Do you have another question?  Our Coordinators are happy to help. You can also contact us anytime at

General adoption

What is adoption?

Sometimes children cannot live with their birth parents because they are unable to care for them and provide for their most basic needs. Other times parents, for a variety of reasons, seek a new family to raise and care for their child.

Adoption is the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become full and permanent legal members of another family while maintaining genetic and psychological connections to their birth family.

Adoption is

If you would like to discuss adoption with a Social Worker, you can:


Additional information about adoption can be found at :  Social Supports NB | Adopting a Child

What's the difference between foster care and adoption?

Adoption is a lifelong commitment where the rights of a child or youth are transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. 

On the other hand, foster care is typically short-term or a temporary arrangement where a child or youth is placed with a family, with the ultimate goal of reuniting the child or youth with their birth family.

Foster Parents have responsibility for a child while they remain in the legal care of the province.

If you wish to become a foster parent you can find additional information here:
Social Supports NB | Fostering a Child

What laws govern adoption in New Brunswick?

Adoption in New Brunswick is governed by the Family Services Act. 

The New Brunswick Regulation 85-14 Adoptive Applicant Regulation explains the approval criteria for adoptive applicants.

What are the costs involved with adoption from foster care? / Will adopting from the province cost anything?

Social Development has no fees associated with the services that the Department provides for provincial adoption.
There may however be fees associated with the gathering of the documentation from other sources as well as some small legal fees at the time of finalization.

About the Children

Who are the children who come into care? Why are children in Foster Care?

Children and youth enter foster care through no fault of their own, because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by the people who were supposed to care for them. Among children who enter foster care, most will return safely to the care of their own families or go to live with relatives or an adoptive family

 They can become available for adoption in many ways. Some birth parents choose to make an adoption plan for their child, and other children come into the care of the Department by court order. Every effort is made to find an adoptive family who best meets the specific needs of a child over the long term.

While the majority of children come into care due to neglect, all children in foster care have experienced loss and trauma. 

Children come into care for a number of reasons: 

Most of New Brunswick's waiting children are between 3 and 12 years old. And some are part of a sibling group. Others may have special service and/or placement needs. They may be still waiting for adoption because they:

All of these children have some level of special service and/or placement needs due to their background and/or prenatal history. Parenting a child with one or more of these issues can be a difficult task; however, it can also be one of the most satisfying things you will ever do.

All children deserve a permanent, secure and loving family. Families are needed so these children will not have to wait for their permanent home.

For more information on how you can help a child or youth who is unable to live with their parents, visit:
Social Supports NB | Continuum of Care for Children Who Cannot Remain with Their Parent(s) or Guardian(s)

What is meant by a child with special needs?

The term “special needs” refers to children who may have special placements needs and could qualify for adoption assistance. Special placement needs are unique factors that are considered during the matching process. They relate to the child's experiences and the special skill-set required of the parents. Most children adopted from the province have special placement needs due to their experience before and during foster care. 

These special needs include conditions such as: 

A child with special needs should not be confused with a child who requires special education. 

Can I say no to certain special needs?

Yes, your education and SAFE Home Assessment process will help you determine what skills you have or are willing to acquire and what special needs are best suited to your family. It's about balance.

Be honest about the needs you are open to, but don't over-extend yourself to adopt a child with needs that you may not be able to manage or that are not a good match for your skills or current family needs.

Your application package will include a Reference Guide which provides you with basic background information to help you make an informed decision about the type of child you might be interested in adopting. The Registration Form is the first step of the adoption application process with the Department of Social Development. It gives you an opportunity to identify the background factors and special needs of the child or children you wish to adopt and it helps the Department determine when to begin an adoption home study based on the information provided in the registration form. 

Our Coordinators are here and available to help you complete these forms and answer questions you may have while completing them.

Can I say no to a possible match?

Yes. If you don't feel a child is a good fit, it's ok to say no. there will be another family for the child and another opportunity for your family. If you have any concerns about a proposal, talk to your social worker, a support person, to help process your through and/or feelings on the possible match.

