Information for Parents

Placing a child for adoption is a major life decision. Below are often-asked questions and answers for parents that cover placement, available options as well as options for contact or no contact with the child after adoption.

What are some of the ways that the Adoption Act affects parents considering making an adoption plan for their child?

  • The Act makes sure parents receive information needed to help make a decision that is right for them and their child.
  • A registry helps any other parents to become involved early in planning for their children.
  • Parents of Aboriginal children have more opportunities to involve their band or aboriginal community in planning for their child, if they choose.
  • Parents can make an agreement with prospective adoptive parents for ongoing contact or exchange of information.
  • Regulating all adoptions protects the rights and interests of all parties to adoption.

Where can I obtain information to help me decide about making an adoption plan for my child?

Contact a worker from any of the licensed adoption agencies or the Ministry of Children and Family Development for information to assist in making the best plan for yourself and your child. The worker can tell you about both adoption and alternatives to adoption, and can outline available support services whether you decide to parent your child or decide to plan for adoption.

What are my options in placing my child for adoption?

You can place your child for adoption through a licensed adoption agency, or the ministry.

All adoptions in British Columbia are now regulated. You still have the option of placing your child with relatives or with someone you know, but you have to proceed through a licensed agency or the ministry.

What is a direct placement?

In a direct placement, you choose to place your child with someone you know that is not a relative. A licensed adoption agency will help you meet requirements which must be met before your child is placed with the person you know, including a preplacement assessment of the prospective adoptive parents and gathering the pre-adoption family's medical and social history. You and the adoptive parents will have joint guardianship until the adoption order is granted.

If you choose to do this, you must notify the agency of your intentions immediately to avoid delay in the placement of your child, as the preplacement assessment must be completed before your child begins to live with the adoptive parents.

Will I have to pay fees for any services provided by an adoption agency?

Adoption agencies do not charge fees to parents making adoption plans for their child, but adoptive parents may have to pay for some services.

What information and support is available to parents of Aboriginal children?

Parents of Aboriginal children can receive all the support services provided by the ministry and adoption agencies (see above). You may also want to discuss planning for your child with a representative of a band, Aboriginal community or organization. You also can choose to involve the band or aboriginal community in the adoption planning process. The decision you make about the child's placement will be respected.

Can I choose the adoptive parents for my child?

A worker will give you written information about prospective parents who have gone through an assessment, education and approval process which is called a homestudy or family assessment. You can use the information to choose the family you feel will best meet your child's needs.

What information do I need to provide about myself in planning an adoption?

In planning an adoption, it is important for your child as he/she grows up, to have as much medical and social information as possible about the pre-adoption parents and their families. Providing medical and social history will help the adoptive parents to understand the child's needs and provide the best care possible for your child. This information is also preserved for your child.

Who must give consent to an adoption?

Generally, for the adoption of a child, consents are taken from:

  • the child's parents
  • the child's guardians
  • the child, if he or she is 12 years old or over.

As a birth mother, when do I give my consent for an adoption?

Consent for the adoption is not taken until at least 10 days after the birth of your child, when you have had time to recover from giving birth.

If I am under 19, can I give my consent for an adoption without involving my parents?

A parent under age 19 can give a legally valid consent to the adoption of a child. Since this is a very important decision with far-reaching implications, you may want to involve your family for support and assistance.

Can adoption consents be withdrawn?

A birth mother may withdraw her consent to adoption within 30 days of the child's birth, even if the child has been placed for adoption during that period.

Otherwise, parents who have consented to an adoption may withdraw their consent before the child is placed with the prospective adoptive parents.

A child aged 12 or over who is being adopted may withdraw consent at any time up until the adoption order is granted.

How will I know my child has been adopted?

You can request that the agency or the ministry notify you when your child has been placed, and when the adoption order has been granted.

What is the Parents' Registry and how do I register?

If you believe you are the parent of a child who may be placed for adoption, you can register your name on the Parents' Registry to receive notification of the proposed adoption. You can register before the child is born or up to 150 days after placement.

Application forms are available from the Ministry of Children and Family Development and adoption agencies or maybe downloaded online by clicking on Parents' Registry Application Form (PDF Format). There is no cost for registering. The information you give to the registry can only be used for purposes under the Adoption Act. Parents may phone the Registry at 250 387-3660.

Can I receive information about my child, or have contact, after he or she is placed for adoption?

Once you have consented to an adoption, you can make an openness agreement with the adoptive parents. An openness agreement sets out the kind of information exchange or contact each of you would like and how often it will take place. Participation in an openness agreement is voluntary for both you and the adoptive parents. There is a range of options from minimal non-identifying contact to full disclosure. No one way is best for every situation, and there are many possible combinations of options.

After the adopted person's 19th birthday, you can apply to the Vital Statistics Agency for a copy of the adopted person's birth registration and adoption order. You will receive information that includes the adopted person's name after the adoption. The adult adopted person may obtain the same documentation, which also contains information about their pre-adoption parent(s).

What can I do if I placed a child for adoption under the old legislation, and I want to receive information or I have placed under the new legislation, but did not sign an openness agreement?

If the child is under 19 years of age, you may register with the Post-Adoption Openness Registry. If both you and the adoptive parents have registered, registry staff will contact you to discuss the type of openness you are interested in, and they will assist in reaching an agreement acceptable to both parties. You can contact the Post-Adoption Openness Registry at 250 387-3660.

If the adopted person is age 19 or older, you can apply to the Vital Statistics Agency for a copy of the adopted person's birth registration and adoption order. The information you receive will include the adopted person's name after the adoption, unless a disclosure veto has been filed.

What if I wish to keep the privacy I was promised when I placed a child for adoption 25 years ago?

The current Adoption Act recognizes that people who took part in adoptions under the old 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 with the Vital Statistics Agency prohibiting the release of any birth registration or adoption order information identifying them, or
  • file a no-contact declaration with the Vital Statistics Agency, allowing the release of birth registration and adoption order information, but prohibiting personal contact with the person who filed the declaration.

How do I access information from B.C. 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.

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. Please refer to contacts for some community resources that may have information or services regarding adoption issues.

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 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?

A disclosure veto prohibits the Vital Statistics Agency from releasing any birth registration or adoption order information identifying the person who filed the disclosure veto. These vetoes are only available for adoptions completed 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 years of age. Likewise, people who were adopted in British Columbia may file disclosure vetoes 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.

When and how do I file a no-contact declaration?

A no-contact declaration 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.

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.

Access to Information - This page explains how to access information about the adoption of your child, along with the guidelines for doing so. The Adoption Act has made it easier for pre-adoption parents and adopted adults to obtain identifying information about each other.

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