NWT Adoption Information
General Adoption Information
Important Issues
Aboriginal Custom Adoption
Public Adoption
Private Adoption
Social Services Offices
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General Adoption Information

In the Northwest Territories, adoptions occur under the Child and Family Services Act, the Northwest Territories Adoption Act and the Aboriginal Custom Adoption Recognition Act.

The Northwest Territories Adoption Act includes adoptions of children living in Northwest Territories and children from other provinces and countries. Established in 1998, the Northwest Territories Adoption Act is designed to ensure that potential adoptive children are placed in safe homes. Its objective is to promote the best interests of the child being adopted and to provide a means for establishing the child’s legal status within a family. A child’s best interests include finding an adoptive home that best meets the child’s mental, emotional and educational needs, as well as the child’s cultural heritage, linguistic and spiritual needs. The Northwest Territories Adoption Act is intended to protect the rights of everyone involved in an adoption – the child, the birth parents and the adoptive parents.

In the Northwest Territories, there are several types of adoption:

Departmental Adoption (a.k.a. public adoption) is a situation where the child being adopted is in the permanent custody of the Director of Child and Family Services. A birth parent may willingly consent to an adoption or the courts have determined that the parents are unable to parent the child.

Private Adoption: Private adoption is arranged by birth parent(s) and adopting parent(s) themselves as long as the requirements of the Northwest Territories Adoption Act and the Regulations have been met.

Inter-country or International Adoption: Inter-country adoptions occur when the child being adopted resides outside of Canada. These adoptions are regulated by the Northwest Territories Adoption Act and the Inter-country Adoption Act (Hague Convention).

Aboriginal Custom Adoption: Custom adoption is a long-standing and accepted practice of child placement in the aboriginal culture. Custom adoption is an arrangement for care of children between the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) in accordance with aboriginal custom. The arrangement is usually with relatives or other people in the same community. Adoption is deemed to have taken place at the time of placement.

Inter-provincial Adoption: Inter provincial adoptions are child-in-care adoptions of other Provinces or Territorial Directions. In these cases, both the laws of the originating and receiving jurisdictions apply, as does the Provincial/Territorial Protocol on Children and Families moving between provinces and Territories.

*Very few northern children who are in the care of the Director of Child and Family Services are placed for adoption outside of the Northwest Territories. This rarely occurs because the government recognizes the children’s unique northern cultural heritage and wants to preserve it. Only when all resources have been exhausted will consideration be given to placement outside the territory.*

Territory Notes

For more information about adoption in the Northwest Territories, visit the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services web site.


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