Eligibility to adopt

Social Development also has info on this topic here

Who is eligible to adopt in New Brunswick?

In New Brunswick, you don't have to be young, married, childless or wealthy to adopt a child through the Department of Social Development. You don't have to go to a certain church or have a certain education. You just have to be a special person with special skills.

If an applicant does not meet any of the above non-negotiable eligibility criteria, the adoption social worker must inform the applicants why they are not being permitted to proceed with the adoption application.  

Following are the non-negotiable eligibility criteria that a prospective applicant must meet to proceed with the application to adopt:

I am in a same sex relationship, can my partner and I adopt?

Yes!  Adoption is open to  2SLGBTQ+ parents. Please keep in mind that both married and common-law applicants must provide proof of a stable relationship for a period of at least two years.

I’m single. Can I adopt? Do I need to be married to adopt?

You do not need to be married to adopt! Many single people are successful foster and adoptive parents. 

The only non-negotiable requirements to apply to adopt in New Brunswick are:

Am I too old to adopt? Are there age restrictions to adopting from foster care?

No! For local adoptions, the only age restriction is a minimum age (19). 

I have medical issues. Can I still adopt?

It depends. Your suitability as an adoptive parent will be determined by discussions with a social worker and during your home assessment. 

The non-negotiable eligibility criteria related to health that a prospective applicant must meet to proceed with the application to adopt are:

Are there income or education requirements? Do I need to own my own home?

You don’t need to own your own home, be wealthy, have children already, have a college degree, or be a stay-at-home parent to adopt. 

The Process

If you are considering adoption in NB, we recommend viewing our "Adoption in New Brunswick" Video. 

How do I start the process?

If you would like to discuss adoption with a Social Worker, you can:

To start the process:

Applying online to adopt a child or youth is the quickest and easiest way to apply.

By Mail
To apply by mail, send your completed application form and supporting documents by mail to:  


551 King St. 

Sartain MacDonald Building 

PO Box 6000 

Fredericton, NB 

E3B 1E7 

Need help with your application?

Additional information about adoption can be found at:  Social Supports NB | Adopting a Child

If you have questions about your application, you can also contact Social Development by phone at 1-506-259-0232 or email

How can I adopt an Infant (0-2 yrs)?

The adoption of infants under the age of two who are in the care of the Minister.

As many single parents now raise their own children, there are few infants available for adoption either through the Ministries or privately. In New Brunswick, there is a waiting list to adopt infants through the Minister. Families can expect to wait a number of years before they will be considered. The wait time can vary, but typically the wait for an infant Ministerial adoption in New Brunswick is approximately eight years and the numbers of families wishing to adopt healthy infants (0-2 years) outnumber the infants available for adoption through the Minister.

In order to provide an equitable process, all infants placed for Ministerial adoption in New Brunswick are placed through the Infant Adoption Exchange. Applicants must register with their local regional office of Social Development in order to adopt an infant through the Minister.

For infants who are determined to have special needs or are members of a sibling group please refer to the Standards for Older, Special Needs Children and Sibling Groups.

When applying to adopt an infant:

How does placement and finalization work?

Adoption Placement

The adoption placement is deemed to have taken place after the pre-placement visits (where applicable) are completed and the child is placed in the home for the purpose of adoption.  

Post Placement

An Adoption Social Worker will provide post-placement services to the adoptive family. The Adoption Social Worker can help provide concrete suggestions and services to adoptive families experiencing difficulties.

The adoption social worker will visit the adoptive home 


The Adoption Social Worker will make the application to the court on behalf of the adoptive family. 

If the child is in care with a Guardianship Order with Access, the Department may financially assist the family with legal fees they encounter to the extent of three hundred dollars ($300) per child to be adopted.  The social worker will inform the adopting parents that they are responsible to pay all the additional legal fees. 

For an adoption order to be granted a child/ren must have resided in the adoptive home for a minimum of one hundred and eighty six (186) days (6 continuous months).

