How to Access Adoption Records
Under the Adoption Act in B.C., birth parents and adults who were adopted as children can get identifying information about each other.
Original birth records for adopted children can be requested – information that identifies birth parents is removed from the record, unless they previously gave their consent to have the information be made available.
There are two ways to access information about an adoption record:
- As a Freedom of Information request
- Application for Service Pertaining to an Adopted Person – Once adoptees are 19, they or their birth parents can apply for a copy of the adoption order or original B.C. birth registrations
Freedom of Information Request
Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, some information from adoption records for children adopted in B.C. is available by request.
Apply for access to an adoption record:
Request Official Birth & Adoption Documents
To apply for a copy of the birth registration and adoption order you must be:
- The birth parent of a child who is now an adult (19 years +)
- An adult (19 years +) who was adopted as a child
Born in B.C.: People born and adopted in B.C. can get a copy of the:
- Original birth registration in their birth name, including the names of any birth parents on record (unless a birth parent has filed a disclosure veto in which case the record is edited to obscure or remove information that the birth parent does not want disclosed)
- Adoption order
Birth parents of people born and adopted in B.C. can get a copy of the:
- Adopted person's original birth registration, including any change of name after the adoption (unless the adoptee has filed a disclosure veto in which case the post adoption record is edited to obscure or remove information that the adoptee does not want disclosed). All information identifying the adoptive parents is deleted to protect their privacy)
- Adoption order (with information redacted if necessary to protect privacy)
Not born in B.C.: People not born in B.C. but adopted in the province can get a copy of the:
- Adoption order and any identification particulars of the adopted person
Birth parents of people not born in B.C.
How to Apply for an Adoption Record
Follow these steps to apply for an adoption record:
Step 1: Complete the application form.
Step 2: Attach a photocopy of your birth certificate as proof of identification.
Step 3: Include a cheque, money order or credit card payment for $50.
Step 4: Deliver the documents using one of the following methods:
Attn: Confidential Services
Vital Statistics Agency
PO BOX 9657 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9P3
Any Service BC location
People who placed children for adoption or were adopted under the old Adoption Act were promised that their privacy would be protected. Birth parents and adopted people who wish to maintain their confidentiality may file a disclosure veto or no-contact declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency.
Disclosure veto: This legal document prohibits the Vital Statistics Agency from releasing any birth registration or adoption order information identifying the person who filed the veto. Vetoes are only available for adoptions completed prior to November 1996. If the person was adopted after 1996, they can file a no-contact declaration.
- Birth parents may file disclosure vetoes any time after their child is adopted
- People who were adopted in B.C. may file disclosure vetoes any time after their 18th birthday
No contact declaration: This document allows the Vital Statistics Agency to release birth registration and adoption order information in an identifying format, but personal contact with the person who filed the declaration is legally prohibited.
Birth parents choosing to file no-contact declarations can do so at any time, regardless of the age of the child they placed for adoption. Adopted persons may file no-contact declarations any time after their 18th birthday.
Explaining your decision: Like any decision around adoption, the choice to file a disclosure veto or a no-contact declaration will affect you and the other person on a deeply personal level. Recognizing this, as a parent you may believe that it is very important to explain your choice. You may also want to pass on key details of your family histories, including things such as health or medical information.
Anyone who files a disclosure veto or no-contact declaration may also file a written statement with the Vital Statistics Agency that explains his or her decision and provides information for the other person.