Adoption options counselling

Adoption social workers throughout Nova Scotia provide options counselling and support for expectant parents and parents. They can help you make decisions and plans about:

  • pregnancy, including termination
  • parenting
  • placing a child with family or another person
  • placing a child for adoption

The Adoption Program helps expectant parents and parents access services they may need to support their decision. Options counselling is encouraged for both expectant parents. It can happen before or after the child’s birth. Options counselling is free, confidential, voluntary and offered without judgement. 

If you are interested in learning more about options counselling or agency adoption, contact the Nova Scotia Adoption Line at 1-866-259-7780.

Counselling services


The Adoption Program can help expectant parents connect with sexual health centres or medical practitioners if they wish to make decisions about terminating the pregnancy.


The Adoption Program can help connect expecting parents or parents to services that can help them if they wish to parent. Services include Family Connections, Income Assistance, Housing, Public Health, Family Resource Centres and other community supports. Counsellors can help you develop a plan, connect you with support from family or friends and build confidence in your parenting plan.

Placing a child with family or another person

The Adoption Program can provide advice and support when a birth parent decides to place their child with close relatives. This is considered a private relative adoption and requires legal representation.

In situations where a child has been placed in the legal care of another person (family or otherwise) through a court order, options counselling with the birth parents is required if the legal guardian wishes to pursue adoption. The legal guardian will be need to undergo an assessment before the adoption. Both the parents and the guardian should contact the Nova Scotia Adoption Line.


The Adoption Program will help parents understand information about the voluntary placement of a child and adoption process. Options counselling meets the legal requirements for placing a child for adoption.

Birth parents can decide how involved they would like to be in the adoption process. This may include choosing the adoptive parents, meeting them, and staying in contact after the adoption has taken place. 

Birth parents may choose to place their child with a potential adopting family who has been assessed and approved through the Department of Community Services. There are several approved and waiting adopting families available for birth parents to choose from.

In some cases, the birth parents wish to place their child with a family that they know who would like to adopt their child. These families must be assessed for adoption by a private practitioner before being approved by the Department of Community Services.

The prospective adopting family and the birth parents should each contact the Nova Scotia Adoption Line. The prospective adopting family will be assigned a separate social worker. The social worker providing options counselling will focus only on supporting the birth parents and the child.

Indigenous adoptions

Birth parents of an Indigenous child may choose to place their child for adoption with an Indigenous family, reflective of the child’s cultural needs.

Although options counselling is not a requirement for a customary adoption, adoption social workers can explore this option with birth parents or expecting birth parents. This is a private adoption through a customary adoption process and doesn’t require the completion of an adoption home study.

Waiting period

After you decide to place a child for adoption, you need to wait at least 17 days before the child is placed. This waiting period is required by law and allows the opportunity for birth parents to be certain of their decision. 

Personal information and adoption records

Birth parents will be asked to provide as much medical, racial, cultural and family history as possible to support the child’s needs with their adopting family and in the future. The information provided to the adopting parents won’t include any information that can identify you.

Starting 1 May 2022, the Adoption Records Act will open adoption records to provide greater access to information for adopted people and birth parents.

When the change takes effect, the Adoption Records Act will allow an adopted person (who is now 19 or older) or birth parent to access identifying information (including their name) about the other person without first getting consent, unless the adopted person or birth parent has filed a disclosure veto.

You’ll need to file a disclosure veto if you don’t want identifying information shared with the other person. Learn more: Changes to adoption records

Next steps

Want to learn more about adoption? Call the Nova Scotia Adoption Information Line at