Another option that a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy might consider is adoption. You have several choices about the method and type of adoption.

Public and private adoptions: A public adoption is set up by an organization (eg. Family and Children’s Services or Children’s Aid Society). During a public adoption, you can have input into the selection of the adoptive parent(s) and you can choose whether or not you want to meet the adoptive parent(s) beforehand. In a private adoption, lawyers or social workers usually plan the adoption for you. For a private adoption, the
birth mother needs to be over 18 years old and must approve the person or couple who will adopt the child. A home study of the prospective adoptive parent(s) is conducted by the licensed adoption agent to ensure their suitability for raising the child. All fees for a private adoption are paid by the adoptive parent(s).

Open and closed adoptions: A closed, or confidential, adoption means that there is no contact between the birth mother and the adoptive parent(s) or the child. Information about the birth mother/parents, such as her/their medical and social history and that of her/their family, and information about the adoptive parent(s)’s home and lifestyle is exchanged, but no direct correspondence between the parties is allowed.

Even in a closed adoption, there is the possibility of contact with your child after he/she reaches the age of 18, if he/she registers with the adoption registry in your province. You do not have to consent to contact even if your child registers. Specific policies vary from province to province.

Open adoptions are different in that they include open communication between the birthmother and the adoptive parent(s), before and after birth. This can include a variety of types and amounts of interactions that are decided upon by the adoptive parent(s) and the birthmother, and can range from sending letters and pictures to having regular visits. This type of adoption does not mean that you are co-parenting the child. A special role will need to be arranged between you and the adoptive parent(s). However, be aware that at the request of the adopting parent(s) an open adoption can become a closed adoption.

Regulations vary, but in most provinces, a child will be placed for adoption if the biological parents (or just the mother if the father is not declared) sign consent to the adoption, anytime after the baby is 7 days old. After the signing, you have 21 days in which you can change your mind and cancel the consent. Some provinces differ on the number of days, so be sure to check your provincial regulations.

Local Planned Parenthood affiliates can provide you with information on adoption in your region and can offer you counseling services. To find a Planned Parenthood affiliate near you:

General Information on adoption in Canada:
Adoption Council of Canada -

Specific information by province:


British Columbia

Manitoba (choose the “Child and Family Services agency or a licensed adoption agency” link to find a local branch)

New Brunswick

Changes%20to%20Adoption%20Legislation%20Q&A.pdf> (new Adoption Act [2003] information)
Contact Health and Community Services at 1-800-709-2719

Northwest Territories
The NWT has no private, licensed agencies for private adoptions. The birth parents make arrangements with adoptive parents (usually persons known to them) if they wish to pursue a private adoption. The adoption process is finalized by a lawyer.
(local Health and Social Services department contact information)

Nova Scotia
Toll free number responds to all initial inquiries about adoption in Nova Scotia : 1-866-259-7780.

Nunavut (general Health and Social Services contact information)
Contact the Deputy Director of Adoptions at 975-5781


Prince Edward Island (very thorough procedural and legal information)
For independent private adoption information, call Adoption Services at (902) 368-6511

Private adoption is not permitted in Québec. For information about public adoptions, contact your local Youth centre (Centre Jeunesse du Québec), part of the Health and Social Services ministry (ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux). To find your local Youth Centre, visit:


For private adoptions, contact Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon
Phone: (867) 667-3673
Toll free (In Yukon): 1-800-661-0408, local 3673
For information on public adoptions, contact the Placement and Support Branch at (867) 667-4376 or 1-800-661-0408, local 4376