Nova Scotia will soon become the last province in Canada to open adoption records with new legislation expected to come into force in Spring 2022.

The Adoption Records Act, introduced in March of 2021, will do away with the current requirement that an adopted person or their birth parent obtain consent before information about the other party can be released.

Specifically, the new legislation allows adopted persons aged 19 or older to request access to identifying information about a birth parent.[1] Similarly, birth parents will be entitled to request a copy of the birth registration, adoption order, and post-adoption birth registration of an adopted person who is aged 20 or older.[2]

The Adoption Records Act does include some privacy protection, however. An adopted person or a birth parent can file a “disclosure veto”, preventing their identifying information from being disclosed.[3] The disclosure veto can be filed, changed, or cancelled at any time, so long as the identifying information has not already been released under the Act.[4] An adopted person must be at least 19 years old to file a disclosure veto.

 A person who files a disclosure veto may allow non-identifying information to be disclosed, including cultural and social information or medical history.[5]

Adopted persons or birth parents may also file a “contact notice” under the new legislation. A contact notice allows identifying information to be shared, but indicates how the person wants to be contacted, or that they do not wish to be contacted at all.[6]

Certain relatives may also request adoption information in some circumstances. For example, a birth sibling may request the adopted person’s name with the consent of the birth parents, or where the birth parents are deceased.[7] Where an adopted person is deceased, a relative may obtain identifying information so long as a disclosure veto has not been filed. [8]

Lawyers at BOYNECLARKE LLP can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding adoption and family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please call (902) 469-9500 to schedule your consultation with a member of our Family Law team.

[1] Adoption Records Act, Bill No. 23 at s 9(1).

[2] Ibid at s 11(1).

[3] Ibid at s 21(1).

[4] Ibid at ss 21(5), 21(6).

[5] Ibid at s 21(3)(b).

[6] Ibid at ss 22(1), 22(3).

[7] Ibid at s 13(1).

[8] Ibid at s 14(1).