection (disclosure veto or contact veto).
For more information about the Post-Adoption Registry, contact
Child Protection Branch
201 - 114 Garry Street
Winnipeg MB R3C 4V5
Toll free: 1-800-282-8069 (Ext. 4562)
For more information about adoptions generally, contact any child and family services agency (See Chapter 16) any licensed adoption agency, the director of Child and Family Services (See Chapter 12, Protection of Children for the director's contact information) or visit the Family Services and Housing website at: