The Adoption Information Act

Post adoption services in Nova Scotia took a "giant leap forward" with the implementation of "An Act to Provide for Adoption Information" on the 1st of January, 1997.
The Adoption Information Act sets out criteria by which
  1. persons who are adopted and of the age of majority may have access to information concerning their birth families,
  2. birth parents and adoptive parents of adopted persons may have access to information concerning their children
  3. relatives and other persons may in some circumstances, have access to information concerning the birth family of adopted persons, and also
  4. establishes controls for adoptive parents over access by adopted persons under the age of majority to information concerning their birth families
  5. provides for the circumstances under which reunions of persons separated as a consequence of adoption will be facilitated; and
  6. establishes an appeal procedure
The Adoption Information Act creates a new Active Registry to help people search for members of their birth family. Identifying information will be exchanged only after both parties have consented.

Adoption Information on File

The records for any adoption consist of legal documents and personal information. Over the years the quantity and quality of the recorded information has improved. Older records were not as complete and there may be very little information available on a particular adoption.

Identifying and Non-Identifying Information

Identifying information will likely reveal the identity of another person involved in the adoption. Under the Act, identifying information includes a person's name, birth date, residence or occupation. Non-identifying information may include medical history, physical description, interest and level of eductation.

Who can Obtain Non-Identifying Information?

You can obtain non-identifying information about your adoption if you are:

Who Can Obtain Identifying Information?

To obtain identifying information, both you and the person you are looking for need to be 19 years of age or older.
You can request identifying information if you are an adopted person, a birth parent, or a birth sibling with the written consent of your birth parent (some exceptions apply).
Adopted persons can also request information about siblings who were placed for adoption in other families.
Under most circumstances identifying information will not be released without the consent of the person being identified.

What If They Can't Be Located?

If the Adoption Disclosure Services Program staff cannot locate the person you are seeking, you will be advised of the steps that were taken and identifying information will not be released.

What Happens to the Passive Adoption Register?

The Department of Community Services will continue to maintain the Passive Adoption Register. The Register contains the names of all the people who registered before the new Adoption Information Act came into effect, as well as those who register after January 1, 1997.

If You Are Aready on the Passive Registry, You Must Apply Again to Initiate a Search!!!

If you want the Adoption Disclosure Unit to conduct a search, you need to apply again. Searches will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will be given to medical emergencies and in cases where the birth parents are over 65 years of age. If you wish to remain on the Passive Adoption Register, there is no need to reapply.

Service Fees

A fee schedule is included in the application form. Under certain conditions the fee may be reduced.

How to Register

The first step in obtaining information is to register with the Passive Adoption Register. This will record you as someone who wants contact with another person involved in the adoption. Registration will also provide you with all non-identifying information that is available from your record.
Once you have registered, the Adoption Disclosure Services Program staff will check for a match. If both of you have registered as wanting contact, a social worker will help to arrange contact.

An Active Search

If the other person has not registered, the staff will search for him or her on your behalf. The search is carried out in confidence to protect the privacy of the person you are seeking.
If the person is located, he or she will be asked if they consent to contact. If the person objects to contact for any reason, identifying information will not be released. He or she will be asked to provide updated non-identifying information for you.
If the person you are seeking has died, identifying information will be released.

Blocking Contact

If you do not want to be contacted, you can formally register with the Adoption Disclosure Services Program.


All appeals can be made by writing the Chair of the Appeals Committee at the address listed below.


Adoption Disclosure Services Program
Halifax District Office- Child Welfare
103 Garland Avenue
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B3B 0K5
tel: (902) 424-2755

Search and Support Groups

Parent Finders Nova Scotia

Ideal Maternity Home Survivors website

Return to the Main NSGNA Menu

©2016, NSGNA