In cases where the birth parent(s) or any other party has a right of access, the adoption social worker must advise the adopting parents of the legal implications of that access and explain that the adopting parents are required to retain the services of a lawyer in order to finalize the adoption.  The adoption social worker may request one-time monies to off-set legal costs should a lawyer need to be retained and must inform the adopting parents that they are responsible to pay all the additional legal fees.

A Parent's 

Once I am approved to adopt, will I need to maintain, update my file?

All approved adopting applicants must have their home assessment updated once a year if a child has not been placed in the home.

This may include:

Can I adopt more than one child at the same time?

You can only adopt more than one child at a time if the children are siblings. Otherwise, you must wait until your first adoption has been completed until you can initiate the adoption process for a second time.

How are waiting children matched with approved families?

All children placed for adoption by the Department of Family and Community Services must be placed with an approved adoptive family.

Once a child has been identified as needing an adoptive placement, a  consultation between the child/rens Child-in-Care Social Worker and the Adoption Social Worker is held where the child/rens Child-in-Care Social Worker must identify the needs of the child, including:

The child/rens Social Worker prepares the child’s profile, gathers pictures of the child and give the child’s dossier to the Adoption Social Worker to assist in the process of finding an adoptive home for the child.

The Adoption Social Worker will identify any possible adoptive applicants that may be a possible match, obtain the adoption assessments of those possible matches and share them with the child/rens Social Worker.

If a potential match is found, the Social Workers will meet to discuss and decide on the suitability of the proposed match.

If they decides that the proposed match is suitable, the Adoption Social Worker makes contact with the prospective adoptive family in order to share information on the proposed child.  

If the prospective adoptive family is interested in learning more about the proposed child, a meeting is scheduled with the appropriate member of the team to share further confidential information.

Prospective adoptive families will be given a minimum 24 hours  to consider the information that they have been presented with. 

After careful consideration, the adoptive family is to inform the Adoption Social Worker of their decision.  If the family accepts the child the Adoption Social Worker works with the prospective adoptive family to prepare them for their initial meeting with the child and eventual placement.  

Should a family decide not to move forward with the placement, the Adoption Social Worker will retrieve any documents given to the family pertaining to the child and continue to search for a prospective adoptive home.

It's important to note that this does not affect the family's  status as an approved adoptive family.

Can I specify what type of child I am looking to adopt?

Yes, during the Home Assessment process you will have the opportunity to explore what type of child would be the 'best match' for you and your family.


P.R.I.D.E stands for Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education.

The PRIDE helps prepare prospective foster and adoptive parents with important information on how trauma impacts a child’s growth and development. The program also helps families know what will be expected of them as foster and adoptive parents.

PRIDE is a competency-based model and is based on the belief that resource families need to have special strengths, knowledge, and skills, as well as a community of supports in order to be successful as foster care or adoptive families. The PRIDE curriculum is based on five competencies that promote the need to not only understand how to best help children who have been abused and neglected but to also strengthen all families (birth, foster, or adoptive).

The five PRIDE competencies include the following set of skills.

Each session is led by co-leaders, one an adoption professional and the other an experienced adoptive or foster parent. They will address the learning needs of all group participants regardless of their specific adoption plans, as they explore their options.

The training consists of nine sessions that are three hours each : Overview of Training Sessions

 What is the SAFE Home Assessment?  

An important step in getting approved as an adoptive family is the completion of the SAFE Home Assessment.
No matter what type of adoption you pursue, you won’t be able to get it approved until you’ve completed this assessment, sometimes referred to as a home study.

The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) is a home study methodology that provides a suite of comprehensive home study tools and practices for the description and evaluation of would-be adoptive and foster families.

A homestudy is a series of meetings with a social worker to provide more in-depth information about adoption and help prepare an applicant for parenting an adopted child.  is an assessment of your skills as a potential adoptive parent. It’s also an educational tool, designed to prepare you for some of the responsibilities that lie ahead.

 Agencies also require certain documents: a marriage license, birth certificate, medical report, criminal check and child abuse clearance. Personal character references are often required. The homestudy includes at least one visit to your home by an agency worker. The time it takes to complete the homestudy will vary from one agency to another, but families who are interested in children with special needs are usually given prompt attention.

