December 10, 2007

Ontario's New Adoption Information Disclosure Legislation

The Government of Ontario's new adoption information disclosure legislation would, if passed, allow for more openness in adoption records while allowing those involved with past adoptions to protect their privacy.

The proposed legislation amends the Vital Statistics Act and the Child and Family Services Act to allow:

  • Adoptees who are 18 years old or older to obtain copies of their original birth registrations that will provide them with their original birth name and may identify birth parents.
  • Adoptees who are 18 years old or older to obtain copies of their adoption orders that may provide information on where they were born and their given name at birth.
  • Birth parents to obtain information from their child's birth records and adoption orders if the adoptee is 19 years old or older. Information about the adoptive parents would be removed from the adoption records.

Adult adoptees and birth parents will also be able to continue to place no-contact notices and contact preferences on their files.

Disclosure veto

If passed, the new legislation will allow adoptees and birth parents to place a disclosure veto on their file if their adoption order is made in Ontario before September 1, 2008. If a disclosure veto has been placed on a file, copies of adoption orders or birth registrations will not be released.

If a disclosure veto has been placed on a file, adoptees and birth parents can still apply for non-identifying information in their adoption records. If there are concerns about a severe medical condition, adoptees and birth parents may also be eligible for a severe medical search to obtain or share information about their family medical history, for example, information needed for an organ transplant.

The legislation, if passed, would ask anyone who registers a disclosure veto on their file to voluntarily provide information about their family and medical history. This information can help a birth relative who needs to know about potential inherited medical conditions to make informed health care choices.

Regulatory change

The government has made an immediate regulatory change to restore the province's ability to give adult adoptees and adoptive parents copies of their adoption orders. Identifying information about birth parents will be removed from these documents. An adoptee may require a copy of their adoption order to obtain certain documents including a passport or travel visa.

The province's ability to release these important documents has not been available since the recent Superior Court of Ontario decision regarding the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005.

The new legislation will apply to all adoptions registered in Ontario.

Members of the general public may call: 416-325-5666 or toll free at 1-888-789-4199.

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Erika Botond
Communications and Marketing Branch
416-325-5187

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