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.

Before You Connect

Not only is it difficult to anticipate the emotions that reunion will induce in you, it is also important to remember that you will be forging a new relationship with someone whose life experience is likely quite different from your own. Some adoptees and birth parents will have strong opinions about confidentiality and desires about the direction of the relationship. It is vital that you both respect the wishes of the other while also setting your own boundaries. The best thing you can do is take it slow and be ready to stop and re-evaluate your feelings and desires at every step of the way. And remember, there is no imperative to seek out reconnection. Many adoptees never feel the need and that too is perfectly normal and healthy.

Taking the First Step

After the adoptee’s 18th birthday, the adoptee may apply for post adoption birth information (PABI) from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. This package will include the original statement of live birth (showing the name of their birth mother and birth father if he was named). They may also file a No Contact Notice, a Disclosure Veto or a Notice of Contact Preference at this time if they have specific wishes about how or if they would like to be contacted. After the adoptee’s 19th birthday, the birth parents may similarly apply to receive PABI. The reason for the one year gap is to give the adoptee adequate time to file the No Contact Notice, Disclosure Veto or Notice of Contact Preference if they wish to do so. Please note that the applicant must be named on the original birth registration to be eligible for this information.

If the Adoptee is Not Yet 18

Most attempts at locating or contacting an adoptee who is under 18 years of age are against the law in Ontario. In some cases however, if all parties are amenable, there may be a route to opening a closed adoption early. The only advice we can give on this matter is to contact the adoption professional or Children’s Aid Society that originally facilitated the adoption.

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