Adoption records opened for adoptees and natural parents
in Ontario on June 1st, 2009.
An adopted person can obtain his or her original Certificate of Live Birth/Birth Registration, with original name and the name and address of natural mother at the time of birth (Note: father’s names rarely appear as “unwed mothers” were routinely told to “leave it blank”).
Natural mothers can obtain a copy of the birth registration and adoption court order showing the adoptive name of the adoptee.
The following records are available for request in Ontario:
1. Vital Statistics Adoption File which includes:
a) Original Certificate of Live Birth/Birth Registration
This will include the name of the natural mother, her address at the time of birth, the name given to the adoptee at birth.
b) Adoption Order
This is the actual adoption order which will show the child’s adopted name, and in some cases the name of the natural mother. The names of Adopters are not released to natural families and may be redacted.
- See Access to Adoption Records Information
- Download the Application for Post-Birth Adoption Information Form
2. Children’s Aid Society Records
Adoptees can obtain non-identifying information about the adoption. This would include social history including ages, physical features, employment. Since social history narratives are created by Social Workers based on the information in the file, they vary from case to case.
To obtain non-identifying information, apply to the Children’s Aid Society which facilitated the adoption.
Adoption File: Mothers can apply to the Children’s Aid Society that processed the adoption. Send a registered letter requesting the contents of your file:
Your Address Here
BY REGISTERED MAIL
Childrens Aid Society of Toronto (Send to the Children’s Aid Society that handled the adoption)
33 Isabella Street
Re: Adoption Records
I am the mother of a child adopted in (Year). Please accept this letter as my formal request for the entire contents of my file related to that adoption. This is not a request for non-identifying information. Following are the particulars:
Date of Birth:
City of Birth:
Name of Mother:
Name given to child at birth:
Adopted Name of child (if known):
Name of Adopted Parents: (if known)
I am requesting the entire contents of the CAS file pertaining to this adoption including but not limited to the following:
1. All legal and other documents including any third party documents
2. All clinical notes of Social worker and any other CAS workers
3. All medical reports and documentation
4. All correspondence
5. All court related documents
6. Entire contents of file
I will look forward to receiving these documents at your earliest convenience.
3. Hospital Records
Mothers can call the Medical Records department of the hospital in which the birth took place to obtain your hospital chart with respect to prenatal care, labour and delivery, birth, hospital stay, etc. Persons adopted can also obtain their hospital chart with respect to their birth and post natal newborn care.Request Your Records from the Salvation Army Grace Hospital in Toronto
4. Maternity Home Records
Mothers who resided in Maternity Homes may apply to directly to the Home (if still operating) or the religious organization which ran the home for any records which may have survived:
For the Salvation Army Homes contact:
Salvation Army Archives, 26 Howden Road, Scarborough, ON M1R 3E4
Phone: (416) 285-4344
United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor Street West, Ste. 300 Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
Phone: (416) 231-7680
5. Records Prior to Adoption Act 1921
See Guardianship and Adoption Records – Ontario Archives
Once you have obtained the names of your natural parents or the child you lost to adoption, some useful tools for your search include:
- Searching for names using Google or Facebook
- Looking in online phone directories including www.canada411.ca and www.pipl.ca
- Your original birth record indicates where your natural mother and father were born. You can use the phone directory for that city to contact them or other family members to find out where they might currently be living.
- Henderson Directories (“City Directories”) for the city you were born in, or in which your natural parent was born, and for occupations. They can also provide relevant older information on names, addresses, and occupations dating back to 1905. Many cities across Canada had these directories in addition to phone-books. Check local libraries and online sources (e.g., University of Alberta) for copies.
- Check adoption notices in the newspaper after date of completion of adoption. Also check birth notices that do not mention the time of birth or doctors involved, these are sometimes disguised adoption notices.
- Check birthday wishes in the paper
- Peruse highschool and yearbooks for appropriate years
- Check Obituaries
Ontario’s Open Records Campaign
In 2009 Ontario became the fourth province in Canada to approve open records. Against much opposition by open records groups, this legislation was later amended to include veto provisions after a legal challenge by three adoptees and one biological father.
- Access to Adoption Information Act (2008) which amended the Vital Statistics Act and the Child and Family Services Act.
- Ontario Government news release of November 1, 2005, announcing open records legislation
- Ontario Government news release of November 14, 2007, announcing disclosure veto provision
- Bill 12 of October 2007, containing disclosure veto provision (Section 48.5) (pdf)