Ontario Adoption Search (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Vital Statistics Records Part 2  by by Sharon L. Murphy. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Prior to 1921 an adoption was referred to as an indenture and the child automatically assumed the surname of the adoptive parents. The baby’s birth may have been registered by the surname of the mother.

Until the Ontario Adoption Act (8 April 1921), guardianships (child custody without the right of inheritance) were granted through the Surrogate Court. Guardianship actions are recorded in the court indexes and registers, and later for some Counties, in separate Guardianship Books. These books may be at the Surrogate Court offices. Contact the local government office to get the location.

In Ontario the adoption search service is known as Adoption Disclosure Services. There is an Adoption Disclosure Register that is maintained by the Ontario Ministry of Children’s Services and provides:

  • A register for those adult adoptees, birth parents and birth relatives (siblings and grandparents) who wish to contact each other and /or exchange updated information.
  • Conducts searches for the Birth Parents and specific birth relatives at the request of the adoptee who is 18 years of age or older.


If you are:

  • An adoptee who is 18 years of age or older
  • A birth parent
  • An adult birth sibling
  • Birth grandparent

You may place your name on the Adoption Disclosure Register and you will be contacted if the person you are looking for has also registered. Your name will remain on the register in case someone else should try to contact you in the future.

You can receive non-identifying information prior to the search.


If you are an Adult Adoptee and the person you are seeking is not registered a search will be done for your birth parent or a specific birth relative if you wish. When your search begins you will be notified and if successful in locating your birth relative contact will be made to see if the other party is willing to have contact with you. This can be arranged through the Adoption Disclosure Services if you wish.

Private adoption information can be obtained by contacting the licensed agency or individual that arranged the adoption. This is for adoptions after 1985. Should you not know who arranged the adoption, contact the Adoption Unit of the Ministry. For information about private adoptions completed before 1985 contact the Adoption Disclosure Registry.

Adoption Disclosure Registry
Custodian of Adoption Information
P.O. Box 654
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1N3


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Vital Statistics Records Part 2 offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.