Adoption in Nova Scotia


Adopting a child is one of the best gifts you can give. If you are thinking about adding to your family through adoption, we can help. Adoption is a court process that creates a legally binding parent-child relationship, where that child is not the adult’s biological child.All adoptions in Nova Scotia is overseen by the Department of Community Services (DCS) and require at least some involvement of the court. In order to be eligible to adopt a child in Nova Scotia you must be:

  • Over the age of 19;
  • Resident of Nova Scotia;
  • Canadian citizens or have Permanent Resident status; and
  • You can be single, in an opposite sex or same sex couple (married or not).

Voluntary Placement

The birth mother of a child may select an individual or a couple to adopt her child.  DCS will have to be notified in advance of making an adoption application to the court and they may investigate to ensure this is a suitable placement for the child.

If a birth mother has selected grandparents, aunts/uncles or siblings as the adoptive parents, the legal process is the same as if the birth mother selected parents outside of the family.

Legal fees for Voluntary Placement Adoption is usually at a fixed rate, plus the required court filing fees.


Step-Child Adoption

In cases where there are children from a previous relationship, adopting step children may be possible. The court must sign off on these adoptions. They will only look at whether or not the adoption is in the children’s best interest. It is possible in some cases to adopt a child without the other parent's consent, but the process is simpler when the other parent agrees to the adoption.

Legal fees for a Step-Child adoption can be at a fixed rate if the other parent consents, but will be at an hourly rate if the adoption is contested. (Plus the required court filing fees).


Agency Placement

Sometimes biological parents are unable to provide  proper care to their children. In cases where DCS has removed the children from the home and the biological parents have lost permanent custody, the Province tries to find permanent adoptive homes for these children. There are very few infants adopted this way in Nova Scotia, many of the children who need placement are older. DCS will try to keep siblings together as well. There is a long waitlist to adopt infants this way but if you are willing to adopt older children, siblings, or children with special needs you will have a shorter wait.

Legal fees for an Agency Adoption can be at a fixed rate if the parents have lost permanent custody but will be at an hourly rate if custody is undetermined (Plus the required court filing fees).


International Adoption

International Adoptions are considered private placements by DCS. They can be complex because you are dealing with laws and regulation is two separate jurisdictions. International adoption is less common than it was in the past, in particular because China and Russia are no longer adopting out as many children as they used to. Many developing countries do not allow international adoptions.

Legal fees for an International Adoption will be at an hourly rate (Plus the required court filing fees).

Other Considerations

Home Study & Training: In many cases, before you are approved to adopt a child, you will also need to complete a home study and complete the Parent Resource for Information, Development & Education (PRIDE) training. A home study is completed by an approved social worker to ensure your home is appropriate for children. This includes questionnaires, interviews and having an actual home visit. They may take up to a couple of months to complete and can cost a few thousand dollars. The cost of a home study is covered by DCS if you adopt through their agency.

Culture & Race: DCS considers race and culture when they place a child in a permanent home. Mi’kmaw, bi-racial children, and children of African descent are placed in homes that can support their cultural needs. Mi’Kmaw Family Services handles all adoptions of Mi’kmaw children in the Province. To adopt a Mi'kmaw child one prospective adoption applicant within a couple must be status Mi'kmaw.  If the child speaks Mi'kmaw they will only be placed in a home where the the language is spokem and understood.

Name Change: Some families may prefer to simply change the name of a child instead of making doing a full formal adoption. A name change  must also be approved by the courts.

Fostering: If the permanence of adoption is not right for you, some parents may decide to explore becoming foster parents

Infertility: Many parents come to adoption after experiencing fertility issues. Fertility issues can have a huge impact on individuals and on the couple's relationship. It can be a good idea to meet with a counsellor, or join a support group to help you work through your feelings around fertility as you explore adoption. There is still stigma around fertility issues even though as many 1 in 6 couples have trouble conceiving. There is no need to suffer alone.

We Can Help

If you think adoption is a possible option for your family, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer who can explain the your options and help guide you through the process. The process can be complicated and slow moving. If you have questions about adoption or have a specific situation you want help with, contact us to set up a no obligation consultation to review your situation.