Adoption in BC is governed by a provincial law called the Adoption Act.

If you want to adopt a child, you file an application in the BC Supreme Court.

The court will think about the child's best interests when it's deciding if you're the right person to adopt them. The child's best interests are the most important thing. If the child is Aboriginal, that also means respecting their cultural identity.

Who can adopt a child?

You can apply to adopt if:

  • you're an adult, and
  • you've lived in BC for six months.

You don't need to be married. You can apply to adopt if you're:

  • single, or
  • in an opposite-sex or same-sex relationship.

What happens if you adopt a child?

When you adopt a child, you take on all the parental rights and responsibilities that birth parents have. The birth parents of the child you're adopting give up all their parental rights and responsibilities.

If you're a step-parent:

  • you become a joint parent with your spouse, if they're the child's birth parent, and
  • the other birth parent keeps their parental rights and responsibilities.

Are there different types of adoption?

There are a few ways to adopt a child in BC. Here are some of them:

  • Government placement: the director of adoption (who works for the Ministry of Children and Family Development) finds a family to take the children. You need to be registered if you want to adopt in this way.
  • Agency placement: the adoption agency matches people who want a child with a child who needs a new family.
  • Direct placement: the birth parents ask a friend or other person to adopt their child.
  • Relative adoption: the birth parents ask a relative to adopt their child.
  • Custom adoptions for Indigenous people: an Aboriginal child is adopted by an Aboriginal family.

If you help look after a child but you don't adopt them, you can adopt them when they turn 19. This is called adult adoption. The Adoptive Families Association of BC has useful information about this.

They also have helpful information about adopting children from outside of Canada and about embryo adoption or donation.

See Who is a parent? to find out more about how the law defines a parent.

Other things you need to know

See the BC government's website for more information about:

  • how to adopt a child, or
  • how to make an adoption plan for a child.

For example:

  • how to adopt within BC
  • how to adopt a child from another country
  • Adoption Act and Regulations
  • custom adoptions for Aboriginal people

The website also has helpful information for adopted adults, adoptive parents, and birth parents.