Searching in Canada




In Canada, adoption and adoption disclosure are provincial matters. You must apply to the province where the adoption was FINALIZED in order to obtain any information about that adoption. In most provinces you are entitled to non-identifying background information and may register in a matching registry. Some provide search services, but usually for adoptees only. Waiting lists are very long everywhere and waiting times change all the time. Most legislation is under review.


Post Adoption Registry, Alberta Children’s Services,
11th Floor, Sterling Place, 9940-106 St.
Edmonton, Alberta, T5K 2N2
Telephone: 780-427-6387

New legislation in effect November 1, 2004. Adoption records are open to both adoptees and birth parents. A matching registry and non-identifying information are available. If an adoptee does not know about his adoption, adoptive parents can place an information disclosure veto.


Under the Adoption Act in B.C., birth parents and adults who were adopted as children can get identifying information about each other.

Original birth records for adopted children can be requested – information that identifies birth parents is removed from the record, unless they previously gave their consent to have the information be made available.

There are two ways to access information about an adoption record:

  • As a Freedom of Information request
  • Application for Service Pertaining to an Adopted Person – Once adoptees are 19, they or their birth parents can apply for a copy of the adoption order or original B.C. birth registrations.

Freedom of Information Request

Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, some information from adoption records for children adopted in B.C. is available by request.

Apply for access to an adoption record:

Request Official Birth & Adoption Documents

To apply for a copy of the birth registration and adoption order you must be:

  • The birth parent of a child who is now an adult (19 years +)
  • An adult (19 years +) who was adopted as a child

Born in B.C.: People born and adopted in B.C. can get a copy of the:

  • Original birth registration in their birth name, including the names of any birth parents on record (unless a birth parent has filed a disclosure veto in which case the record is edited to obscure or remove information that the birth parent does not want disclosed)
  • Adoption order

Birth parents of people born and adopted in B.C. can get a copy of the:

  • Adopted person’s original birth registration, including any change of name after the adoption (unless the adoptee has filed a disclosure veto in which case the post adoption record is edited to obscure or remove information that the adoptee does not want disclosed). All information identifying the adoptive parents is deleted to protect their privacy)
  • Adoption order (with information redacted if necessary to protect privacy)

Not born in B.C.: People not born in B.C. but adopted in the province can get a copy of the:

  • Adoption order and any identification particulars of the adopted person

Birth parents of people not born in B.C.

How to Apply for an Adoption Record

Follow these steps to apply for an adoption record:

Step 1: Complete the application form.

Step 2: Attach a photocopy of your birth certificate as proof of identification.

Step 3: Include a cheque, money order or credit card payment for $50.

Step 4: Deliver the documents using one of the following methods:

By mail:
Attn: Confidential Services
Vital Statistics Agency
PO BOX 9657 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9P3


MANITOBA:  New legislation came into effect in June 2015.

Manitoba Family Services
Post-Adoption Registry
114 Garry Street
Suite 201
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4V5
Telephone: 204-945-8201

The Adoption Act has been amended. The key changes are as follows:

  • A person who was born in Manitoba, was adopted, and is now an adult may now apply to the director under The Adoption Act for a copy of his or her pre-adoption birth registration and the new registration of birth document that was substituted for it after the adoption. The parent named on the person’s pre-adoption birth registration  (“registered birth parent”) may also apply for those documents, but the copies they get will not show information about the adoptive parents.
  • A person who was born outside Manitoba but adopted here and is now an adult may apply for his or her pre-adoption birth registration information that is available in the director’s records.
  • Disclosure vetoes can be filed only by adopted persons who are 16 or older or their registered birth parents, and only if the adoption was granted in Manitoba  before these amendments take effect, or outside the province.
  • Adult parties to an adoption granted in Manitoba will continue to be able to file contact vetoes until these amendments take effect. However, after these amendments take effect, adopted persons who are 16 or older and their registered birth parents will be able to file a contact preference to specify the contact with the other that they are prepared to have, if any.
  • An aboriginal person who was born in Manitoba and adopted will be able to request that his or her pre-adoption birth registration and identifying information about his or her birth parents be given to another person, or to a government or organization, for the purpose of applying for benefits or services provided to aboriginal persons. These requests are not subject to vetoes or contact preferences.
  • The director under The Adoption Act will operate as the “central desk” for the Vital Statistics Agency and the court in dealing with requests for adoption and pre-adoption birth registration records, information and Manitoba adoption orders. As well, search services offered by the director are expanded.
  • Provisions relating to adoption proceedings in the court will reflect the court’s practice of adoption proceedings being closed to the public.
  • To help protect parties’ privacy rights, the director will be able to disclose identifying information to an appropriate authority in another  jurisdiction to determine if a veto or contact preference has been filed there. The director will also be able to enter into information-sharing agreements with other jurisdictions.
  • Fines for offences under the Act are increased from $20,000 to $50,000, in line with the fines for offences under The Child and Family Services Act.