A homestudy is a mandatory process by which an adoption social worker assesses a family or individual who is considering adoption. The process involves a series of interviews and helps prepare the family to meet the needs of an adopted child or sibling set. 

An adoption Social Worker will work with you over a number of weeks to complete your SAFE Home assessment.

The link below describes the SAFE Assessment and provides examples of forms you may be asked to complete.

Recommended reads

What is adoption openness? /  How does it work?

What is adoption openness?

Open adoption is any situation where the birth mother and the adoptive family exchange identifying information about each other. How much is determined by the two parties, and can include everything from swapping social and legal histories to letters and photos, and in some cases, even visits. It is the opposite of closed adoption, which until recently was the adoption standard.

Adoption openness is written, verbal, or face-to-face communication or contact between a child and their birth parents. Adoption openness is usually agreed upon by both the birth parents and the adoptive parents.

This is an adoption where contact is maintained between the adoptive parents, the child and the child's birth parents or other significant relationship. It has to be determined whether this approach is in the best interest of the child and what is acceptable to the birth and adoptive parents.

How does openness in adoption work?

Sometimes it may be in the best interests of an adoptive child to keep in touch with his or her birth parent or other persons that are important to the child. This type of contact is called "openness".

There is a broad range of openness in adoption. Openness can be exchanging cards for holidays, letters, and photographs - directly or through the province - to visits with birth family members. This type of openness might be maintained with a child's birth parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters or aunts and uncles.

The degree of openness is explored by the province early in the adoption process, before the child is placed with the family.

An openness order is made by a court to help maintain a relationship between the child and a birth family member or another person with a significant relationship to the child.

Can I adopt a child that will have no contact with his or her birth family?

Sometimes it’s possible for various reasons (geography, the birth family are not healthy or have passed away), but maintaining a connection between the child and their birth family has been shown to be extremely beneficial to the child.

Support and training for families

Are there support groups for parents who adopt? How can I connect with other adoptive parents?

Parent support groups provide the opportunity to network, share, and learn from other adoptive parents who are experiencing or have experienced the same things as you.  Our New Brunswick Adoption Support Network offers programming across the province including Support Groups, Workshops and Social Events.

Are adoptive Parents eligible for Parental Leave?

Through EI, adoptive parents are covered under the "parental leave" benefit (not maternity leave).

See the Government of Canada  site for additional details :
Maternity and Parental Benefits - 

Is There Financial Assistance for Adoptive Families?

The Adoption Expense Tax Credit 

To help families with the cost of adopting a child, the Canada Revenue Agency allows you to claim up to $15,000 in eligible adoption expenses on your income tax and benefit return for each child under age 18 that you adopt.

You need to make a claim in the tax year when the adoption order is issued or when the child starts living with you, whichever is later.  The credit recognizes the unique costs of adopting a child and may be claimed in the taxation year in which an adoption is finalized.

The credit applies to eligible adoption expenses, to qualify for this tax credit, the expenses you paid must fall into one of the following categories:

*These fees can include any of the following and can vary:

Note: You can’t claim any expenses that you paid after the end of the adoption period nor for which you received a reimbursement or financial assistance.

To find out more about the adoption expense tax credit, visit Line 31300 - Adoption expenses -


NB Adoption Grant
The province of New Brunswick is committed to helping more New Brunswick residents become parents. Adopting a child is one way in which families can grow in New Brunswick. In order to support those who have chosen to adopt, the New Brunswick government is offering an adoption grant that provides qualifying adoptive parents with a one-time grant of $1,000 to offset the costs associated with adopting a child.

See the Government of New Brunswick  site for additional details : New Brunswick Adoption Grant -


Employer benefits
A growing number of companies and government agencies are offering adoption benefits, which can include a financial reimbursement for legal expenses, agency fees, medical expenses, post adoption counseling, and other expenses, as well as paid or unpaid leave time and help finding resources and referrals. Check with your employer to find out your company's policies.


