Searching in Canada

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.”-
Alex Haley, Author, Roots (1976).

This page contains some basic information and resources for adoption searches in Canada.

Open Records By Province

Adoption is a provincial matter. Each province maintains their own adoption records. See Adoption Records/By Province on this site to obtain the current situation in your province with respect to open adoption records.

Non-Identifying Information

Most social service agencies that facilitated the adoption, such as Children’s Aid Societies will provide a narrative from the adoption file known as “Non-Identifying Information”. No identifying information will be included, but often clues to family eg. “the mother had three sisters, ages 6, 8, and 12” or other kinds of information that is not specifically identifying, but that can assist in a search, may be obtained.

Provincial Government Registries

Some provincial governments maintain adoption registries. Check your individual province information in Adoption Records/By Province on this website.

Other Registries

Many nonprofit groups provide registries as a volunteer service. Registering with as many registries as possible on the internet should be a priority for searchers.  It is very important to keep your information up to date on any registry you are using. 


Increasingly, those separated by adoption are finding each other on Facebook. Mothers, make a facebook page with the name you were using when you gave birth and your correct birth date so you might be easily found. Adoptees, make two facebook pages, one with the name you were given by your mother at birth, and one with your adopted name. Use your correct birth date. Make sure the settings on these pages are configured so that anyone can find them on a facebook search.

Indigenous Adoptees: Status

To determine whether an adoptee is entitled to “Registered Indian Status,” you must make an official enquiry to the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Send a copy of the adoption order along with a written request to the following address:

Office of the Indian Registrar

Ottawa ON  K1A 0H4
ATTN: Adoption Unit

Fore more information see Indigenous 60s Scoop on this website. More information is also available at:

Parent Finders

Parent Finders is a volunteer, non-profit organization providing peer support and counselling in all aspects of adoption search and reunion.
Parent Finders.

Search Angels

Independent volunteer searchers, sometimes referred to as “search angels”, can often be accessed by joining volunteer adoption organizations such as Origins Canada and Parent Finders, or joining in on adoption groups on Facebook.

DNA Testing

DNA testing is becoming more prominent as a tool for searching.

Phone Books and Henderson Directories

        • Henderson Directories(City Directories) were publications created in many cities across Canada. These directories listed the names and occupations of adult residents. Public libraries often have older editions on-hand.  In addition, older phone books may produce leads such as names of close relatives who can be traced and called. 

Search Engines


Geneology Sites

Lien Searches

Divorce Records

Divorce records are public.  You must know the County in which the decree was granted.  Use the background history to narrow down the time frame.


Cemetery Aids can be very useful.  The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid is a database of over 3 million interments in Ontario.  This database consists of surnames, cemetery name and location and can be accessed at

Another cemetery finding aid of the British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid at

Copyright Origins Canada Inc. 2010