What is adoption

Adoption is a legal process where a party applies to become the adoptive parents of a child under 21 years old.

If the court grants an adoption order, the adoptive parents will have legal rights, obligations and responsibilities over the child. The child will no longer have any legal ties with the biological parents.

The Family Courts hear applications for adoption orders. Applicants must complete the following pre-adoption steps required by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) before applying to the courts.

The adoption process starts at the MSF.

Before you file an application for an adoption order with the courts, you must do all of the following:

  • Check that you meet the requirements to adopt.
  • Complete the pre-adoption steps. There are different steps depending on the nationality of the child you wish to adopt. Refer to the MSF's website for more information.
When filing

File and serve an application

Understand the documents, fees and process to file an application for an adoption order. You will need to seek consent from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to act as the Guardian In Adoption (GIA) for the child.

After filing

Submit additional documents

After the MSF agrees, you must submit their written consent to be appointed the GIA to the court. The GIA will investigate your application and prepare an affidavit based on the investigation findings. You need to submit this affidavit to the court and request a further hearing date.

Going to court

Attend court

You may need to attend at least 2 hearings before a judge. During the final hearing, the judge will decide whether to approve your application.

After an order is made

File an application, if needed

If you are not satisfied with an order made by the court, you may file an appeal.

You may choose to file the application for an adoption order yourself or engage a lawyer. Find out where to get help.


Legislation associated with this topic includes:

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