Benefits that grow with your family
The tax savings and benefits continue while you adjust to adoptive parenthood and settle into your new life. These include the monthly universal child care benefit ($160 for children under six and $60 for children between six and 17, under proposed changes), and the Canada child tax benefit (CCTB), a tax-free benefit available to eligible families that helps with the costs of raising children under 18. To make sure you receive your benefits and credits, you should file your return every year, even if you have not received income in that year. 

Giving your children the opportunity to grow and explore life is the fun part of parenting! Whether your child scores touchdowns at amateur football games or dives into swimming lessons like a future Olympian, the fees for these types of recreational activities can add up. Save your receipts so that you can claim up to $1,000 per child under the children’s fitness tax credit. If your child attends programs that contribute to his or her artistic development, like tickling the ivories at a piano recital or going to computer camp, you also may be eligible to claim up to $500 per child under the children’s arts tax credit.

What is the NB Adoption Grant? 

The province of New Brunswick is committed to helping more New Brunswick residents become parents. Adopting a child is one way in which families can grow in New Brunswick. In order to support those who have chosen to adopt, the New Brunswick government is offering an adoption grant that provides qualifying adoptive parents with a one-time grant of $1,000 to offset the costs associated with adopting a child.

See the Government of New Brunswick  site for additional details : New Brunswick Adoption Grant -

Can I Receive Financial Assistance or Services after Adoption?

During the pre-placement process the Child-in-Care Social Worker, the Adoption Social Worker, and the adoptive family determine whether a subsidy is necessary to meet the special needs of the child.  This is a part of the pre-placement process.  

Families may request assistance after the finalization of an adoption under certain circumstances. Below is the process by which families access adoption benefits after finalization.

Subsidies must be applied for and agreed to prior to the adoption being finalized.  Services may be provided under other departmental programs if no subsidy exists.

All subsidized adoptions are eligible for payment once the adoption is finalized.  There are arrangements made to assist the families when the child is placed before the adoption is finalized.

There are two components to adoption assistance in New Brunswick.  

Annual reviews are required of all subsidized adoptions in New Brunswick.  Adoptive parents must submit proof of income for the previous year, and complete an Annual Review Form.  The social worker must obtain appropriate documentation regarding the needs of the child.  Upon review, a decision is made regarding the new information.

Modifications can be made upon request or any time the situation warrants it.  They can also be performed through the Annual Review process.

Medical or dental services

Medical services are covered by Medicare for all eligible New Brunswick residents.  The special needs of the child are determined on a case by case basis and there are exceptional cases where a health card is provided to adopted children which allows for the government to pay for certain benefits, such as dental, pharmaceutical etc.

Benefits after 18

Special services can be provided until the adoptee turns 19.  Those services can be extended until the adoptee reaches the age of 21 when a) the child is enrolled in an educational program; or b) the child has a physical, mental and/or social disability which prevents them from being able to support themselves.


A prospective adopting parent of a child with a special service need or two or more children with a special placement need may apply to the Minister for assistance for the following services or assistance:

A prospective adopting parent of a child with a special service need or two or more children with a special placement need may qualify for financial assistance in the form of an annual child maintenance payment by

Subsidized Adoptions for Infants

An adoption subsidy is not available to a healthy infant placed through the Infant Adoption Exchange.  In the case where an infant meets the criteria for subsidy, they would be considered Older, Special Needs and would be not be on  the Infant Adoption Exchange.

For full details on Subsidized Adoptions visit:

Other Types of Adoption

What is the process for international adoption?


In New Brunswick, the term Inter-country Adoption has three general meanings:


People considering adopting a child internationally are encouraged to seek as much information as possible about inter-country adoption, both the many unique challenges and rewards.

New Brunswick adults (19 and older) may apply to adopt a child(ren) from outside Canada, one country at a time. However, the applicants must meet strict criteria under the Inter Country Adoption Act and its regulations. For instance, they cannot have been convicted of many of the Criminal Code offenses, most of which pertain to the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.

Provincial approval rests with the Minister of this department. Inter-country adoptions can only be concluded with the approval of the child’s country of origin.

