Kids Need Families and Families Need Support

Adoption Myth #7

"You must be childless to adopt."

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Adoptees’ Rights and Responsibilities

An adoptee has the moral right to know the circumstances of their adoption. In even the least open adoption, non-indentifying information about the birth parents (including social and medical histories) is provided to the adoptive family. Adoptive families are educated about the importance of ensuring that their child is provided with this information in a comprehensive but sensitive way.


Adoptees’ Rights and Responsibilities

There are no laws in Ontario that can force the adoptive family to complete this important parenting responsibility; upon the adoptee’s 18th birthday, however, the adoption records will be made open to the adoptee (and, one year later, to the birth parents) regardless under the 2008 Access to Adoption Records Act. The records made available include identifying information of all parties, birth names and adoptive names (if different) of the adoptee, social and medical profiles of the birth parents, and a copy of the original adoption order.

 Adoptees whose adoptions were finalized before September 1, 2008 may still apply for a Disclosure Veto to prevent their records from being made available to their birth parents. Likewise their birth parents may have requested a disclosure veto to prevent information from flowing in the other direction. There is no veto option for adoptions finalized on or after September 1, 2008. There is, however, the option to apply for a No Contact Notice or Notice of Contact Preference. If a No-Contact Notice is requested, all information will still be available to the birth parents, but they will be prohibited by law from attempting to contact the adoptee. A Notice of Contact Preference, on the other hand, indicates that the adoptee is open to being contacted by their birth parents but limits the channels by which that contact may be made (only by e-mail, for example). It is important to note that No Contact Notices and Notices of Contact Preference may only be filed by the adoptee themself, not by their adoptive parents.

Adoptees whose adoption was finalized before September 1, 2008 and whose birth parents have filed for a disclosure veto may still request information in the case of a medical emergency. This request is called a Severe Medical Search and is only granted in the case of a severe physical or mental illness suffered by an adoptee or one of their direct descendants. A medical professional must complete a portion of the Severe Medical Search request warranting that medical information from the birth family could be of direct medical benefit in diagnosing or treating the condition.

Adoptees are also, of course, entitled to all the natural rights granted to all children in Ontario. These include the legal rights protected by Children’s Aid Societies throughout the province as well as all the moral rights intrinsic in childhood. Adoptees have the right to a loving and caring home, the right to self-determination and a bright future, and the right to be treated with equality and respect in all social environments.