Vital Statistics Act Amendments

Part 2 of this Bill amends The Vital Statistics Act. The key changes are as follows:

  • Section 10 of the Act, concerning adoption orders and pre-adoption birth registrations is replaced to reflect the increased transparency of these records.
  • The director under The Vital Statistics Act will be allowed to give previously sealed pre-adoption birth registrations and related adoption orders to the director under The Adoption Act so he or she can carry out responsibilities under that Act.
  • As well, the director is given the power to examine registrations or proposed registrations under the Act and to sever information from them if the truthfulness or legitimacy of the information is in doubt.


Post Adoption Disclosure Services
Department of Social Development
PO Box 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H1
Telephone: 506-453-2152


Active searches will be conducted on behalf of adult adoptees (19 years and over) and also birth parents and siblings at no charge. Non-identifying information will be provided to both adoptees and birth parents. A copy of the Adoption Order with full birth name is available to adoptive parents and adoptees only if they already know the birth name. Search times range from 12 to 18 months.



Until April 2018 when adoption records open, adopted persons do not have the right to access their original birth certificates, nor can natural parents obtain the adopted names of the child they lost to adoption.



Post Adoption Services – Eastern Health
81 Kenmount Road
St John’s, Newfoundland, A1B 4A4
Telephone: 709-752-4406

Adopted persons who were born and adopted in Newfoundland and Labrador will receive a copy of their original birth registration in their birth name (including the name of any birth parent on record) and a copy of their adoption order provided a disclosure veto has not been filed.

Birth parents of people born and adopted in Newfoundland and Labrador will receive a copy of the adopted person’s original birth registration, the adopted person’s birth registration following adoption (including any changes of name consequent to the adoption), and the adoption order.



Nova Scotia’s Adoption Information Act establishes a balance between people’s right to privacy and the opportunity for contact between adopted person and their birth families.
The Adoption Information Act creates an active registry to help people search for members of their birth family. Identifying information will be exchanged only after both parties have consented.

Adoption information on file
The basic record for any adoption consists of legal documents and background information. In recent years there has been a general improvement in the type and amount of information recorded. In the past, records were not so complete and there may be little information available on a particular adoption.
Identifying and non-identifying information
Identifying information is 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 may include medical history, physical description, interests and level of education.

Who can obtain non-identifying information?
You can obtain non-identifying information about an adoption you were involved in if you are:
An adopted person 19 or older
An adopted person under 19 with the written consent of your adoptive parents
A birth parent
A birth sibling or birth relative 19 or older with the written consent of the birth parent (some exceptions apply)
Who can obtain identifying information?
To obtain identifying information, both you and the person you are looking for need to be 19 years or older. You may request identifying information if you are an adopted person, a birth parent, or a birth sibling with the written consent of your birth parent (some exceptions apply). Adopted persons may also request information about siblings who were placed for adoption in other families.
Under most circumstances identifying information will not be released without the consent of the person being identified.

What if we can’t locate my birth family member?
The Adoption Disclosure Services Program staff have been successful in locating more than 95% of the people being sought. If the Adoption Disclosure Services Program staff cannot locate the person you are seeking, you will be advised of the steps that were taken. If we cannot locate them, identifying information cannot be released.
What happens to the Passive Adoption Register?
The Department of Community Services will continue to maintain the Passive Adoption Register. The Register contains the names of all the people who registered before the Adoption Information Act as well as those who registered after January 1, 1997.
If I am already on the Passive Registry do I have to register again?
If you want the Adoption Disclosure Unit to conduct a search, you need to apply again. Searches will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to medical emergencies and in cases where the birth parents are over 65 years of age. If you only wish to remain on the Passive Adoption Register, there is no need to reapply.
Next steps

The first step in obtaining information is to register with the Passive Adoption Register (see How to Register, below). This will record you as someone who wants contact with another person involved in the adoption. Registering will also provide you with all non-identifying information that is available from your record.
Once you have registered, the Adoption Disclosure Services Program staff will check for a match. If both of you have registered as wanting contact, a social worker can help you to arrange contact.

The Search
If the other person has not registered, the staff will search for him or her on your behalf. The search is carried out in the strictest confidence to protect the privacy of the person you are seeking.
If the person is located, he or she will be asked if he or she consents to contact. If the person objects to contact for any reason, identifying information will not be released. He or she will be asked to provide updated non-identifying information for you.
If the person you are seeking has died, identifying information will be released.  
If you do not want to be contacted, you can formally register your wish by writing the Adoption Disclosure Services Program.

To register write:
Adoption Disclosure Services Program
Halifax District Office- Child Welfare
103 Garland Avenue
Dartmouth, NS B3B 0K5
Phone (902) 424-2755


For information, telephone: 1-800-461-2156 or 416-325-8305 or visit the  Service Ontario website under “Searching for Adoption Records”.

Adoptees and birth parents may request identifying information about each other from Vital Statistics in Thunder Bay. Contact and information vetoes are available. Waiting lists are only about 2 weeks. A special search is available to birth relatives and adoptees in cases of severe health issues. A passive Matching Registry is available for adoptees, birthparents, grandparents and siblings. Non-identifying information in redacted form can be obtained from the Children’s Aid Society or agency involved, although there is a long waiting period to get this information.



Post Adoption Registry,
Department of Health and Social Services
161 St. Peter’s St. PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PEI. C1A 7N8
Main telephone: 902-368-6511 Coordinators: 902-368-6139

Adoptees can request a search for birth family members. The waiting list is about 1 year.  There is no charge for this service. A matching register. is available. Birth mother’s permission is needed for birth name to be released. Priority is given to those aged over 60 and for medical searches.


For information about an adoption finalized in the Province of Quebec, it is necessary to know the exact Social Service Centre (Centre de Jeunesse) involved. Will search on behalf of both adoptees and birth parents. No birth names given.  This is a difficult province to search in as records were routinely falsified in the past. It is advised that you contact one of the Canadian support groups for more information . No search fees are charged since October 2007. For more information go to Searching in Quebec.


Post Adoption Registry,
1920 Broad Street 10th floor
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 3V6
Telephone: 306-787-3654,  or toll-free 1-800-667-7539

Adopted adults, birth family members, adoptive parents of minors canrequest search and contact services. There is no charge for documents, registry, search and contact or for background information, but there are long waiting times. A copy of the Adoption Order showing birth name is available to adoptees.


Adoption Disclosure Registry
Dept of Health & Human Resources, Box 2703
Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2C6
Telephone: 867- 667-3002

Adoption Services,
Dept of Health & Social Services,
Box 1320-CST-6
Yellowknife, NT, X1A 2L9
Telelephone: 867-873-7943

Northwest Territories:


A new law came into effect in Yukon in May 1, 2010. Adoptees and birth parents can obtain original or amended birth information. Adoptees can request Adoption Orders. Information vetoes and contact preferences are available. Searches and registry are available to both. NWT and Nunavut provide non-identifying information, as well as search and contact services to adoptees and birth parents. Identifying information is released when consent is received from both parties. Contact agencies for more information.



June 7, 2017



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