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  Ontario opens adoption records June 1, 2009
Family Helper editor

(June 9, 2009)   In the province of Ontario, as of June 1, 2009, adopted adults and birth parents can get information from birth and adoption records, such as the original name of an adopted adult or the name of a birth parent. There is also a way to prevent family members from finding out those names.

Ontario's adoption information disclosure law (Access to Adoption Records Act, 2008) allows adopted adults to apply for a copy of their adoption order and original birth certificate. (Adoption orders can show the adopted person's birth name and adoptive name, the date and place of birth, and the names of the birth parents.) Birth parents can apply for information in the original and amended birth certificate of their adult child. Either one can register a disclosure veto to prevent disclosing information.

Privacy protected, and contact allowed

To protect their privacy, adopted adults and birth parents can file a disclosure veto, if the adoption was finalized in Ontario before Sept. 1, 2008. This veto prevents the release of information identifying the person who filed the veto.

Or if adopted adults and birth parents don't mind revealing their identity but don't want to be contacted, they can file a no contact notice. Finally, if being contacted is an option, they can file a notice of contact preference saying how they would like to be contacted.

The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services spells out the actual procedure for applying for birth information, for filing a disclosure veto or contact notice, or for placing your name on the voluntary Adoption Disclosure Register.

The ministry also has an FAQ to answer your questions about searching for adoption records in Ontario. Or call 416-325-8305, 1-800-461-2156.

While the new law helps people get birth and adoption information, it doesn't help them find their family. People who want to get in touch with birth relatives can add their name to the Adoption Disclosure Register, by choosing one of these:
I was adopted
My child was adopted
I am a birth relative

ACC opposes vetoes

The Adoption Council of Canada (ACC) is against sealed adoption records. (See the PDF "Ontario to open adoption records".)

ACC believes that every adoptee has the right to his/her original identity including medical and ancestral history, and every birth parent has the right to know the name of his/her adult adopted child.

The ACC holds that that adopted adults and birth parents have an unqualified right to information about family members, such as original and amended birth certificates, court files, and personal files held by the adoption agency, government and licensee.

However privacy should be respected by allowing an adopted adult or birth parent to indicate on a form his/her preference for contact or reunion. ACC opposes vetoes of any kind.


• Since 1921, 250,000 children have been adopted in Ontario.

• Ontario adoption records were sealed in 1927. Members of the Ontario adoption community have been lobbying for change in disclosure laws since the 1970s.

• Since 1979, about 75,000 Ontarians have told the province they are trying to find their birth relatives.

• The original law, Bill 183, the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005, was introduced into the Ontario Legislature on March 29, 2005.

• On Nov. 1, 2005 Bill 183 passed by a vote of 68 to 19 and was set to go into effect Sept. 17, 2007. See "Opening adoption records".

• On Sept. 19, 2007, two days after implementation, Mr. Justice Edward Belobaba struck down the Act as unconstitutional. A group of three adoptees and one birth parent represented by Toronto civil-rights lawyer Clayton Ruby had argued that the law did not sufficiently protect those involved in an adoption who wished to remain anonymous. See "Judge quashes Ontario law".

• On May 14, 2008 Ontario passed revised legislation (Bill 12) on disclosing adoption information. It allowed adopted adults and birth parents to get information from birth and adoption records, as in Bill 183. However (to the disappointment of the Adoption Council of Canada and other groups) it allowed filing a disclosure veto if the adoption order was made before Sept. 1, 2008.

• Starting June 1, 2009, adopted adults could apply for a copy of their adoption order and original birth certificate, and birth parents could apply for information contained in the original and amended birth certificate of their adult child.

• Ontario is the fifth Canadian province to open its adoption records, after British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Also with open records are the United Kingdom and the Australian state of New South Wales.

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"From Family Helper,"



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Contact: Robin Hilborn,
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©2009 Robin R. Hilborn
Updated June 9, 2009

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