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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Vital Statistics Records Part 2  by by Sharon L. Murphy. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Adoption Records

Post Adoption Search

Adoption Search Agencies and laws differ from province to province. Some have open Adoption Disclosure and will happily provide the adoptee with their original birth registration (British Columbia) while others will only allow Adoptees (over 19) to search for their birth parents. Even the birth mother cannot register for a search (Newfoundland and Labrador) although this looks like it will be changing in the very near future.

There are some general facts and terminology that you will need to become familiar with.

I would like to also mention the concept of “Guardian/Guardianship”. Before the government created the Adoption Act there were many children that lost their parent or parents through many different circumstances. In these cases they were still raised by someone else who took responsibility for their well being. Often you will find that the father died and the mother remarried and changed the children’s name to that of her new husband without actually legally doing so. There would be no adoption record. In other cases people took on the responsibility of raising children and acted as their guardian. How did this take place? A notice had to be placed in the Canada Gazette stating the plan of the adult to apply to the Court to be appointed Guardian. If a specific court is mentioned in the notice, you can usually find the existing Surrogate Court file or register copy without much trouble. It would normally be indexed by the surname of the children. Otherwise, this Gazette notice may be your only evidence of the father’s name and his death.

Example Canada Gazette Guardianship Notice

Guardianship11F.jpg

  • Special Situations
    There are certain special situations that may arise when information is necessary to protect any person’s health, safety or welfare. If this is the case it is usual for an immediate search to be conducted. These special requests can be made by adoptive parents, birth relatives and the adoptee.
  • Identifying Information
    Information that will likely reveal the identity of another person involved in the adoption. Under the Act, identifying information includes a person’s name, birth date, residence or occupation.
  • Non-identifying Information
    General summary of background information gathered at the time of the adoption and may include ethnic origin, medical history, physical description of all related individuals and interests and level of education. Sometimes occupation is shown.
  • Adoption Order
    Legal document stating child’s name at birth and name after adoption has been completed. The order also shows the court in which the order was granted, the date it was granted and the name of the judge. It also shows the name of the adoptive parents (this may have been removed for privacy).
  • Register/Registry
    A database of all those searching for a match with other birth relations.
  • Search Service
    An active search process to locate someone who is a) already registered with the post adoption registry OR b) not registered but is being sought after by the party that is registered.
  • Veto
    If an individual wishes to maintain his or her privacy, a veto can be filed with the appropriate Post-Adoption Registry. A veto ensures that identifying information remains confidential.
  • Disclosure Veto
    A disclosure veto filed with the Vital Statistics Agency will prevent the release by the Vital Statistics Agency of any birth registration or adoption order information identifying the person who has filed the veto.

Adoption Order

Adoption Order11F.jpg

  • No-Contact Declaration
    A no-contact declaration filed with the Vital Statistics Agency will prohibit any contact with the person who has filed the no-contact declaration. The person seeking the access to birth registration and adoption order records through the Vital Statistics Agency will be required to sign a statutory declaration promising that they will not contact the other person as long as the no-contact declaration is in effect. Under the new Adoption Act (British Columbia), anyone who violates a no-contact declaration will face a maximum penalty, on conviction, of six months in jail and/or fine of up to $10,000.
  • Written Statement
    In recognition of the importance that information on the other person has for an adopted person or birth parent, the person filing a disclosure veto or no-contact declaration has the option of filing a written statement with the Vital Statistics agency. This written statement may include social, medical, and health information, and possibly information on why contact or disclosure of identifying information is not desired at this time. Where a written statement has been filed by an adopted person or birth parent who has filed a disclosure veto or no-contact declaration, the Vital Statistics agency will forward this statement to the other party on their application for birth registration and adoption-order information.

Adoption searches and services work in several ways:

  • an adopted person (adoptee) may seek to find his/her birth parent or parents.
  • a birth parent may seek to find a child given up for adoption.
  • siblings or other blood relatives may seek to find a child they know was adopted.
  • adoptive parents or guardians may seek the birth-parent information.

Often this is an emotional search, but it can also be based on medical and genetic issues.

A summary of adoption laws in the provinces of Canada can be found at their website.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Vital Statistics Records Part 2 offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 3 November 2014, at 16:51.
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