January 20, 2014

Ontario’s adoption information disclosure legislation, the Child and Family Services Act and the Vital Statistics Act, allows adopted adults to learn more about their own personal histories while safeguarding the privacy of those involved in past adoptions.

The legislation requires a review of the operation of the adoption information disclosure system by May 31, 2014. The review will focus on whether there are operational issues with how services and information are provided. The review is not intended to examine the overarching policy intent of the adoption information disclosure provisions.

The Ontario government is reaching out to individuals who have used its adoption information disclosure services and organizations that represent adopted adults, adoptive families or birth families through direct mail and social media. All are invited to provide their feedback on the consultation paper.

ServiceOntario and the ministries of Community and Social Services (MCSS), Government Services (MGS), and Children and Youth Services (MCYS), all play a role in providing adoption information disclosure services in Ontario.

ServiceOntario processes application forms related to:

  • Post adoption birth information (disclosure of information from adoption orders and birth registrations);
  • Disclosure vetoes;
  • No contact notices; and,
  • Notices of contact preference.

ServiceOntario also provides application forms, responds to general enquiries and provides application status updates to applicants.

The MCSS Custodian of Adoption Information is responsible for:

  • Operating the Adoption Disclosure Register;
  • Providing non-identifying information;
  • Conducting severe medical searches;
  • Providing redacted copies of adoption orders to eligible applicants; and,
  • Disclosing information to government and other authorities, including the disclosure of pertinent file information to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada when requested to confirm an adopted person’s Aboriginal status.

MCYS has a general supervisory responsibility with respect to Children’s Aid Societies (CASs). If an adoption was finalized through a CAS, adopted adults, birth parents, and adoptive parents can request non-identifying information related to the adoption from the CAS. MCYS also approves private adoption practitioners and licences adoption licensees, all of whom are responsible for informing birth and adoptive parents about their rights and protections under adoption disclosure legislation.

The intent of the adoption information disclosure provisions is to make open adoption records a cornerstone of Ontario’s adoption system while safeguarding privacy for those involved in past adoptions. This purpose of this review is to identify any operational issues with those provisions.