Open Adoption Records
Recent changes to the Adoption Act allow for more openness with respect to birth records related to adoption.
Frequently Asked Questions
What changes are being made?
Changes to the Adoption Act provide the ability for adult adoptees, 18 years of age or older, to have access to identifying information contained on their original birth registration, including name at birth and the identity of their birth parent(s). Birth parents are also able to access the adopted name given to the adoptee at the time of adoption.
Who will be affected by this change?
All parties to an adoption could be directly or indirectly affected by this change. There are over 4,000 records of adoptions finalized on Prince Edward Island over the past 100 years.
How is this different than what information adult adoptees or birth parents can already receive?
Currently adult adoptees and adoptive parents can contact Post Adoption Services to access non-identifying background information that is on record about the birth family. The available information could include: the adoptee’s birth history and early development; physical descriptions of birth parents; health information; religion; occupation; education; particular interests; circumstances regarding the plan of adoption; etc.
Currently, birth parents may receive confirmation of an adoption and the jurisdiction in which the child’s adoption took place.
Identifying information such as names and addresses of birth family members and adoptees is only available with consent of the parties through Post–Adoption Services (PAS).
When will adoption records be opened?
Adoption records will open January 31, 2020. All adoptions finalized after this date will be automatically considered open. Adult adoptees and birth parents will be able to file a Contact Preference with Post Adoption Services.
What if an adoption was finalized before January 31, 2020?
Adult adoptees and birth parents will have a one-year time period to choose whether they want their information shared. If they do not want their information shared, they can file a Disclosure Veto. Adoption records will be considered open on January 31, 2021 if an individual has not submitted a Disclosure Veto.
What is a Contact Preference?
A contact preference allows an adult adoptee or birth parent to state how they would like to be contacted (email, phone call, letter, etc.) or if they would prefer not to be contacted at all. Any adult adoptee or birth parent can submit a Contact Preference with Post Adoption Services.
The person receiving the information must agree to the terms of the contact preference, in writing, before receiving the information requested. You may wish to provide non-identifying information (i.e. medical, family, personal) with your contact preference to share.
What is a Disclosure Veto?
A Disclosure Veto is a document submitted to Post Adoption Services that indicates you do not want identifying information in your adoption record to be shared.
The Disclosure Veto can only be placed on adoptions that occur before to January 31, 2020. Between January 31, 2020 and January 31, 2021, adult adoptees and birth parents will be able to submit Disclosure Vetoes to ensure that their identifying information will not disclosed when Adoption Records open fully on January 31, 2021.
A Disclosure Veto may still be placed at any time after January 31, 2021, as long as the identifying information has not already been released. This could happen after the January 31, 2021 date. A veto may be removed at any time by the person who placed it, and it will expire one year after death.
How can I opt out of having my information shared?
For adoptions that were finalized prior to January 31, 2020, you will have the option to file a Disclosure Veto with Post Adoption Services to prevent the release of any information identifying you. To ensure that adult adoptees and birth parents have time to learn about the changes and make a decision about filling out a Disclosure Veto, a one year time frame will be allowed before any identifying information will be released. These records will not be opened (ie. identifying information will not be released) until January 31, 2021.
A Disclosure Veto may be removed at any time by the person who placed it, and it will expire one year after their death.
For adoptions finalized after January 31, 2020, records will automatically be opened and a Disclosure Veto cannot be submitted. However, adult adoptees and birth parents will have the opportunity to file a Contact Preference.
What if I missed the deadline or change my mind? Can I submit a Disclosure Veto after the one year period?
Yes, if you were involved in an adoption finalized prior to January 31, 2020, you can ask for a Disclosure Veto at any time, as long as the identifying information has not already been released. A Disclosure Veto may also be removed at any time by the person who placed it, and it will expire one year after their death.
What if someone does not follow the Contact Preference?
Before an individual is given any identifying information about an adoption, they must sign an agreement that they will follow the Contact Preference that Post Adoption Services has on file. Penalties for not following the agreement could include a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.
Am I committing a crime if I find my adult adoptee or birth parent through social media or a DNA kit and am unaware that a Contact Preference has been filed?
No. If you have not used the services of Post Adoption Services to find a relative but choose to search for your relative through other options (ie. social media or a DNA kit) on your own, you have not committed a criminal offence.
How do these changes affect me if I am an adoptee but not yet an adult?
You have to be 18 years of age or older to file a Disclosure Veto or Contact Preference. Once you turn 18, you can file your individual preference.
Identifying information about an adoptee will not be given out until the adoptee is 19 years old. An adoptee must be at least 18 years old to receive any identifying information they have requested.
Are there any costs?
No, there are no costs associated with applying for information or to file a disclosure veto or contact preference.
How will Post Adoption Services be sure that I am who I say I am when I submit my Disclosure Veto and/or Contact Preference?
To file either form, an individual must show proof of identity by attaching two pieces of government-issued identification.