Our Community

I am a Birth/First/Original Parent

If you are an birth/original parent it can be challenging to find support or sometimes to even know what you need. At the ACO we believe that the losses and core issues of adoption/permanency exist for birth/original mothers and fathers and need to be recognized and acknowledged. Original parents and their extended families are the historians of a child/youth’s story and hold the pieces of their past and history. Opportunities for sharing information and maintaining openness are important.

This chart looks at an approach to openness that honours that history and connection and the ways of making and ensuring important connections can occur, even if actual physical contact does not exist. It recognizes the bond and heart connection that original parents hold for a child that they love and are not parenting.

Shame and secrecy have too often been the reality for birth/original mothers and fathers and the importance of their role not understood or recognized and thus not made important. The ACO wants to hear the voices and experience of birth/original families as integral in the galaxy of adoption/permanency and the support the children/youth/ adults living the life long journey in permanency need.


Over the past several decades, we have learned from adult adoptees about the importance of their history and connections to their original family and culture. More and more adoption and permanency arrangements are done with some form of openness between the adoptive/permanency family and members of the birth/original family. These openness arrangements can range between some form of contact to an exchange of pictures and notes. For more information about openness, please see Mary Jo Land’s book Caring Together and Lori Holden’s book on The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow up Whole.

Search, Reunion & Reconnection

Until recently, many adoptions in Ontario were done through our “closed” system of adoption. Adoptive families and birth families were not connected in any way and adoptees did not have the ability to connect with them. Through the fight for open birth records and the advent of the internet and social media as well as DNA testing, many more adoptees and birth and original parents are finding and connecting with one another. This section provides an overview of that process.

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I'm Expecting and Exploring Adoption

Expectant parents who are exploring adoption as an option have lots of questions. Learn about exploring adoption and your next steps.

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Events & Resources

Search & Reunion Webinar

Search & Reunion Webinar

ASK: Adoption Support Kinship

ASK: Adoption Support Kinship

Blogs from Birth/First/Original Families

ASK Adoption Support, Kinship ASK provided the fol...
Travis is a birth father who is 5 years into adopt...
Betty has struggled with mental health challenges,...


Books Authored by Adoptees & Those on Permanency Journeys
  • Given in Love: For Mothers who are choosing an adoption plan by Maureen Connolly
  • Saying Goodbye to Baby: Birthparents Guide to Loss and Grief in Adoption by Patricia Roles
  • Love, Loss and Longing by Carol Shipley
  • 12 Steps for the Birth Parent Grief: Navigating the Adoption Grief Process by Bills-Speight, Foote and Mugar
  • Restorative Grief: A guide to healing the birthmother’s heart by Christensen, Cynthia
  • Messages from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss & Love by Xinran
  • Caring Together: A guide for parents, foster parents and adoptive parents of children who are in care by Mary-Jo Land
  • Adoption Reunions: A Book for Adoptees, Birth Parents & Adoptive Families by Michelle McColm
  • See further extensive booklist at the ASK support group.
Support Resources for Birth/Original/First Families
  • ASK – Adoption Support Kinship:
      • ASK… about reunion (Adoption Support Kinship) provides search and reunion assistance and support in a caring, empathetic and non-judgemental atmosphere. help members explore the emotional as well as the practical aspects of search and reunion.
      • ASK was born when we, as members of the adoption community, realized that existing groups in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) were not meeting our needs. We believe that the needs of many others currently seeking support but unable to find it at an existing GTA group—and maybe even in groups in some other areas of the world—will appreciate the services offered by and the atmosphere supported by ASK.
Other Resource Books:
  • Seven Core Issues In Adoption & Permanency by Sharon Kaplan Roszia & Allison Maxon Davis
  • The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-term Effects of Childhood Adversity, by Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
Resources for Adoptees
  • Seven Core Issues In Adoption & Permanency by Sharon Kaplan Roszia & Allison Maxon Davis
  • The Primal Wound & Coming Home to Self by Nancy Newton Verrier
  • Twice Born & Journey of the Adult Adoptee by Betty Jean Lifton
  • Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self by David Brodzinsky
  •  The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-term Effects of Childhood Adversity, by Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk