An order of adoption made by a Manitoba court ends the legal relationship between a child and his or her birth parents and begins a new relationship with the adoptive parents. All rights and responsibilities existing between the child and the birth 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. The adoptive parents may request what the child’s name will be after adoption and the judge may include that in the adoption order. The adoption order will be submitted to Manitoba’s Vital Statistics Agency and a substituted registration of birth will be prepared, including the adoptive parents’ names as parents and the child’s new post-adoption name.
The Adoption Act sets out the law on adoption. Child and Family Services agencies may provide adoption services. Private adoption agencies may also be licensed to provide adoption services. If you are applying to adopt a child, agencies can charge you fees for some adoption services. 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 are entitled to 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.
Are there different types of adoption?
There are seven types of adoption in Manitoba:
Adoption of a Permanent Ward
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. For more information, visit the Protection Services section of this website.
A qualified social worker conducts a home study to determine whether applicants are suitable and capable of being adoptive parents. The names of approved applicants and children available for adoption are entered on the 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 home study. 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 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The convention outlines what procedures must be followed for such things as obtaining consents and preparing the home study.
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 also that the country supports the adoption.
De Facto 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).
Extended family Adoption
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.
Adoption of an Adult
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.
How can I find out more information about an adoption?
The province’s director of Child and Family Services maintains the Post-Adoption Registry, which:
- facilitates release of birth and adoption records in accordance with The Adoption Act;
- facilitates search and reunion services for eligible family members who are involved in an adoption; and
- keeps records about parties’ wishes regarding disclosure of identifying information, or having contact with one another
Searches can be done on behalf of individuals entitled to register on the Post-Adoption Registry (e.g., adoptees, birth parents, birth siblings and adoptive siblings). The Post-Adoption Registry requires consent of all parties to facilitate contact. If a person refuses to share information, refuses contact, or files a veto, their wishes are recorded and the other person is so informed.
Potentially, there are three documents filed with the Post-Adoption Registry that may limit or prevent sharing of information or contact with respect to an adoption:
- disclosure veto: prohibits disclosure of identifying information (note: disclosure vetoes cannot be filed with respect to adoptions granted June 15, 2015 and onwards).
- contact veto: specifies that a person does not wish to be contacted by another person (note: contact vetoes could no longer be filed as of June 15, 2015)
- contact preference: specifies the kind of contact, if any, a person wishes to have with another person respecting an adoption
How can I find out information about my adoption?
As a result of changes to Manitoba’s Adoption Act and Vital Statistics Act, that came into force on June 15, 2015:
- adoptees (18 years or older) can request pre-adoption birth registration information:
- If born in Manitoba, and adopted in Manitoba
- If born outside Manitoba, but adopted in Manitoba
- Unless the birth parent named on the pre-adoption birth registration filed a disclosure veto.
- A birth parent named on the pre-adoption birth registration can request the child’s pre-adoption birth registration information and the child’s substituted registration of birth (which does not include the names of adoption parents):
- when the adopted child is 18 years of age or older
- unless a disclosure veto has been filed by the adopted child
Existing disclosure vetoes will be respected
If the information has not already been released, disclosure vetoes can still be filed for Manitoba adoptions granted before June 15, 2015, and for adoptions granted outside Manitoba before or after June 15, 2015.
New disclosure vetoes will not be accepted for Manitoba adoptions granted on June 15, 2015 and after.
A disclosure veto ceases to have effect one year after the death of the person who filed it.
Existing contact vetoes will be respected
New contact vetoes are not accepted. Instead, birth parents and adoptees (16 years or older) may file a contact preference.
If a contact preference is filed with the Post-Adoption Registry prior to releasing information, identifying information will only be shared on the condition that the person receiving this information agrees to comply with the terms of the contact preference. The fine for failure to comply with a contact veto or contact preference is up to $50,000.
For more information on the Post-Adoption Registry, contact:
Manitoba Post-Adoption Registry, Child and Family Services Branch
For more information about adoptions visiting the Family Services website at https://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/adoption.html