Countries have their own specific requirements for applicants. Applications must also comply with federal legislation governing immigration and citizenship and the laws of the child’s home country.


The inter-country adoption process is complex, time-consuming, and can be expensive. However, an adopting mother, father, or couple would likely say adopting a child from outside Canada can be very rewarding.

In New Brunswick, the principles and philosophy of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption are applied to all inter-country adoptions as it is a framework for cooperation between countries to protect the best interest of the children and birth and adoptive parents.

Inter-country adoption involving New Brunswickers is governed by the Inter Country Adoption Act and on January 5, 2009, amendments were proclaimed to the Act and regulations enacted. The Act gives the Minister of Social Development the legal authority for all inter-country adoptions including that of a New Brunswick child being placed for adoption outside of Canada and also the authority to approve a number of not-for-profit agencies to perform certain tasks for inter-country adoptions. These organizations are referred to as community social services agencies (CSSAs).

Currently, the only CSSA in New Brunswick is :  Gentle Path Counselling Services Ltd.

To start the application process,  you must contact Gentle Path Counselling Services Ltd.
Phone : 1-888-394-4022 or (506) 652-7284 Extention: 353

They will provide specifics about inter-country adoption and helps applicants by providing information sessions; inter-country adoption training; home assessments; updates; post-placement services; and progress reports.


Through Gentlepath, and in accordance with New Brunswick regulations, applicants will incur the following costs:

Applicants should also be aware that they are responsible for any additional fees associated with their inter-country adoption. Fees can vary country to country.

For more information on Inter-Country adoption, visit:

How does Private adoption work in New Brunswick


Private adoptions occur when biological parents know the adoptive parents and arrange the adoption directly with them. The Department of Social Development is still involved to complete assessments and to ensure adoptive families provide the necessary documents. These include birth certificates, proof of a stable relationship for at least two years if two people are adopting, medical checks, criminal record, vulnerable sector checks, Department of Social Development record checks, names of reference.s and financial statements.

The New Brunswick Regulation 85-14 Adoptive Applicant Regulation under the Family Services Act further explains the approval criteria for private adoptive applicants.

Private Adoption Home Assessment

All prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt the child/ren in their home must have a private adoption home assessment completed regardless of whether a Private Adoption Risk Assessment has been completed.  


How do I adopt my step-child? or my partner’s child?

Adoption in New Brunswick is governed by the Family Services Act. You can find the necessary forms under the Forms Regulation – the adoption forms are in the range of numbers 13 through 22 but not all of them will be necessary in each case. You may wish to consult with a lawyer to be sure you have used all the correct forms.

Generally, when the person adopting is married to the biological parent, the Court can grant an Adoption Order after the spouse has lived with the child continuously for 6 months.

Normally, you will require the consent of the child’s other biological parent to the adoption, however, there are certain cases when a court may waive a parent’s consent. For example, if the parent who must consent has abandoned the child and cannot be located after all reasonable attempts are made to find him. Once the court makes the Adoption Order, the birth registration papers will be changed and the biological parents will lose all their legal rights and responsibilities (including the responsibility to pay child support) to the child.

If your child is 12 years old or older, you will also require their consent for an adoption and/or any change of name.

For more information on Adoption, see page 25 of the PLEIS-NB  pamphlet: Parenting: Rights and Responsibilities of Young Parents.
Also, you might find some helpful information in their fact sheets—- Changing a Child’s Last Name and Can a Parent End All Rights and Obligations to a Child?

If you are interested in starting the adoption process, you will likely need to hire a family law lawyer to assist you. It is always a good idea to get legal advice about your situation before proceeding. You could speak to a private lawyer of your choosing or you could contact the Family Advice Lawyers Service at 1-855-266-0266 to set up an appointment for a free consultation with a family law lawyer. If you are in the Judicial District of Saint John (counties of Charlotte, Saint John, and Kings), you can book this appointment by calling the Family Law Information Center (FLIC) at the Saint John courthouse at 506-658-2261, and in the Judicial District of Moncton (counties of Westmorland, Albert, and Kent), you can do the same by calling their FLIC at 506-856-2307.