Confidentiality and Access to Information
The Adoption Act makes it easier for pre-adoption parents and adults adopted in British Columbia to get identifying information about each other. The act maintains and enhances reunion services. It also recognizes government's obligation to honour past promises of confidentiality, making provision for those choosing to maintain their privacy.
The questions and answers below explain how you can access information and reunion services under the Act, as well as steps you can take to keep your personal information confidential if you choose to.
What supports and information are available and from where?
The main sources of information from birth and adoption records in British Columbia are:
The following information explains what information and services are generally available from these sources.
Please note that decisions about releasing personal information are made on a case-by-case basis. More information may be available under certain circumstances, such as when a reunion has already taken place.
How do I access information from British Columbia adoption records?
Adults adopted in British Columbia, and their pre-adoption parents, may have access to information identifying each other through the Vital Statistics Agency (VSA) at the Ministry of Health. This information is available only after the adopted person's 19th birthday.
Adults adopted in British Columbia may apply for a copy of their original birth registration in their birth name (including names of any parents on record) and a copy of their adoption order.
Pre-adoption parents can apply to the Vital Statistics Agency (VSA) for a copy of the adopted person's birth registration with any amendments including:
- the person's name following adoption
- a copy of the adoption order
The names of the adoptive parents are always removed to respect their privacy rights, and no identifying information is released if the other person has filed a disclosure veto.
Information Access Operations provides access to information from adoption records related to children who were adopted in British Columbia, through the ministry or licensed adoption agency. Questions about the access process can be directed to 250 387-1321. To apply for access to an adoption record, fill out the Request to Access for Information form, or send your written request to:
Information Access Operations
Freedom of Information Request
PO Box 9569 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9K1
Is there counseling or support available for pre-adoption parents and adopted children who are considering reunion?
There are various options available if you want information, counseling or support on reunion issues. Contact the Adoption Reunion Registry 250 387-3660 or the Ministry of Children and Family Development for assistance in connecting to community-based agencies and support groups.
What if I don't want my identifying information released?
The Act recognizes government's commitment to honour past promises of confidentiality, as well as your right to protect your personal privacy. Under the Act, adopted children and pre-adoption parents who wish to maintain their confidentiality have two options:
- You can file a disclosure veto with the Vital Statistics Agency, if the adoption took place prior to November 1996, prohibiting the release of any birth registration or adoption order information identifying the person who filed the disclosure veto.
- If you were adopted after 1996, you can file a no-contact declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency. This will allow the release of birth registration and adoption order information, but personal contact with the person who filed the declaration will be legally prohibited. The maximum penalty for violating a no-contact declaration is a $10,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
What can I do as a pre-adoption parent, if I want to keep my privacy but also want to provide certain information such as a medical history?
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 explaining his or her decision and providing information for the other person. This is done through the Vital Statistics Agency.
When and how do I file a disclosure veto or a no-contact declaration?
For adoptions prior to November 1996, pre-adoption parents who wish to maintain their privacy may file disclosure vetoes any time after the child they placed for adoption turns 18. Likewise, people who were adopted in British Columbia may file disclosure vetoes or no-contact declarations any time after their 18th birthday. This ensures that safeguards are in place for those who want them, by the time access to information provisions take effect on the adopted person's 19th birthday.
Pre-adoption parents choosing to file no-contact declarations can do so at any time, regardless of the age of the child they placed for adoption.
For information on how to file disclosure vetoes and no-contact declarations, call the Vital Statistics Agency at 250 952-9057, or write to the VSA at PO Box 9657 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C., V8W 9P3
I've already filed a disclosure veto with the Adoption Reunion Registry. If I want to protect my privacy, do I have to file again with the Vital Statistics Agency?
No. Vetoes and refusals for reunion made to the Adoption Reunion Registry have the same effect as disclosure vetoes filed under the Adoption Act. A record of vetoes and refusals was transferred automatically to the Vital Statistics Agency before the Adoption Act took effect on November 4, 1996.