What does the law say about the release of information from adoption records?
The law that sets out the use of adoption records is called the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. It came into force in Alberta on November 1, 2004. Under this Act, adult adoptees (18 years of age and older), birth parents, and a descendant of a deceased adopted person have access to identifying information from adoption records, unless a disclosure veto has been filed. “Identifying information” about adoptees and birth parents that can be released if a disclosure veto has not been filed, includes:
- birth dates
- places of birth.
Prior to that date adoptees and birth parents were only told about “non-identifying information” such as:
- province of birth
- marital status
- education level
- physical description
- personality and interests of the birth parents medical history of the family
This non-identifying information is still available together with the identifying information.
My adoption took place outside of Alberta. How can I access my adoption records?
Adoption is a matter of provincial jurisdiction and each province maintains its own records. Every province has a government website that lists the services it offers. Check the website for the province where your adoption was finalized to see what the adoption policy for that province is and what information you may obtain.
We adopted an infant in Alberta in 1975. Can information about us be released to anyone?
No. Information about adoptive parents will not be released. All identifying information about adopting parents remains confidential.
I am a birth parent who placed a child for adoption and I filed a disclosure veto before November 1, 2004. What effect does this veto have?
If you filed a disclosure veto, then any identifying information about you now available under the /Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act/ will not be released. However, your biological child will still be able to obtain non-identifying information from the adoption record.
I placed my baby for adoption 20 years ago but I did not file a disclosure veto. I do not want to have contact with my biological child now. Can I prevent the release of information that would identify me?
Yes. You can still file a disclosure veto as long as the adoption took place before January 1, 2005. Prior to the change in the law that took effect on November 1, 2004 birth parents and adoptees were given the option of filing a disclosure veto, which would prevent the release of information that would identify them. If you did not file a disclosure veto by that date, then your identifying information is currently available and will continue to be available until you file a disclosure veto with the Post Adoption Registry. Your biological child will still be able to obtain non-identifying information from the adoption record.
If I did not file a disclosure veto, does this mean that my biological child will contact me?
No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be contacted. Once the information is released, it is still up to the individuals involved to decide if they want to try to make contact with one another.
I filed a disclosure veto but I’m not sure how I feel about being contacted by my biological child. Can I change my mind?
Yes, it is possible to withdraw the disclosure veto at any time if you change your mind. A veto is also no longer in effect once the person filing the veto is deceased. When a birth parent or adoptee files a disclosure veto, they may also file a written or a medical statement that can be released to the other party should he or she contact the Registry looking for information.
I placed my baby for adoption five years ago. Can I file a disclosure veto?
No. If an adoption takes place after January 1, 2005, neither a birth parent nor an adoptee can file a disclosure veto. However, it is possible for them to file a contact preference with the Post Adoption Registry which states that they prefer not to be contacted. Then, if a birth parent or adoptee applies to the Registry for information, he or she will be advised of the other person’s preference. However, these contact preferences are not legally binding.
I have just learned that my parents adopted me in 2002. How does the adoption records law affect me?
You must wait until you are eighteen years old to contact the Post Adoption Registry. Since your adoption took place before January 1, 2005, you may file a disclosure veto within six months after your eighteenth birthday. If you do, identifying information about you will not be released. Should your birth parents apply, they will not be given information about you until six months after your eighteenth birthday to allow you time to think about your options and to file a veto if you wish.
I am pregnant and thinking about placing the baby for adoption. What rules will apply to my child and me?
All adoptions after January 1, 2005 will be subject to the rules about identifying information that will be available once the adoptee (your biological child) reaches the age of eighteen. It will not be possible for you or your biological child to prevent disclosure of this information. However, you will be able to file a contact preference.
What is a contact preference?
In a contact preference document, you will be able to state whether or not you wish to be contacted by your biological child when he or she reaches the age of eighteen, and the way in which you would like to be contacted. You may indicate that you do not wish to be contacted, but it will be up to the adoptee to decide whether or not to honour that request. The adoptee may also file a contact preference when he or she reaches the age of eighteen.
Where can I obtain a disclosure veto?
Disclosure veto forms, applications for release of information, and more information about the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act can be found on the Alberta Human Services website, (link to forms can be found in External Resources)or by calling 310-4455 toll free in Alberta or 1-866-825-4455 toll free outside Alberta. The disclosure veto form may be mailed or faxed to the Post Adoption Registry. It must be accompanied by photocopies of two pieces of identification and one piece must be photo identification. Some examples of acceptable identification include driver’s licences, passports, health cards, or birth certificates.
How do I contact the Post Adoption Registry?
The Post Adoption Registry’s address is
11th Floor Stirling Place 9940 106 Street Edmonton AB T5K 2N2
You may also contact the Registry by calling 780-427-6387, by faxing 780-427-2048 or by email at [email protected].
For additional information, see Post Adoption Registry’s FAQs.
Is there any other assistance available to help me learn about these changes in the law?
The Post Adoption Registry will be able to help you or tell you about other resources. People who are already registered there do not need to re-register. The Registry’s services include providing indentifying information to help persons obtain Métis or Inuit status, and accepting applications for reunion from an adoptive parent on behalf of a deceased adoptee.
For more information, see these other Canadian Legal FAQs.
This page was last updated in September 30, 2014.Share this: