Search for adoption records

Ontario’s adoption records are open. Learn how to request information about an adoption you were involved in. It’s free.

Adoptions in Ontario

Ontario keeps adoption information from a number of sources. The information you can get depends on:

  • where you were born (in Ontario or outside Ontario)
  • how you were involved in the adoption
  • how you’re related to the adopted person
  • the agency that handled the adoption
  • the type of information you want

Born in Ontario

When a child is born in Ontario, we file an official record of the birth — this is known as a birth registration.

When a child born in Ontario is adopted within or outside the province, we also register the adoption.

The original birth registration is almost always replaced by a substituted birth registration that includes the child’s new name and the names of the adoptive parents. This serves as the new official record of the birth after the adoption. The original birth registration is kept on file.

A birth registration, whether original or substituted, contains the following information:

  • a child’s given name and surname (at either birth or after adoption)
  • date of birth
  • birthplace (e.g., municipality)
  • location of birth (e.g., hospital)
  • parents' names
  • the doctor or midwife who delivered the baby

Born outside Ontario

Ontario does not have birth registration information for children who are not born in Ontario.

What you can get

There are 2 types of information you can ask for: identifying and non-identifying.

Identifying information

Identifying information reveals the identities of those involved in an adoption. It could include the:

  • adopted person's given name and surname (at birth or after adoption)
  • date of birth
  • birthplace (e.g., municipality)
  • location of birth (e.g., hospital)
  • names of the birth parents
  • names of the adoptive parents
  • the doctor or midwife who delivered the baby

This is called post-adoption birth information.

Where you find it

  • on an original birth registration
  • in an adoption order (the court order issued after an adoption is finalized)
  • on a substituted birth registration

Who can request

  • an adopted person who is at least 18 years old
  • birth parents, if the adopted person is at least 19 years old and the birth was registered in Ontario

If your birth was registered outside Ontario:

  • you need to contact the province, territory or country where your birth was registered to see if you are able to get original birth registration information
  • you can still apply for your adoption order and to be named on the adoption disclosure register

If you’re a birth parent of an adopted person who was born outside Ontario:

  • you will not be able to get identifying information about your child
  • you can apply to be named on the adoption disclosure register if the adoption was finalized in Ontario

Non-identifying information

Non-identifying information does not reveal the identities of those involved in an adoption. You have always been able to access non-identifying information from adoption records — only the birth registrations and adoption orders were sealed.

It could include the:

  • date of the adoption
  • name of the agency that handled the adoption
  • care the adopted person received before being placed with an adoptive family
  • the birth family’s social or medical history

Where you find it:

  • in documents a case or social worker filed when a child was placed for adoption
  • on an adoption order
  • in other court papers filed when the adoption was finalized

Who can request:

  • an adopted person who is at least 18 years old
  • an adopted person under 18 with an adoptive parent’s consent
  • an adoptive parent
  • a birth parent
  • a birth grandparent
  • a birth sibling
  • a child of a deceased adopted person
  • a sibling of a birth parent

If the birth was registered outside Ontario:

  • you may need to contact the province, territory or country where the birth was registered for certain non-identifying information

Privacy and contact preferences

If you are an adopted adult or a birth parent of an adopted child, you can protect your privacy by registering a disclosure veto or a no contact notice.

Disclosure veto

Registering a disclosure veto will prevent your identifying information from being released. Birth parents and adopted adults can apply to register a disclosure veto if the adoption occurred before September 1, 2008. 

If you apply for a disclosure veto, you can:

  • state why you do not want your information to be released
  • provide information about your family and medical history

If the adoption occurred before September 1, 2008 and you did not file a disclosure veto when your identifying information became available for disclosure, it is possible that it may have already been released.

If either the birth or the adoption took place in another jurisdiction, check with that jurisdiction about protecting your privacy.

No contact notice

This notice lets us release your identifying information, but tells the other party you don’t want to be contacted.

If you apply for a no contact notice, you can:

  • state why you do not want to be contacted
  • provide information about your family and medical history.

Your information will only be released if the other party signs an agreement not to contact you. If the other party tries to contact you directly or indirectly (e.g., through another person), he or she could be fined up to $50,000.

Notice of contact preference

This notice lets us release your identifying information and allows you to tell the other party how you want to be contacted (e.g., by email, telephone or a third party).

Notices of contact preference are not binding. This means that the adopted person or birth parent is not legally required to contact you the way you requested.

Severe medical search

A severe medical search helps you locate and contact a birth family member to share medical information that can help diagnose or treat a severe mental or physical illness.

You will need a doctor or other regulated health professional to verify that getting this information would significantly boost the likelihood the condition could be diagnosed and/or treated.

An illness must be life-threatening or will lead to permanent or irreversible damage, impacting daily life.

Who can request:

  • an adopted person
  • the son, daughter or grandchild of an adopted person (a descendant)
  • a birth family member
  • an adoptive parent on behalf of a child who has been adopted
  • a person who is legally authorized to act on behalf of an adopted person
  • certain relatives of an adopted person who is now deceased

You have two options for how you share information:

  • agree to release your name and contact information
  • only agree to share medical information and not have contact

Adoption Disclosure Register

You can exchange information with birth parents, birth grandparents and birth siblings by adding your name to the Adoption Disclosure Register. This could help you get in touch with your birth family.

Who can register

  • an adopted person who is at least 18 years old
  • birth parents
  • certain birth relatives (can apply before an adoptee is 19 years old, but the reunion process can’t start until after the adoptee is 19)

How long does it take

It depends on if there is a matching registration. It could take months or even years. It’s possible that the person you want to contact will not apply.

If you applied before April 24, 2006, your name is automatically on the register. You do not need to reapply.

Update or remove a name

To make a change or take your name off the register, you need to complete an Application to Update Information or Remove Name from the Adoption Disclosure Register.

How to apply

Step 1: Gather any information you have about your adoption or the adopted person.

Step 2: Download the relevant application and read the appropriate help guide:

Post-adoption information Application for Post Adoption Birth Information Under Section 48.1 or 48.2 of the Vital Statistics Act (Application and guide)
Non-identifying information (general) Application to Request Non-Identifying Information Relating to an Adoption (Application and guide)
A copy of an adoption order Application for a Copy of an Adoption Order (Application and guide)
A severe medical search (Adopted Person) Adopted Person’s and Descendant of Adopted Person’s Application to Request a Severe Medical Search (Application and guide)
A severe medical search (Birth Family Member) Birth Family Member's Application to Request a Severe Medical Search (Application and guide)
No contact notice Adoption Information Disclosure Application to Register or Withdraw a No Contact Notice (Application and guide)
Notice of contact preference Adoption Information Disclosure Application to Register or Withdraw a Notice of Contact Preference (Application and guide)
Disclosure Veto Adoption Information Disclosure Application to Register or Withdraw a Disclosure Veto (Application and guide)
Update Information or Remove Name Application to Update Information or Remove Name from Adoption Disclosure Register (Application and guide)

Step 3: Complete the application form, print, sign and date it.

Step 4: Mail the completed form and any other required information to the address found on the application form.

You cannot fax, email or hand-deliver an application.

Fee
No fee is charged to access adoption records.

Processing time
Processing times vary depending on the type of information you want and the details you provide on the application form. 

Contact us
If you have questions, please call:

Toll-free:  1-800-461-2156
In Toronto: 416-325-8305
TTY: 416-325-3408

Updated: October 24, 2014