As of May 2008, Ontario has new adoption information disclosure legislation that allows adopted adults and birth parents to get information from birth and adoption records, for adoptions that were registered in Ontario. The legislation is being implemented in phases.
The Access to Adoption Records Act, 2007 (AARA) allows for more open access to original birth registrations and adoption records. The new legislation strives to balance the rights of adopted adults and birth parents who wish to protect their privacy. The service is overseen by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Impact On Existing Services
Children’s Aid Societies will continue to provide non-identifying information as before. Non-identifying information is information about the adoption with identifying details removed. It may include the:
- date of the adoption
- name of the agency that handled the adoption
- care received prior to the adoption placement
- birth family’s social or medical history
Children’s Aid Societies will not administer the new aspects of the legislation; this service will be provided by ServiceOntario. The Adoption Disclosure Register continues to function as is has since September 2007, through Service Ontario. Severe medical searches are not affected by the legislative changes, they will be performed as before.
Accessing Information Disclosure Services
ServiceOntario is the main access point for individuals seeking information, including applying for information about a past adoption, registering a disclosure or no contact order, requesting forms and general inquiries. More information can be obtained at www.serviceontario.ca or 800-461-2156.
Applying For Copies Of Records
Effective immediately, individuals can file a disclosure veto if their adoption order was made prior to September 1, 2008. (see below for details). Individuals can apply for identifying information, including copies of original birth registration and adoption orders.
For all adoptions made after September 1, 2008, all records will be open (information will be available, but “no contact” orders may be filed, see below).
If there are concerns for personal safety, birth parents and adoptees can apply to the Child and Family Services Review Board to prevent disclosure of identifying information.
Adopted adults and birth parents can file a disclosure veto if their adoption order was made prior to September 1, 2008. The disclosure veto prevents the release of any information found in birth registrations and adoption orders that would identify who registered the veto.
If there is no disclosure veto, or if the adoption order was made after September 1, 2008, adopted adults and birth parents will be able to receive previously unavailable information from birth registrations and adoption orders, including identifying information.
If there is a disclosure veto filed, an individual is still allowed access to non-identifying information. The person placing the veto also has the option of providing family medical information and a statement about why they filed the veto.
No Contact Orders
Effective immediately: Individuals may file a “no contact” order, but the information from birth registrations and adoption orders, including identifying information will be available. If a “no contact” order is filed there are significant penalties for anyone who breaches the order.
People may file a “notice of contact preference” i.e. a person may specify how they would like to be contacted after the release of their information (e.g. in writing, by phone, etc.).
For adoptions made after September 1, 2008, no contact orders or contact preference orders may be filed.